The Key West Fishing Report
The weekly fishing report for the Key West fishing enthusiast !
I provide this Key West fishing report as an information resource, as I believe the fishing to be. If at times the report seems to describe the fishing as bad or slow, it is not my intent to do so. My intent is to report the fishing as I perceive it to most accurately be. Remember a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work!!
January 31, 2006
This past week concludes another Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) fishing tournament. This annual Key West fishing event has participation from anglers from all over the southeast United States seeking to catch the largest Kingfish for fun and $10,000 in cash. As with other past SKA tournaments held in Key West, anglers experienced both the extreme excitement fishing can offer and the difficult challenges mother nature can place between anglers and catching that big fish. With over 100 boats venturing into the surrounding waters on Saturday, competitors found sea conditions very tough as winds blew in at 20 to 25 knots, creating difficult sea conditions for anglers and fishing. By days end some fishing competitors limped home as the seas proved more than anglers and boats alike could handle. Cracked windshields, angler injuries and broken and loosened boat equipment were the only rewards for some of the adventurous fishermen. Persistence though in the face of tough fishing conditions always pays off for some lucky angler. The first days big fish weighed in at 61.47 pounds. Sundays final tournament fishing day offered lighter winds, smoother seas and another lucky angler with a new big King fish that weighed in at 66.77 pounds.
I, captain Carl Rees, aboard the Looney Tunes also competed in the annual two day SKA Kingfish tournament. Heavy sea conditions on day one made the adventure of fishing what I like to call "advanced boat aerobics". "Advanced boat aerobics" is where you get boat tattoos (that's bruises from tossed around in the boat) and a definite need to "hang on" or be tossed out of the boat. Oh.... it is not really that bad ,but it is part of the adventure of fishing a "rough day". Second day of fishing was just another average wind and seas day on Key West waters as winds dropped to 15 knots. Though we did not have the winning Kingfish, we did catch 7 Kings that weighed from 30 to 38 pounds with plenty of other fishing action from smaller Kingfish attacking our baits over the two fishing days. We even had a 28 pound black grouper that could not resist eating one of our trolled blue runners. Though the wrong species for the tournament, the 28 pound black grouper did provided ample fish filets for my hungry anglers to enjoy.
On other Key West fishing fronts, deep water wrecks and structures are slow fishing action as fast moving westward current has shut down the catching of Mutton snapper, Amberjacks and grouper we were experiencing early last week. The upside to the fast current has been the catching of Yellowtail snapper and Kingfish along the reef line has been "hot action" and is the best choice for plenty of fishing and catching for Key West anglers. Blackfin tuna activity is slow, but that is not unusual with a west current. Sailfish activity has been slow also with the west current. I look for a change in water movement back toward the east any day now as reports further up the keys indicate the direction is changing there. When it shifts back to the east, Blackfin tuna, Sailfish and Wahoo catching will add to the hot reef fishing action. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees Drop me an e-mail, I’m always happy to help your visit to Key West be a memorable one whether you are fishing with me aboard the "F/V Looney Tunes" or with another of the many fine Key West Captains. 906-984-4079
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Visit fishing from the shores of Key West By Fishery Biologist Ed Little. Where, when, how and what's biting from the shores and bridges of Key West. No boat required !!
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January 8, 2006
Key West South side fishing action has been very good over the past week for catching Blackfin tunas, Kingfish and some Sailfish. Current or water movement along the reef line has now shifted to a hard eastbound current and is the main reason for the increased activity for catching Blackfin Tunas. We still have the greenish water conditions to a depth of about 600 feet but I expect that will clear up quickly as the eastbound water movement continues. Unfortunately fishing action over the deepwater wrecks and structures has declined significantly because of the quick water movement.
Yellowtail snapper fishing along the reef line has remained consistent. However, with the recent change in water direction it will take the schools of snapper a few days to settle into the areas for feeding in an east bound current. The “end of the bar” is a best bet for catching big Yellowtail snapper and Wahoo this time of year and there have been a few Wahoo’s caught in the past few days, but it is spotty with still the best Wahoo fishing action yet to come for Key West anglers. Live baits, preferably “Speedos” will produce the best chance for catching the Wahoo’s. That said, the only way you’ll be able to catch the “Speedos” will be setting up to catch the Yellowtail snapper. The snapper and Speedos hang out in the same feeding areas and gives you a great way to catch both dinner (the snapper) and live baits (the Speedos) for slow trolling or kite fishing the live Speedos to catch Wahoo’s, Kingfish, Sailfish and Blackfin tunas.
Since we have had some windy conditions from passing cold fronts over the past couple of days, the north side fishing action in the gulf has not been accessible. But prior to the wind increase from the north; Kingfish action was very good around the “grouper bar” and most of the shallower or close in gulf wrecks. Till the north wind eases up, fishing the gulf will be out of the question. But, there is an upside to the brisk north winds; south side action over the patch reefs and particularly around the “Sambos” reef areas is offering up very good action for catching Cero mackerel and smaller Kingfish mixed with plenty yellowtail snapper and grouper activity. Best results are coming from a bait well full of Pilchards that are in good supply on the Key West south side beach areas.
