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November 5th, 2011

Here comes winter!

Summer is over, even here in the tropics. I know, everyone up north thinks that it’s summer all year round in Key West. Especially when they leave the frigid, icy January weather and walk off the plane at the airport in Key West and it’s a warm and sunny 75’ day. But we do have seasons here (and fortunately, 75’ during the day and 65’ at night IS winter for us). We have different seasons of weather, different seasons of fishing and different seasons of tourists, (and no you can’t hunt them during tourist season ;-). All three are tied together. As the weather changes, so does the fishing. The warm, humid southern breezes that push the gulf stream and It’s warm water and Sargasso weed in close to Key West gives way to cooler, drier northerly winds that pushes bait fish south and along with it, our winter fish. Summer is time for Dolphin, (and we still get a few in winter) and we’re generally fishing out deep, sometimes as far as 30 miles out and over 3,000 ft deep.  Much of the bait is found under floating weeds and debris and that’s where you find the fish. As the weather and the wind turn from the north, schools of ballyhoo, (baitfish) start to cover the reef, and with the bait come the predators. As the water and weather cools, Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, Kingfish, Mackerel and more all start to prowl the shallower water on and outside the reef. In the summer, I think it’s most productive to troll quickly cover some ground. Dolphin aggressive, fast and not boat shy. It’s not uncommon to see them jumping out of the water as they charge toward the baits as the boat passes down a weed line or past some floating debris. If you’re trolling, you’re not going to out run them if they want to feed!

In the winter, drifting with live bait or sight casting to sailfish, barracuda or tunas is not uncommon. Most of the best fishing in the winter months is in close, usually water 300 ft deep or less.  As the Capt/owner I like it because a shorter run because it means less I spend on fuel. It’s good for the customers too, because it means more fishing time per trip.  Over the last week or so, we’ve had a few cold fronts, (pretty good one last night) and the ballyhoo are starting to show up on the reef. We had a good catch of Tuna yesterday, mostly out deep, (600ft deep), but as the day wore on, the fish were steadily moving shallower and shallower, (300ft deep). I expect to start seeing sailfish chasing ballyhoo on the shallow reefs, Mackerels and king fish will be flying through the air and crashing it to the schools of bait and barracudas, groupers, Jacks and Mutton snappers will be down below waiting to pick off a scrap or wounded ballyhoo. It’s an exciting time to fish and one of my favorite times of the year. We like to use 20lb spin or lighter on the reef, sometimes it can be challenging to keep a big snapper or grouper out of the bottom, and often we have to chase any sailfish we hook so we don’t get spooled.

I’m looking forward to another great “winter” of fishing. Hope you’ll join me for a day or two

Capt. Rich

Fishing Report August 23rd, 2011

Summer Summary

The fishing this summer in Key West has been much improved over last year. Business was good, it seemed we had a lot more people from Texas, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah. I suspect fears related to the drug lords and all the turmoil in Mexico prompted many of the folks that would usually go there to seek other places to vacation. I’m glad many picked Key West and I hope that we showed them what a great place it is and they will come back again.

Fishing was better this summer too!  2010 was an “off” year for dolphin fishing and we spent most of the summer fishing for Yellow Tail and Gray snapper. We did well and send a lot of people home happy with some delicious fish, but I did miss being out deep looking for bigger fish. Not to mention the fact it gets pretty warm sitting on anchor in Key West in July and August. Much more comfortable to be trolling and creating our own breeze!

This summer we only anchored up and fished for Snappers a couple of times, again we did well most days, but dolphin fishing offshore was generally good and we have been able to put a catch together most days and send my customers home happy…which is always the main objective.

It seemed we had more Sargasso weed passing through the area this year than in recent years, which is always good for dolphin fishing. Sargasso weed is a natural growing sea plant that grows on the surface and drifts with the wind and current. It provides a refuge and habitat for a “bazillion” small critters. Pick up a clump of Sargasso sometime and shake it over the deck. You’ll be amazed at how many little shrimp, crabs, fish and even sea horses will fall out. It’s these little critters living there that attract small fish. The small fishing are hoping to feed on the little critters in the weed AND using the weed as protection from larger fish such as dolphin. The dolphin are found around the weed because they are there to feed on the smaller fish and little critters, (they are not there for the “shade” as some people think ;-). So basically small critters hide in the weed to hide from small fish. Small fish hide in the weed from bigger fish and Big fish hang around the weed trying to eat them all! It’s called the food chain or Mother Nature at work. It always makes my pulse raise a beat when we come upon a big weed patch or line. The potential for good fish is always there. If you’ve never seen a big bull dolphin come streaking out from under the weed and across the surface to attack a bait you’ve missed one of the most exciting sights of dolphin fishing!

