May and June are certainly two of the best months to make memories that last a lifetime. Spring is full-on right now and summer, well, it’s not far off. The big fish/trophy fish game is in full speed right now and will remain that way into summer.
What’s on your bucket list? Tarpon? Yep! It’s happening right now—the silver king is here, and they are here in abundance. Are you ready to do battle with a monster tarpon between 100 and 200 pounds? Oh! Did I mention we’ll be using light tackle? That definitely makes it fun! And, don’t forget the bridge; aside from docks and old buoys, it is by far and away the tarpon’s favorite obstacle course.
So, a one-hundred, or more, pound fish that likes to jump a lot and tries to free itself by running you thru an obstacle course (a.k.a. Seven Mile or Bahia Honda Bridge) on light tackle and live bait? That’s sportfishing—or what memories are made of. Let’s do it all! The area bridges are loading up with tarpon and they are hungry.
Permit are wrecking it right now off Marathon and Key Colony Beach area, as well as a variety of other big fish gangsters like amberjacks and big mutton snapper—a wily and worthy opponent of the deeper wrecks. Oh, wait! Holy crap! It’s grouper season! Amen! May first is opening day and we’ll have to get a few of those for the dinner table too.
Permit are an absolute blast to catch on spinning/light tackle, 20-30 #. (P.S.—That’s a pound sign, not a hashtag.) Permit on the wrecks is primarily sight fishing, so bring your polarized sunglasses if you have them. It is truly an amazing fish to hunt and catch and, yes, release, after a quick photo.
The conditions need to be decent to do it right, so talk to the captain. Sometimes the water visibility may be down, so we’ll do another type of fishing until the clear water moves in or the sun gets high enough to make it happen. Imagine drifting over the wreck site. You see a few blue runners, maybe some spadefish. It gets your blood pumping, but they’re not the right flavor. If your blood’s pumping at just the sight of runners or spadefish, you have permit fever.
And then, it happens; the water gets a distinct gold color to it. Yes, sir, the permit have risen. You notice they seem to be moving in a certain direction. You cast ahead of the school and your bait drops right into the thick of them! A slight tap on the line and that’s it! Reel!!! BOOM! You’re hooked up with one, or more! Doubles and triples do happen! All the reels are screaming and it’s game on with one of the most elusive and prized game fish in all the Florida Keys! Permit, baby! Get some!
The slammer dolphin (fish, not Flipper) are moving through our Keys waters now and will continue for the foreseeable future. As with all big fish, the thrill of the hunt is half of the experience, while for some people, it’s all of it. Knowing which birds to chase, how far to go (or when you’ve gone too far), and having the rods rigged right and the baits ready to go, are no accidents—these skills take knowledge and preparation.
Your big fish will likely be in small groups of 1-20. Oftentimes, they may only have one to five birds with them. They, and the birds, will be moving and feeding in a westerly direction into the current aggressively. You will also find those really big dolphin around floating debris, as well as stalking schools of smaller dolphin.
A common mistake I hear from many recreational fishermen is that they had just gotten into a bunch of smaller fish and a big one, or pair of big ones, popped up, and they did not have a suitable rod rigged for the job, so they lost the fish. Don’t be that guy. Always keep two fresh rods ready for that trophy opportunity.
There are so many opportunities this time of year it’s almost endless, and it doesn’t al-ways have to be about some big fish. Some of the best memories are snapper fishing on the reef with the kids for a half a day, or spending some quality time with your dad or mom. It’s really what you want to make it because the fish are here, the weather is awesome, and the great memories are ready to be made.
The Florida Keys are home to some of the world’s best fishermen. Pick up the phone, send a text, or walk the docks and talk to them—we would love to set up a fishing ad-venture just for you!
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