The New Year is getting of to a great start for anglers visiting Key West and I do hope you can find time to visit us from the “cooler climates”. Drop me an e-mail, I’m always happy to help your visit to Key West be a memorable one whether you are fishing with me aboard the "F/V Loony Tunes" or with another of the many fine Key West Captains. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
December 22, 2005
Southside reef fishing action has slowed significantly as current or water movement along the reef line has slowed to a crawl. The watercolor along the reef line and out to a depth of almost 400 feet is still greenish, which along with the slow water movement has produced ideal fishing conditions for catching Mutton Snapper, grouper, Kingfish and Amberjacks over the deepwater wrecks and structures.
Large schools of Spanish sardines are still being found along the reef line as I mentioned in my last fishing report. Chasing down the schools of sardines and casting jigs into them is producing good results for catching Kingfish and Blackfin tuna that are vigorously feeding upon the sardines. Late in the afternoon even a few sailfish have been spotted feeding on the sardines.
As is typical for this time of year, large schools of Kingfish are moving southward into the Key West area. Areas west and north of Key West known as the northwest grounds and the rock pile are producing excellent king fishing action. Most are smaller Kings in the 12 to 15 pound range with only the occasional “fat boy” picking up the jigs that we prefer for the school size Kings.
Best bet from today through the New Year's holiday. Best choice will be to focus on the Southside deepwater reef line and wrecks that continuously produce the best results for this time of year. However, if the winds are light, then plan on running northward toward some of the Gulf wrecks. Ample Cobia’s are starting to show up over the wrecks along with first-rate action for catching snapper and Kingfish. I keep expecting that any day now we will start experiencing eastbound water movement on the reef line. As soon as we do we can expect the Blackfin tuna catching to become very good.
Here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year's!! Thanks for stopping by Captain Carl Rees
December 8, 2005
Over the past week due to green water or no water movement at all, the Reef fishing has been very slow. Reef patch fishing on the other hand has been very productive offering excellent snapper and grouper catching.
Over the Deep Water Wrecks anglers are enjoying
ample Amberjack activity together with an occasional Kingfish showing up on the
scene. The Kingfish season is just getting started and as
the colder water continues to move into
Keys we can look forward to KINGFISH action through mid March
Due to the dirtier water conditions along the reef, Blackfin Tuna have kept away from the hooks of the fishermen keeping the catching at a slow pace. Large schools of Spanish Sardines are showing up over the deep reef line and we expect to see increasing Blackfin Tuna and Sailfish action over the holidays and early January time frame.
Kingfish are on the Gulf Wrecks and Rock Piles in fair numbers as of this report. Indicators for the Key West winter fishing season are indeed looking very good and I feel a prediction can be made based on previous years observations. Expect an early, strong run of Kingfish. With small schools of Kings already moving over the reef lines in much greater numbers than last year it is a plus sign for an active winter fishing season. Anchoring and live baiting is producing the best results.
Best bet this coming week, continued pursuit of the Blackfin Tunas over the deep wrecks along with trying your hand at the Sailfish which seem to be on the upswing and you can expect a full day of fishing action in the fabulous Florida Keys waters. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
November 10, 2005
Fishing action for Yellowtail snapper remains consistent for anglers to enjoy catching their bag limit of snapper along the south side reef line. Plenty of Ballyhoos and Cigar minnows have been gathering in the chum line intended for the snappers and that is attracting activity from Blackfin Tuna, Mackerel and Sailfish to boats snapper fishing the deeper parts of the reef.
As cooling weather has moved into the Key West area, more Blackfin tunas are starting to show up over the deepwater wrecks and structures together with increasing numbers of Sailfish and Wahoo. Activity from Black grouper and Amberjacks over the wrecks has been slow. Mutton snapper catching has also been meager, but I expect wreck and structure bottom fishing action to steadily improve through this month and next as out local waters continue cooling with the onset of winter.
Over the past week winds have been constant from the east-northeast with acceptably moderate water movement to the east. Combined with the light winds we have had and Key West anglers may be seeing a glimmer of what will be be an excellent winter fishing season on Key West waters. Early positive signs such as the large amounts of bait along the reef are making it more obvious that the winter fishing season is shaping up to be first-rate. The most obvious is that the water temperature is slightly above last year at this time. Bait schools that we target by cast net and hook and line are in better than norm quantities. Large schools of Spanish sardines are showing up near the deep reef line and are being "showered" by Blackfin tunas, Sailfish and Mackerels.
