The summer is in full swing here in Islamorada. The month started with nonstop rain- I felt like I lived in an Amazon rain forest. Luckily, the rest of the month was hot and sunny. The surprising thing this June was the huge variety of fish we were catching. The gulfstream had pushed in really close. With the help of all the rain and dirty water, a beautiful color change formed on the outer reef.
The powder blue waters associated with the color change allow the captains to spot tailing sailfish, marlin, dolphin, and large tuna. The condition lasted for only four good days, but it allowed for some great sight fishing. Several boats even captured sailfish in the double digits, which is very rare for this time of year.
The dolphin season started off strong and has continued to be great so far through the month of June. I can honestly say it’s been the best season we have had in over ten years. There have been a large number of schoolies every day. But, what really makes for a good day is to see the larger slammer dolphin. This year has been one of the best. The Gulfstream has been a big help, bringing us a new body of fish on a regular basis. There has also been a consistent amount of healthy Sargasso weed full of bait. With all the bait under the weed, the sooty terns have been making it easy to find the feeding dolphin. Another bonus this season has been the amount of good debris we have been finding. We’ve been catching some quality triple tail and wahoo on the better pieces. In fact, just recently we found a nice tree stump with two huge cobia circling around it. That doesn’t happen often. So when it does, you need to take advantage of the opportunity. We pitched a couple of live baits to the eagerly waiting cobia. After a couple of good fights, Elizabeth and Jessica Hanwell had two beautiful cobia in the fish box. The largest one tipped the scales at a whopping 56lbs. Great job, girls!!!
The reef fishing has been great as well. I haven’t been doing much of it, since the offshore fishing has been so fun. We have managed to get a few hours in on our way home after dolphin fishing a couple of times this month. Typically, I like to go wreck hopping for grouper and mutton snapper. And sure enough, on our second spot we got a couple of beautiful muttons along with a huge jack crevalle.
The Humps have finally started producing in the last few weeks. I was starting to worry about the lack of blackfin tuna, but they finally showed up. We’ve been targeting the tuna on light spinning rods each morning on our way out to the dolphin grounds. We’ve also seen a good number of marlin feeding on the tuna and schoolie dolphin lately. So we always try to be ready when that opportunity comes around. In fact, two weeks ago we spotted a white marlin feeding on some bait under a weed patch. We pitched it a small pilchard on 12lb spin and an hour later we were taking pictures of a gorgeous fish.
I expect the dolphin fishing in July to get a bit tougher than it has been. But the trade off is the small schoolies will have grown into a much better size. Another good target species in July is the nighttime mangrove snapper fishing. They are gathered up in big numbers on the outer reef getting ready to spawn. The best baits are cut ballyhoo and live pilchards. So hurry up and plan your next trip to get out and go fishing. If I’m not able to get you fishing, don’t forget to book a trip on The Warbird with Capt Shannon Attales. He has been coming in with some great catches too.
Capt Brian Cone