This last couple of weeks has been very busy in Key West. The town is bustling with visitors as Spring Break is once again upon us. The weather has been nothing short of spectacular with abundant sunshine, east breezes, and the temperatures reaching 80 degrees. The fishing has been pretty spectacular as well. A mix of these east breezes and blue water offshore has brought on some regular visitors to Keys waters. Blackfin Tuna, Bonitos, Wahoo, Sailfish, and Mahi have all been caught in this past week, and if this trend of regular Spring time conditions continues, you can bet the fishing will be good.
Rather than write a long drawn out report, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. See you soon!
No two words are more exciting for me to say as a captain, than the words “Sail On!!”. It’s just synonymous with the type of fishing that I love the most, Billfish fishing. Whether targeting Marlin, Swordfish, or Sailfish, I am right at home, but I have to say that catching Sailfish on light tackle may be some of the most exciting fishing on the planet. Not to mention, it takes place right in my own backyard. The Atlantic coast of Florida and the Florida Keys boast some of the best Sailfish fishing you can find, all without leaving the states. Sailfish can be caught in these waters year round, but the best of it takes place during the winter and spring time of year.
Targeting these acrobatic masters is nothing short of a poker game, meaning sometimes you can go and get lucky to catch one, but the ones who are good at Sailfish fishing have honed their skills on producing high numbers of catches. The right cards (i.e. bait) and knowing when, and where to play them is key to consistently good Sailfish fishing. Winds, currents, and water quality are all factors that come in to play when deciding where these fish are going to be searching for their next meal. Take for instance yesterday, we had dirty water conditions off the reef edge and large schools of ballyhoo on the reef edge, a perfect scenario for a Sailfish to ambush these tasty morsels. And, with in a few minutes of casting a ballyhoo out in 40 feet of water on the reef edge, we were hooked up to a big feisty Sailfish. However, a few days before, the dirty water had pushed itself out deeper (125 feet) creating a color change in which all of our Sailfish were caught on that edge.
Some times the conditions are less than favorable for Sailfish fishing, but can produce anyway with a great presentation. Bait choice can be a game changer when it comes to putting flags on the riggers. Matching the hatch seems to be one of the best ways of deciding which baits to offer. In the winter months down in the Keys, live ballyhoo is the bait of choice as they are one the most prevalent food sources for Sailfish during this time. Yet, as we get a little further into spring, the ballyhoo get scarce and shad species such as pilchards, herring, and goggle eyes become the top of the list, or the bottom of the food chain, whichever way you look at it. These shad baits are very well presented by kite fishing, which suspends the bait from the kite keeping it right on the surface. This method forces the bait to create vibrations on the surface in which Sailfish can detect from hundreds of feet away. Not only is kite fishing productive, but also exciting as almost all of the bites are in plain sight of everyone onboard.
Sailfish fishing in the on the Outer Limits has been heating up lately and its only going to be getting better. Spring is just around the corner so make plans to come down and put some flags on the riggers! Call Captain Jay now and book direct 305-923-1043
As many of the population of the Northern United States, wait, I mean the Northern Hemisphere, is hunkering down through cold winter days, the Florida Keys has been quite consistently warm throughout this winter. Steady temperatures in the mid to high 70’s have kept tourists coming and the fish biting. This warmth has also kept some other normally short term visitors to the Keys from leaving; the Mahi-Mahi. Generally the Mahi you tend to see in Keys waters in the fall and winter are here for only a brief period as they migrate south during this time of year in search of warmer surroundings. Consistent water temperatures of 75 to 78 degrees and an abundance of food, such as Flying Fish and Ballyhoo, have kept the Mahi moving through Keys waters for months. Now not everyday are a bunch of Mahi caught like in the summer months, but some very respectable Bulls and Cows have been brought in by Keys anglers, along with some nice school fish and gaffer size Dolphin as well. Which brings us to our main fish tale.
Two Years in a Row
If you recall, on January 2, 2014, the Outer Limits chartered by Allan and Tatiana, from Moscow, got a huge surprise as Allan bested a 42 pound Bull Dolphin (What A Great Way To Start Off The New Year – 2014 And Things To Come). This was an amazing start to an awesome year for Outer Limits Sportfishing and its clients in 2014. Now, we fast forward exactly one year to the day, only a different group of clients, but another amazing trip nonetheless.
