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The offshore fishing is fantastic here in sunny Islamorada. The reef edge has been full of life with king mackerel, yellowtail snapper, vermillion snapper, mutton snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, sailfish, and wahoo present from Conch reef down to Tennessee reef. There have also been some cobia moving up the reef on the backs of rays. The sailfish were slow this week but northeast winds have been forecasted all week and lower temps are sure to fire them back up again. We may have tailing conditions any day this week so be prepared. If the sails don’t show, there are still plenty of king mackerel around to keep the rods bent and reels screaming. Kings are great fun and excellent battlers on light tackle. They are also delicious to eat after they have been smoked. Kingfish dip, crackers, and a good pinot noir is reason enough to leave the dock and head to the reef for some fun. The hump areas have been producing tuna and amberjacks with some mahi mahi starting to show. The southeast wind days are the best to target the mahi mahi. On the pre-frontal days, the tunas are feeding well on trolled feathers; as long as there is a little current. I still like the black and red or blue and orange colors best. The ½ ounce size works well for me too. The amberjacks are falling to live blue runners on a dropper loop system with 80-150 lb leader. A vmc 10/0 nemesis circle hook will work like a charm and rarely misses a bite or loses a fish. I like to place a small super strong 330 lb swivel 18 inches from the hook to help with tangles. A slow and angled decent will also help to deploy your offering properly to an awaiting jack. Watch for signs of life to and from the humps and a school of mahi might show up. There have been some nice fish working through the system every other day so tomorrow may be your chance. More and more dolphin will be coming as the season changes over to spring. A good run of large fish always comes early in February or March so look for them when the wind swings to the east. I just moved my boat down to Fiesta Key campground at mm70. What a great place! The people here are wonderful. Rob, Jack, and the rest of the staff have made me feel so welcome and at home. There is also a great cantina called Santiago’s right on the ocean with an awesome view and a killer margarita! It is like the old keys. The atmosphere is laid back and relaxing. Come on down and check it out. I am really glad I did, I am happy and proud to call this great place home!

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What a beautiful week here in the Florida Keys. The weather was superb. This is why so many come and spend time here in the winter months to enjoy the mild temps and hot fishing action. The sailfish were on the slower end this week however; anyone willing to put in their time got their chances and many fish were caught and released. Capt. Mel Walker on the GOTCHA from Holiday Isle was successful at releasing sails more than a few times this week. Capt. Scott Stanzyk on the CATCH 22 from Bud & Mary’s marina also caught many sails for his anglers throughout the week with six releases on Sunday. The best action seems to be up by Conch reef, only a short ride from anywhere in Islamorada. Ballyhoo are still the number one bait in 90-120 feet of water. We should have a little more wind this coming week so the goggle eyes and blue runners from a kite will get the job done. The wahoo were moving through the reef this week as several nice fish from 35-55 pounds were taken. They will usually show up in a pack of three to five fish so be ready for multiples if possible. Live baiting speedos on the reef edge and on wrecks out to 160 feet will produce huge results. An added benefit is that the sails and smoker kings love them too. The bad news is that they can be challenging to procure. While we are on the subject of PROCURE, I have found a great new product that helps me to catch fish. The name of the company is PROCURE and they sell products to add scent to your offerings. The super squid gel is my favorite one. Add a drop to your squid rig to entice more and larger snappers and groupers to bite your deep rigs. Smear some on your high speed jig for that extra touch on days when the bite is slower. I have even got fish to bite a bare hook with it! You can find it on-line at www.procure.com. Try it out, you will not be disappointed. They also make a dye to make your ballyhoo bright green, pink, and or blue. The bright green ballyhoo are really brilliant in the sunlight. The mahi mahi should be able to find them easier this spring when we shift our sights to the offshore grounds.

The kings have been steady on the wrecks up and down the coast from Pickles to Tennessee reef. All that is required is some live ballyhoo or cigar minnows. Drop one down on a dropper loop rig with #5 or #6 wire and a ha ha stinger for great results. Of course the downrigger works very well as the depth fished will be more precise. Capt. J.R. Rudzin on the CAPT. JR from Holiday Isle is a downrigger master. He has been deploying a downrigger in his fishing system for over 20 years. He catches wahoo, tuna, dolphin, snapper, king fish, and grouper on his deep baits routinely. If you like to troll with live or dead baits, a downrigger will make a great addition to your arsenal. Enjoy another fabulous week of fishing in world famous Islamorada. See you next week!

