Walking down the long dock filled with fishing boats of all shapes and sizes, looking in the crystal blue waters of Islamorada. Seeing Tarpon and a baby Nurse Shark swim along scavenging for a discarded fish carcasses, towards the 65 foot fishing boat named “The Capt. Michael”. As I walk closer to the boat, you really see how big the boat is. You see the cabin, which is completely enclosed with five or so windows on each side and two doors left open. As I board the boat, I meet the mates and find a spot to sit and get comfortable as we prepare to disembark. The mates get us all on one side of the boat so that they can count us and so the Captain can speak to us about the boat very briefly and give us safety information. At the end of the meeting we spread out. You hear the Captain yell from up in the wheelhouse, “Let’s go”. We watch the mates untie the thick dock lines, the mate in the back of the boat yells, “First!”. Then again yelling, “Second!”. Both mates in cadence yell, “All Clear!”. Now we are on our way. One mates kindly ask, “If you’ve never been on the boat before; please meet me in the front of the boat.”. As I make my way up to the front of the boat I feel the warm, crisp ocean breeze hit my sunscreen covered face and excitement fills my body as I anticipate the fun I’m about to experience. I listen to the mate go over how to use the fishing rods, basic boat information, and poisonous fish that we may encounter. As we make our way under the bridge we head back to the back of the boat and collect the fishing rods. I go over to a spot that I felt would suffice for 4 hours of fishing and tie up my fishing rod to the rail with the rope they have available. As we get out of the channel I see how clear the water is and I can see the dark coral heads in the shallow waters. We take a short ride out and the boat slows down and makes a large circle around the spot, probably to chum up the water. You can hear the loud clinking of the anchor chain dropping into the water for a brief minute and then it dies out. When the engines shut off I dropped my squid covered hooks and instantly feel nibbles on the line. I reel up the rod calling to one of the mates. He comes over and congratulates me on my catch, a beautiful baby Red Grouper. We released him and a couple other smaller fish at that spot. I was so pleased with the fish I did end up keeping, a couple grunts and a couple mangrove snapper. We moved to a couple other spots and did very well at all of them. A young boy on the other side of the boat caught a small shark that the mates brought around the boat to show us. When the mates gave us our 15 minute warning I felt nostalgic knowing my trip would soon be over. I hear the engines start up and reel up my rod and tie it up to the rail and make my way upstairs for a scenic ride home. As we made our way back into the channel we see a group of Dolphin swim along side of the boat. When we tie back up to the dock, I tip my mates and walked to the end of the dock where we waited to board and receive my fish. The mates generously filleted my fish and bagged them for me and gave me recommendations on where to get it cooked locally. As I make my way over the bridge I glance over at the boat and know I’ll be back again.
With fall in the air, it’s time for the mullet migration. They are here in force. Large
school’s of mullet have made their way into Florida bay and surrounding keys waters.
Following them are the usual suspects! Tarpon, snook,spinner sharks, jacks to name a
few. The action has been red hot! The fall also opens the door to some fantastic
migratory species, including my favorite, the cobia! They will be on the markers on the
edge of the bay. These big brutish fish fight hard are great eating. The Spanish
mackerel have also showed and will reside all winter. Chuming in the gulf for these
fighters can be exciting! T hg e bite gets hectic, for those who like non stop action!
Mixed in with these fish are lady fish,bluefish and sea trout. Large spinner shark feed
on these schools of fish. Spinner sharks are top notch game an inshore version of the
mako! In the creeks and around the cape, large redfish and black drum are here both
can be found in the large size , I catch them up to 40 pounds in the winter! Triple tail
will be on the car b bouts, they are great eating and hard fighting on light tackle! So
book a trip it’s a great time of year!
Party boat fishing in the winter has the advantage of cooler water. This means an
influx of migratory fish like King Mackerel, sailfish and cobia. The cold front ”s that
push through also stir the waters making it easier to fool the sharp eye sight of the
various snapper we target. Although the winds can be strong we can fish close to shore
over patch reefs and stay in calmer waters and the mutton snapper fishing can be
Dolphin fishing is starting to finally pick up. Amber jacks and almaco jacks are biting great. As are yellowtails and mangrove snappers. Tarpon bite is slowish but on a four hour trip catching one is a good bet. Groupers are biting as good as you can expect… If you get a couple keepers in 2-3 hours of fishing you are doing pretty good. The mutton snappers are stacked up on the wrecks from 120-210.
Capt. Brian McCadie
This week we had several good catches for Snapper in different depths. While the patches were good early in the day, the reef was good later on with both yielding lots of keeper Yellowtails. Several trips limited out on fish including some big Mutton Snapper.
Night time trips for flag Yellowtails have been excellent and conditions have been good with winds S-SE aver as ging 10 knots.
Many of the offshore boats have been bringing in some slammer Dolphin and Blackfin Tuna are on the humps as well.
The weather looks good for this next week and Grouper season is here on Sunday!
Spring is in the air and thoughts of offshore fishing for Mahi and wahoo are on everyone’s brain. However it’s not time just yet, we still get to enjoy the inside reef and wrecks for another month. However we will start to see a few more of those species showing up, some early arrivals! The spring brings a strong yellowtail snapper bite at night because they start to spawn. Other fish that will be spawning are amberjack and Permit. These giants will show up on our deeper wrecks and on our humps offshore. Some of those spots will also get some giant sharks on them which are good for the extreme fight that they give to the adrenaline junkie. Along with the new activities that we are getting into we start to see a real good king mackerel and sailfish bite, and Cobia migration back on near shore up on the reeftop. We have been fishing for these species all winter but now we will see a bigger population on the last push of the year through town. We will start to venture offshore and do some deep dropping for snowy grouper, porgies, and tilefish in the 450 foot range and deeper. This gets us off shore where we can scout out the mahi fishing. And finally in our channels and bridges we will start to target giant silver kings otherwise known as Tarpon. As you can see spring time just like all year around in the Keys is loaded with options; that’s what makes us the fishing capital of the world. There are so many different options and species to target and take home for dinner. On the Blue Heaven we are ready for anything and are looking forward to meeting you soon and enjoying a day out on the deep blue or on the back country!
