Over Under Key West Fishing Report and Tarpon Preview
Our Winter fishing is in full swing here in the Southernmost City, with some exceptional action in store for anglers heading south to escape the cold, winter weather of up north. As I write this, it’s a balmy 78 degrees and the fish are chewing. Here’s what you can expect.
The hot bite recently has been on blackfin tuna. Although usually at this time of year we’re netting live pilchards and chumming with them, right now, there’s no need; its some of the hottest artificial action you’ll ever encounter! Lead jigs like the Shimano Butterfly are killing the blackfin to 20 pounds. We’re running and gunning schools of fish blasting large balls of blue runner, some 2-3 inches in length. This is a great opportunity for some maximum angler participation. As many as 20 fish per day or more are possible while this bite lasts.
Our reef (meat fishing) has been exceptional, with good catches of mutton, mangrove and yellowtail snapper. We’re running farther than most operations, but that’s coming back to us in spades . We’ve had some great catches of bottom species, including amberjack to 40 pounds. Just ask Lancaster, Penn. Angler Seth Obetz. Who managed a half dozen big amberjack on everything from live bait to vertical jigs.
Gulf of Mexico
This has been some of our best fishing so far. The deep wrecks (where the water is warm enough) have been holding some great catches of big mangrove snapper, as well as plenty of uber-legal grouper (although we have to release them until April 1.). As always, we can clean and Fed-ex your catch home, providing you with enough eating fish for the next year after a couple of days of fishing. The Goliath grouper are hot and heavy on the wrecks, but must be released. It’s the ultimate mano-a-mano angling experience, as JW Powell and his friend Todd found out. We’re also seeing tremendous numbers of cobia to 40 pounds willing to take everything from livebait to jigs and flies.
This s one of those special times of year in the backcountry as the water begins to warm. We’re seeing good numbers of permit and bonefish on the flats, as well as tarpon. For those hoping to take home some eating fish, we’re finding cobia on the flats Sugarloaf and Cudjoe Key. Its exciting fish and they eat great too!
We’ve had great sharking both shallow and deep here over the last few weeks, as Rocco Pace of Cape May and his party found out. They were playing tug of war with hammerheads to 250 pounds! We’re hoping to get the video from Rocco so we can share it. Good numbers of bulls and lemons to 200 pounds are showing up in the shallows, along with the occasional hammer or tiger. And we’re not just soaking baits; we’re targeting them with artificials and flies with great success.
It’s the end of February and we’re already seeing some impressive numbers of the Silver King in the backcountry and in Key West Harbor. Whether chasing them fly and light tackle out of the skiff or enjoying one of our classic Key West Harbor light tackle trips, if you’ve ever dreamed of catching a tarpon, now is the time to think about getting a tarpon trip together. We are setup for any kind of Tarpon Fishing you would like to try, from throwing flies, to live bait, or throwing plugs, Both our flats skiff and light tackle center console can be used for tarpon fishing. The center console takes up to 4 people on tarpon trips, while the skiff is limited to groups of 2. We tend to fish the deeper waters with the center console and up in the shallows more with the skiff.
Our Winter Season is well underway and we’re looking forward to a great spring! Give us a call and let’s go fishing!
Capt. Ted Lund