Patience is an angler's best friend.
The reef action has been on and off. When the current is running, the snapper eat. But when the current dies, so do their appetites. The most consistently productive depths for yellowtails are 60 to 70 feet.
Along the reef edge and on the patches, you'll find an abundance of kingfish along with outsized cero mackerel. The wrecks also offer up kingfish plus stacks of amberjack and some hefty mutton snapper.
Offshore fishing provides sporadic results, too. A few sailfish in the Middle Keys. Fewer dolphin, although the ones caught have been sizeable.
With the extra warm temperatures, shallow-water shark fishing is beginning to take off, with copious numbers of blacktip, spinner, lemon and even the occasional bull to keep anglers entertained.
My top picks for fishing this week are the bay and gulf waters. There's a wide variety of eating fish as well as game fish to keep the rods bent. Mangrove snapper, sea trout, Spanish and king mackerel, cobia, Goliath grouper and shark.
The week's best catches
Islamorada's Capt. Chuck Brodzki fished Alan Friedman and Howard Lefkowitz for the King Creek reunion event. They fished off Sandy Key and caught over 175 fish using spinning gear and shrimp-tipped jigs. Species included mackerel, trout, shark, jacks, ladyfish, snapper and grouper.
Capt. Greg Poland reports hooking the first tarpon on fly for the 2014 season.
Capt. Larry Bell and deckhand Alex Bell of Blue Magic Charters, docked at Keys Fisheries in Marathon, had several charters in the bay last week. Their anglers caught cobia, snappers, jack crevalle and kingfish up to 25 pounds.
Capt. Ariel Medero, of Big Game Sportfishing out of the Hammocks in Marathon, reports sporadic offshore fishing for sailfish and dolphin, with a few red-hot days for wahoo. Inshore has been hit or miss, too, but gulf fishing in just 25 feet of water is great right now. Medero put his anglers on large cobia to 55 pounds, mackerel, snappers, sharks, Goliath grouper and more.
The SeaSquared crew fished the channels, patch reefs and bay. Our anglers experienced a nice uptick in king mackerel, plus good-sized yellowtails and large muttons. A few groups opted for shark fishing and all agreed catching and petting blacknose and blacktip sharks is way better than a trip to the aquarium.
Capt. Zach Willis guided some of the guests at Captain Pip's in Marathon, with impressive catches of yellowtails coming back to the dock.
Capt. Jeff Knapp, of Beckoning Charters in Marathon, reports tarpon fishing at the Seven Mile Bridge is kicking into gear, thanks to the prevailing warm water temps. He fishes at night with either live mullet or floating lures. He has put multiple anglers on tarpon ranging from 20 to 70 pounds.
Capt. Kevin Wilson, of Knee Deep Charters at Geiger Key Marina, has been working his yellowtail magic, putting his son, Justin Wilson and his friend, Victoria Bloodworth from Jacksonville, on a bunch of fish, including a nice four-pounder. On another trip, a group from New Jersey brought in their limit of yellowtails, plus two amberjack weighing 39 and 41 pounds.
Capt. Moe Mottice, of Moe's Custom Charters in Key West, worked the reef trolling ballyhoo and spoon and catching mackerel, muttons and yellowtails. In Hawk Channel, sharks, snappers and mackerel kept his anglers busy. And in Key West Harbor, the tarpon are back, with snappers and mackerel mixed in.
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.