Normally the fishing tapers off a bit in August as the water temp rises, but this year August had some of the best dolphin fishing of the year. Stating around the 8th of August, we had a weed line start moving through the area. It started coming up from the west being pushed by the Gulf Stream current. It was healthy looking weed, lots of debris, (which also holds fish), infested with small bait fish and it was LOADED with dolphin! Nice sized dolphin. There was enough weed and enough fish that the entire fleet could all work it and catch fish. Not only was it loaded with fish, but it lasted for 5 days! Now, that might not sound that impressive, until you start thinking about the fact that the current was doing a knot to a knot and a half to the east,(That is about 1.1 to about 1.7 mph). SO if I fished a patch of weed today, tomorrow morning that same patch of weed will be approximately 25-40 miles east of where I fished it!!

To have a weed line pass through our waters nonstop for 5 days means the weed was approximately 100-200 miles long!!! Talk about a tremendous area of habitat to fish! When the weed finally came to an end here, the beginning of the weed was somewhere off Miami. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it in those terms.

The summer of 2011 was a bit frustrating for me in terms of billfish. I think we caught 3 Sailfish and no Marlin. Summer is always the time when we catch the most marlin. In part, this is because that’s when we have the most boats out deep dragging baits in the area where they live and in parts because that’s when the dolphin are here.  Marlins eat the same food as dolphin AND they eat the dolphin. So if you find dolphin you always know you have a possibility of a Marlin. Unfortunately, this year just wasn’t my turn. Sailfish is by far our most common billfish in the Keys, and as I said, we got a few, but I always expect a couple shots at Marlin every summer, (last year we caught 2 blues). It didn’t happen. Oh well, maybe next year.

The biggest dolphin caught on the boat this year was a 52lb bull on July 5th. That’s a big ‘un by any standard. It was a lone bull, normally I would expect a couple cows, (female) dolphin to be cruising with him, but if there were, they weren’t hungry or they were smarter than the bull.

Probably the most notable fish of the summer was a  53lb Cubera Snapper we caught on one of the wrecks. We were actually shark fishing, using a whole bonito. When we hooked up, we were expecting just about anything except a Cubera. Shark, Goliath grouper, Amberjack, any of those would not have surprised me, but a Cubera is uncommon, (it was only my second) and a 53lb fish is pretty good sized, so we were very excited. For those that don’t know what a Cubera snapper looks like, think of a giant Gray (also called Mangro) snapper. The coloration, body shape and fin configuration are very similar, but Grays only get up to 8-10 lbs in general.  I believe a Cubera can top 100, but I’m very happy with a 53lb’er. One look at the business end of the fish and there is no doubt why they call it a “snapper”. A Cubera has a very impressive set of teeth. Two large canine fangs and a row of sharp pointed needle like teeth lining the jaws. A lot of the teeth are recessed in the gums, so you can’t readily see them, but if you push back the soft tissue of the mouth, they can be seen and are impressive.

We later caught a 153lb bull shark on the same trip, so we did catch our “target” species that day. It was a fun day all around! And that was the biggest shark of the summer.

School has started in many parts of the country. Local schools started yesterday and that usually signals the “end” of season. Business drops off quite a bit and the town gets quiet. There are still fish out there, just not that many customers wanting to go. That’s ok. I’ve had a great year; I’ve got plenty of “projects to work on and I won’t mind a little time off, ( at least until another boat goes out and “crushes” the fish ;-). Hurricane Irene is turning into a good storm, (Good = going to miss Key West). If I can get through the next 6 weeks or so, things should start picking up by October. The weather should be starting to cool down by then too. October and November are two of the nicest months to fish or just be in Key West. I’m looking forward to it.

