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Look out, spring is almost over and summer time is just around the corner. Unless you live in one of the many places of the world that are getting snow still at this time. Sorry about that. You should set a thaw out date and come to Key West and take advantage of some great fishing the month of May has to offer. Mahi, Marlin, Sailfish, Grouper, Snapper, and Tarpon are just a handful of names that top the list.

Offshore

End of April Mahi-Mahi

End of April Mahi-Mahi

The Mahi-Mahi bite has just started to come into full swing as of the last few days. We haven’t yet seen a big push of large Bulls and Cows as of lately, but there are good numbers of schoolies offshore, mainly under birds and flotsam. Look for the bigger fish to make their annual appearance very soon. Lures and baits work well to catch these tasty fish so make sure you have plenty of both. Catching schoolie fish on spinning tackle is a blast so pull out the ultralights and have some fun.

Along with the Mahi-Mahi, we should start seeing some Blue and White Marlin as well. These powerful tackle busters are always hanging nearby schoolies, so wherever you see them there is a good chance your in for an epic battle should one appear. May is always a good month for Marlin fishing in the Keys.

There have still been a few Sailfish moving through as well as Marlin. For the next couple months Sailfish will remain scattered throughout the Keys. Their whereabouts can shock you though, because you may see one on the reef edge in 60 feet of water and another offshore in 2000 feet of water. On the same day! Targeting these fish can be done by trolling natural ballyhoo or by live bait fishing with herring, runners, pilchards, or any other baitfish…shh… they will even eat a pinfish from time to time. Twenty pound test spinning tackle is a lot of fun when it comes to catching these acrobatic artists.

Circle hooks work best for keeping most billfish from being gill or gut hooked, so do your part to help preserve billfish species.

Inshore

AVID Grouper

Grouper Cheeks

May also marks the beginning of this years Grouper season in the south atlantic. This is a welcome for many of the Keys as these fish bring large numbers of bottom fishermen and women to seek after Blacks, Gags, Reds, Scamps, and many others to add to the list. Try anything from cut sardines, squid, and bonito chunks, to pinfish, grunts, runners, or my favorite; the “Speed-Oh” to put one of these white flaky fillets on the table. Areas of hard bottom with ledges and cracks are some of the best places to look for Grouper, as well as wrecks, and patch reefs. Don’t forget to bring your game, and some extra leader, as these brutes are well known fro getting anglers back into structure.

The Tarpon are biting! The last couple weeks of Tarpon fishing has been nothing short of excellent. Many of the deeper channels throughout the Keys have hungry fish. These masters of the hook-shake are not that picky at times and will turn down everything at others, so don’t be discouraged if fish are rolling around you and your not getting a bite. Remember, they are animals and they do not always eat just because there is a bait near them. Sometimes I am pretty sure they have something other than eating on the brain. Live pinfish, crabs, mullet, or pilchards work very well, as do shrimp and cut bait sometimes. Tarpon are just as much a scavenger as they are a hunter, so don’t discredit a piece of cut bait. Circle hooks are the best hooks for these fish to stay connected, and don’t forget to “bow to the king”.

May you have awesome fishing in May! We sure will!

There is limited availability in May for the Mr.Z and the Outer Limits so call now to secure your date! As always tight lines!

Captain Jay

 

The Food Chain. An ideology of the hierarchy of all life on earth and how each life form feeds another in some form. Life in the ocean is a prime example of the food chain. From the tiniest plankton to the minnows, to the shad, to the… well you get the idea. All the way on up to the ocean’s number one predator; the Shark. Feared by most and enamored by all, sharks are very popular in human society. People all over the world from some of the farthest places on land from the ocean could probably tell what a shark is. Aside from the popularity on land many adventure seekers find excitement by swimming with these ultimate predators. However, if and  when you are a permanent resident to the ocean, sharks are not so popular, important, but not popular. They are the cleaners of the ocean so to speak. They weed out the sick, the slow, the old, the dying, and yes many others as well, but the job of sharks is a very important one. Truly it is survival of the fittest in the ocean. Yet, sometimes fish don’t get a chance to run for their life. Especially when that fish is connected to the end of your rod and reel.

Take this video for example. Jerry and Steve from Mass. came down for some springtime bluewater fishing on the Outer Limits. The morning started off with a bang as one of the “goggle eyes” on the kite got a bite, and Jerry was hooked up to a 7 foot Sailfish giving him and awesome fight. Then, shortly after Jerry’s release, Steve hooks up to a seven foot Hammerhead shark. Unfortunately after 15 minutes or so the Hammer got the best of our light fluorocarbon leader and back to Sailfish-ing we went. Within minutes the kite raised another Sailfish and we were again hooked up. This was a stubborn fish and gave us a great show of what a strong and acrobatic customer Sailfish are. Just as the leader comes to the rod tip the fish again makes another short run. Then all of a sudden, BOOM! A Mako shark attacks the Sailfish with such force from below that both the shark and the billfish are propelled into the air. Still attached to the line, the poor Sailfish is wound to the boat. However very wounded yet still wiggling, the Mako comes back and tries to attack the Sailfish boat side. Now, pretty much lifeless, and tailless, and knowing the inevitable, we release the Sailfish to meet its fate with destiny. All of which we were able to be prepared enough to catch on HD video with our GoPro cameras. After some short editing by yours truly, I put together this video and hope that you like it. You will definitely want to watch it in full screen if possible. Just a little perspective of what can happen when your catch of a lifetime gets eaten!

