Capt. Bob Brown
December 7, 2008
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
Sailfish season has kicked into high gear here in the middle keys! The winter time's best big sportfish has invaded local waters and has been kicking anglers butts! Finding Sailfish has been not very difficult recently as the big preditors have been moving up onto the reef in the mornings and afternoons to feed on unsuspecting baitfish. I think at times, there are always some sailfish coming up onto the reef to look for food, but the lack of surface dwelling baitfish like ballyhoo in recent years has made the finding of these reef checking sails a lot harder. Recently, some nice sized schools of ballyhoo up and down the line have been giving away sailfish locations. As the Sailfish comes up into the shallower water from the deeper edge of the reef, they encounter the school of ballyhoo and as they rise up to take a swipe at some hoos, the school of ballyhoo comes out of the water above the Sailfish looking like a rainshower on the surface of the water. Sunlight enhances this phenomenon, making it look like a silver rain shower on the surface. One way to tell whether it is a Sailfish or Mackerel or other preditor under the baitfish is to pay attention to how long the baitfish shower is taking place. If the baitfish shower starts in 40ft of water and continues to push in toward shore for what seems like a long time, then you know you have a sail underneath. Mackerel are slashers and will bust the school of bait quickly and it is over quickly. Barracuda are much the same way. Sailfish swim undeneath pushing the bait for long distances as they pick at the school. If it is flying fish they are pushing, the flyers might fly away from the fish for a bit but they generaly find them again soon and you will see several smaller pushes of flying fish without a large splash that a Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) or even a Bottlenose Dolphin (the mammal like Flipper) will make when they are feeding on the same baitfish. It is definitely more productive to have some kind of tower on your boat when chasing these showering sails. You will see the fish and need to pitch live baits (of the same variety they are feeding on) just in the path of the feeding fish. Trying to throw a Sailfish a Pilchard when they are feeding on Ballyhoo is usually fruitless, but throwing a live ballyhoo when they are feeding on flying fish is usually successful.
Other than Sailfish, there have been plenty of King Mackerel showing up on the atlantic side reef edges and patch reefs. The cool weather trend has pushed the migratory species down here in good numbers already, and we have been having some January-February type fishing going on here with the winter species like Spanish Mackerel, Cero Mackerel and Cobia. Some large Amberjacks have been showing up on offshore wrecks, and some Black Grouper have been showing up on the deep reef edge and deep wrecks. Yellowtail Snapper fishing has been excellent on the reef edge and the Muttons have been showing up here and there on deep spots around the area.
Offshore has been good on days when the wind turns SE or South with some nice catches of Dolphin and a few Blackfin Tuna mixed in. Wahoo have been coming in from the 300-600ft range and Swordfishing has been consistant out at the wall with some spots holding more fish than others depending on where the bait (squids) shows up.
If you are looking for more info on fishing in the Marathon area and the middle Florida Keys, check out our web site. Good luck in all your fishing adventures!
Capt Bob Brown, Jr
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