This week’s best bet: Big tarpon around ocean inlet offshore of Miami


Captain Bouncer Smith of Bouncers Dusky Charters out of Miami Beach Marina reported the Miami offshore fishing has been very good this past week. Around the ocean inlet, big tarpon are eating live crabs and grunts. On the reef and deeper wrecks, large genuine red snappers, mutton snappers, black grouper, African pompano, a 100-pound Warsaw grouper plus an assortment of jacks, kingfish and bonitos were being caught.


Captain Jimbo Thomas on the charter boat Thomas Flyer reported finding dolphins to 20 pounds out in 1,000 feet of water. On a recent dolphin charter, one of his clients hooked and released an estimated 500-pound blue marlin. The marlin ate a chugger type of trolling lure tipped with a rigged ballyhoo on 50-pound tackle. The battle lasted  2 1/2hours. The large fish was tagged and released healthy. Flocks of frigate birds are feeding on baitfish that has been chased out of the water by hungry, small blackfin tuna this week.


During a Ladies Let’s Go Fishing event held in Islamorada, anglers Deb Calhoun, Diane McMahon, Audrey Ferdinand, Lee Lavery, Deb Lading and Betty Bauman, all from the Miami area, caught 24 large schoolie dolphins plus three larger dolphins that weighed 25, 32 and 58 pounds. The big dolphin was caught by Bauman, founder of Ladies Let’s Go Fishing, and was her biggest dolphin ever. The catch was made out in 1,400 feet of water. The fish ate rigged small ballyhoo on 30-pound tackle. Captain Kenny Spaulding of Caribsea Charters out of Islamorada was their captain. Captain Lenny Leonard of Bonefishing Key West reported this is a great time to get a grand slam. Tailing permits, cruising, bonefish and tarpon are working the shallow flats and channels in his area right now. Captain Bill Hauck from the party boat Sea King out of Marathon reported he expects the mangrove snapper spawning season will start this weekend.


Captain Scott Collins of Getting Lucky Sportfishing out of Jupiter reported there have been almost too many bonitos along the outside reef line and that has made catching almost anything else difficult. In between the bonitos, his clients have had a few doubleheaders with sailfish. Snook are biting around the inlets. Captain Tom Van Horn of Mosquito Coast Charters reported recent west winds have made fishing in his area difficult. In the Indian River Lagoon one of his clients had a 40-inch redfish. Along the coast, big schools of menhaden are attracting large tarpon, and little tunny are feeding on schools of glass minnows.


Captain Bob LeMay reported recent west winds forced him to bring his clients inside Little Shark and Shark River, where there was nonstop action from mangrove snappers of all different sizes. The snappers were eating lead head jigs tipped with Gulp soft plastics. His clients are also catching snook and tarpon. Miami’s Pedro Alberni and sons Pedro Jr. and Mike fished Florida Bay out of Flamingo and caught and released more than 40 snook in the 24- to 31-inch range. The catch was made using live pinfish and mullet attached to a Hookup lure jig head or a Mustad Ultra Point short shank hook. Captain Alan Sherman of Get Em Sportfishing Charters was their guide.


Captain John Fetter of Catch the Cure Fishing Charters out of Estero Bay reported the best action in his area has come in the passes and over grass flats near the passes. In these areas, his clients are catching lots of Spanish mackerel, sea trout, ladyfish and jacks. There have been a few redfish to catch around the mangrove islands and oyster bars when there has been moving water. Captain Gary Mounce of Fishin Finatic Charters out of Everglades City reported the snook fishing continues to be strong in his area, with lots of fish in the 30- to 35-inch range. The snook are feeding on an assortment of Rapala hard plastics.


Alan Zaremba of World Wide Sportfishing Inc. reported the C-100, C-2, E-4 and C-8 canals were producing a wide variety of exotic species this past week. Fishing with AZ Jungle jigs, small jerk baits and red live worms, his clients have had peacock bass to  7 1/2 pounds, Jaguar Gaupotes, Midas, Mayan, banded and blackbelt cichlids, Oscars, hornet and spotted tilapia and largemouth bass.

Capt. Alan Sherman