The "indicators" for the Key West winter fishing season are indeed looking very good and I feel several predictions can be made based on previous years observations. First, expect an early, strong run of Kingfish. With small schools of Kings already moving over the reef lines in much greater numbers than last year it is a plus sign for winter fishing action. Second, we are heading into our winter Blackfin Tuna and Sailfish season, expect their numbers and activity to be above normal. Last is for an average year for catching Cero and Spanish mackerel. Thanks for stopping by Capt. Carl Rees
October 26, 2005
This is a very special Key West fishing report that will include photos of the flooding of Key West from hurricane Wilma.
Many parts of Key West experienced flooding not scene for over 20 years as the result of hurricane Wilma. Many of the businesses and homes in and around North Roosevelt were flooded with 3 to 4 foot of water from hurricane Wilma's storm surge. Most if not all of the residential areas between South Roosevelt and North Roosevelt and east of the Duval street have water damage of greater or lesser degrees. Other areas outside of Key West moving northward on US 1 such as Big Coppit to Big Pine Key experienced similar flooding from hurricane Wilma's storm surge.
At hurricane hole Marina where Looney Tunes charters is located,
we experienced flooding in the lower levels of the restaurant and bar. All
charter boats survived very well and we expect to be open for business this
coming Saturday. Electricity has been restored to most of Key West but
there is a great deal of cleanup for residents and businesses. I expect at
this time visitors and tourists will not likely be allowed back into Key West
till the first week of November or the second week of November. You can
visit www.fla-keys.com to
get the official updates as to when Key West and the Florida Keys will reopen to
tourist and Visitors.
As for Key West fishing prior to hurricane Wilma’s arrival south side reef action for catching of Yellowtail snapper, Bar jacks, Amber jacks, barracuda and some Sailfish was quite good. Deepwater wrecks and structures were providing ample action for mutton snapper, Amber jacks and some grouper.
Since we will not be venturing onto Key West waters till Saturday or Sunday, please check back with us around the first of next week. We will post an updated fishing report at that time. Thanks for stopping by: Captain Carl Rees CLICK ON THE SMALL PHOTOS BELOW FOR LARGER KEY WEST HURRICANE WILMA PHOTOS.
MORE HURRICANE WILMA DAMAGE IN KEY WEST WILL BE ADDED SOON
September 19, 2005
I apologize for the fishing report delay over the past few weeks. Personal reasons prevailed in the delay.
Key West offshore fishing these past few weeks has been slow. Too slow to recommend for visiting Key West anglers as an active day of fishing fun at this time.
Key West Southside reefs and wrecks continue to be the most productive choice for Key West fishing action. Yellowtial snapper, Mutton snapper, Amberjacks and Barracudas are the concentration of species to catch, but a wide variety of other fish such as Mangrove snapper, Lane Snapper, Red & Black grouper, Mackerel, Rainbow Runners and sharks are mixing into the fishing fun along the reef and over the wrecks and deep water structures.
Key West inshore fishing for Tarpon remains leisurely. Few tarpon are being caught and those that are are running on the small size. Keep in mind that this the off season for Tarpon fishing Key West waters. Late March through July is prime time for Tarpon fishing the Keys.
Gulf wrecks are still producing some Permit action mixed yellowtail and Mangrove snapper activity and the occasional Cobia showing up in the chum line. Of interest for this time of year is that we are catching nice numbers of Blackfin tunas and Bonitos behind the few shrimp boats that remain in Key West through the summer season. We are suspecting the odd Blackfin action is the result of hurricane Katrina passing through the Gulf of Mexico.
Best bet this coming week. Unfortunately we have hurricane Rita predicted to head our way. Evacuation orders have already been given for visitors leaving fishing on hold till weeks end. But if you would like to know still what I would recommend, here it is.... let the reef and wrecks be your first choice for fishing and catching action. After the reef and wreck rod bending fun, I would recommend some live bait trolling for Sailfish to finish out the day. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
August 18, 2005
Key West Summer fishing action continues to be a bit above normal for this time of year. Deep water wrecks and structures are providing quite good numbers of Amberjack, Almaco Jacks and decent amounts Mutton snapper and grouper. Reef action continues to provide plenty of angling action for Yellowtail and Mangrove snapper, with great action for Barracudas and a few sharks.
Tarpon fishing Key West harbor has slowed to the normal summer action, catching amounts to mostly small fish that are 40-100 pounds, with most activity taking place in the early morning and late evening.
Offshore catching of Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) is spotty; this means that the Dolphin schools we are finding are few in number. Most of the fish are schoolie size with only the occasional teenage size fish or larger being found. We can expect September to deliver a pick up of Dolphin activity offshore before the annual Dolphin fishing action will turn to the down side till next spring. The up side to the dolphin fishing now has been that most all of the fish are being found in 200-400 foot of water depth.
Gulf of Mexico wrecks and structures are typically slow this time of year, the few diehards that still want to make the Gulf run are indeed finding the catching slow. A few Permit and some snapper are the reported catch for the Gulf action.
