Happy July 4th! Sparks flew for Capt. Skip Nielsen's group last week as they celebrated their Independence Day in the backcountry.
The veteran guide reported lovely conditions and great fishing around Cape Sable area both on fly and on bait. Liz and Mark Harris both caught tarpon on fly last week fishing with Capt. Skip. They also had tarpon, redfish and snook on bait to each score backcountry grand slams.
David Kubert and Steve Kost fished last week and had similar results — three tarpon releases, and each caught redfish and snook for backcountry grand slams respectively.
Lets face it, it's been hot during the midday lately, so you may want to think about leaving early to not only get a jump on the heat, but some of the best bites very often come first thing in the morning!
I'm talking about bites both offshore and in the backcountry.
Bait was good during the last week of June, and not just pilchards. Cigar minnows were happy last week at the bait patch. Captain Paul Johnson on the Reef Runner out of Whale Harbor Marina filled his well with cigars, and on just a half day trip was able to put together a catch that included a limit of nice king mackerel and a couple of mutton snappers while slow trolling live bait around the reef edge in about 140 feet of water.
Another epic story unfolded at Bud N' Mary’s docks again last week where Capt. Nick Stanczyk guided his crew aboard the B n M II to some blackfin tuna action at the hump during an offshore trip. Things got interesting when a 200-pound blue marlin decided to eat one of their tunas and got hooked just right. After a one-hour fight complete with cool jumps and flips for their cameras, the light leader/small tuna hook combination stayed together just long enough to get pictures and a healthy release.
Now that's living right. Way to go gang!
In the daytime swordfishing department, there were a handful caught for the efforts put out again last week, the first week of summer and on the new moon. Action should continue as the calm seas prove to make for best conditions when fishing the deep water for broadbills.
It’s been hot during the day at the edge of the reef and very still. In addition, the slow moving current makes for stagnant conditions some summer days, and the yellow-tailing can be difficult at best when the water is gin-clear.
There are, however a mindboggling number of snapper on the reef right now starting another strong spawning session if you can crack the code on the junk fish, and/or coax the "flags" into biting mode.
I like to start snapper fishing in the evenings and on the overnight hours to beat both the heat and the crowds. Night fishing rewards can be hefty if you have enough chum to keep them biting. Often you can anchor in shallower water in the evenings like 40 feet or so.
Permit are still around, but action has been winding down at some of the wrecks and snags, it seems.
Stay cool if you can this holiday weekend, and don't forget to re-apply your sunscreen during the day. Last but not least, hydrate. The sun can be absolutely brutal on the body.
Be mindful this week out there and enjoy!
Capt. Donald Deputy writes for The Reporter every other week. Reach him direct at email@example.com with your personal fish tales and photos.
Cutline: Captain Nick Stanczyk holds the bill of a 200-plus-pound blue marlin last week right before safely releasing the large fish back into the water off Islamorada. Stanczyk captains the B n M II out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina. (budnmarys.com)