Welcome 2012 – The Fishing is Awesome!
While we ring in the New Year in our own unique way with stone crab claws, lobster and the like, we the teams at Aikatsi and Best Bet Sportfishing wish you and your family all the best a New Year has to offer.
What is not to like about January? A fresh start, a New Year with all its promise. The weather is more than bearable. It is downright nice, a little chilly at times but we really only have two seasons here in the Key Colony Beach and Marathon area: summer and January. I think they close the schools if it gets below 70 degrees. Laugh all you want I’m serious!
So what’s happening on the fishing scene? You name it: sailfish, cobia, dolphin and lots of kingfish and mackerel, so many they tend to make snapper fishing a challenge.
Persistence pays so get on the patches and fill that cooler with a variety of color. When I say patches I mean the patch reefs. Tactics and tackle make all the difference in the world. I see a lot of boats as I travel up and down the reef going about my daily routine and several things generally stand out. Number one, as I travel from spot to spot I tend to see the same boats in the same spots for five or six hours at a time. That’s great if you are catching fish but when I ride by over and over again and the rods are not bent, I wonder why they do not move. Then I see these boats at the dock with small yellowtails and one barely legal grouper.
What happened? Well they didn’t bite today or the current was messed up. I understand all these excuses. I may have used one or all at one point in time, however waiting for the fish more often than not will leave you with an empty cooler – the exception being yellowtail. Most fish: muttons, mangroves and grouper will move from patch to patch this time of year because it is really all about food.
I know everyone has their favorite spot, a spot that’s been good to me in the past, “This is where I caught the big one last week!” That’s all well and good but if you are not catching fish you need to move right after you try one tactic – decrease your leader size. It really is that simple. If you are using twenty pound test go to fifteen and be sure to use fluorocarbon. If you do not start getting bites on your live baits right away, move. You have nothing to lose.
The sting factor: they were biting really well when we first got there but then they shut off. Big mangrove and mutton snapper on the patches will often times turn off or go cold if you miss too many fish. Pull a few hooks or what I call sting a few fish and they will shut off. Do not wait for them to turn back on. Move to a new spot, when fishing is tough persistence pays. Many times we will catch a few nice snapper, three to five, and they shut off. We move and we keep moving until we put together a nice box of fish that’s what it is all about.
Many times people will concentrate on what they can see. Most of the patches will have small yellowtail snapper, ten to thirteen inch fish, these are nursery fish. Flip a live pilchard, pin fish or small ballyhoo on a ½ ounce jig behind those small fish and see what happens. And, if you really want to do it right get down to twelve or fifteen pound test because that is what it takes to get these big fish to eat when the water is clear.
The one thing that probably cracks me up the most is the look I get when people ask me if I was wreck fishing when they see these big snapper and I reply no I was fishing in thirty two feet of water! The general reply is unprintable. It boils down to three things: the willingness to move, live bait and light line! Good luck and be safe and Happy New Year!