September 22, 2023
Key Largo to Key West
Captains Juan Garcia, James Chappell and Jamie Connell tackle backcountry, inshore and offshore fishing from Key Largo to Key West, including Islamorada and Marathon.
September 22 - 24
Editors Note: Signatures Needed! The "Right to Clean and Healthy Waters" petition needs 900,000 signatures by November 30 to get on the 2024 ballot. Learn more here: http://www.floridarighttocleanwater.org/
Hello everyone! Most guides that got on the water throughout the week reported great redfish, snook and tarpon action all through the Park. Captain Lain Goodwin reported a great snook and redfish bite while fishing both the island and mainland shorelines in Key Largo. They have been fishing with live pilchards and scented soft plastics. Look for mullet muds throughout the bay for some trout and rod-bending action. Fish Berkley Gulp shrimp under a popping cork for the best action. The boats that got to fish the Flamingo area in between passing storms reported a good bite of snook and redfish with some tarpon mixed in. The sharks are a big problem so do your best not to lose too many fish to them, tight drags and stout tackle is a must. Work the tides around the Snake Bight runoffs with scented soft plastics, pinfish and pilchards for some good action. The deeper channels are holding some big sharks and the occasional tarpon. The sight fishing action around the shallow flats in Florida Bay has been decent and the shallow drafted skiffs that have been looking for them have all been getting their fair number of shots. Gold Johnson Silver Minnows spoons, DOA jerk baits rigged weedless or your favorite redfish fly will all get the job done.
Expect the Gulf fishery to start getting better as we approach our fall season. Look for the cobia to start showing up in greater numbers as we get closer to October as well as the Spanish and king mackerel. There is still plenty of action going on near the park boundaries from Sandy Key all the way to Spriger Bank. bouncing 1/2 oz pompano jigs as you drift will get you some really nice trout and snappers with a mixed bag of rod benders.
It's been off and on with the bonefish lately thanks to the stormy weather. The guides targeting them are reporting great numbers of fish in both ocean and bayside flats. The best action has been on the rising tide with calm conditions. Look for permit to be cruising on the deeper edges of flats and banks both bayside and oceanside. A small live crab and a stealthy approach will get you hooked up. If the weather is bad it might be a good idea to fish around the many local bridges and adjacent channels. A live well full of pilchards will get you into a lot of action with some nice snappers, groupers, jacks, snook and tarpon. If you don't have the pilchards cut fresh ladyfish, mullet or pinfish will get the job done. So get out on the water and enjoy all the great fishing going on in the Florida Keys backcountry.
Capt. Juan Garcia
Hello everyone and welcome back to this week’s report! Kind of a weird week with that low pressure all over us, and not much to speak of from the mahi front. A few fish around, but nothing to be too crazy about. Sure seems that if there is low pressure anywhere near, those guys are magicians. The tuna bite on the hump has been the best of it as well as some swords caught out on the deep ledge. There hasn’t been any current on the reef and wrecks all week and couple that with the sharks and it is a recipe for disaster. Very hit-and-miss all year for the elusive mahi offshore, but I still think we are going to get a few more shots on them before it is all said and done. Been a few blue marlin around lately, so that has been a nice bonus I almost forgot to mention. That’s all I have for this week, hoping that this low pressure moves out and things get some normalcy. Looking like East winds for Saturday, so time will tell. Good luck everyone, and be safe out there!
Capt. James Chappell
Welcome back to the Lower Keys Fishing Forecast, we’ve had some great weather down here and it looks like more light winds for the weekend. We’ve had some storms popping up during the day and there are some forecasted for the weekend, so that’s just something to keep an eye out for when you're boating. The island is pretty slow with tourism right now and It’s been relatively quiet on the water in the backcountry. There are a few skiffs around and a few pleasure boats lobstering and hanging out at the sandbar, but overall is pretty quiet out there.
We have a lot of bait showing up in the backcountry at the moment. The pilchard schools are starting to show up, along with some mullet and ballyhoo. Whether you're fishing offshore or in the backcountry, live bait can be the key to success. In the Lower Keys, it's usually hard to find live bait to buy, and if you can find it, it will be expensive. It’s usually easier to just catch your live baits around here and there are a variety of ways, like pinfish traps, sabiki rigs, hoop nets, cast nets, along with others. Personally, I like to throw my cast net on pilchards. I think they are the best bait all around, offshore or inshore, and you can usually catch enough to live chum them.
Capt. Jamie Connell