For most of the last 5 months or so,
we have been inundated with a large amount of Sargassum weed floating in the waters off Key West, Flordia. Some days it was just scattered out. Some days it was in nice lines, and some days it was in big huge patches. It would change with the change in the wind and the current, but regardless, the weed was there. The last few days all the charter boats have been asking the same question, Where did all the weed lines go?
To be honest,
it was a royal pain in the ass at times. Too much Sargassum weed is about as bad as none. You can’t troll 100yes without all the baits getting “weeded up”. Having weed on your baits isn’t good. We are not fishing for vegetarian fish. We are fishing for the predators and they don’t like salad with their meal. My mate and all the mates have been working their tails off all spring and summer clearing the weed off the baits. Many days it was constant non-stop clearing the baits in 90′ heat and 95% humidity. It can make for a very long fishing trip for the mate.
But over the last few days,
it has gone away. There were just a few scraps out on the “wall” on Tuesday. We found some buckets and part of a log floating and found fish there, but there was not much weed that day and there has been none to be found since. I don’t know where it goes, but the Sargassum weed forms a habitat for small critters. Shrimp, Crabs, Seahorses and small fish all use it for protection. If you find the weed, you usually find the dolphin.
When there is no weed or floating debris,
the next thing to look for is birds. Not just any birds, they have to be “working”. When we say a bird or birds are “working” it means they are on the water going back and forth trying to feed. The baitfish that they are feeding on can see them and would normally go too deep for the birds to catch………unless there is something under the bait chasing them up. That “something” is bigger fish. Dolphin, wahoo, Tuna and even billfish can be caught under birds. Sometimes the birds will just follow a big fish waiting for it to feed. It is like following the ice cream truck when I was a child. Follow it long enough and something good was going to happen.
So we were looking for birds mostly today.
There was no need to be found and none of the other boats had seen any either. We go out to about 850 ft of water and still had not had a bite. Listening to the VHF, I was not hearing anything encouraging from the boats further south and the boats inshore had been catching a few bonitos and barracudas. I know my customers had wanted Dolphin, but it was time to make a decision. I headed back inshore. Truthfully, I was hoping to catch some bonitos and barracudas if we could be back shallow before the trip ended. Some days it’s more fun to catch “fun” fish inshore than to not catch big fish offshore. If the dolphin weren’t going to bite, I wanted to make sure my group caught something.
As we headed inshore
I spotted a flock of birds and they were definitely “working”. As I made a pass on them we hooked 3 nice dolphin. We lost one at the boat and boated the other two. At least we were on the scoreboard and those two would probably feed my group, (they might need a salad). THAT took a lot of pressure off me!. But I wasn’t satisfied and I wasn’t done, We baited up and trolled after the birds again. We ended up getting 3 more dolphin. Only one was a keeper, but with 3 gaffers in the boat, we had enough for 1 great dolphin dinner and possible 2.
There were still a couple of members of the party
that had not caught anything, so we went inshore to one of the wrecks and hooked a couple of Barracudas to finish the day. The boat got back a little late, but I don’t ever “clock watch”, just ask my mates. We caught fish, we caught dinner and my group had fun. By far more important than a little extra time