Well if you where on the roads this past week then chances are that you saw a lot of out-of-state license plates around town.
That's right, season is here, mind you a bit early. However, you can't blame them. There is all this stuff called snow messing up their roads and daily lives.
Fishing has been up and down depending on the weather and where you choose to fish here in the Upper Keys. However, there is always something for everyone when it comes to fishing here. You just have to choose which area you want to fish.
The talk on the dock has been centered around the off-and-on again sailfish bite for those choosing to head offshore. Sailfish has been the rock star of the offshore community for the past few months, and continues to be so.
Captain Jon Reynolds and his crew aboard the Drop Back out of the Post Card Inn in Islamorada had a great week fishing the edge with happy clients and bent rods. He reports a great bite of sailfish, 40- to 70-pound dolphin and 5- to 10-pound mutton snapper this week while fishing off of Islamorada.
Live baits like cigar minnows and ballahoo slow trolled along the reef edge lead to lots of bonito, dolphin, tuna and several sailfish. Captain Jon also reported a great kingfish bite happening in 100 feet for those fishing with live and fresh dead baits, either free lined or dropped with a ounce or half ounce of weight.
Out of Key Largo, Capt. Justin Hopper and his crew aboard the Fantastic II has been on the wahoo and kingfish. Fishing in 120 to 180 feet with live baits like cigar minnows, ballahoo, and bullet bonito slow trolled over deep wrecks and current rips, have lead to lots of drag screaming action. Reporting an average temp of 76 degrees offshore, Capt. Justin also reported a good bite of sailfish with live baits slow trolled or power drifted along the reef edge in 115 to 150 feet.
On the north end of Key Largo, Capt. Dana Banks and his crew aboard the War Bird out of the Ocean Reef Club reported an off-and-on sailfish bite this past week. So for a more reliable bite the War Bird has been hitting the deeper wrecks and ledges catching lots of alamaco jacks, African pompano and mutton snapper.
In the backcountry, there was a good bite of tarpon during the warmer days this past week. Several boats were chasing silver in the shallows of Everglades National Park around Flamingo and Whitewater Bay with flies and top water lures. Fish averaging 60 to 120 pounds were the norm. However, this action did not last due to the arrival of the last cold front.
While tarpon continue to be the species on everyone's minds in the back, redfish, sea trout and snook have been the more reliable bite in the backcountry. The fish are being caught with live baits like pilchards, pinfish and mullet. Artificial lures like Johnson "weedless gold" or silver spoons a quarter to a half ounce and scented "shrimp" and "jerk" and baits rigged weedless on worm hooks are most effective.
Mullet muds and areas of seagrass have been holding lots of sea trout, jacks, ladyfish and a few snappers caught on Gulp tipped jigs colors "new penny" and "nuclear chicken."
Those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!
Capt. Mike Makowski is a backcountry fishing guide and owner of Blackfoot Charters in Key Largo. His column appears biweekly. To send him fishing reports or photos, e-mail email@example.com or call (305) 481-0111.