June 4, 2011

The wind has picked up, the current has picked up and along with it,  the fishing has picked up too. After a week or so of very calm weather and gradually declining fishing, the Gulf Stream has moved back in close to the reef, (It was out 40 miles). Strong current and a bit of wind always make the fishing better. And true to form the last few weeks have been a blast. Dolphin, (Mahi Mahi or Dorado, not Flipper) have been moving through in good numbers. Some groups of larger fish, 20- 50 lbs are being caught in the 300-500 depths and a good number of schoolie sized fish are to be found on weed lines as they pass through the area. Floating debris has also been productive. One drawback to the strong east current is that any weed or debris found today is almost certainly out of range tomorrow.

There have been a decent number of Blue Marlin as well as a few White marlin either seen and /or caught over the last few weeks.  A Marlin eats the same food as dolphin and they eat dolphin so if you’re in the dolphin, you always have a chance at a Marlin. I caught two last year, both in May. I haven’t been lucky enough to hook one this year, but I’m still optimistic.

Not many Wahoo around, but the ones that are being caught are usually big ones. Mostly in the 40-50 lb range. No real rhyme or reason to the Wahoo. They are where they are and you just have to put your time in.

I haven’t done it, but I hear the inshore fishing for Tarpon is red hot. I haven’t see the large schools of tarpon rolling in the harbor which is typical of this time of year, but I do see quite a few boats hooked up both in the morning on the way offshore and in the afternoon when we return.

May 12, 2011

The weather has been absolutely breathtaking for the last few weeks.  Clear Skies, moderate temperatures, (mid 80’s- moderate for Key West), and calm seas.  Anybody that has gotten seasick in the last week should take up tennis because it doesn’t get any calmer in the ocean. In truth, in my opinion it’s too calm. Calm seas may be great for the fishermen, being on the boat is like sitting on your back porch, but it’s not necessarily great for the fishing. It seems when we get extended periods of very calm weather that while the fishing is great, the catching usually starts to suffer. I have a theory, and this is just a theory, I have nothing to back it up with. My theory is that when it’s calm the bait fish are sitting on the surface watching for predators and they can see very well. But if it’s rough, that same bait fish is getting bounced around 3-4 ft with the waves, (that’s equivalent to you being bounced up and down the height of a 4 story building), it’s much tougher to observe your surroundings. Ever try to read a sign while riding a rollercoaster?? Not so easy. The predators know it and they can get much closer to their prey.  It always seems the ocean is much more active with a bit of waves.  You will see more bait jumping, more fish jumping, just more activity in general. So far, we’ve been putting a catch together, although it’s been tougher on a half day trip as the better fish are deeper than normal this time of year.  May is usually an excellent time of year to fish, so I’m optimistic that we can keep producing good catches. Only time will tell

Too much calm weather has a couple of other drawbacks too. First, calm seas means no wind and no wind makes it very hot around here.  The “big heat” of the summer doesn’t usually start until June or July with August and September being the worst. May is too early to be sweating this bad and spending this much on AC. It’s going to make for a long summer. Another thing that’s bad about too calm is that the wind helps to cool the water. Without it, the water temperatures start to climb and warm water is conducive to hurricanes. Now I’m not predicting an epic hurricane season, but storms gain strength when they get over warm water. The earlier it gets warm the earlier we may start seeing storms. There are other factors involved, so it’s not like hurricanes will start popping up next week. But the waters around Key West are over 80 degrees now, by late July or Early August, when we’re getting into the heart of hurricane season, they may be much warmer. I know it’s tougher on the people, but I’ve always said I’ll take a beating in rough seas if it means catching good fish. I’m hoping for some wind!

Calm seas while in Key West fishing on charter boat Southbound

April 30th. 2011

Sorry to take so long between reports. There’s actually lots of fishing to report, I’ve just been so busy running trips and catching fish, which is good), that I haven’t had the time or energy to post a report, which is bad)

Many customers ask me “what’s the best time to fish?”, and while we have good fishing all year round, I always tell them April is one of my favorite months. It’s a “big fish” time of year.  Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, Cobia and Hammerhead sharks can usually be found along the color change* and big amberjacks on the wrecks. This April has lived up to expectations. We’ve had a good Sailfish run and it’s still going on. Strong east current is continuing to cause a strong color change to form up and sailfish are still migrating along that edge. Live bait has been the most effective, but trolling baits are starting also working.