Let me just first say that April and May are pretty much my two favorite months to fish in Key West. Although every month is different and each with its own peak species, these two months provide me with some of the best bluewater action the Keys has to offer. Billfish species such as Sailfish, White Marlin, and Blue Marlin all congregate the waters on the edge of the Gulfstream current which creates a color change that happens to be located just off the reef edge this time of year.Mr.Z White Marlin This hard eastbound current brings with it an abundance of bait and many other predator species as well. Large numbers of Mahi (Dolphin fish) along with Wahoo migrate through  eating everything they can. The tuna species get in the action as Blackfin, Skipjack, and Bonitos make an everyday appearance. Whether you are a trolling fisherman or you prefer to live bait fish, these two months can be awesome for either. Not to mention all this activity brings on a good number of sharks and Cobia that cruise along the color change in route to the Gulf coast. The hard current pushing to the east is also met by a predominate wind coming from the east, also creating what we call “tailing” conditions. Tailing conditions are when the wind direction and current direction push against each other creating a hard rolling sea. When fish want to move into the current, they come to the top of the waves and cruise down the face of the waves almost like a surfboard would do. This action requires the least amount of energy to be used by the fish. Coincidentally, as they surf down the wave the back of their tail comes out of the water, hence “tailing”. This also makes these fish easier to spot, and sight casting to Mahi, Sailfish, Tunas, and Cobia is a lot of fun. The Sailfish have just shown up in the last week in pretty decent numbers. Many anglers are getting to experience the catch of theirs lives with these majestic creatures. Look forward for at least the next two months to be exceptional bluewater fishing.A Little Wahoo Action

How can it get any better than being able to catch numerous bluewater species all in the same area and all on light tackle. Well it doesn’t.

 

By Captain Jay

Spring time: Our favorite time of year. Spring and early summer is the best time to fish out of Key West. The variety of game species is more abundant than a politician’s scapegoats. Seriously friends, from Tarpon and Permit, to Sharks, Sailfish, and Marlin, Key West fishing comes alive with action. One of our favorite bites is the Blackfin Tuna bite. Usually we get a few decent runs of these meaty little balls of muscle from November to April. Scott's Big BlackfinThe later runs of these fish bring on large numbers of bigger fish that can reach as much as 30 plus pounds. The majority of these little power packs travel in decent size schools and feed very regularly around the late afternoon and evening on the large quantities of Flying Fish, Sardines, Ballyhoo, and Herring. Whether trolling, or live baiting, these fish eat baits with explosive behavior.The Table of Tuna Quite often these fish give away their position by leaving a 5 foot hole in the water after crushing a bait. Birds can help you find these schools as well. Recently the last couple weeks have been some awesome fishing for Blackfin. Just as the sun starts to decline on its evening slide the bite has been on. Many of these bites have been coming in multiples, with as many as 6 fish on at once for us. With the water temperatures holding in the high 70′s, this bite could last a few more months as well. So get down here, de-frost, and wear out your forearms with some awesome Tuna action!

Tuna Sunset

By Captain Jay

Every once in a while throughout your life you happen to meet a person that you or everyone who knows them considers them to be a “lucky” person. The kind of person who is one of those people that more often than not they happen to fall into good fortune. Maybe not always in the wealth kind of situation, but just lucky. I have never really considered myself to be one of these extraordinary people, but I have met a few from time to time. One in particular I believe is my friend Bruce. If you have read any of my blogs over the years than you probably have heard his name mentioned before. When it comes to his luck of fishing, I believe he has quite a bit. From the first trip we ever fished together I believed that the fish gods might have a soft spot for him. We have and continue to have some pretty amazing trips together. And not just on one boat, or with just one captain, but with whomever he fishes with. His passion is definitely bluewater fishing, and more than ever, tying into billfish. I couldn’t tell you how many trips we have left the dock with him, but no matter the conditions, he always seems to come back to the dock with a very nice catch. I would like to say that it is mostly because of us… But I think his luck just so happens to rub off on us. Most recently mr. lucky happened to be in town for just a short trip and booked a couple trips with the Outer Limits and the Mr.Z.

