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A Good Bite Happens Fast

by Captain Jay

Despite adverse weather conditions over the past week, we have experienced some highs and lows in the fishing. Saturday, was a sure high, as we managed to put together a stellar trip offshore, yet Friday was not. On their annual charter aboard the Outer Limits, the boys from IN usually take a 1/2 day in the afternoon and then a full day the following day. The plan of attack in the first trip was to target Sailfish as there was a stretch of beautiful blue water just to the south of KeyWest. The whole trip proved to be extremely slow as we fished with live bait for hours with only one mystery bite, then switching over to trolling ballyhoo for the last hour or so, catching just a few bonito.

Covering a lot of area, and having not seen a Sailfish the following day was met with a little more emphasis on just getting some action. I decided we would fish in a different area 15 or so miles from the prior afternoon. The day started out anchored up with a little bottom fishing. Having very little current, the boys still managed a few nice fish on the bottom and some big Bonitos on light tackle. Avid Red GrouperAfter a few hours we decided to head south and look in the bluewater which was just a mile or so south. With the good amount of East wind we had, the kite went into the air and some large pilchards hung from the clips. The bite was on in a matter of ten minutes as we were hooked up to a Sailfish. As this fish is screaming drag, a second Sailfish eats one of the baits in the kite and we are hooked up with another unfortunately jumping that fish off after a few minutes. After a great fight on 20lb spinning gear, the Sailfish was released. High fives all around, and it was back to fishing. Ten more minutes go by and we are hooked up to another which ate the kite bait. This fish was on a mission, stripping over 1/2 the line off the spool. Once the battle was won by the angler and released, two more bites ensued which we released one more Sailfish and jump off the other to go 3 out of 5.Sailfish Release

After a furious bit of action with some sails, Grant tells Cory that now it’s time for a Tuna. With a chuckle, Cory touches the reel and says that he will with them over to tuna mode. “Ask and you shall receive” as all of a sudden our baits were exploded on by Blackfin Tunas and we were instantly doubled up. These fat little balls of muscle put some work on the boy’s arms, before both fish met each other in the ice box.Grant's Blackfin

 

Duffy's TunaNow with a great day of fishing we headed home with heads high. These guys sure have had some good trips with us, as last time, we released a White Marlin. Another great trip, and I can’t wait to see what they will catch next year!

 

On a recent charter aboard the Outer Limits, one lucky angler had an awesome morning. Jen, from the Philly area, along with her husband and their friends were looking to target Sailfish. The conditions have been conducive for Sailfish fishing, however the water quality to procure Live Bait for us has not. At the beginning of almost every trip during the winter months, we try to catch live bait such as Pilchards, Threadfin Herring, and Ballyhoo. When these baits are unavailable, we switch gears and troll dead bait. Ballyhoo, trolled naturally, and at the right speed can can almost mimmic their live brethren.

Our trip started out with some Bonito bites almost right away. Then, all at once, three lines come out of the rigger clips, all with a Sailfish on them. Jen who jumps in the chair with the first fish, happens to be the only one to catch one as the other two went away. With almost perfect technique she battled the billfish into submission, and once boat side, a healthy release was made to the majestic fish. For years, it was common for fishermen to pull billfish out of the water for photographs, but I have seen too many people who have damaged fish over the years with improper handling, so now, our fish are never hoisted completely into the boat.  As the fish swam away, high fives all around, and the spread of baits were deployed into the water again.

As another hour ticked by, the crew was interrupted by a handful more Bonitos and a few Mackerel. Nearing a sunken wreck, the down rigger bait bends down and screams out drag. This now being Jen’s turn again, she jumps in the chair and begins working on the reel. Slightly different from her first Sailfish, this fight was acting more like a Wahoo, staying below the surface. As the fish neared, and having never jumped, like Sailfish love to do, we suspected a Wahoo, but to our surprise up swam a Sailfish. This fish was hooked in the very front of the bottom jaw, which we have seen identical fights from Sailfish hooked this way in the past.Lower Jaw Sailfish Jen's Two ReleasesAnother healthy release and our lucky angler has not just her first ever Sailfish, but also her second. As the boat was tied up in the slip, Jen told everyone that she felt bad for the rest of the group for them not getting to land a Sailfish, but actually she wasn’t because when she goes fishing back home she never catches anything. Well today, you are top hook girl!

Floating Debris Is Key

Floating trash has a very negative impact on our ecosystem. This is something we can all agree on. However for some ocean going pelagic species, this floating debris can create a whole ecosystem of its own. Starting with the smallest of organisms and growing all the way up the ladder to apex predators such as Marlin and Shark. These “oasis” of the ocean can sometimes hold so many fish that the bait size fish themselves will stretch a quarter mile or more from the debris itself. Here in the Keys floaters can be day makers. On a slow day, one piece can be the difference between catching fish or not. The name of the game sometimes fishing offshore is to cover as much ground as possible, all the while looking for that one piece of floating debris that is holding fish. Species such as Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), Wahoo, Tuna, Sailfish, Marlin, Tripletail, and Shark, can all be regular visitors to a floater. Keep a keen eye out for debris and you will catch more fish, guaranteed!21st Birthday FishFloaterOffshore Oasis

Latest Catches

Keeping up with the latest and greatest, here are some of our catches from last week.

Ol' Grouper Lips

Although these fish are closed right now, catching nice Groupers like this one are not uncommon along the reef edge

Rachael's Sailfish

A nice surprise for our N.J. crew as Rachael released this very acrobatic Sailfish

A few days of winter weather created some rough seas on the Atlantic side of the Keys which gave us an opportunity to fish calmer waters on the Gulf side of the islands for a change.

Gulf in February

The Gulf fishing can be tough to fish in the winter, but sometimes the conditions can be a great place to hide and get some great action

Crashing Reef

Keeping up with the changes in the Florida Keys weather might be one of the toughest tasks Captains down here are faced with. With the ever shifting wind, mostly gusty at times, and unpredictable rain, the winter weather in the Keys might be some of the most inconsistent anywhere. However, thankfully this trend rarely last for very long. One thing though that has been consistent has been the fishing. Mixed BagThe gulf stream current has moved itself just off the edge of the reef and has brought a number of pelagic species to tussle with. Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, Kingfish, Wahoo, and even a few Mahi have been some regular visitors to our baits. Although the weather has been somewhat of a bear, when the fishing is this good, who cares. Get down here asap and  see the bite for yourself! John's SailfishJanuary Bull