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Sand Key Sunset

The evening bite offers some gorgeous scenery as well

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. The food, the family and friends, football, and yep, the fishing! As there is so much that we here at have to be thankful for, the good fishing is no exception. Cold fronts continue to drop temperatures to below freezing in almost every state in the country, yet Key West remains with the thermometer above 70 and water temperature have remained in the high 70’s offshore.

The afternoon Tuna bite seems to be the best bet for great action now, and has been through the entire month so far. Plentiful amounts of Ballyhoo and Flying Fish have kept a constant food source for these hungry pelagics. Targeting these fish can be done with many different methods, all of which have been productive. Trolling baits such as Ballyhoo or strip baits has been a very productive method later in the day as these fish tend to feed quite extensively as the sun gets low in the sky. Many of our trips as of late have been scheduled in the afternoon so that we can target the Tuna through the evening bite. Trolling lures can work as well as bait, and generally this method works best at sunrise and sundown. Drifting or anchoring and using a method of live bait chumming with Pilchards is also a very productive method and can get these fish to feed throughout the day. Strong, fast, and agile are just some of the characteristics of these hard fighters. Medium to light tackle makes tangling with these balls of muscle an absolute blast.November Blackfin

Along with the Tuna have been the occasional Sailfish, Wahoo, and Mahi to round out the playing field. Don’t let the early cold get you down, come on down to warm weather, warm water, and hot fishing!

Happy Holidays! Early as it may be for some, the holiday season is right around the corner. But first, tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and a huge thank you goes out to all the men and women who served both at home and abroad in our armed forces. With out these brave men and women our country would not be the same great place it is today. Thank You!!

Another great place today is the warm waters south of Key West. The fall season is in full swing and the same cold front systems that have been dropping temperatures all over have been making a cool appearance in the southernmost point, but have yet to manage to drop more than a few degrees on the thermometer. Highs have still been in the high 70’s and low 80’s which has kept the water temperatures to the same as well. The water temp offshore yesterday was 79 degrees and the fishing has been hot! Strong eastbound currents from the gulf stream have been moving in close to the reef edge pulling with it schools of Ballyhoo. Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, and Mahi have been a constant threat to the Ballyhoo.

This strong push of bluewater generally tends to bring on a good Wahoo bite around the full moon, but as the last few days have been the moons peak, we have not seen many Wahoo yet. Possibly by the next full moon, the migrating Wahoo will arrive. These open ocean fish show up in Key West waters predominately in large numbers during November thru January and follow the large schools of small Little Tunny (Pocket Bonito as we call them).

The bite has been some reel fun lately. The fall fish have started to move through our fertile waters for what is shaping up to be hopefully a good winter fishery. The Mahi have been here in pretty good numbers although this is not usually a typical time of year we see these fish. As the water temperatures drop we will see these fish move  out of our waters and begin to head south for the winter. But until that happens we are more than happy to keep catching these tasty fighters. Some of our last few trips have had some nicer fish in the 20 pound range along with a mixed bag of schoolie size fish.

The Blackfin tuna and the Sailfish are becoming the most prevalent we have seen them since last spring. The large amounts of Ballyhoo will be constantly bombarded by these fast and agile predators in the oncoming months. The tuna have been giving us action throughout the day, but early morning and late afternoon and evenings have been the best times to target these fish. Along with the tuna the Sailfish have made the move south, and as the waters cool we should expect to see a plentiful number of these acrobatic fish as well. On a recent afternoon this past week, angler Bruce B. released 2 out of 3 full grown Sailfish while fishing aboard the Outer Limits.Bruce Sailfish 11,2014

Don’t let the dread of the upcoming winter get you down, come down to Key West and get you some HOT!

Let me say this first. I love it when two great foods are combined to make an excellent dish. Example; the “El Cubano Burger”. Take a cuban mix sandwich and slap it with a burger… what you have now is, well, pretty darn tasty! I have always been a fan of the cuban mix sandwich. Ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, and pickles on great cuban bread, its a favorite among many south Florida tastebuds. And a burger, well, thats a favorite among billions of people around the globe. So when I had the chance to try the El Cubano Burger at Turtle Kraals restaurant in Key West, I took no time in diving into this recipe.the "El Cubano Burger" There truly is nothing like it, a burger patty, with ham, true roasted pulled pork, swiss cheese, on Cuban bread, and a side of the mojo au jus from the pork. This is one delightful treat. Take it from me you have to try this one!. Do yourself a favor and go upstairs to the Tower bar and have your burger as you overlook Key West Bight and the Historic Harbor Walk. It truly is a great experience only 90 miles from Cuba :-)

Ok, as stated many times on this blog, I love a good burger. So much so, that I write these posts about great burger stops all over the lower and middle Keys. I am however, very dissatisfied with the greater 90% of all restaurant burgers here in the Keys. The reason being that the fact is most of the patty that are served are pre-made, pre-packaged, previously soaked, frozen, taste-less, pieces of what once was beef, now made to hopefully be covered up with so much lettuce, onion, pickle, cheese, ext. that you are sure to not know the difference between what is fresh ground beef or not. Sad, really, because when I started this BurgerBlog I was excited to say the least, to find some great burgers that I had never tried, and I have tried just about all of them. Truth is: unless it is stated that the burger is hand pressed, never frozen, it more than likely is not. If you happen to drive through most of Key West and the Lower Key on practically any given morning and take a good look you will notice more food distribution trucks than actual pedestrians on the streets. Companies like Sysco, Cheney Bros., GFS, and a few others, supply almost every burger slinging establishment in town. The truth is that just about every place you sit down to eat a burger its going to come from one of these food distributers. Dont get me wrong, its not like these burgers are going to stop me from having one, its just I’m pretty sure I know what I am getting. Most people don’t know the difference anyway, and even most of those don’t really care. Each and every restaurant just does something a little different in the way the patty is cooked, dressed, and served. Some are flame grilled, some fried on a flat grill, and others even baked. Take your pick.

So, this now being said, I have taken a turn in this BurgerBlog, to now focusing on the cool, unique, and somewhat diverse burger presentations in the Lower Keys. Rather than rate each place as to how the burger was cooked, dressed, presented, and all the other little things, Not anymore. Now I will hopefully show you the best of what a Cheeseburger in Paradise has become. Ok, Let’s Eat!

A Happy Birthday Indeed

You’ve gotta love it when a plan comes together. On a recent rip aboard the Outer Limits, angler Dave Saladino, from Venice, FL, celebrated his birthday in Key West. Along with his girlfriend Katie, the two had a great morning fishing at the “end of the bar”. The day started out a bit on the slow side with some Bonito and Barracuda action, but we were really targeting Wahoo or Tuna. Working the depths between 120 and 250 feet of water, we finally got what we came for as the down rigger went off like a stick of dynamite and the drag peeled out. After a great job by Dave handling the fish, Cory put the gaff into a nice Wahoo. Catching Wahoo on light tackle is always a blast and is sure to put your arms to work.Dave's Wahoo

Once on ice, we quickly went back to working the same depths hoping for another good bite like the last. The bite we were looking for got even better as soon enough the long rigger had a big Sailfish slashing at the Ballyhoo. As the line came tight this fish decided to take Dave for a ride, screaming off no less than 200 yards of line. While the majestic fish went airborne numerous times, Dave made sure to keep a good bend in the rod ensuring that the fish stayed connected. As the Sailfish came close we were able to get some great shots boat side, and the fish was given a healthy release in hopes that somebody else will get the same great experience once again. Celebrating your birthday in Key West is great, but getting world class fishing all the while is priceless. Great job Dave and Katie, and Happy Birthday!!

Birthday Sailfish