Captain Chris Johnson of SeaSquared Charters out of Marathon reported when the weather allows, the offshore fishing has been very good for sailfish, wahoo, dolphins and blackfin tuna on the surface. On the bottom, over the wrecks and deeper ledges big mutton snappers have been biting. Some of the most reliable fishing in his area has been over the patch reefs in Hawks Channel, where yellowtail, mangrove, mutton and lane snappers along with porgies, an assortment of groupers, hogfish, king and cero mackerel have been biting shrimp, pilchards, ballyhoo and squid. Big bull sharks have been around the patches as well, and cobias are trailing some of these sharks.
Captain Jim Hobales of Caught Lookin Charters reported hooking an estimated 180-pound tarpon while trolling a Rapala X Rap Magnum lure in Biscayne Bay. After a long battle, the giant tarpon landed on the leader during a jump and broke the line. During that charter, his clients also caught a number of sea trout casting hard plastic lures. Captain Wayne Conn from the Reward Fleet out of Miami reported big schools of ballyhoo have been attracting a lot of attention from hungry predators offshore of Miami Beach. Big Spanish mackerel, kingfish, a few dolphins and sailfish have been feeding on the ballyhoo schools. On the bottom, it’s been mostly amberjacks, mutton snappers and vermillion snappers.
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IslamoradaSportFishing.com reported some of the offshore charter boats working the areas around the Humps with black and red feathers have been doing well with blackfin tuna. The reef fishermen have been doing well on yellowtail snappers, African pompano and cobias. The inshore boats fishing the Gulf and bay have been loading up on Spanish mackerel. Anchoring and chumming and then fishing shrimp and jigs in 10 to 12 feet of water has resulted in almost nonstop mackerel action. Bluefish and jacks have been mixed in with the mackerel.
Captain Charlie Conner of FishTales Charters out of Port St. Lucie reported cold conditions and tons of Lake Okeechobee discharge have slowed fishing down in the St. Lucie River, but with enough effort some very interesting catches are being made. During recent charters, his clients have caught dozens of croakers, small snook, sheepshead, pompano, sea trout and snapper. The majority of the fish were caught using DOA Terror Eyz in the root beer color. His clients also fished with Doc’s Goofy jigs, DOA shrimp plus live and dead ad shrimp.
Captain Rick Stanczyk reported backcountry guides from his area that have been fishing the Florida Bay waters near Flamingo have been catching black drum, redfish, snook and sea trout. Most of the action has been in the creeks and protected canals because of the strong winds. On the days when the weather is calmer there have been plenty of Spanish mackerel, a few cobias, big mangrove snappers and large Goliath groupers in 10 to 12 feet of water west of the Park’s boundary markers. Plenty of small tripletail is available around the crab trap buoys.
Captain Rob Modys of Soul Mate Charters out of Fort Myers reported water quality in his area has been the biggest issue for fishermen this past week. Red tides and tons of polluted freshwater that is being pumped from Lake Okeechobee has made a lot of the inshore and nearshore waters unfishable. When you find some clean water there has been sea trout and sheepshead biting shrimp on a jig and soft plastics.
Jim Crego from Slim’s Fishing Camp in Belle Glade reported Lake Okeechobee’s water level is up to 16.4 feet. Largemouth bass in the four- to eight-pound range have been feeding on live wild shiners during the early mornings and late afternoons. The dirty water color edge around Grassy Key has been best for the bass. Speckled perch are being caught in good numbers near Rim Root, Tree Island and the Dynamite holes. Live minnows have been tops for the specs. Captain Tom Van Horn of Mosquito Coast Charters reported that because of the windy conditions in his area, he has been targeting American shad in the St. Johns River, where anglers are having double-digit days casting Road Runner spinner baits and flies. There have also been good catches of speckled perch, catfish and sunshine bass in these areas.