Quick Cast:
 Area Reports

 Clubs & Orgs.
 Fishing Reports
 Fly Fishing
 Guides & Charters
 Photo Gallery
 Reef Locator

 About Us
 Terms of Use
 Web Development

Key Largo and The Upper Florida Keys

Capt. Marc Blackburn
December 16, 2006
Key Largo - Saltwater Fishing Report

Winter has arrived in South Florida and so have the winter species. Sailfish, tuna, wahoo, kingfish, snapper and grouper are all biting very well now and will continue through the winter months. The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament started today and over 140 sailfish had already been caught by the 40 boats entered on the first day.

Sailfishing in the Florida Keys consists of live bait fishing just beyond the reef in 100 to 300 foot of water. The most popular bait is live ballyhoo. We use four baits, two on the outrigger and two on flat lines on 20 pound spinning tackle. Sailfish will strike at the bait with their bills to wound the bait and then come back around to swallow it down. It is important to allow just the right amount of time for the sailfish to swallow the bait before setting the hook. Once the hook is set, the fight is on. Sailfish are often out of the water more than they are in the water and put on a spectacular display with jump after jump screaming line off of the 20 pound spinning tackle. Multiple hook ups are common and we almost always have to chase the fish with the boat.

After 15 to 60 minutes, the sailfish tires and comes along side the boat. We reach down and get the bill and unhook him holding the fish along side for a few pictures before turning it loose to fight another day. Every year the sailfishing gets better and better due to the 100% catch and release fishery here in the Keys. Baitfish are also more prevalent than ever with the net ban over a decade ago stopping the over harvesting of ballyhoo and other important baitfish species. If you ever wanted to have the thrill of a lifetime by catching and amazing billfish on light tackle, this winter in the Florida Keys would be your best bet.

If table fare is your game of choice; then winter time provides some great opportunities with blackfin tuna, wahoo and kingfish available offshore. Blackfin tuna get bigger this time of year at the Islamorada Hump with fish over 20 pounds common. We use trolling feathers and cedar plugs on 20 pound spinning tackle with light fluorocarbon leader to get the tuna snapping most often. Occasionally we will use live bait when the fish are right on top of the Hump and we have some left from sailfishing in the morning. Tuna are often a nice change in the afternoon after sailfishing in the morning on a full day charter.

Wahoo are also here in numbers, two weeks ago we have four wahoo on at once near the Islamorada Hump and as the water cools the fastest fish in the Ocean will show up in big numbers here in the Keys just beyond the reef. Dauntless spent ten days in the Bahamas the end of November and focused primarily on wahoo. We boated dozens of wahoo up to 55 pounds, see the photo galley for pictures. Ashley Blackburn also landed a 53 pound Bull Dolphin that a nice frigate bird pointed out to us while wahoo fishing. Dauntless is available for special Bahamas trips if you are interested just give us a call and we will put a package together for you.

Kingfish are also hitting well on the edge of the reef right now using live bait on downrigger or dropper rig near the bottom. Yellowtail snapper bite has picked up nicely with many fish up to three pounds being caught in 45 to 90 foot of water. Last December and January produced the largest grouper of the year with fish up to 40 pounds. Grouper fishing is a battle of wills and strength between an angler and a fish. No finesse here, just feel the bite, lock the drag and pull as hard as you can to get the fish out of the structure that he is heading back to after eating the bait. More fish are lost than boated and it can be a frustrating game but there is not much better table fare than grouper when you win.

More Fishing Reports:


Dauntless Charters provides a first class experience for all types of Florida Keys fishing. Whether you are targeting offshore species such as swordfish, marlin, sailfish, dolphin, tuna, wahoo and kingfish; reef species such as grouper, snapper, mackerel, shark, and barracuda; or backcountry species such as tarpon, bonefish, snook, permit, redfish, and sea trout, we have the right boat and captain for you. Located at mile marker 94.5 in Key Largo

Contact Info:

Dauntless Charters
200 Florida Ave
Key Largo, FL 33037
Phone: 1-877-DAUNTLESS
Alt. Phone: 305-304-9129
Email the Captain
Visit his Web Site
Display Find-a-Guide Listing

Copyright © 1997-2018, CyberAngler - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy :: Terms of Use
For Questions and comments please use our Feedback Form
Back to the Top