Sailfish are not the only fish found along the “change” this time of year. Lots of big Hammerhead Sharks are cruising through. Hammerheads are the most common shark to see swimming on the surface and lately it’s not uncommon to see 5-6 a day. Yesterday we caught and released a scalloped hammerhead that weighed about 200lbs on 50lb test line. Even of relative heavy tackle, it took over 45 minutes to land the fish.

Black Fin Tuna are still migrating through and there have been steady catches also along the color change. Occasionally, schools of fish can be seen on the green side of the color change and have been cooperative when presented with a jig or live bait. Most of the bigger tunas are being caught on the blue side with live bait. I haven’t caught any over 30 yet this year, but most are in the mid 20lb range and we had one right at 29lbs on Monday

Amberjacks spawn on the wrecks in March and April and right now the wrecks are loaded. On one of the wrecks I fish, the schools of jacks were so thick, my depth sounder marked them as bottom . I was in over 2oo ft of water and the bottom machine was saying the bottom was 90ft down. That’s a solid mass of fish to mark that strong. Bites on live bait are easy and jigs seem to be working well also. Most of the fish we’ve been getting are over 5olbs with some in the high 60lb range. It’s a hell of a fight on 30lb tackle. Most people don’t want to catch more than a couple before their arms need a rest.

*The color change is where two bodies of water having different clarity and current meet. Commonly a strong east current, usually the Gulf Stream, pushes in close to the reef and the green inshore gulf waters push out. Where the two meet can be a pronounced edge: Green water with little or no current on one side and deep blue water with 1-3 kts of current on the other side.

This is what a “Color Change” looks like. The darker blue water is clearer and has more east bound current than the lighter blue.

March 23, 2011

It’s just not fair! Fishing that is. I always leave the dock expecting to have a great day, and I realize that not every day will be. But it still drives crazy when we have a slow day. I hate it. Like I’ve always said, I don’t like fishing, I like catching. Last week I had a very nice family on board. Two young boys, about 6 and 12, Mom and Dad.  The trip was all about the boys, mom and dad would have been happy to sit back and watch the boys “reel ‘em in” all morning long. I would have been too, but it just didn’t happen. It was one of the more frustrating days I’ve had recently, (thankfully). Whenever I have young ones on board, I feel it’s especially important to catch fish. At that age a good day or a bad day will establish their impression of fishing, possible for the rest of their lives. If it’s good, fishing will always have that good connotation. If it’s slow, fishing will represent a boring time. It’ll be like going to buy shoes, pretty dull and a waste of time, (if you’re a 6 yr old boy or a 54 yr old boat Capt.). Unfortunately, try as hard as I could, we only caught one small dolphin on a half day. I fished the blue water, I fished the outer bar, I fished the reef, I stopped at wreck on the way in, I even trolled from the Fleming Key bridge to the no wake zone, (almost at the dock).

We had two trips that day and in the afternoon we went right back to the same area and same depth,   using the same bait, same rigs, same pattern – same everything.  We caught 5-6 dolphins, a black fin tuna and a 34 lb wahoo! Naturally, my afternoon folks were very happy.

 The morning family took it well. No complaints, no sour faces, they tipped my mate and said “that’s fishing” and “thanks” and went on their way. By this time, they’ve probably forgotten it, but I haven’t. It’s still bugging me.  That’s why I say it’s just not fair. I hate the slow days. But a bad day doesn’t mean you had a bad plan. If you know what works and hopefully after 20+ yrs I’m starting to, you have to stick with it.  Sometimes I wish I could ration out the fish evenly so everybody has a great time, but “mom” (Mother Nature) won’t let me do it. You get what you get, when you get it and there ain’t nothing you can do about it. Like one of the “old timers” once told me: “thems that’s yours don’t get past you”.

Tomorrow is going to be really good!

