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Key West Fishing Report - Offshore

Capt. Ralph Delph
February 29, 2000
Key West - Saltwater Fishing Report

It appears as though we are fighting a battle of changes. One week the fishing is great and the next week we are desperately looking for action. On the offshore scene, the water temperature has been around 74 degrees, with a strong west bound current out front. However, down at the “end of the bar”, there is no current. The sailfish action has been only sporadic at best. The trolling boats have been turning to the reefs for action and finding some mackerel, jacks, barracuda and assorted bottom fish. Those working the wrecks with pilchards have had to work long and hard for the few tuna that have been produced.

When the wind has let off enough to allow some of the boats to venture into the gulf, the results have been good. Carl Kildie from Miami was able to capture cobia up to 70# on baitcasting tackle. On the following day he brought in a 300# lemon shark on 8# line. The shark was brought in alive, weighed and released. Carl is fishing for the “Grand Master” of the Metro South Florida Fishing Tournament, the oldest and largest fishing tournament in the world. The tournament runs through early May.

There is a bright note in this picture however. Bottom fishing has held up well and some fine catches of grouper and snapper have hit the docks over the past few days. Scott ,weighed in a whopping 56# black grouper. Little Martini Arostegui, only 9 years old, fishing with his family caught and weighed in a 31# black grouper in the Pee Wee division. The rest of the family brought in a good catch of grouper and snapper up to 15#.

The western wrecks have been producing action with jacks, barracuda and a few small cobia. February usually marks the end of the cobia action to the west as they make their way into the gulf and the action there should be on the increase. Look for kingfish to be on the upswing along with good cobia and permit action as the winds subside and access to the gulf improves.

The Key West harbor has started to show signs of spring as some tarpon and permit along with a few cobia have begun to make their appearance. Although the action is not strong, a few days of good weather could make a considerable difference. The first of these fish are big and strong, with permit running into the 40# class and the tarpon are often in the 150# range. Live pinfish and threadfin herring are working for the tarpon and live crabs are the bait of choice for the permit.

The flats have had some good days lately with some tarpon action near Key West and an occasional permit here and there. The tarpon have been eating flies, however the permit seem to be interested only in crabs. Barracuda action has picked up and some large sharks have been plying the shallow water.

That’s it for now. Tight lines and good fishing.

Capt. Ralph Delph

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1 Riviera Drive B.C.K.
Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-294-6072
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