Don't get Stuck at the dock: Fish around Summer Storms
Capt. Jason Long
June 21, 2012
Marathon - Saltwater Fishing Report
If there's one thing that all boaters need to remember, it's that Mother Nature can get real angry, real quick—especially here in the Florida Keys where summer storms seem to develop out of nowhere. One moment the sun is shining and the seas are calm, and the next gale force winds are ripping off your bow and rough seas have you tapping your heels and wishing you were back home on dry land. But with so many websites and smartphone apps dedicated to up-to-date weather reports and live radar, there's no reason anyone should gamble on the weather.
I never (nor should you) forget to look at the radar and marine weather forecast before leaving the dock.
But don't let storms scare you from fishing; chances are you're going to experience a few during your vacation. Just remember, it's not the weather that makes fishing unsafe; it's being unprepared and not taking the proper precautions.
If the forecast calls for storms, it doesn't mean you have to cancel your fishing plans, just revise them and be ready. Storms move through the Keys extremely fast and a morning full of thunderstorms will often turn into an afternoon of sunshine. If fishing from your own boat, have the rods rigged, the coolers full of ice and sodas (errr beer), keep a close eye on the radar, and then when things calm down shoot out and catch em' up.
Just don't venture too far from home if there is more foul weather on the horizon.If you're fishing on a charter, ask your captain to push back the trip until the weather clears. If you have a full-day booked, try and get a half-day reef trip in. One of the great things about fishing in the Keys is that you're never far from productive fishing grounds.
Just a few minutes after leaving my dock in Key Colony Beach we can be on the reef catching tasty yellowtails, mangroves, grouper, and more. And for you inshore anglers, you're just a short boat ride from some of the best bonefish, permit, and tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys.
Another reason to fish around storms is that storms can actually improve the fishing. When the water on the reef is crystal clear fish often become line shy and lethargic, and because half of Marathon is usually anchored next to you on those flat calm days, the added fishing pressure makes it even harder to entice the bite.
But storms give the fish a break, and they're generally more willing to take a bait when it's been several hours since they've been pelted on the head with a lead pyramid sinker. In addition, the murky water lets you get away with using heavier leader, which is a big advantage when trying to pull those big black groupers out of the rocks.
Furthermore, storms often create debris in the water. Sure, you're neighbor's trash can would be great to find floating 20-miles out while dolphin fishing, but natural debris such as trees and palm fronds will also hold bait and fish once they've made it offshore. Plus, storms help to push together Sargasso weeds creating those weed lines we all love to find.
The point is that if you plan ahead you can make the most out of those rainy days. Just be smart, and never forget to check the radar and weather forecast before tossing the lines. There's a reason that more than 5,000 shipwrecks lie on the Florida Keys seafloor, and we don't want your boat to join them.
More Fishing Reports: