Mid June and the Albie assault is in full force. This is quickly becoming the “Year of the Beast”, with the average sized albie coming over the side right around twelve to fourteen pounds. Sixteen to eighteen pound fish are a daily event, as are phrases like “Man, these are tough”, “I need a break” and “I’m done”. The weather has been great with calm winds and flat seas, and nicely the sharks have not proven to be too much of a problem as of yet,( unlike last year when they were a serious PITA, absconding with two out of every five fish hooked) with only the odd fish being taken here and there. With a minimum of six more weeks to go in the season, (too much to hope for that they’ll remain into September as in the past two years), there is still plenty of time and openings in my schedule to get in on the action.
Blackfin tuna have been putting in appearances this week, we’ve managed some of the smaller ones, but the twenty to thirty pound and up fish have eluded capture so far.
There was a spectacular king mackerel bite going on right up until the most recent full moon. Some of the most consistent fishing for some of the largest kings I’ve seen in quite a few years. The speed at which a thirty pound plus king first hits the fly and then dumps several hundred yards of backing off the reel is truly shocking. Short of a sailfish or wahoo, they are the fastest thing we get to play with. The action of the kings is projected to heat back up around the end of this month according to those that fish for them on a more regular basis than I.
Beach fishing has also been darn good. The big schools of big tarpon are migrating north, the bait schools along the beaches have snook and jacks patrolling them, cobia following common southern and manta rays have been in good supply, and yellowtail and mutton snappers have been eating flies drifted deep over area reefs.
There seems to be a shortage of dolphin the past couple of weeks, not sure why. And the Skip jack tuna that we enjoyed most of the winter has also tapered off. We’ve been catching a few of both species, just not as many as I’d like to see.
This should all continue for the near future, with the only addition being the big schools of snook showing up at the inlets sometime in July.
Long over due I know, but remember, a lack of reports mean an excess of fishing action that will always take priority over sitting in front of a box typing on a keyboard. At least for me it will, and I’m kinda proud of those priorities. Anyhow, the most amazing thing, here it is the 25th of April and the Spinner Sharks are still here. Ten days later than I have ever seen them before. And I don’t mean just a few, tons of them. Really is a nice treat after all the poor weather that didn’t allow fishing for them in January and February to have some great conditions and great action late in the season. More than likely the excess shark food, ie; Bluefish of all sizes,(some stud Blues have been in the area the past month, pushing fifteen lbs) Jacks, Pompano, Ladyfish, Spanish Mackerel, juvenile King Mackerel and hordes of Blue Runners still in the area along the beaches has kept them interested in staying. This winter season was also the best action on Skipjack Tuna I have ever seen, with very consistent action well into March. But it’s bound to end sometime and at the moment we have some wind and weather going on that just might send them on their way. As always, it’s sad to see them go, but the sadness will have to take a back seat to the excitement of False Albacore, Dolphin, monster Jack Crevalle, King Mackerel, Amberjacks all moving in to take the Spinners place. And another month down the road will have the big Tarpon and trophy Snook getting in on it.
I’d love to go into detail of the action we’ve seen over the past couple of months, some of the stories are truly entertaining of fish caught and fish lost. One client that spent almost an hour on either a large Amberjack or Cobia,(don’t know which because we never saw it and never had any control over it with a twelve weight!) only to have it included in the food chain. A twelve foot plus Hammerhead sharks charging around the boat hot on the heels of the Spinner Shark we had hooked up,( pretty interesting when six foot sharks are part of the food chain, huh?) A wall of two hundred, twenty pound and larger Jack Crevalle charging the boat chasing my teaser plug that looked so intimidating I saw my client backing up out of the corner of my eye. One clients gear maintenance practices coming into question when a very hot, very large king mackerel literally had smoke coming out of his reel,(wish I had gotten That on film)The stories are numerous and the stuff memories are made of, but they will have to wait for a later time. The first non-fishing day in a pretty good while is always hectic and filled with things that need doing.
I have loads of open dates over the next three months, May, June and July. The best weather and some of the best fishing of the year.
Big news first…..The Spinners are Here, The Spinners are Here!!!! But more of that later….