Best bet this coming week. South side reef and deep water wrecks and structures will be your best bang for your buck. Water conditions along the reef and in the deep continue to favor ample fish catching action over pursuing fish in the Harbor, Offshore or the Gulf. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
August 8, 2005
Deepwater wrecks and structures remain consistent for Key West anglers for catching Amberjack, Almaco Jacks Mutton snapper and grouper. With water temperatures reaching their peak for summertime inshore and offshore fishing; activity around the deeper water wrecks and structures increases as many species seek cooler deeper water.
Tarpon fishing in Key West is giving up its best action in the late afternoon and evening. There is a narrow range of fish species to be caught in Key West Harbor during the summer months. Tarpon for now will be the focused catch for any angler seeking to fish the harbor.
Offshore activity for Dolphin (mahi-mahi) is slow. However, with light winds and high temperatures in the 90s everyday in Key West during August, many visiting anglers are opting to still pursue Dolphin to enjoy the accompanying breeze that trolling can provide.
Gulf of Mexico wrecks to the north of Key West are presenting anglers opportunities to catch Permit, Bonito, mixed snapper and the ever present Jewfish, also known as Goliath grouper.
Reef fishing action is winding down as most of the spawning species that migrate to the reef line during the early and late summer months have now completed their spawning cycle for the year. Yellowtail snapper catching remains steady with the occasional mutton and grouper being caught while pursuing snapper along the reef. Shark activity while snapper fishing is starting to slow.
Best bet this coming week. This time of year the days can get very hot, so consider fishing early or late in the day to beat the heat and be sure to bring plenty to drink in addition to ample sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. If you like getting in the water for snorkeling or diving, summer is prime time to do so, water conditions are usually clearer than winter and water temperatures hover around 84 degrees. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Winds this past week have remained light and variable for anyone venturing out onto Key West waters. Captains and anglers report fishing along the reef and offshore to be first-rate in the activity department. Fair to excellent action for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) is being found under weed lines and bird activity in depths from 250 foot to 900 foot. Closer in along the reef, snapper fishing and a wide mix of other fish is providing anglers plenty of action. Deep water wrecks are producing good catches of Mutton snapper as the spawn survivors of the breeding season are moving back into deeper, cooler water.
With a continuation of westerly water movement along the reef line, anglers looking for snapper action are enjoying good results as bag limits are being filled easily. Those captains prepared to anchor down on the reef and using sufficient blocks of frozen chum are all reporting anglers enjoying plenty of snapper, shark, barracuda and Bonito action; along with a variety of jacks and grouper species mixed in. The shark action is proving to still be very active while snapper fishing either in deep water or along the reef. I encourage anyone craving a hardy battle on either light tackle or medium stand up tackle to head to the reef, deep water structures and wrecks which have plenty of sharks are waiting to fulfill your craving to catch "JAWS".
Lobster Mini season was the usual two day crazy boating - diving experience as it is every year; when it comes to a fun day of diving for a lobster dinner, what else would you expect it be but crazy.
Best bet this coming week. The most variety of fishing action will continue to be along the reef. While offshore for Dolphin has continued to hold on, expect a slow down into August. The light winds make it possible to enjoy doing both offshore and the reef in a single day and I recommend you gather the necessaries to accomplish each. Start on the reef for snapper and the other fish action mentioned above; then as the day heats up, enjoy cooling off by running offshore looking for some Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) action under birds and weed lines. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
July 19, 2005
Key West fishing action since the passing of hurricane Dennis has been all about the snapper fishing along the reef. Dirty water conditions created by the passing hurricane has allowed Key West anglers to catch abundant quantities of yellowtail snapper ranging in the 2 to 3 1/2 pound range. Commercial fishermen are reporting large catches ranging from 500 to 1000 pounds of yellowtail snapper each day over the past week. Obviously Hurricane Dennis was not good for Key West tourism but you're hearing no complaints from the enthusiastic snapper fishermen. Other fish catching activity along the reef has been limited to small catches of mutton snapper and grouper.
Offshore action for Key West Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) has been sporadic over the past week. Schoolie size fish have been the dominant catch; with only a few fish reported over 20 pounds being seen or caught. Most of the Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) activity offshore is being found around weed lines scattered in 500 to 800 foot of water depth.
Tarpon fishing action around Key West has been to say the least, horrible. While dirty water conditions created by hurricane Dennis had the effect of producing positive results for reef fishing, it produced equally negative damage to the Tarpon fishing. Inshore waters have been clearing over the past few days and I expect to see increasing Tarpon action for Key West over the coming week.
Best bet this coming week. Reef fishing activity should continue to be the focus. As long as water movement along the reef continues westerly, snapper and grouper fishing should remain very active for Key West anglers. Don't forget, next week is Key West Mini Lobster Season. Lobster catching will take place for two days, Wednesday the 27th and Thursday the 28th. Thursday is also the full moon and will present the final opportunity to catch any quantity of mutton snapper spawning along the reef line. Though the July full moon is usually less productive than the full moons of May and June, you can still expect to catch some spawning muttons in July. The Key West Marlin tournament kicks off tomorrow, with the full month on Thursday I expect excellent conditions for catching Blue Marlin. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
July 9, 2005
Hurricane Dennis has passed on, leaving Key West with power outages, trees down. etc. Winds peaked out at 52 knots with gust to 63 knots as recorded at Sandkey light buoy located five miles south of Key West. Hurricane Hole marina will reopen for business starting at 10.00 a.m. tomorrow, Sunday 7/10/2005. Fishing charters will resume starting Monday or Tuesday July 12, 2005 depending on each captains plans. Call us if you would like an up to date condition of Key West fishing as a result of hurricane Dennis's passing.