Spring break is here and we are all starting to get out a lot more. Today winds were out of the east helping things warm up a little. We had a nice group of gentlemen from different parts of the country that had all connected through a fishing club.
The bite on the first drop was excellent right away with keeper Yellowtails and some jumbo sized Mangrove Snappers. We also found a good number of juvenile Mutton Snappers in the area that were released. A few Cero Mackerel made it into the mix as well as some Porgies. Drop #2 was even better with more Yellowtails that were bigger and some Yellow Jacks. We also picked up some more Cero and released some Muttons. All in all we had nonstop action for the day ending up with our limit of Snapper and a nice catch of various great eating fish. I’m hearing of a good Amberjack bite out deeper but we didn’t venture any further offshore for this trip.
Capt. John Ciulla
Catatonic Sport fishing/Islamorada Dive Adventures
Captain David here. January has been windy, wet, and chilly by Keys standards . It has tried to slow the bite but the Captain Michael and crew persevered and came out on top! The kingfish bite was great along with the Porgy, Mangrove Snapper, and Yellowtail Snapper. The Trigger Fish are hot and back in season.
We’re looking forward to February being dryer but a little cooler. This will make for some great fishing days to come. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Until then, tight lines and calm seas!
Hello again to all of our loyal followers, fisherman, and fellow tarpon feeders. Captain Ed from the Captain Michael party boat bringing you this month’s reef fishing report. We saw some quality days in October where the fish finally seemed like they wanted to bite. The fall winds are starting to pick up helping to “dirty” the water, which is a huge help when yellow tail fishing. The better the visibility the harder yellow tail fishing becomes. The fall winds help push sediments through the water helping to reduce the visibility.
Along with the fall season, the wind also helps to cool down the water and push some of our pelagic fish back in town. We have been seeing a few sailfish come up and check out the baits swimming in our chum slick, having live baits on hand will be key for any hopeful sailfish hook ups. We try and throw the cast net whenever fresh bait starts swimming behind the boat. We throw a 12ft cast net on the party boat, which when thrown properly is a pretty cool feat to watch. Plus it helps keep live bait on board and gives us the freshest bait for the best of chances. The fresh bait really helps when we try looking for some Kingfish. We have caught a few already in October yet the kingfish bite should really start to pick up with the water temp dropping and the northerly winds pushing in.
Lastly we have seen a solid bite on the mutton snappers, not all have been keepers but this fish fights like a tank. Not every hookup may be a keeper but it sure adds some fun on the end of your line. Speaking of fun, we want everyone to join in with us. So give Jessica and Charlie in our ticket booth a call and put some reservations in to come see us. If your fishing needs are a little more personal and advanced our ticket booth can help set you up with the right private charter to give you the ultimate experience you’re looking for.
Until next time always remember… You gotta hook em to cook em!
Captain Ed Freeling
With November comes the kick start of our winter fisheries. By now the mahi-mahi offshore have moved on, so we concentrate our efforts inshore on the reefs and wrecks. We are catching yellowtail, grouper, mutton, cobia, king mackerel, and sailfish inshore with the occasional black fin tuna and wahoo. We use a combination of dead bait and live bait; we also do a combination of bottom fishing and kite fishing. The winter also brings Spanish mackerel to the gulf of Mexico, for us this type of fishing is a lot of fun on ultra light tackle as well as cobia, king mackerel, and snapper plus the abundance of sharks to play around with. In the right conditions you can even sight fish for triple tail in the Gulf. So as you can see our winter fisheries have a great variety and plenty of options for you to always put together a great catch. So give us a call and set up your charter today, or sign up for one of our split charters and save some money. I hope to see you soon on the Blue Heaven.
Captain Skye Stanley
Happy October to everyone, captain Ed here with this months fishing report from the Captain Michael party boat. While we saw a hotter September the good news is it should really start to cool down a bit in the near future. This is great for us fisherman. As the temp comes down the water should start cooling down some. This should help turn up the bite. The day trips over the last month have had some slower days but the night trips stayed productive. This should really start to balance out as the water drops a few degrees in temp.
The yellow tails are starting to bite. While we are having success finding yellow tails they don’t always want to feed when the water it too warm. They will school up and eat the chum but not touch the baits. Almost as if they are laughing at us. However with the cooler water coming in we will hopefully get the last laugh. Aside from the yellow tails our infamous mutton snappers should be spawning soon. Trying to catch these impressive fish on light tackle makes for some great fun. And for as much as people enjoy our delicious yellow tail, Mutton snapper might make your taste buds favor the strong and speedy mutton.
Lastly with the seasons changing that means some returning pelagic fish should be making their way back to town, fish such as mahi and King fish and the mighty sailfish will soon be part of our catch. It is my personal goal to try and land a sailfish on the party boat. The only way you can hope to get in on some party boat action, is by coming out and seeing us. Give the ticket booth a call and set up some reservations and let’s see what we can put on your dinner plate.
Until next month, tight lines!
Capt. Ed Freeling