January 2, 2015, the Clements family from the Indianapolis, Indiana area set oiut on the Outer Limits for some killer offshore fishing. 78 degree temperatures and almost identical water temps, combined with breezy SE winds had the crew heading south looking for the edge of the Gulfstream current. We were 18 miles from Key West, and after a few hours of trolling with barely a nibble I was beginning to contemplate “plan B” and start heading north to shallower waters. While glassing the seas with some of the best binoculars money can buy, I caught a glimpse of it, the “yellow brick road” as many fishermen so like to call it. A massive weed line made of Sargasso and debris, streched for miles and miles as far east and west as the eye could see. As we approached the line i could see all the signs of a fish haven. Tons of bait fish could be seen along with birds, such as Frigates, Gulls, and Terns up and down the line. No sooner than making an easterly turn on the north side of the line and we were hooked almost immediately with 2 Dolphin. As we worked the line, we were consistently hooked up with Mahi every couple hundred yards or so as we released a number of smaller fish and kept a few more. As the day progressed and the box filled up, we passed by a floating crate that held a number of bait fish, and we were blessed with a few Wahoo as well. I decided to make a another pass by the crate only this time from the other side of the line and the flat line got crushed immediately by a big Mahi, then the rigger went down as well. As the line came tight on the rigger the fish on the flat pulled the hook and we were left with just the one, the right one! The line peeled out as a huge Bull came airborne next to the weed line. Ashley climbed in the chair and the fight was on. For more than 30 minutes this fish tested Ashley as well myself, as the Bull jumped back and forth across the weed patches, getting massive clumps of Sargasso on the line. If you have ever been in this position you know how tense it is and how easy it is for a big fish to shake the hook in the grass. This large amount of grass on the line creates unwanted drag and abrasion from small crustaceans on the line, making the potential for breakage very high. Not the case toady though, as the stars were aligned for Ashley and the Outer Limits, and after a tough battle Cory finished the job with a great gaff shot. High fives all around and we headed to the dock. Once offloaded the Bull was put on the scale; 40 pounds!
What a great fish for Ashley and a great day for the Clements family. Not to mention another big 40 pound Bull for the Outer Limits on January 2nd to start the new year! 2015 is going to be another great one, come down and make it special with the Outer Limits.
Call Captain Jay to book your reservation now 305-923-1043
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An old business saying goes like this, “it all has to do with location, location, location.” This holds true to fishing offshore as well. Just in a different sense. “Where to go today?” is the question. Offshore fishing in the fall and winter months can be tricky sometimes. The location of the wind direction is key, and if you get it right, you can have some great fishing.
Throughout the fall and winter months the Lower Keys has little consistency when it comes to fishing offshore. As opposed to the spring and summer where the wind is predominately from the east to south direction, which are generally the best winds for offshore fishing out of Key West, the fall and winter have a constant change in wind direction. Cold fronts with, as the weather reports call them, “Fresh” north to northeast breezes make their way through the Keys waters bringing with them lower temperatures and sloppy seas conditions. As with “sloppy” I’m talking “a very confused” sea. Fronts pass through the Keys relatively quickly, first beginning with a west wind, then clocking around to the north, northeast, and then back to east all with in a few days. This quick clocking around of the wind can make the seas offshore somewhat of a washing machine. These are not very favorable days to be 20 or more miles offshore looking for Marlin, Tuna, and Dolphin fish. Now sure, every now and then you might catch a few good fish during fronts, but don’t count on any consistency. However, when the front slacks off enough that the warmer low pressure of the Florida Straits and Caribbean Sea pushes East to Southeast winds back into Keys waters, head offshore and get ready. Warmer temperatures from south to southeast winds brings with it a push of hungry marine life. Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and even Blue Marlin can be caught offshore in the fall and winter. As a matter of fact the Blue Marlin fishing can be good in these months, though the reason many people don’t boast catches, is they don’t fish offshore this time of year. As said before, the fishing is mostly dictated by the wind and your days of southeast winds are limited, but they are there, and they can be worth the look offshore.
Take this last week on the Outer Limits for example. Monday started off beautiful, and great conditions for offshore. Light southeast winds, 80 degree air temperature, and 78 degree water temps.. Joe and wife Sandy had a great day with constant nice Mahi action, and a bonus with 3 Wahoo, just inside the shelf. The wind pushed what scattered Sargasso grass there was into a few lines and most all the fish were caught near these weed lines. We did manage to make a few deep drops targeting Swordfish, but unlike the day before we did not have any takers. The day before was quite different as we released one Swordfish and lost another one, but we will leave this type of fishing for an upcoming report.
Tuesday was pretty much the same conditions but with a little stronger breeze. The slightly choppier sea had the Blackfin Tuna popping baitfish in the 500 foot depths, along with a few Mahi up to 20 pounds mixed in as well. Our clients were once again cranking on fish repetitively as multiple hookups were constant and we released quite a few Skipjack Tuna as well.
Then Wednesday, the front came. Blistering north and northeast winds in the 25 knot range had kept many boats at the dock for a few days. Yet, during a front there is always a backup plan…