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Key West Fishing Report - Offshore

Capt. Ralph Delph
January 3, 2002
Key West - Saltwater Fishing Report

The temperature along the reef line has been around 75 degrees for the past week or so. With the passage of this front and the expected cold weather that is forecast, the water temperature should make it down to 70 degrees or so. With that we can expect a drastic increase of activity in the waters surrounding Key West. You can expect kingfish, cobia, mackerel and a host of other predators to make their show, and when the water begins to clear a little, the bite should be on.

Over the past week, the action offshore has been sporadic at best. A few sailfish have been reported along with a few wahoo here and there. There was a brief, one-day blast of wahoo, but it died quickly. The blackfin tunas and bonito have been in and out for the boats chumming with live pilchards. A few small to medium kingfish have been showing from the reef, out to about 200 feet of water. There were a few days that the yellowfin tunas were at the end of the bar but that was short lived.

The bottom fishing has been as good as I have seen in many years. Jody Blue and friends fished a half day trip (due to the weather) and landed seventeen muttons and three big red grouper on light tackle. The mutton snapper have been averaging around twelve pounds but a few fish to twenty pounds have been taken. The red grouper have been large with one recent fish weighing in at twenty-four pounds. Some black groupers have been taken and a number of gag groupers up to around twenty-five pounds have hit the docks. The edge of the reef has been producing some good catches of yellowtail up to around four pounds. The latter was falling for live pilchards. One surprise on the bottom front this year. A number of cubera snapper up to the thirty-pound class have been taken with some regularity.

The gulf has been yielding some small cobia around the wrecks, but few keepers. There was a good show of kingfish for a few days but no recent reports have been confirmed. The wrecks have been providing some mangrove action but the goliath grouper (jewfish) are still wrecking havoc with the light tackle boats.

Although the flats have been producing some permit and bonefish in the past, you can expect the shallow water action to slow to a screeching halt if this water temperature goes below 70 degrees. Keep your thermometers handy and if we get a warm stretch that lasts more than a couple of days, the flats should perk up.

Thatís it for now. Tight lines and good fishing.

Capt. Ralph Delph

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