There will be no fishing report for last week. The reason, fishing after
hurricane force winds is like starting with a clean slate, what was biting last
week just doesn't apply to the coming week of fishing action. What we expect
from the fishing after a Hurricane "BLOW" is to have "EXTREME REEF FISHING". If
the reef waters dirty up enough and will stay dirty for at least two days, then
catching big Yellowtail snapper, Mutton snapper and grouper will become Extreme
catching fun!. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Many out of town boats will be heading to Key West for the annual Mini Lobster Season which Begins on Wednesday July 27th. Don’t forget to make your Lobster Hunting plans early.
July 2, 2005
Key West Summertime fishing action the past couple of weeks was best described as normal. The reef fishing has had excellent activity for Yellowtail snapper, Mutton snapper and Mangrove snapper, with plenty of Barracudas and sharks to spice up the fishing endeavors. Shark activities have been so problematic over the past few weeks that we have had to pull anchor a few times and move on to less shark challenging conditions. Heavy shark activity is not too unusual for Key West reefs this time of year as many snappers spawn on the reef line in May, June and July offering sharks some easy hunting as they eat many fish anglers hook.
Offshore Dolphin fishing continues to be more or less average, very nice fish in the twenty to thirty pound range are being found in water depths of 600 to 1000 foot, while good quantities of schoolie size Dolphin are closer in from 300 to 600 foot. Birds and flotsam and jetsam (debris) are the focus for finding the Dolphin action offshore. Boats trolling bigger plastic baits offshore along “the wall” have been catching a small number of Blue Marlin and report seeing loads of free jumpers. With the 2005 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament just around the corner, that is excellent News. Together with a full moon on the 21st of July The Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament will likely be a very exciting tournament!
Deep water wrecks and structures are active for Amberjacks and Barracudas. Again sharks have been a problem on the deep stuff and because you have to wrestle your fish through more water depth, the sharks usually catch your fish. July, August and most of September is a excellent time to leave the deeper structures alone, unless you desire to catch a Shark.
Tarpon action in the harbor continues to be steady, but I do recommend you consider early morning or late afternoon to try and beat the mid day heat.
Best bet for the Independence Day weekend, offshore fishing early in the morning, with plans to fish the reef if offshore is not producing. I would also recommend the Gulf wrecks, just don't forget to bring plenty crab bait for the Permit. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees P.S. The Mutton snapper seminar is complete and ready for viewing.
June 16, 2005
Key West fishing action over the past week was definitely impacted by the first tropical storm of the season. As tropical storm Arlene delivered strong storms and squalls last weekend, Key West anglers essentially stayed at the docks waiting for wind and seas to subside. The water churning impact of Arlene’s passing became evident early in the week for two particular fishing fronts. Tarpon catching has virtually come to a standstill while reef activity for snappers has dramatically increased the past two days. The dirty water conditions left behind by Arlene is the reason for the lack of Tarpon activity and the upswing in snapper catching action. As water clarity returns to Key West harbor and the channels in and around Key West, look for Tarpon catching to return to normal.
Offshore fishing action for Schoolie Dolphin (3-8 pounds) along with a good mix of double digit fish up to 40 pounds have had anglers enjoying fine offshore blue water fishing the past two days. Most of the larger dolphins are being found in depths from 200 to 500 foot, while boats venturing further offshore, 600 ft depths or more are reporting mostly schoolie size fish. With light winds and short seas predicted through this coming weekend, pursuit of Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) offshore would be an ideal choice for the next few days.
Reef fishing action for Yellowtail snapper, Mangrove snapper and Mutton snapper should prove to be most rewarding for Key West anglers as the snapper continue their spawning activities. Catching your bag limit of snapper (10 Per person) should be rather easy. If you wish to experience the best success for the snappers, be certain that you have plenty of frozen blocks of chum for the chum bag. Shark activity on the reef and around the deep water wrecks continues to be an annoyance as they are eating many of the fish anglers are fighting.
Best bet this coming week. Its summer time in Key West and daytime temperatures can reach into the 90s by mid morning. So what should you do? One exceptionally fine idea is to plan your day of fishing with a dip in the water. There are many popular shallow water snorkeling/diving areas that you might want to include as part of your days fishing. This weeks beat the heat tip. A wide brim straw hat is a beautiful thing for key West summer time fishing. Place a wet white hand towel underneath that straw hat and allow it to drape down your neck and on your shoulders and you'll find the Key West midday heat to be stress-free. Yea, a straw hat and a wet towel on your head may not be a fashion statement, but it sure is “COOL”. Thanks are stopping by; Captain Carl Rees
June 7, 2005.