Finally had some business come in over the holidays, and fishing over all was very entertaining. Still catching skipjack tuna when they present themselves. Which has been remarkably consistent for them. Quite often, I’ll find them one day and then they’re gone for several weeks. But they’ve been present almost everyday the weather has cooperated enough to let us offshore. In the process of skippy hunting, (and catching) this past weekend, we also caught some respectable dolphin in the five to ten pound range. Though I haven’t been targeting dolphin much recently,( we get plenty of dolphin through out the year, I’m concentrating on the skippies while they can be targeted) there have been quite a few being caught by other boats. Another offshore oddity have been a good number of false albacore, (Florida bonitos), I hear the guys trying to catch sailfish complaining about their five dollar apiece baits getting eaten by albies. The beaches have continued to increase in action and variety, the spanish mackerel schools have been joined by some truly massive schools of jack crevalle. One such school last weekend was over a half mile long, literally thousands of five to ten pound jacks blasting minnow schools. They were on the rampage for several hours, would eat anything we threw at them, and best of all we had them all to ourselves with not another boat anywhere near.
The near shore rock piles have been holding an assortment of species like king mackerel, juvenile amberjack, almaco jacks, grouper and other stuff as well. We actually had a triple header of grouper a few days ago, a first for me. Nothing huge, but a grouper on fly is just so cool and three at once is very special.
So I guess between the recent push of cool,(soon to be cold, forecast is for temps in the mid to low thirties the next two mornings) and all the food showing up, the spinner sharks decide to finally get their act together and come on in. Good numbers of sharks almost everywhere I went yesterday, strung out along all the beaches. We did take a few minutes and play with some, but didn’t manage to get a hook into any. Still, was great seeing them and I’m very excited at the prospect of the next two months of entertainment they are going to provide.
The recent cool weather, and the approaching cold weather is going to make the fishing bust loose. I have reports from north of here of massive amount of bait moving south with the predators in hot pursuit. This is shaping up to be some of the very best action in the past several years.
I do have plenty of open dates for any parties interested in stepping up to a big ol’ plate of whoop-ass…..
And so it continues. Very little business, and really entertaining fishing. The latter part of October and all of November had much cooler weather than is typical with many overnight lows dipping into the low fifties and upper forties. This had the effect of kicking off the winter fishing much earlier than is normal. The big schools of jacks arrived, spanish mackerel and bluefish, pompano, ladyfish all in attendance, big numbers of sailfish being posted by the bait guys, and we posted the earliest spinner shark release last week that I can remember. I’m hoping the spinner sharks are going to make up in a small part for arriving late the past two years by showing up a month early this year.
I have only managed about a dozen trips, both paying and not, since my last post, and not two days were similar due to the huge variety of things to do. One day was jacks charging teaser plugs inside the ICW and around the inlet. Next day was spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish and spinner sharks. On days with a calm enough offshore, dolphin fishing has stayed very consistent. Deep drifting the reefs and wrecks also red hot. Had one very funny day on the beach that the pompano were so thick, they were skipping,(when spooked by a boat driving near them, pompano will launch out of the water, then skip on their sides like a stone) ten at a time as I drove through the schools. We had several actually jump straight into the boat, and I managed several more with the landing net. Lost a big permit that day also.
On one solo trip in search of just some fish to take home for dinner,( snapper/grouper were the intended targets) I was waylaid by amberjacks. Not sure why, but they took a keen interest in a small Clouser, not the typical fly for fish up to forty pounds! Ended up with six, including a double header that must have been pretty hilarious to watch, but in retrospect was a little silly. I was bringing in a smallish AJ of about ten pounds and he had a buddy of around twenty lbs following him. Managed to get another fly rod out and hook up the follower, then found my hands to be literally full. Ended up having to pop the leader on the first fish in order to fight the second. Fun stuff.
Yesterday was as epic as it gets. Huge schools of small sardines were getting balled up and hammered by everything under the sun. Big albies flying out of the water, monster packs of good sized jacks charging around like lawnmowers from hell, spanish and king mackerel launching skyward. There were even sailfish in water less than ten feet deep getting their share. I ran seven miles of beach and could not find the end of it.
I’m going to need a therapist if I have to watch all this good fishing going untouched…..
As it usually does this time of year, calls for trips have dropped off considerably. It’s always been like this, for unclear reasons. Probably people just finishing summer vacations, getting kids back to school, preparing for the holidays. Not sure why, but that’s the way it is. It wouldn’t be as maddening if it were not for the fact that the fishing is nothing short of stellar this time of year. The variety of fish is crazy, from the mullet run/bait migration in progress inshore, to fabulous bottom fishing, to offshore action. Really entertaining stuff, and no one to go do it with. Since I can’t stand it all going to waste, I have managed to get out solo once or twice a week.