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There was no lack of sailfish excitement this week as the blowing winds and cool temps kept the sails moving through our waters all week. The bite has been better in the early morning or late afternoon so plan accordingly. As of this writing the GENESIS and Capt. Jeff Fraser from Whale Harbor were leading the women’s sailfish tournament with seven releases after day one. The RELENTLESS and Capt. Paul Ross were close behind with six fish. Of course The KALEX and Capt. Alex Adler are always within striking distance with five fish. Either way it looks to be a great tournament with plenty of action and an exciting finish guaranteed for day two. The sailfish should remain strong in the weeks to come so come on down and enjoy this fantastic sail catching season. It is a great time to get away from the frozen north and enjoy 75 degree temps and sunny skies. Another benefit is a longer day with plenty of vitamin d. If you are suffering from S.A.D. the only cure is a big dose of Islamorada complete with all of the snappers, groupers, and jacks your arms can stand. Mix that with a sailfish and a few king macks and you will be back again and again every winter for the rest of your adult life! The fishing has remained strong on the Oceanside from the patches all the way out to 200 feet. The cold water temps in the gulf have temporarily stalled the bite for Spanish and kings out back. As the temps come back to the 65-68 degree mark, the bite will take off again. Meanwhile, for those looking for calmer waters, focus efforts on the patch reefs for keeper yellowtails and schoolie muttons. There have also been grouper, porgies, hogfish, and lane snappers biting. All that is required is live shrimp for a great day of variety and fun for the dinner table. Use a light spinning outfit loaded with 20 or 30 lb braid with a 3 foot 20 lb fluorocarbon leader for best results. This outfit has plenty of pulling power should you hook a keeper red or black grouper while working the shallows. I also like a 3/8 once green Hank Brown Hook-up jig with a shrimp. It is pretty hard to beat on the patch reefs. Get out and enjoy the ocean this week. The temps will be warming all week. Another big tip for the would-be fisherman: do not rely on the weather man to dictate your trip. They were wrong 100% this week. Ask your captain and leave it to his judgment. We are paid to be professionals and expert at interpreting the weather. Do not let the weatherman scare you away from a trip of a lifetime. GOD bless and have a wonderful week “catching”.

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Another great week of offshore fishing has come and gone in Islamorada. The sailfish bite was slow in the beginning of the week but finished up with a big bang. The recent cold front moved many new fish into our waters from the north. This week to come should be a good one if sails are your plan. Concentrate your efforts on the reef edge from 100-120 feet of water on all of your favorite haunts. For bait I prefer a live blue runner or goggle eye on the kite. Of course a live ballyhoo will always take even the most discerning spindle beak if rigged on 30 or 40 pound fluorocarbon leader. The standard 7/0 or 8/0 VMC circle hook will give you the results you want; landed fish! You may also try pilchards or cigar minnows if you can get them as they will help with the numerous king mackerel that have been working the reef edge and wrecks. As we move into February more and more king mackerel should start to show up. A large king mackerel can give your rods and reels one of the best work outs you can find in the keys. Get out and enjoy the reel burning runs and ultra fast action that can be had close to home. They are also delicious when smoked as an added incentive to bring a few home. If finer table fare is your desire then you can always fish for yellowtail and mangrove snapper. They are always biting here in Islamorada on the patch reefs and reef edge. It is hard to beat live shrimp or pilchards for bait this time of year. Bring plenty of chum and get busy “catching”. The deep water snappers are starting to show up on the deep wrecks and reefs. When you can find them they are great eating and fun to catch. You may also catch a nice grouper while participating in this fishery.

The Gulf of Mexico is still on fire. The Spanish mackerel are swarming more than ever out in the Gulf. All that is required is a few blocks of chum and plenty of live shrimp. You can catch fish until your arms fall off. You may also get into a cobia or two passing through while in the midst of the melee. After your chum soaks for a while some big sharks will come passing by to see what all the fuss is about. You can use medium tackle and #7 or #9 wire on a Mustad 7766 7/0 hook for consistent success. The blacktips love something live. The big females are moving in right now so please only take the males. The females are full of young ones. The blacktip shark is an awesome fighter rivaling the fight of a tarpon. They are also very good to eat. Take a small one and try it on the grill. They are great. It is a great time to get out on the water and fish. Many of us have plenty of openings so get out on the water with one of Islamorada’s finest this week.

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