Key West fishing action this past week has definitely slipped into our summer pattern. Seasonally normal 10 to 15 knot winds from the east southeast is offering Key West anglers solid Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) activity on the offshore waters of Key West. The majority of the Dolphin being caught are averaging 5 to 10 pounds, but a fair number of 20 to 30 pound fish are mixed in with the schoolie Dolphin catching. Anglers pursuing Dolphin offshore continue reporting occasional hookups of Blue Marlin and White Marlin, adding further thrills to the offshore fishing.
Snapper and grouper activity along the reef has slowed somewhat, but conditions remain good. Increased activity from Black tip sharks for anglers pursuing snappers along the reef is keeping reef activity exciting as frisky black tip sharks chase after many of your hooked snappers. Yeah the sharks do eat a fair amount of the snappers, but with a little bit of diligent angling you will get your fair share as well. This is actually a excellent time of the year to catch sharks on the reef line and deep water wrecks.
Deepwater wrecks and structures this past week have provide pleasing action for catching Mutton snapper, Amberjacks, Almaco Jacks and a few grouper.
Tarpon activity in Key West Harbor is providing plenty of action for catching Tarpon in the 75 to 150 pound range. Very few Cobia or Permit are being caught though as it is typical for Cobia and Permit to migrate northward into the Gulf of Mexico as our local waters continue warming up with summer heat.
Best bet this coming week. It's hot in Key West this time of the year, and I don't mean just the fishing. The fishing is actually very good during the summer months, but daytime temperatures can reach into the 90s daily and make you sweat for every fish you catch. So what should you do? One very fine idea is planning your days fishing trip with a plunge in the water. There are many popular shallow water snorkeling/diving areas that you might want to include as part of your days fishing. Not only will you see many interesting things, but you’ll cool off as well. We'll talk about other beat the heat tips in our next fishing report. Thanks are stopping by; Captain Carl Rees
May 31, 2005
Key West fishing action over the past week proved reasonably
good, considering we were having some record temperatures in Key West. The
days following the full moon, as expected, provided very good action for mutton
snapper along several areas of the reef. Catches of 10 to 20 mutton
snapper, per boat was average. The size of the fish averaged between seven
and 15 pounds. Eyeglass bar and Western dry rocks, was the focus of most
of the action with late afternoon fishing up till dark producing the best
Tarpon activity in Key West Harbor has remained steady, with three to five fish landed per boat. Permit and Cobia activity in the harbor has been very slow.
Bluewater fishing has been good for catching Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), as winds have remained light from the east southeast. Plenty of Schoolies (4-7 pounds) mixed with a fair number of gaffers (10-20 pounds) have offered up ample action for anglers fishing the blue waters south of Key West. As expected when dolphin fishing offshore, a few Blue Marlin are being caught while pursuing the Dolphin action offshore.
Catching of Permit, along reef areas of Western Dry Rocks has slowed substantially. It is likely the Permit have completed their spawn and will now migrate back toward the north. However, Gulf of Mexico wrecks are offering up plenty of Permit catching action mixed with a reasonable number of Cobia around the wrecks with the Permit.
Best bet this coming week. Winds will remain in an East southeasterly flow and will be conducive to continued Dolphin action offshore. Tarpon activity in the harbor will remain steady for those seeking to catch a Tarpon. While Gulf of Mexico wreck activity should produce steady action for catching of Permit and Cobia. Mutton snapper catching along the reef will slow until our next full moon, but yellowtail snapper fishing along the reef will provide consistent action through the month of June. Thanks for stopping by; Captain Carl Rees
May 19, 2005.
Tarpon catching has remained reliable as schools of Tarpon roam Key West harbor and shallow channels in search of food. Most boats are reporting hook ups of three to four fish per day with Tarpon weights running 50 to 150 pounds. The bigger fish would explain why some boats are reporting less hookups, it can take a fair amount of time to land a Tarpon weighing 100 pounds or more on light tackle. Tarpon fishing is proving most productive early morning with the rising tide.
Key West anglers venturing to the south side reef line and deep water wrecks are enjoying consistent action for Sailfish, Bonito, Permit, Mutton snapper, Yellowtail snapper, Amberjacks and a mix of other sought after Key West species. Dolphin activity further offshore continues to improve. Catching of fish in the 10 to 20 pound range are in greater numbers along with more schools of schoolie size fish being found in the 600-700 depth range. Light winds predicted for next week and into the Memorial Day weekend will be the first good opportunity for many anglers to put dolphin fillets in their freezer.
Easterly bound current that has remained constant over the past two months has finally started to abate the past few days. Several areas on the reef line now have a trickle of water movement toward the West. I expect a continued slacking of water movement along the reef line as we approach the full moon on the 23rd. Sailfish action has dropped over the past few days due to the slacking current. Sailfish activity will become less dependable during the month of June.
