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The Pretty… and The Pretty Ugly

by Captain Jay

Key West shows many different faces when it comes to the weather. In the winter, like now, the weather we get is usually dictated by the north and northeast cold fronts that show their ugly little faces about every seven to ten days or so. Sometimes even sooner than that. Yet in the spring and summer the bad weather comes from 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Strong south to southeast winds push low pressure systems up from the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea and create some nasty weather. However, there are also the other times (the majority) where the weather here is so beautiful you realize why they call it “paradise”. Rather than bore you with why the weather does what it does just see for yourself with these pictures and videos. Enjoy!

My Backyard

My Backyard on the Gulfside of the Islands

 

Backyard Morning Sunrise

The Sunrise from My Backyard

 

Key West Harbor Sunset

Key West Harbor Sunsets are Breathtaking

 

Heading Home

Sometimes to get home you have to go into this

this storm in particular was backed with gusts of 62 knots and driving rain. From just 7 miles away from the dock it took us almost 3 hours to get home.

The Front Rolling In

 

 

 

By Captain Jay

Here we are, the Wahoo run is upon us. Every year at some point during the fall and winter Florida Keys fisherman get an always expected Wahoo migration. These torpedoes of the open ocean are one of my most favorited of all the Pelagic fishes. Extremely fast and amazingly cunning, a Wahoo can rip 250 yards of line in a single run, then turn right back toward you and be gone in a blink of an eye. Most of the time leaving you with jaw dropping excerpts like “WTF”. Believe me it happens a lot more than you can imagine. Many times I hear from other Captains how they had on a monster that dumped 3/4 of the reel only to shake the hook after such a screaming run, or they got it almost within gaff distance only to watch the tiger striped joker shake its head and leave you saying “Uhn Uh”. Even the best Captains can be made to look bad when it comes to Wahoo. Most Wahoo are lost during the first run or right next to the boat. Now this article you might think is going be all about how to capitalize on that awesome bite. Well, not so much my friend. That knowledge is sacred and is only shared amongst my clients who come down for this great time of unbelievable fishing.Gilbert's Wahoo

During the Wahoo migration to the Lower Keys, many other species inhabit the offshore waters as well. As the bluewater cools down up north, many baitfish such as Sardines, Pilchards, Ballyhoo, and Flying Fish get pushed south to Keys waters. This push of bait in turn brings larger fish such as Bonitos (Little Tunny), SkipJack and Blackfin Tunas, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, King Mackerel, Barracudas, and of course Wahoo who all come to feast on the bounty. It’s the full cycle of life from the baitfish all the way to the sharks that feed on the predators. During this spectacular time of fishing in Keys waters also come many cold fronts which seem to be back to back to back. Windy and sometimes sloppy conditions can make many days fishing for these lunkers a reel chore.

Ocean Meat Missile

Timing is everything as Wahoo tend to like calmer days preferably with a light north to northeast wind. Now I say this, and some may want to dispute this with me, but I will tell you my largest Wahoo Ive ever caught as a Key West captain was 85 pounds and it was as rough as any day I’ve fished. But for the most bites I feel a light wind and almost a ripple on the surface is the best. Closer to the full moon as well is when the bite is hottest. A few days before and a few days after the full moon tend to be my favorite “best” times to fish for Wahoo. Depth is key as well. These fish can be found anywhere from 75 feet of water right up on the outside of the reef, to 400 or 500 feet deep miles offshore. Finding these fish can be tough sometimes but look for current edges and temperature rips which is usually a good sign of Wahoo country.

Now get down here ASAP for some great Wahoo action as the full moon has just shown its big ole face and the wind is light to moderate out of the north/northeast. It’s time for an awesome Wahoo bite, the next few days are going to be spectacular.

By Captain Jay

A couple days ago we had the pleasure of fishing with a group of wonderful people from the “hp” corporation. This group of IT folks were set up to fish aboard three boats during an afternoon 1/2 day charter out of A&B Marina in downtown Key West. The MrZ, the Outer Limits, and the Triple Time headed out at 1:00pm to show this group an awesome day of catching. The day was a beautiful 82 degrees, full of sunshine, with the wind 12 knots straight out of the south. The seas were a decent roll, but as the day progressed, the seas started to lay down to a gorgeous slight swell. Lately the fishing has been excellent in the later part of the day with many species of pelagic fish. The gulfstream being close to the reef has brought most of the offshore species to shallower offshore waters from 100-300 feet deep.  The trip started off for the three of us very slow, as in the first 45 minutes to an hour there were very few bites. Then, almost just about 3:00 the reel fishing started. Blackfin Tuna were the first to strike, first one, then another, then another. These fish were a mixed variety with some small ones that were released, some medium, and some real big Blackfin Tunas. as well as Tunas, some nice Bonitos graced the edge of the gunwales. The best fish fish of the day came from the Mr Z. Master angler Dan bested a monster 7 foot Sailfish, working against this majestic creature with the experience of a pro, and great coaching by captain Curly and mate Steve. With the GoPro capturing this epic catch, Steve and the crew got great footage of Dan’s memorable fight.

While Dan was fighting his Sailfish, the Triple Time and the Outer Limits were still busy winding in more Tunas. Nearing the end of the trip the Triple Time hooked a very nice Wahoo around 25 pounds. Just as the they were catching the Wahoo, the Outer Limits finished off the day with a beautiful Dolphin for Karen from Virginia. All together the “hp” group had a wonderful day and a very memorable trip and another special memory was added to Key West’s numerous portfolio of amazing days.

