The cry of "wa-hooooo!" can be heard loud and clear in the Middle and Lower Keys!
Starting with the full moon over the weekend and into the back side of it now, the wahoo bite offshore has been excellent. Trolling with ballyhoo on Iland or Billy Bait lures is working well. Be sure to use a weight or planer on the bait/lure combo to keep it down.
Anglers are catching wahoo on the wrecks also using live blue runners and goggle eyes. Most of the wahoo are in the 20- to 40-pound range, with a few larger specimens in the 60-pound class making an appearance.
There's some sailfish action, too. We're finding them chasing flying fish under frigate birds as well as live-baiting in 130 to 180 feet of water.
On the reef, the yellowtail snapper bite is sporadic, with the best fishing in the 70- to 80-foot depths. There are some king mackerel in the same areas as well as on the wrecks. Also on the wrecks are plenty of amberjack and the occasional mutton snapper.
Hawk Channel provides its usual assortment of fun-catching and good-eating fish, including mackerel, snapper, grouper and some nice cobia. (Remember, all grouper must be released until the season reopens on May 1.)
In the bay and gulf waters, there's lots of action on mangrove snapper, sharks, Spanish and king mackerel and Goliath grouper.
The week's best catches
John "Muskrat" Murray, from Macedon, .N.Y, picked a fight with an 80-pound Seven Mile Bridge tarpon Friday while fishing with Capt. Jeff Knapp of Beckoning Charters out of Burdine's in Marathon. They had action on smaller tarpon spraying ballyhoo, but a lure was all that was needed.
The SeaSquared crew has been fishing with families and groups enjoying a tropical getaway from the snowy tundra up north. Hawk Channel, bridge and bay fishing produced catches of hogfish, mangrove, yellowtail, mutton snapper, porgy and lots of toothy critters -- barracuda and sharks -- to keep everyone entertained. We also released countless keeper-size red, black and gag grouper.
Jay and Adelle Van Dallen from Zeeland, Mich., had a nice cobia catch with Capt. Zach Willis and mate Roy Boston on the Papa Pip's out of Captain Pip's in Marathon.
Capt. Moe Mottice, of Moe's Custom Charters in Key West, reports the wahoo are biting on the wrecks and the color change, with all taking trolled ballyhoo. Mixed in are bonito plus big yellowtail and mutton on the reef edge. In Hawk Channel, big sharks are going crazy -- blacktips, hammerheads, sharp nose and even tigers. In Key West Harbor, the tarpon ate on the warmer days with plenty of snapper and mackerel to keep the anglers busy.
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of Porky's Bayside Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.