After the Storm: Marathon, Florida Keys Charter Fishing Report
Capt. Jason Long
August 30, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
Tropical Storm Isaac was extremely kind to the Florida Keys. As far as I know no one was injured, most islands kept power, and there were few reports of any significant property damage. Let' chalk this one up as a practice run, and remember to not let our guards down when the next one blows through. It's been some time since we've had a significant storm hit the Keys, and it's not such a bad thing that Isaac gave us a chance to inspect the storm shutters and take inventory of our dock lines. But now that Isaac has moved on our focus once again returns to the fishing, and the question that everyone is asking is "how's the fishing going to be after the storm?"
(Before the Storm...Captains Mike Nelis, Drew Dinan, Nick Borraccino, Ariel Medero, and Wayne Albert with two 200-pound swordfish caught off Marathon, Florida. Photo by: www.biggamesportfish.com)
From my experience, after allowing a few days for everything to calm down, the bite after a storm is excellent, especially on the reef and deep wrecks. On the reef, this week should be an opportune time to target big flag yellowtails in depths of 50 to 100 feet of water. The stirred-up conditions should get the tails actively feeding and staying up in your chum slick. In addition, it will take a few days for the water on the reef to clear, meaning you might be able to get away with using a heavier stretch of fluorocarbon leader than normal. This will allow you to tighten the drag down a crank and keep those big fish from running you into the rocks.
On the patch reefs, expect the mangrove snapper bite to be exceptional as well. The mangrove bite was red hot before the storm, and it should remain that way after things settle down. Big mangroves will be on the move in depths of 20 to 30 feet of water, so anchor up, and give the chum plenty of time to do its job. Big mangroves often take time to turn on, so don't get frustrated if you're marking the fish but not getting the bites right away. It's not uncommon to fish for a half-hour with little success, and then all of a sudden experience a feeding frenzy where every bait you drop into the water gets slammed by a slob mangrove. Find a good mark on your bottom machine, and be patient.
Another one of my favorite species to target after a storm is mutton snapper; which can be caught both on the reef and on the deep wrecks. On the reef, drift back a fresh cut chunk of bait while yellowtailing or while fishing for mangroves. Storms stir up crustaceans and other bait off the bottom and the muttons will actively feed up in your chum line and will take a bait as it drifts by. On the wrecks, drop down a live threadfin, ballyhoo, large pilchard, or pinfish.
Offshore, the stained water isn't ideal for targeting dolphin (mahi mahi), but it can have its advantages— especially when it comes to floating debris. You may have a good shot at finding dolphin this week out in the Gulf Stream cruising under debris that was blown off Hispaniola or Cuba. Find the debris, and you may find nice packs of fish. Just remember to be extremely careful when operating your boat offshore (as well as inshore). The murky water makes it difficult to see submerged logs and other floating objects which can be deadly when hit at high speeds. Always keep your eyes open, and report any significant floating objects that you see to the Coast Guard.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Bottom Fishing! Isaac should really turn on the bottom fishing for snapper and grouper on the reef and wrecks.
The Best Bet boats are located at Key Colony Beach Marina (Marathon, FL KEYS) at Mile Marker 54. To book a trip or to find out more about what's biting call Captain Jason Long at 305-395-1376.
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