Blackfin Tuna 1-11-14

 

by Captain Jay

During a recent trip aboard the Outer Limits, Jim Robinson and friend George Koroluck along with their wives had a day they will never forget. Jim, who booked the charter explained that he was not necessarily an avid fisherman, but his buddy George was. As the group stepped on board we decided on a game plan where as we would stay close to the reef edge and look for more “bites” as opposed to looking for big fish. What we got however was BOTH!

The day started off flat calm, I mean glass flat. Variable winds had laid the ocean surface down to not more than a slight ripple which was exactly what they were looking for. With a cold front expected to hit by late afternoon, all of the local fisherman were keeping a keen eye as to when it would be approaching Key West waters.  This was no weeny cold front either, 30-35 knot gusts were expected on the leading edge, and with this knowledge obviously nobody wanted to get caught in that. Our hope was to fish for six hours, leaving at 8:00am and return by the mid afternoon in hopes to beat out the front.

The fishing started off somewhat slow for everybody who was fishing that day. The radio chatter was quiet as not much was being caught. As we worked our way to the southwest of Key West 15 miles or so the bites started happening. The down rigger went off first and the catching had begun, a Kingfish was gaffed and thrown into the box. A few minutes later, another, then again another. Add a few Cero Mackerel, and Bonitos to the list and now we were doing just fine. as we approached Cosgrove Shoal light, the Kingfish were chewing the baits off everything. Within just a short time we had our limit of nice Kingfish, which is two per person, in the fish box. Now being that we were right off the reef edge we had decided to work our way up onto the reef to try for some Mutton Snapper, which proved to be a bit tough as the reef was gin clear. Looking down the water was so transparent even the small reef dwellers, such as Porkfish and Grunts, could be seen on the bottom in 40 feet of water from the side of the boat. A few Mackerels and a couple big Barracudas kept the crew busy on the reef for some time. After a nice stretch of reef trolling we headed back to the bluewater yet again to make some time and troll back east with the eastbound current. Having not fished much deeper than 200 feet of water, we worked our way out to the 250-300 foot range and look for a Wahoo or Blackfin Tuna. As we worked our way east I noticed a really good mark of baitfish on the sonar suspended about a 100 feet below the boat. Just then the down rigger rod pops and doubles over. The reel’s drag screams off yards by the second, 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards the fish seamlessly rips off. Finally slowing down, George jumps into the fighting chair and begins working the fish like a pro. Smoothly lifting the rod toward his chest, and cranking the bent rod toward the fish, George was into the fight of a lifetime. Almost 25 minutes passes and the monster is close: a massive Wahoo. Just a few short yards now separate George and this beast. Working with short, smooth pumps he edges the fish within gaff distance and the behemoth is brought on board. The mammoth Wahoo is lifted up and pictures are taken quickly and into the ice chest he goes. A great way to end the trip, and with weather approaching,we head toward home to clean it all up. Once we are back to the dock, we hoist George’s Wahoo on the scale, 53 pounds and 63 inches, what a fish for George, and a great day for the whole group! George's 53lb. Wahoo

Then just as we are cleaning up the boat, the cold front finally approaches with wind gusts close to 40 knots. Looks like we made the right call after all!

What? Polar Vortex? Yeah Right!! With highs in the mid to upper 70’s, and lows around the upper 60’s Key West has had anything but Polar Vortex conditions. If I remember correctly our lowest temperature this year has been 55 degrees. “Sunny and 75″ I’m pretty sure is how the song goes. This beautiful weather is something you should seriously think about coming down to the Florida Keys to take advantage of. Along with this wonderful weather has been some great fishing as well.

The Reef!

Right now the reef is covered with an abundance of bait and predators alike. Ballyhoo have been in very large schools bringing with them a following of Cero Mackerel, Kingfish, Barracuda, Yellowtail Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Crevalle Jacks, and Grouper. Although Grouper season is shut down for the next few months that still doesn’t stop these fish from putting up a great tussle before being released. Fresh north to northeast breezes have kept all these reef dwelling fish very active and feeding regularly. Look for bait showers as the bait fish get chased up out of the water. These are great spots right now for some killer action.

The Bluewater BITE!

Now were talking some bluewater, east bound current, and line ripping, drag screaming fishing! Right now the water temperature is in the high 70’s. The gulf stream is in tight to the edge of the drop off and with it have brought some great catches. This east bound current flow has brought large amounts of Flying Fish with it. Down to the southwest of Key West, the bite has been very good with Blackfin Tuna and Wahoo from 100 to 300 feet of water. This unusually warm winter current flow has also been responsible for a handful of nice Mahi Mahi as well. Trolling, and/or live baiting have both been producing very good catches for our clients. The last few days we have had numerous Blackfin Tuna bites toward the afternoon and evening, and some really big Wahoo as well.Double Trouble The Sailfish bite has not been extremely hot as it normally is this time of year, but have no fear there still have been a few around. Our expectation of these majestic sport fish is they aren’t too far away from showing up in great numbers very soon.

If you want to get away for a few days, thaw out from the extreme cold you are enduring, and catch the fish of a lifetime, make your plans to get to Key West… And let us take care of the rest!!