Winter Time Fish

12-29-12 Islamorada Reef Fishing in Late December

I’ve been fishing in Islamorada aboard the Bn’M everyday since Christmas. Fishing hasn’t been easy, but we’ve been putting together some great catches the past couple of days. While winter time fishing the Florida Keys we usually stay near the reef, about 4 miles from shore. Today we started out with a pair of nice “smoker” king mackerel, both around 20 lbs. We were near a wreck so I decided to send down a big bait to try for something big. Within 2 minutes we were hooked up to a monster! Unfortunately the fight was short lived, we wound up breaking the 80 lb braided line! We re rigged and sent down another bait. Within 1 minute we were hooked up again! After about a 5 minute tug of war, Nick caught his first goliath grouper. It was a big one too, around 200 lbs! We took a quick picture and then released him to fight another day. We mixed up the strategy in the afternoon and caught 4 black groupers, keeping 2 of them, as well as a handful of yellowtail snapper. We then started our way back towards home, but while on the way we came across a hungry sailfish. The sail was chasing ballyhoo in 40′ of water, so we threw out a live ballyhoo and wound up catching and releasing a sailfish while working our way closer to home. We also caught a big barracuda and one more king mackerel. Yesterday we focused on sailfishing in Islamorada, and managed to catch and release 2 sailfish, as well as lost a couple. The biggest surprise though was a 32 lb wahoo which ate a kite bait. We didn’t have any wire leader, so we were really lucky to catch the fish on 40 lb. monofilament and a 6/0 circle hook. The day before we tried for sails too, and saw a couple but couldn’t get them to eat. We wound up catching a few snapper for dinner, a bunch of jacks, and then a couple barracuda. The next month should still be good sailfishing, so book your Islamorada January Fishing Trip soon!

Capt. Nick Stanczyk