Over the years, in my search for large pelagics like blue marlin, white marlin, dolphin and wahoo, I have crossed the Stream almost weekly, weather permitting. My search for marlin, large mahi, and wahoo generally takes me to a couple of small sea mounts in the middle grounds between the west shore of the Bahamian Out Islands and the Florida Keys. These smaller sea mounts do not hold the amount of bait as the most visited mounts off the island chain, but one thing is certain, they are devoid of fishermen!
The distance from our Islamorada chain is quite far for the majority of charter captains and recreational fishermen, yet this is where I often catch the most blues and the largest mahi we generally bring to gaff. This area is huge--it’s mostly a distant lonely stretch of water holding large fish in the Gulf Stream.
The fish that traverse these waters are generally not subjected to the continual pressure of our fleets. At times, it takes several hours to reach some of these areas. If the fish are there, it’s great fishing. If the fish are not, you have just taken a long boat ride to enjoy the beauty of the open sea.
We run out fast, passing the more frequented fishing spots to reach these areas. If fish are present, you will see the tell-tale sign of a few birds. If not, the sky is as barren as the sea. But do not despair, if current is flowing, you will find big fish.
I came across these areas during numerous pleasure cruises over many years. I found some of them while standing on the top deck, at first light, armed with 12 x 50 binoculars; making calculations from my handheld GPS. Having found these nuggets of gold while on the comfort of a luxury ocean liner and later studying charts and satellite views, are what allowed me to pinpoint areas to fish.
The currents I witnessed while on the ship revealed that these currents did not just flow in a northerly direction, but also in lateral eddies that contained debris, bait and fish. The first time I had this revelation, I saw a large blue marlin lazily swimming on the surface in the vicinity of a huge eddy, out in the middle of nowhere. On that day, I gazed out over 50 miles of water with structure and eddies holding bait, debris and fish.
These amazing first-hand observations have become several of my distant offshore fishing areas. All of these areas holding large fish, including my favorite billfish, the blue marlin - often in good numbers.
In the 70’s there were large numbers of blue marlin caught off Bimini, Palm Beach and West End. Yet, these fish were not caught in the middle Keys consistently. Key West was an exception. The fish were traveling farther out!
My “educated guess” for this fishing phenomenon is that as the current traverses between Northern Cuba and Key West with its easterly flow, it is met head on by a current off the northeast coast of Cuba and Cay Sal; where these two currents meet and form the Gulf Stream. This disturbance from the water of two currents coming together, then hitting Cay Sal, causes a large eddy of clockwise rotation over the north of Cay Sal like a huge rock in a river. This disruption, eventually, in my opinion, leads to the formation of eddies throughout the “middle grounds”. Then, when these currents come in contact with the underwater sea mounts and walls along the two coasts they form the characteristic north easterly stream flow. You get all the variations of current out in the “middle grounds”.
These “middle grounds” holding numerous, large pelagics are a treasure for the charter captain willing to burn the fuel and expend beyond the norm of the 8-hour day…and for clients willing to pay for it.
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