December 2nd

It’s no wonder so many people flock to the Florida Keys each winter. You can’t blame them for wanting to escape the cold and snow up north and head south.  On land, the weather has been superb, cool and sunny.  On the water though, it's a little bit of a different story.  While the sun has been shining bright and the temperatures dropping to a comfortable 70 degrees, the wind has been blowing, which makes getting out on the water a little challenging.  While rough seas may make it uncomfortable sometimes, the fish don't mind at all.  If your stomach can handle the chop, the bite has been red hot lately.

This winter weather has been ideal for targeting all sorts of different fish—both inshore, and out deep. There hasn't been any sudden, extreme and prolonged drops in water temperature, and all across the board the fishing has been excellent, with no species turning off for more than a couple of days.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of fun  fishing with Captain Mike Biffel of Big Dawg Sportfishing out of Key Colony Beach.  We went out with the mission of specifically looking for sailfish.  With the milder temperatures lately, the Middle Keys have not experienced an early winter push of these pelagic fish, the way we normally do this time of year.  On this particular day though, we received a call from Captain James Simcic reporting sailfish action along the reef!  On our way out, we stopped to catch live ballyhoo, as that is the bait of choice for sailfish feeding on the shallow reef.  We made it about five miles west of Sombrero Light without much action, when we finally saw frigate birds circling in the distance.  Once we got to the birds, there were a few packs of sailfish chasing ballyhoo.  The water was crystal clear and you could spot the sailfish easily.  We saw 10 fish throughout the afternoon and were able to catch two of them.  The tackle we used that trip was 15-20 pound line, on a spinning tackle, with a 30-40 fluorocarbon leader.              
I've also heard reports of captains catching scattered dolphin here and there just past the reef.  Despite the consistent bite this year though, dolphin seem to be the one pelagic species that does seem to be thinning out a bit.

Offshore,  the report on blackfin tuna has been steady.  On the Marathon hump, some boats have been having success vertical jigging for tuna in the 10 to 15-pound class.  The sharks have not been as problematic as they were a few months ago, so when you do hook a larger fish, you'll have a much better chance of landing him.  
Just beyond the edge of the reef search for frigate birds to find the blackfins, and then live chum with pilchards to get the fish around.  You can expect to catching kingfish, dolphin, sailfish and wahoo all in the same area.  Be sure to have a live well loaded to the brim with pilchards, and a long spinning rod on hand to make a long cast if you can’t get close to them.  When live baiting outside of the reef, I like to have a few rods rigged with 40 pound fluorocarbon for sailfish and dolphin, a couple rods with lighter leaders and 30 pound flurocarbon in case the tunas are being particularly picky that day.  Always have a line or two with a piece of steel leader on the end in case the kingfish or wahoo show up.

I expect fishing to be superb this December.  From the reef to the gulf and all the way offshore, winter is a fantastic time of year to go fishing.  If you want to keep track of what species I've been catching, you can check out my Facebook page at Big Game Sportfishing.  I update the pictures daily.

Big Game Sport Fishing

Captain Ariel Medero featured in article on George Poveromo's World of Satwater Fishing Website - Blackfin Tuna fishing in the Florida Keys

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Captain Ariel Medero featured article on Blackfin Tuna fishing in the Florida Keys

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