March 4th, 2011

After fishing here in Key West for over 25 years, you can just tell when there is change in the wind or waves. Fishing the last few days hasn’t been great. There have been some good days and there have been some days where we put a catch together, but it was tough. There is no way I can be sure, but I just get a feeling it’s about to break loose. It’s March and it’s quite possible to get a major cold front again this month, even next month. But it doesn’t feel like it. Yea, I know that’s not scientific, but hell, even with all the millions of dollars the National Weather Service spends, they’re wrong about 30-40% of the time. So even if I’m 50-50 I’m not far off the mark. Anyway, call it intuition, call it experience, hell call it wishful thinking – Doesn’t matter, I just feel that the fishing is about to go bonkers. I’m starting to see some schools of ballyhoo, (bait fish), on the reef again. They were gone in Jan and most of Feb. The water Temp is up to 75 degrees offshore and baring a prolonged and very strong cold front, it’s not going to cool down again this year. The water has been very green for the last few weeks, with an occasional little eddy of blue-ish water sliding in to tease us, but yesterday the water offshore from about 300ft and deeper was a definite blue.  There was some Sargasso weed, a little early for weed lines, but Sargasso holds bait and that’s never a bad thing. The current was screaming to the west. I’d rather have east current, but some current is better than no current and west current and East wind makes it calmer offshore, (West current GOES west, East wind COMES from the East, so they are going in the same direction). And the wind, although it’s blowing pretty strong, is starting to come around to the East. Our dominant wind in the winter is north. Northwest on a cold front, due North or Northeast after that. But in the spring, the wind starts to come around to the east and that’s good for fishing. It can make it rough as the East current, (the gulfstream), will eventually move in close and when that happens, the wind and current will oppose each other. Just as wind and current going in the same direction has a calming effect on the seas. Wind and current opposing each other will cause seas to build, sometimes dramatically. It can make it very ……ah “sporty” shall we say, (we never like the word rough). But “Sporty” can be good for fishing. The ocean always seems to be more active when there is some wave action. Now we don’t always need 8-10 ft seas, but 2-3 is better than flat calm most days.

  So we’re starting to see it all. Wind direction, blue water, bait fish, still need the current to change direction, but that will come. Hopefully we’ll start to see some Sailfish showing up soon and if the wind goes a little southeast, we’ll probably see some dolphin too, (Mahi, not Flipper) .  I’m optimistic, but then again, I have to be. I have to get up every day expecting to catch fish, looking forward to a good day. In part, because it’s my job, I would be doing a disservice to my customers if I showed up at the boat all gloom and doom. Thinking positive won’t guarantee good fishing, but it doesn’t hurt and it always makes the day go better. Also, I have to have a positive attitude out of self-preservation. I’d be hating life if I went out everyday thinking it would be bad. No thanks! When I get up in the morning, the first thing I think about is coffee, (hey just being honest)………..and the second thing I think about is a game plan for the day of fishing. I’m looking at the wind speed and direction online. I’m thinking about the temperatures and water color the last few days. Is there current and which way is it going? In a small way, it’s like mental chess. I’m planning out my moves in advance. If plan “A” works, great, but if it doesn’t than I’m not going to stick with it. I’m going to move on to plan “B” and then plan “C”, and then plan “D”, etc as long as time allows.  Sometimes it all works and you look like the greatest Capt. ever! And sometimes none of it works. The trick is to always keep trying. If you do most people will be able to tell and will appreciate your efforts even if the fishing isn’t great.

Today may have been tough, but tomorrow is going to be a good day!

Feb 22 update

Black Fin Tuna are biting! The water is a clear green, not blue, but there are black fins crashing bait everywhere for the last two days. The seas are calm, the weather is warm and the fishing is easy! Gotta’ love it. We caught 10 black fin tuna in a half day yesterday. Only 4 in the morning, (and some bonitos), but that’s still good for a half day, (about 2 ½ hrs fishing time). Yesterday, we used live bait and caught fish up to 27 lbs on 20lb spinning tackle. Today we just trolled, (no time to catch live bait on a half day), but it was just as effective. Off tomorrow, 1st time in 10days, but looking forward to Thursday!

February 21, 2011

Fishing in Key West is always changing. After a tough week of fishing, conditions seem about to change for the better. We’ve had very green water, no current and cool water temps (68’), for the last week or so. Much of this can be attributed to the full moon and an extended period of unusually low tides. None of this is conducive to offshore fishing here. We want blue water, at least some current, preferable eastbound and water temperatures in the 72-74’ range. These variations can make all the difference in the world.

