Leaving the narrow corridor of South Florida reef, anglers find surprising concentrations of sailfish to the state line and beyond. Fifty miles off St. Augustine, we were trolling in dark, green water, praying for a stray bite. I’d spent the day in a heavy jacket, trying to salvage my trip by trolling up and down the 28 fathom ledge.
Many of the largest swordfish of the year are caught as they migrate through our waters in winter. Each year as the weather turns cold, Florida east coast anglers begin targeting sailfish as they migrate south with each passing cold front. When chasing sailfish, the best fishing usually occurs on the leading edge of the cold front when the wind is blowing the hardest and the seas are rough.
That slim stretch of land halfway down the Keys is a stroke of geological genius for anglers. Only three miles to Islamorada’s south stands the reef, home of snapper and grouper. From there, the sea floor quickly drops off to the continental shelf.
Get ready…Get set…Go for Florida’s state saltwater fish! It’s finally here: November, start of sailfish season in South Florida. You wake up one morning and there’s a cool wind out of the north. Out on the reef, packs of spindlebeaks are heading south, black etchings in vivid sapphire seas.
What’s better than turkey, football and relatives you haven’t seen all year? Easy answer: wahoo, high-speed trolling and a boat only big enough for six of your best friends or family.
Easy ways to find currents and eddies offshore. Tracking weather fronts has long been a big part of offshore fishing. Pretty easy, too. Just turn on the TV or check the Internet. No excuse for getting caught in a norther on your way to the marlin grounds.
The sport. The new regs. The future of the fishery. Only minutes after I met Capt. Greg Poland for the first time in Key West last fall, he told me the story of some angling friends in Miami, who it turned out I knew as well, who had—ten years back—invited him to dinner. And, he said, they served permit.
Check Out This Florida Drift-Fisherman’s Daisy Chain. Every now and then, something comes around that makes you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Vertical flashers make so much sense, I’m ashamed I didn’t arrive at the idea on my own. Years from now, we may look back at this system in the same way see outriggers and fishing kites.
Fish the northern Gulf this summer for blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish. It’s different than what you might find in South Florida or The Bahamas. Way different from global hotspots like Kona or Panama. We have a mix of billfish species, sure—blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish. But we have longer runs to contend with, and a harder time finding actual blue water.
An often fast-paced and highly visual pursuit, snaring mangroves within a rod length of the transom defines “cool,” but it’s also practically advantageous. Normally, when a guy tells me my fishing day will involve glass minnows and pompano jigs, I assume we’re talking flats and beaches.
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