North side fishing of Key West in pursuit of the Blackfin Tunas behind shrimp boats has been hampered by consistent northeast breezes. The few boats that ventured the 30 to 50 mile run into the Gulf of Mexico reported plenty of Blackfin tuna action behind the shrimp boats. However, I would not recommend the gulf side fishing this coming week, as most shrimp boats return to the dock during the full moon.
The best bet this coming week. Focus your attention on the Key West fish species that are best-of-breed this time of year. Pursue Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) offshore, Snappers (Mutton, Yellowtail and Mangrove) along the reef and Tarpon in Key West Harbor and channels. I recommend choosing two of the three choices for your day of Key West fishing action. Thanks for stopping by; Captain Carl Rees
May 12, 2005.
Fishing action for Key West this past week has remained consistent with last weeks report with one expected change. Dolphin activity in the blue water is picking up as increasing numbers of schoolies 3-6 lb. and gaffers 10-20 lb. are being found under weed lines and birds. Most of the dolphin activity is in 200 to 700 foot of depth.
The birds that are producing the best fishing results whether in the blue or over weed, are the Sooty Terns and Noddy Terns that nest in the Dry Tortugas during the winter, then make their way back toward the African coastline during the spring and summer.
Whether you are onboard with me, Captain Carl Rees or with another Key West captain keep a sharp eye open for these birds as they are quite essential to catching Dolphin during a day of blue water fishing.
Action on the reef line remains very good for Sailfish, Permit and Yellowtail snapper. With May, June and July being the peak of breeding season for many of the fish species on the reef, shark activity also increases. Many anglers and captains report, sharks eating the fish they have hooked up. This shark attack action is not unusual for this time of year on Key West reefs.
Water conditions over the reef have changed slightly from last week as clear water now covers the entire reef line areas. Water movement is still to the east, but it is showing some signs of slowing down. Eastbound water movement should slow substantially by the full moon on the 23rd.
Tarpon activity in Key West Harbor slowed since the last report. The primary reason is water temperatures are rising and the Tarpon are starting to disburse more from their concentration in Key West harbor.
Best bet this coming week. Since May and June each average 10 to 15 days of calm winds (winds 10 knots or less) your choices of fish to catch will be a quite varied. Whether you choose Dolphin/Marlin catching offshore, snapper/grouper fishing over south side wrecks and reefs; or Tuna and wreck fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, you can count on weather conditions to favor whatever your choice of fishing action for the day. Thanks for stopping by; Captain Carl Rees
May 4, 2005.
Key West fishing action this past week has been very strong on several fronts. Sailfish activity along the reef, especially from Eastern Dry Rocks to Western Dry Rocks is very strong. From 80 to 250 feet along the color change has proved productive for Sailfish and Bonitos with a few Blackfin tuna and Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) mixed in. Most boats pursuing Sailfish over the past week report catching 3-5 Sails each day. Catching of Permit over the reef areas of Western Dry Rocks as those fish make their annually migration to reef areas for spawning activities (which last for about three weeks) has been excellent. Live crabs have been the bait of choice.
Snapper and Grouper fishing over the deep water wrecks and structures including the reef line has been a bit on the up and down. Fast moving water toward the east has kept catches down over the deep wrecks with the exception of catching Amberjacks. The reef line for snapper and grouper has been productive, but water color is flipping back and forth from cloudy greenish water one day to clear water the next. Special Note: Make certain that you choose wisely who you charter for snapper fishing in Key West. Snapper fishing is great fun for every kind of angler but is not the forte of the vast majority of Captains in Key West.
Many Key West fishermen that are in the know about the spawning habits of snappers are very excited as we ease into the month May. While June marks the peak of the Yellowtail and Mutton snapper catching overall, the month of May is the second best month for catching Muttons and Yellowtails. Both are hearty fighting fish that roam in both shallow and deep water from depths of 10 feet to slightly over 250 feet. As the May moon becomes full they will gather in large numbers on particular reef areas and fishermen will have a fairly easy time of catching some of the tastiest snappers in the world’s oceans. An average size Mutton snapper will weigh in at around 10 pounds, but are often into the teens and early twenty pound range. Similar in shape and color to Red snapper, the Mutton snapper is easily identified by their distinctive black dot near the dorsal and toward the tail. Yellowtail snapper average from 1 to 3 pounds, but can exceed 4 and 5 lbs. They are yellowish gold in color and are very good to eat, which is likely why they bring the highest price per pound of any snapper landed in the U.S.
Offshore of the reef, in the deep Blue water, fishing continues to be slow for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi). A full day of fishing in the blue waters is producing only meager results. Landings have been contained to only a few schoolie size fish (5 to 8 pounds) and very few gaffers (10 to 20 pounds). Typically we can expect our Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) fishing to have an up side swing of activity as we pass the new moon of May (the 8th is the new moon). With very few Dolphins (Mahi-Mahi) being found and caught out in the blue water depths, many captains and anglers are opting for surer fishing action along the reef and in the harbor.
