IFC SMACK DOWN October 3rd & 4th
September 2014 - Captain's Corner
The summer is finally coming to and end. The Keys have had one of the hottest summers that I can remember. Luckily, the fishing has been staying very good despite the heat. I would have to grade this summer’s dolphin fishing as one of the best fishing years we have ever had in Islamorada. I expect the dolphin to stick around until December as well, or at least until it starts to get cold.
Just as I expected, the blackfin tuna showed up over the past few weeks. They should stay throughout the fall, too. We’ve been catching them on a variety of small trolling lures. The most productive way on the Contagious is to live bait the humps. We will set up in front of the humps to allow our live baits to drift back over the humps with the current. When the bite is on, it is not uncommon to hook up 6 or more at once. The key to keeping the fish from tangling up in a mess is to keep the boat in idle forward. Quite often, the tuna will start crossing over and under each other. When this happens we will put the rod tips together, allowing the twist to come to the surface. Then you can figure out how to rotate the rods. I know your first instinct is to try and pull the tuna apart. But actually, it’s not the right thing in this case. I prefer to use a 12 to 15 lb spinning rod with a 20 to 30 lb leader and a 1/0 or 2/0 light wire circle hook. This allows us to drift small live baits back and increases the odds of hooking up. Small blue runners are good in the early season tuna run. But, I find pilchards are the best and most consistent. The next few months are a great time to find lots of live bait in the Keys waters. So, it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity. There is nothing more exciting than seeing dozens of tuna exploding on your freebies .You know it’s only a matter of time before they find the one with your hook in it. Then its game on!!
I expect the bottom fishing as well as the reef fishing to turn on this fall. We will start to get big tides allowing good current. The water temperatures will also being cooling off some. All these factors will help turn on the bite. I know the grouper fishing has been red hot on the deep reefs for the fisherman who have tried to target them. This month is also a great time of year to take advantage of the triple tail fishing. These are great eating fish despite looking prehistoric. I have the best luck finding them on large weed patches of floating debris. Live shrimp work great, but they will take a variety of small live baits, including a fly.
Capt. Brian Cone