September 7th 2014

 Even though it's slow season here in the Keys, that doesn't mean it's slow season out on the water.  This is an ideal time to head out and experience great fishing in the Florida Keys.  The lack of tourists on the water means a decrease in fishing pressure, and that means that there are plenty of hungry, aggressive fish swimming everywhere from the flats to offshore.  Also, many locals use this time of year to take their long awaited vacation, or close down their business to do some maintenance before season starts back up again.  I am one on of those locals.  My boat will be out of the water for 3 weeks in September.  I'm going to be rebuilding my engines as well as doing some other maintenance to The Big Game.  When all the work is finally done, she will be primed and ready for an intense fishing season.  Because of this, I haven't been out on the water too much lately, but I can still report on what's happening in the Middle keys waters.

I've spoken to a few captains who have been fishing on the reef.  They've reported that the Mangrove Snappers have moved from the deeper reefs, to the shallow reef (20-25 feet of water).  Also, there aren't as many snappers as during the spawning season, but the fish that are still in the area are much larger.  In fact, captains have been reporting Mangrove Snappers up to 7 pounds.  They've been targeting these fish using live ballyhoo or live pinfish on a jig had, using 20n-30 pound fluorocarbon for a leader, depending on water clarity.

Look for the reef fishing to remain active over the next several weeks.  There are large packs of ballyhoo still hanging around the reef, which brings a lot of fish into the shallow waters.  During times like this, I like to fish a couple live baits up on the surface while I'm dropping a few down deep.  On your surface baits, you can catch cero mackerel, sailfish, and the occasional mutton snapper or grouper.

Out on the deep wrecks the mutton snapper fishing is steady, while those wanting to test their strength and endurance should have no problem hooking up and doing battle with a large amberjack or jack crevalle.  On these deep wrecks, you can also drop a chicken rig with squid (or any kind of meat) and target vermillion snappers.  Those make for some delicious meals.

Offshore, the dolphin fishing has been fair, with good numbers of schoolies and small gaffer-sized fish congregating around weedlines.  Look for large patches of grass anywhere from 10 to 16 miles out, and you should be able to fill the box with a few late summer-time mahi-mahis.  Captain James Simcic, of Spearcrazy Charters, reported a great catch of gaffers between 10-15 pounds.  He caught his fish on a weedline in 700 feet of water.

On the humps the tuna fishing continues to be excellent, and with the winds forecast to lie down a bit (at the time I write this), now is a great time to make the trip out and load up on the blackfins.  Trolling, live baiting, and vertical jigging are normally the best methods for catching quality fish.  This time of year, it's very common to find schools of black fin tunas and skipjacks feeding around seaweed.  When I see the fish busting on the surface, I try to get as close as possible, without spooking the fish, and I'll get my anglers to pitch the lure right into the middle of the school.  When I'm targeting the fish with this method, I prefer to use braided line instead of monofilament, because you can cast your lure much farther.

Out in the bay, it seems like the mangrove snappers are finally moving back into the wrecks and other areas where they are normally caught.  This is a great way to put some meat in the cooler, if the it's a little too choppy for you out in the ocean.
 

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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