The full moon is passed and hopefully we should see some blue water and east bound current start working its way in shore over the next few days. We’ve been catching fish and having a lot of fun, but we’ve had to change our game plan a bit the last few days. Mostly we’ve been anchoring up and shark fishing along with drifting live ballyhoo for mackerel, Kingfish and whatever else wants to bite. It’s been working very well and the sharks have been a lot of fun. Mostly Black tip and Spinner sharks in the 40 – 80 lb range, not huge, but when you’re catching them on 20 & 30lb test line from an anchored boat, they put up a great fight.  We’re getting mostly Cero and Spanish mackerel on the live ballyhoo, but the few Kingfish we are getting are large, in the 25-30lb range.

For the better part of 2 weeks, I haven’t seen any schools of bait on the reef, but yesterday we found a large school of Ballyhoo on the reef. After anchoring and netting a few for bait, the action was non-stop. If you find the bait, you’ll find the fish. We were catching large Cero mackerels, some big Barracudas as fast as we could put the baits out. Using 12 and 20lb spinning tackle really adds to the fun because any fish can put up a great fight.  An added bonus was the school of Yellow Tail Snapper that came up in our chum. They’re not as large or strong as Mackerel or Barracuda, but they are excellent table fare.

February 14th, 2011

One of the great things about Key West is that, no matter where you go, it’s always great to come home. Now I’m sure folks living in Buffalo or Peoria or Cleveland all like their homes and after a getaway, they’re looking forward to seeing their friends and family. Maybe even looking forward to getting back to their job, but can you really look forward to Cleveland……….especially in February? Nah, I don’t think so. But Key West is almost like going on vacation when you’re coming home from vacation. As I write this, I’m 30,000 feet in the air flying   back from a quick weekend getaway with my Sweetie, Emalyn. We went to Austin Texas to see Willie Nelson live on his “home court” at the Austin City Limits concert at the Moody Theater. Seats 4 rows back from the stage.  Awesome show! I like Willie, but Ema is a big fan and this was her Christmas/Valentine’s Day present. Everything went great. Flights were great, Austin was great, Hotel was great and Willie was great. It was a wonderful 3 days, but now we have to go home. That’s what’s so cool about living in Key West! For us going home IS going to Key West! For everybody else in the world, going home is Buffalo or Cleveland or who knows where. For us our “going home” is the same as they’re “going on vacation”. Sure, we’ll be working tomorrow while the true “going on vacation” people will be sitting on the beach sipping an umbrella drink, but we’re still in Key West! We get the same warm weather, the same ocean breezes, and the same warm sunshine. We don’t have to hurry up and do “things” because we’ll be here next week too! I don’t mean to gloat, but every once in a while I need to sit back and realize just how lucky I am. Not sure I deserve it, but I’ll take it. The good news is that for all of you that don’t live in Key West, we have plenty of sunshine to go around and ……we’re always willing to share!

February 10, 2011

It’s always a bit strange talking to friends and family this time of year, especially when they’re having a severe winter such as most of the country is experiencing now. I feel a little guilty when the subject comes around to the weather, which it always does. Yea, it does get chilly here every once in a while. I’ve seen it get in to the low 40’s on rare occasions. But lately it’s been in the high 70’s to the mid 80’s in Key West for the better than a week. I think the last “cold” day was January 29th and that was a chilly 62 in the morning and warmed up to around 70’ by noon.  We get very spoiled after a while and honestly after almost 30yrs in Key West, I can’t really comprehend living, driving, shoveling or freezing in the snowy winter weather you all have been having. Sure, I have distant memories of getting up in the morning and wiping the snow off my car or scraping the ice off the windshield.  I vaguely remember walking through thigh deep snow or ridding a toboggan with friends at the local golf course. I also remember wearing so many clothes that I looked like I weighed 220lbs well before I actually weighed 220lbs. Everyone looked like the Pillsbury dough boy/girl. It would always be a revelation when spring came and you would see girls you’d met over the winter and think, “hey she’s not really fat!” Of course, there were also the “wow, I guess that wasn’t a bulky coat” girls too.