First, let us set the scene. The weather was gorgeous, with temperatures in the lower 80′s abundant sunshine and a light NE breeze. The northern side of the Gulfstream was located about 15 miles south of Key West roughly in about 700 feet of water. Cory and I had an afternoon trip on Saturday with our buddy Tony and within minutes of coming up on the current edge we hooked into a big Bull Dolphin. Not 5 minutes after that fish a 250 pound Blue Marlin was in the spread beating to baits with his raspy bill. We never got a solid hook up on that fish but it was very promising to see to say the least. Anytime you raise and get a shot at a Marlin, in my eyes, is a good trip.

The next day was Bruce’s turn offshore. The day started off pretty fast. As soon as we pulled back the throttles, we were hooked up with Mahi. Not many but it was a good start to be 5 minutes into fishing and have fish in the box. The next few hours proved to be humbling though as our search for offshore deities was uneventful. As we worked in the area just west of our previous days Blue Marlin encounter, the ocean started to come alive on the surface. Small schools of Skipjack Tuna popped the surface, birds stared working all around the area, and the Flying Fish were abundant. The first nice fish came in just after 1pm in the afternoon. Crashing a lure the big Bull bent the rod with extreme force and after about 50 yards or so of drag screaming came unglued. Eager to get into a few more of these nice Mahi we worked the area very extensively. Within a few minutes of that bite I spotted a Frigate bird circling low on the water, which is usually a great indicator of Dolphin fish. As we chased the bird we could see the schools of Flying Fish being chased out of the water by the big Mahi. Then, all hell breaks loose. First a big Bull weighing 40 pounds crushes the short rigger, then another the same size crashes the center rigger. Two more big Mahi come in from the other side and come into the spread but do not eat. Now we have multiple big Dolphin on at one time, with just Cory and Bruce and still more fish behind the boat. Within a minute or so unfortunately we pull the hook on Cory’s fish. As Bruce settles into the battle Cory pitches a live bait to another big Mahi behind the boat and is immediately hooked up again. Diligently working the majestic fish, Bruce gets the better of the Bull and into the box he goes. Bruce's 40lb BullOnce the fish are on ice we set forth again with the same intentions. Not long after we are hooked up again with another big Dolphin. This time it is a big Cow and within a short time she meets the icy Bull who was just chilling out in the ice box waiting for some more company. ;-)

Now with our heads held high and our chests stuck out we keep on our same path. Having listened to the marine radio there were very few boats this day that had any luck. The general consensus was that fishing all around was extremely slow, so we felt very fortunate to have been into some great action. This is when it gets REAL! Having worked in the area west of yesterdays marlin siting, we continued along the current edge towards that spot when the short rigger again is crushed. This time there was no siting, no inclination of a bite. Just line screaming off the reel at impressive speed. 100 yard, 200 yards, 300 yards and not showing any signs of slowing down. In less that 30 seconds the Penn 50 wide was almost empty of line. Now with the boat in full reverse we worked as hard as possible just to get a few yards back. Normally in this situation the captain will “J hook” the boat and run back towards the fish in parallel to try and gain back some line. I did not have this luxury as there was barely enough time to pull back the throttle. After the initial run we were able to get a small amount of line back on the spool and luckily keep the fish from making another screaming run. Back and forth these two went at it for quite some time. Not having seen the fish we suspected a nice Blue Marlin, but when offshore you never know what you have at the end of the line. Twenty five, maybe thirty minutes go by and we finally get a glimpse of the beauty as it comes airborne a few times 100 or so yards from the boat before diving again and going back deep. Short of strength by now Bruce had just enough left in him to work the beast close to the boat. Once the leader hit the tip of the rod we were able to breathe easy and Cory took a wrap on the leader. Blue Marlin MongoHealthy and full of color we wasted no time in getting back our hook set and reviving the fish for a great release. What a great fish, and a great day…

What Is This? Groundhog Day?

Now after some good libations and a good nights rest, Bruce again is at the dock in the morning ready to go offshore. This time he is accompanied by his friend Jeff and they are on the Mr. Z. The conditions were pretty much identical from the day before, as was the fishing. Not long after putting baits in the water the twosome was hooked up to a pair of big Mahi. Once again putting the arms to work the fish were brought within gaff’s reach and an icy box. Then just as the day before the rigger screams off line. “Blue Marlin On!” as the fish greyhounds out of the water away from the boat. Having arms of jello from his previous battles, Bruce takes a break for this one and Jeff is the man in the chair. Over two hours pass as the crew works on the fish. Staying deep for the majority of the fight, this Marlin in particular  did not want to give up. By now, Jeff is wiped out and so is the fish. Finally the crew is able to see the Blue Marlin and Steve grabs ahold of the leader. What a day for Bruce and Jeff. Almost the exact catch from the day before. Awesome!! Two days in a row with two different boats and almost identical outcomes. I would say that is luck if I have ever heard of any.