Marlin fishing, or Dolphin fishing? Reef fishing or wreck fishing? A lot of choices it seems. These questions are good ones as September has shown its face on us once again. The summer is slowly on its way out and fall is very closely beginning its arrival. Coming into this month there is a variety of fish to be caught, both inshore and offshore. Surprisingly the weather has been favorable and the temperatures (maybe its just me) have been nice. Highs of 84 to 86 in September are nice in South Florida. Storm activity so far has not been much of an issue either. Winds have been mild, and the water is clear just about everywhere you look. This has also been making for some great diving opportunities as well. If it is targeting a specific game fish, or just having a nice relaxing day on the water, we have a plan for you.
The Offshore Game
This month is always a toss up of what will bite offshore. We have had some great, and not so great, fishing offshore in September. In years past I have seen awesome Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) and Wahoo action, and other years Sailfish and Blackfin Tunas. And, some years I have seen very slowwwww.. fishing offshore in September. This year if the weather and conditions stay consistent, the Dolphin bite may be pretty good. Strong easterly current has been very prevalent off the Florida Keys bringing new opportunities to anglers every day. Picture this, there is enough current from the Gulfstream right now that if you were to stop and float offshore of Key West, in 24 hours you would be offshore of Marathon, and in 72 hours offshore of Ft. Lauderdale. Crazy isn’t it. This strong current has new weed lines forming daily, and some nice catches of Mahi have been showing up to the docks lately.
The Marlin fishing this month is always hit or miss, but then again when is Marlin fishing “not” hit or miss. A few nice Blues and some Whites have been caught in the last week or so in the bluewater. Here is a video of a Blue Marlin caught on the Outer Limits this summer.
Aside from the Dolphin, some schools of Blackfin Tuna have been starting to move into the 300-400 foot range. Mostly football size, these speedy balls of muscle are a lot of fun on light tackle. Small baits free lined or trolled a good distance from the boat can be the most productive.
Located around these schools of tuna are an abundance of Bonito (Little Tunny) which can be almost as much fun as the Tuna. These fish have a following too as Wahoo and Barracuda are predominately found near schools of Tuna and Bonito. Some of the biggest Wahoo and Barracuda caught in the Keys are caught around schools of these fish.
Reef and Wreck Action
Early fall brings good conditions for reef and wreck fishing. Schools of Ballyhoo are already starting to show up on the outsides of the “bar” and are giving Snapper plenty to eat. The Snapper spawn is pretty much over and the fish are hungry as they try to fatten up for the winter. Yellowtail Snapper are the most abundant and catching a limit of nice fish is generally an achievable goal. Free lined minnows and plenty of chum keep this action packed fishery alive. Along with the Snappers are always a healthy Grouper or Mutton Snapper, and some Kingfish have been showing up on the reef as well.
Wreck fishing has been a game of “HOLD ON!” as of late. Big Amberjacks have been testing the forearms of many of our anglers. Averaging 50-70 pounds these brutes are a tussle on light tackle. Some big Grouper will also start showing up to the wrecks as the water starts to cool down towards the end of the month. Pinfish, Greenies, Blue Runners, and G-Eyes have been the baits of choice. Many good size Sharks have been around these wrecks as well. Bull and Sandbar Sharks have been the largest ones to blame for eating a hooked fish or two. Tie on the steel leader and get ready to “HOLD ON!”
No matter what your skill level is or what you wish to target, there is a plan in September to catch fish. Don’t forget that September in the Keys and Key West is off-season, so take advantage of lowered rates on hotels and travel packages.