I spoke to an old friend of mine this past week. He lives in Vermont. It hasn’t been above freezing since sometime in NOVEMBER!  HOLY CRAP! That’s over 2 months! One sixth of the year! More than 16% of a year and it’s not over yet.  February is not a month you would expect a thaw in Vermont. NO THANK YOU! There is no way I want to spend that much of my life being cold. I rate winters by “sock days”. That’s how many days I have to wear socks to keep my feet warm. Most days I wear sandals or flip flops, (Never wear socks with either- ultimate nerd alert). My “winter” shoes are sneakers and the only ice we shovel around here is from the ice machine into a cooler. If you see Ice on the street in Key West, if means somebody spilled their drink and that works just fine for me.  As I’m writhing this, I’m barefoot and shirtless. The doors and windows are open and it’s only about 74’ outside, (but it’s early so it should warm up). Now that’s my kind of February! Sorry folks, but nobody said you had to stay in the cold just because you were born there. The good news is that we have lots of hotel rooms in Key West and that means you don’t have to freeze all winter. Thank Orville and Wilbur, (Wright), but there is a way to take a break from the cold. It’s your choice. You can sharpen the edge of your snow shovel and hunker down as the next winter storm approaches or fly the friendly skies and break out your best dress flipflops and come to Key West.

Everything is here, the weather, the restaurants, the bars, the beaches, the fish and lots more.

Everyone deserves some “no sock days” in their life

January 22nd, 2011

Conditions have finally lined up and fishing was red hot the last few days. The combination of the full moon, calm seas, East current and clean water all came together this week and the Key West fishing  went off. The bite is on for Sailfish, Wahoo and Black Fin Tuna . Saturday was non-stop action! West of Key West in 120 to 180 ft of water you didn’t have to wait long for a bite. Most of the Black Fin Tuna have been good size, mostly in the 15-20lb. Single hookups were not uncommon, but more often than not, 2,3 or ever 4 fish were hitting at a time.

The wahoos have been over due. They were expected around the full moon in November and again in December but didn’t show. The full moon was again this week and this time we weren’t disappointed. Good catches of Wahoo were reported by the trolling boats from East to West off Key West. Multiple hooks ups, known as “Wolf packs” were not quite as common as I would hope, but there were a few. Most of the wahoo  bites were single or doubles, but there were definitely enough to go around. I heard of a few fish in the 50lb range, but most of the ones were catching have been in the mid 30lb range. That’s still a respectable fish any day!

Sailfish have been mixed in with the wahoo and Black Fin Tuna. The fast trolling speeds that are preferred for Wahoo and Tuna are usually a bit fast for Sails, but some fish just can’t resist. Most of the Sailfish are of the “full sized” variety, 40-60lbs, not the 10-20lb juveniles that we tend to see in the fall.

There were still a good number of small Dolphin being caught during the past week as should be expected with the South winds we’ve had. That should drop off with the passing cold front, but expect it to pick up again if the wind goes to the south for a day or two.

Kingfish and Cero Mackerel are still being found on the reef when the action is needed.

The cold front that passed through the Key West area on Saturday night is not expected to be a very strong one. It will probably not affect the fishing to any great degree or for any length of time. Expect red hot fishing to return as soon as the weather clears. If the weather service is correct, Sunday should be good, and the early part of the coming week should be right back to red hot fishing.

January 13, 2011

The New Year has started out well for fishing in Key West. Sailfish are still coming up on the reef to feed on the schools of ballyhoo, (bait fish). Sailfish are also being caught offshore, both trolling and live baiting.

There have been a surprising number of dolphin, (Mahi or Dorado, not Flipper) caught over the last week, mostly due to some mild weather and a few days of South winds. Most of the Dolphin caught were fairly small, in the 3-6 lb range, perfect for table fare. There were a few big fish caught, we caught a 25lb bull on Sunday. I’d be happy with that fish in May when big dolphins are expected!

There has still been some good mackerel action along the reef and Kingfish are starting to show up. It’s a bit later than expected, but we caught some nice sized Ceros up shallow and a few Kings in the high teens over the past few days.

On Tuesday, we finally got a decent Wahoo bite.  It wasn’t ballistic, we’re still due for that, but boats were consistently catching Wahoo from East to West. The strong cold front that came through on Wednesday, will probably put the kibosh on the Wahoo bite for a couple of days, but expect more fish to be caught after the seas calm a little. This weekend should be good.  At least we know the fish are finally here. Better late than never!

January 1, 2011

Good Bye 2010