Captain Skip Zingone from the Kelley Fleet out of Haulover Marina reported the day drift boats have been catching more than a dozen kingfish per trip. The kings are averaging between eight and 15 pounds. Most of the action has been right outside of Haulover Inlet and in depths between 80 to 120 feet of water. The best action has come in the mornings, and the fish are eating ballyhoo on jigs and vertical jigs. Besides the kingfish, catches there have been a few dolphins and blackfin tuna on the surface and mutton snappers and catch and release groupers.
During the 51st Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament held out of Bahi Mar Marina that benefited the Marine Industry Cares Foundation and Billfish Foundation, Team LaBerraquera with anglers Jose Perdomo and Mario Scarpetta took first place in the Pro Division with the release of five sailfish and the biggest blackfin tuna at 14.8 pounds. In the Family Fun Fish Division, Team Bad to the Bone took first place. Captain Mo Estevez of New Dawn charters out of Miami reported South Bay bonefishing was slow last week but the tarpon and snook fishing at Government at night has been very good. Live shrimp are working on the tarpon and pinfish on the bottom has been getting the snook bites.
Captain Jack Carlson from Two Conchs Charters out of Marathon reported the offshore blackfin tuna bite has been excellent, with fish between 12 and 24 pounds being caught on vertical jigs. Over the wrecks, large mutton snappers and African pompano are biting. These fish are eating large live shrimp hooked to a Mustad 5/0 Demon circle hook and 40 pound fluorocarbon leader material. There has been a good mangrove and yellowtail snapper bite on the reefs. Zane Rindom, 8, took the Grand Champion Honors in the Most Releases Non-Guided Division during the Islamorada Winter Classic held out of the Lorelei Restaurant. Rindom released three snappers, two mackerel and a barracuda. In the Guided Division, Brock Stoky, 7, and Jack Brown, 6, took top honors with the releases of 10 snappers, three tuna, mackerel and a dolphin. Captain Travis Butters on the Got Bait was their guide.
Captain Scott Collins of Getting Lucky Sportfishing Charters out of Jupiter reported the offshore bite has been decent with schoolie-size dolphins showing up in depths from the ledge out to 1,000 feet of water. On the bottom along the ledge the fishing has been red hot for vermillion, mutton and yellowtail snappers and quite a few big porgies. Nedra Maxwell of the Sebastian Inlet District reported beach fishermen have been catching large pompano along the surf. The pompano are eating sand fleas and have been most active during the mornings.
Val Osinski, owner of Gambler and Hookup lures, fished with captain Alan Sherman of Get Em Sportfishing Charters from Whitewater Bay out to the shorelines of the Gulf of Mexico. Casting Gambler soft plastics and Hookup lures, they caught seven species of fish. The catch included snook, redfish, sea trout, snapper and many bull sharks to 40 pounds.
Captain Jon Fetter of Catch the Cure Fishing Charters out of Fort Myers reported sheepshead fishing has been outstanding over the offshore rock piles. The sheepshead are eating small pieces of shrimp hooked to a No. 1 hook with a small weight. There have been quite a few Spanish mackerel in the same areas. Captain Gary Mounce of Fishin Finatic Charters out of Everglades City reported recently his area has been overwhelmed with freshwater that has pushed most fish out towards the coast. Over the grass flats, small- to medium-size sea trout are being caught using a live shrimp fished under a float. Along the outside islands redfish are available, and over rocky structure sheepshead are in good supply.
Jim Crego from Slim’s Fishing Camp in Belle Glade reported the water levels are slowly dropping in Lake Okeechobee and the largemouth bass are bedding and can be found all over the Lake. The biggest bass are on the beds just outside of Boy Scout Cut and can be caught on live shiners and soft plastics. The best action has been just before sunrise. Speckled perch fishing continues to be good and the specs are going after small jigs and minnows in the Dynamite holes.