Dolphin action following the tropical storms in late August was, and continues to be very good. Average size has been less than ten lbs, but there has been no shortage of them, and a decent amount of bigger fish in the mid teens to thirty pound range have been around. The offshore tuna action has really heated up in the past couple of weeks with small blackfin tuna just about everywhere outside the reef edge. I spanked them pretty good one day last week, releasing over twenty of the two to five pounders, with a couple of the larger ones invited home for dinner.
Larger pieces of debris have also been holding wahoo, and much to my surprise while sinking a large streamer deep under a bamboo tree a week ago in search of a wahoo, a sixty some odd pound sailfish ate my fly over a hundred feet down. This was a first for me. I’ve gotten sailfish for customers doing the bait and switch thing, but I’ve never personally caught one. And this was only the second sailfish in twenty years to be hooked up on a deep fly. He gave me quite a show, clearing the stern of the boat on the first jump and proceeding to tear up the ocean for about thirty minutes when I released him. I tried to take some video, and of course the camera case is in the deepest reaches of the console. Must have looked pretty comical, sailfish going ballistic, and only the fly rod visable as I dove into the console to get the camera. I got a couple jumping shots, but it was pretty tough to pull of decent filming while fighting the fish.
The mullet run/bait migration started very early, late August, and has been going on ever since. Tarpon, snook, spinner sharks, big jack crevalle and other assorted predators all crashing the bait schools. The first waves of our winter players showed up, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish and spanish mackerel going crazy on all the easy prey. Add in the reef action consisting of snapper, grouper, assorted runners, juvenile amberjacks and king mackerel, and I just may go crazy with no one to go do all this with….
And the albie train keeps chugging along. Not sure how many releases so far this season, but 3K sounds about right. Talk about a cooperative fish. Not a single trip in the past two months were they absent or uncooperative. Two things stand out as out of the ordinary this year; 1) A huge size range in the albies. One fish coming over the side could weight as little as five pounds, the next could be fifteen. Ten lbs was the average. And 2) The sharks were out of control. Very annoying to lose the largest fish to the toothy critters. Early on the monster bull sharks were the bad boys, eight to twelve feet long. And nothing that you couldn’t get back to the boat in short order survived. A few of the harder fighters I suspect were blackfin tuna, a serious dissapointment to lose. More recently, smaller spinner, dusky and other assorted sharks have moved in and are small enough to provide some excellent entertainment of their own.
We had some incredible king mackerel fishing in the past couple of months also, with several late afternoon/evening trips rivaling anything in my memory. One evening in particular, we were hooking kings on every drop that we couldn’t do anything with. After the bone jarring strike, they would slowly wind up like a turbine engine, finishing their run several hundred yards out with the reel screaming like skidding tires. The largest we landed that evening was over thirty pounds, but I know several of the others we hooked that didn’t make it to the boat were considerably larger.
Besides a smattering of cobia, tarpon, snook and dolphin, that is about it. Which brings us into the late summer/early fall outlook. The albies will remain into mid September,( thier numbers will start to drop in mid August) which works, because the sailfish and wahoo run that happens in August will be much easier if there aren’t a gazillion albies all trying to eat the flies. The back bays in the ICW around the area have filled up nicely with juvenile tarpon and it’s about time to play with them. And the monster snook that are in the inlets also deserve some attention. That should get us through till early fall when there should be offshore dolphin and skipjack tuna action to be had.
I’m off to Maine for a much needed vacation for a week, but I’ll be back and ready to go the end of the first week of August.
Hard to believe it’s been three months since my last report…busy fishing I guess.
I’d like to report that spinner shark season was it’s usually insanity with wrecked leaders, lines, flies and anglers, but such was not the case. After their later than usual arrival,(five weeks late) the weather was impossible with hard east winds. We did end up with almost a month of fishable conditions,(instead of three months…aaaarrrrgggghhhh), and had some action that was truly epic. Some days the sharks were schooled up so thick and in such a voracious mood that chumming was unnecessary. Just get in position, throw the fly and hang on.
And for the first time that I can remember, the false albacore arrived before the sharks departed. We caught the first ten pound plus albie on March 24th, a fourteen pounder. Hence the reason for the lack of reports, out of the spinner shark frying pan, into the albie fire. As of this writing, my rough estimate on releases for false albacore tops four hundred, a great start to a record release season. Topping last years estimate of 3500 releases is likely, knock on wood.
