November 17th

Every year, as the temperature begins to change and cool down, the Florida Keys experience an influx of visitors.  On land, "snow-birds" come down to spend the winter months in warmer weather, while under water, the same migration happens with pelagic fish.  Sailfish, kingfish, and wahoo are all examples of fish that you will start seeing more of over the next few months.

One of the most popular fish to catch and release during fall and winter are sailfish.  you will see  more and more sailfish arrive each week and the bite should only improve when the temperature drops a few more degrees.  With all the bait that is around, and all the reports funneling in of multiple sails already being caught throughout the Keys, all indications point towards this being another incredible Florida Keys sailfish season.

For those of you planning on targeting sails over the next few weeks I recommend heading out to the 100 to 180-feet of water depths and looking for current edges or color changes. Put out a spread of live ballyhoo or pilchards and work both sides of the edge until you locate the fish. Keep your eyes open for free jumpers, and once you see one try and get south-southwest of the fish and pitch out a net full of freebies to keep the fish around while you’re getting your baits out. Fish generally travel towards the southwest this time of year so whenever you’re trying to get ahead of a free jumping sail it’s a good bet he’s headed that direction.

While slow trolling for sailfish I generally use light spinning tackle with 20-pound monofilament line, with a long, 15-foot stretch of fluorocarbon leader attached to a circle hook.  For bait, large pilchards and live ballyhoo are usually my bait of choice.  For those of you looking to load up on ballyhoo you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding them on the reef.  Just anchor up, put out a block of chum, and wait for them to show up in your chum slick.  Also, keep an eye out for frigate birds diving on top of the reef.  With all the ballyhoo being pushed out into deeper waters by the north wind, it's very common to see packs of sailfish and big dolphin (yes, there are still dolphin around!) feeding on them.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the patch reefs have been teaming with life and over the past week we’ve been experiencing phenomenal catches of muttons, mangroves, yellowtails, and black and red grouper.

Live pilchards and ballyhoo, fished on a 3/8 or ½ ounce jig head have been yielding the best results, while small pinfish are also an excellent bait of choice. Use a stretch of 20 or 30-pound fluorocarbon leader depending on the water clarity, and remember to get that fish off the bottom as soon as you have him hooked up.

This past week, I had a successful trip out to the Marathon Hump with a few local customers.  As the day started, we were catching the blackfin tunas up on the surface by chumming them up with live pilchards.  We were using 30-40 pound fluorocarbon and a small live bait hook.  Luckily, it seems as if the sharks that have been there for the past two months have finally migrated away.  We were able to land some big fish, up to 30 pounds.  As the day went on and The Hump got more crowded, we began to target the fish down deep with live baits and vertical jigs.  That method proved fruitful as well, as we caught some more fatties up to 20 pounds.  If you happen to be far offshore, keep an eye out for any kind of weed line or floating debris, because there are still some dolphin swimming through our waters.

Inshore, look for the flats to be most productive during the late morning and early afternoon hours and for tailing bonefish and permit to be most active on the falling tides.

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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