Dolphin fishing has heated up, we have boated fish in excess of thirty pounds and lost some much larger fish. I am looking forward to having the dolphin fishing remain good for the next several months. King mackerel are also in attendence, good sized fish in the ten to thirty pound and up range, and will dump line off a fly reel very, Very fast. Some magnum sized blackfin tuna have put in an appearance, but so far, none have stayed long enough to visit the icebox.
Throw in a scattering of skipjack tuna, cobia, wahoo and sailfish,(one customer this week had a chance at a sailfish in fifteen feet of water close to the beach, something that will send the heart rate into triple digit timing unless you’re dead) and our “target rich environment” is complete. The only missing players are the big tarpon that should start moving through the area in early June and remain into mid July. This is shaping up to be a very entertaining spring and summer.
This will be about the shortest report I’ve ever posted.
They took their time but, THE SPINNER SHARKS HAVE ARRIVED!!!!
Gotta go…flies to tie, sharks to annoy!!!
Winter fishing has been pretty interesting as of late. Jacks have poured into the area and have provided some good entertainment. Especially during the post front periods with high winds and cold temps. With waves of ballyhoo pouring through, ten thousand jacks rise to the surface and crash everything in sight. Easily a good reason to brave twenty mile an hour winds. And employing a teaser plug on a spinning rod can bring a hundred jacks charging the boat, an easy cast for most everyone that isn’t so intimidated by the sight that they aren’t backing up in the boat.
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel schools are along the beaches, both of which are in a slightly higher weight range than typical. Some of the bigger blues have been upwards of ten pounds and the Spanish mackerel have been very nice in the five pounds and slightly larger range.
In recent weeks some truly huge king mackerel have taken to cruising the outer edges of the Spanish mackerel schools, weights over fifty pounds have been recorded, though we haven’t gotten tangled up with one like that on fly, some twenty pounders have been caught. We have been encountering more cobia here and there during good visibility, we boated another forty pounder a week ago.
During good weather windows we have managed some dolphin offshore. Last Thursday Darren Selznick, owner of the Old Florida Fly Shop in Boca and I managed to catch six or seven, keeping just two for dinner. I hear reports of false albacore and medium sized blackfin tuna putting in sporadic appearances, but I always seem to be elsewhere doing other things when that occurs.
One of the more interesting pass times of late has been using fast sinking fly lines on rock piles, reefs and wrecks. Some of the more exotic species coming over the side have been various snapper,(mutton, yellowtail, lane and even a few vermillion snapper, a truly special catch since they are more often found in very deep water out of the range of any sinking fly line) horse-eye jacks, juvenile amberjacks and even a few grouper. The depths we’ve been working have been as deep as eighty feet and on days when surface/sight casting opportunities have been nil, the fast sinkers have been a real day saver.
The back bays have had good number of ladyfish, pompano, barracuda, smaller jacks and other assorted light tackle fare such as croaker and seatrout.
Twenty possible species is nice, (my best one day total is fifteen), all in all, pretty decent fishing. Though the spinner sharks have been MIA and the sailfish bite has been less than stellar, both of those situations I hope will change shortly. We have had a succession of cold fronts moving through, (the same frontal systems that have caused all the crappy weather throughout the rest of the country) and that is just the kind of weather change to stir the pot and get things really popping.
Most often when there is a large gap between fishing reports it is due to fishing way too good to take time out from to write said report. Sadly, this is not the case with this lengthy hiatus. While the fishing has been good, I have had very few clients recently to come take advantage of the fishing, and between some rather crummy weather and pressing projects at home fun fishing time has been limited. I have found some time to get out there to find dolphin fishing has been good, some occasional skip jack tuna action present itself, small blackfin tuna in good numbers, and the winter visitors, (fish, not snowbirds) are beginning to arrive. Schools of bluefish, mackerel, and jacks are all making appearances, and numbers of sailfish continue to rise. I plan on spending as much time as possible this fall and early winter out dragging teasers and hooking sailfish, at least until the spinner sharks arrive sometime in January.
As I write this, tropical storm Noel is passing off to the east and the winds have been strong and constant out of that direction for almost a week. I hope to find the fishing on fire when the ocean gets back to normal, because I have just about run out of things to do.