The Key West harbor Tarpon fishing action has been very good over the past five days. Most boats report five to seven hookups per day and three to four fish landed per boat each day.
Best bet this coming week. Winds will be from the east southeast at 15 knots for the coming week, expect offshore action for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) to improve after the new moon and become very good as we approach the second half of May. Reef areas along with deep water structures and wrecks will continue to produce excellent activity for Amberjacks, Yellowtail and Mutton snapper, some grouper and a variety of predator activity from sharks and Barracudas. If winds remain no more than 15 knots from the east southeast, running to the gulf wrecks and shrimp boats should keep anglers happy with ample activity from Blackfin tuna, Bonito, Permit, Cobia and a mix of snappers and predators. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
April 27, 2005
Snapper fishing along the reef line has slowed over the past few days as hard eastbound current from the Gulf Stream has moved in and over much of the reef areas from American shoals to the end of the bar. Generally as the Gulf Stream water moves close in and over the reef, watercolor will become extremely clear, making for excellent diving conditions, but poor snapper fishing conditions. As of yesterday, there were several small pockets of greenish water around the ships channel and eyeglass Bar. Those areas continue to produce reasonable snapper action for both Mutton snapper and yellowtail snapper. I expect the eastbound current to continue through the week, hindering both snapper fishing on the reef and over the deep water wrecks and structures.
There are two upside effects of the cleaner water conditions and the eastbound current on the reef. First, the Sailfish action has remained steady, and two, Permit catching action over the Western Dry Rocks area has remained very good. The cleaner water makes spotting the Permit, swimming into the current much easier for site casting with either fly rod, plug rod, or spinning rod. Live small crabs are the preferred bait, however catching on artificial baits such as a fly or small jig is quite exciting.
Dolphin catching in the blue waters south of Key West continues to remain slow. Look for increasing Dolphin activity as we move nearer to the new moon and winds shift more to the East South easterly direction of summer.
Moving north from the reef line into Key West Harbor, Tarpon catching has remained steady, with an average of three to four Tarpon being hooked or caught per boat. Few Cobia or permit have been caught in the harbor the past few days.
Into the Gulf of Mexico, action behind the shrimp boats for Blackfin Tunas has been reasonably good. The drawback has been that most of the shrimp boats have been working depths of 95 to 100 feet, which places them 40 to 50 miles west northwest of Key West. Obviously with fuel prices what they are, most boats are charging extra for fuel to make the run for Blackfin Tuna catching behind the shrimp boats. Closer in Gulf wrecks are producing a variety of action for Barracuda, snappers, Bonitos and Permit.
Best bet this coming week. Since wind direction will be from the east northeast for the next five to seven days. I would recommend two types of fishing action. One, Tarpon fishing in the harbor, which will provide protection from the 15 knot winds from the east. And two, pursue Sailfish along the reef line, followed up with some Permit catching over Western Dry Rocks. Since conditions on the reef line can change rapidly from day to day. I recommend carrying all the necessaries for both snapper fishing on the anchor and or fishing the deep water wrecks and structures. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
April 19, 2005
This past week's Key West fishing action saw another fishing tournament go into the history books as 110 boats participated in the World Sailfish Championships. Overall catch and release of Sailfish during the three-day tournament was very good as a total of 481 Sailfish were released. So how did the Looney Tunes fair in the three-day tournament? We finished 12th place overall, which is a good showing, but not enough to be in the money. Bottom-line. We had a great time, caught fish and will do it again next year. Congratulations to my anglers for their dedication throughout the tournament! Look for some of the fishing photos from the tournament this coming weekend on the photos page.
As for other fishing action, catching of yellowtail snapper and mutton snapper on the reef remains very good. Expect only moderate action for Amberjack's, grouper and Barracudas while fishing for the snappers. Reef line action still remains best of choice for fishing and catching in Key West. Certain areas of the reef line during April and May play host to large numbers of Permit as they congregate on the reef to spawn. During the short time the Permit are on the reef, anglers can experience some of the best Permit fishing in the world.
Over the deep water wrecks and structures. Action at this time is slow, due primarily to the rather strong eastbound current and winds.
As winds have remained in the 15 to 20 kn range from the east northeast since Saturday, no one is venturing very far past the reef line in pursuit of Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi, Dorado). As we pass our next full moon, and ease into early May I expect as in years past anglers will enjoy our first good run of dolphin (Mahi-Mahi, Dorado) for the 2005 year.
Key West Harbor fishing for Tarpon and Permit remains normal with anglers enjoying three to five hookups per day. A variety of other fish to be caught in the Harbor include Cobia, Blue Runners and small snapper round out the Harbor action. Since the Harbor Is protected, many boats have been "hiding out" there due to the 15 to 20 knot winds from the east. Winds are predicted to drop Wednesday night and will remain in the 10 kn range through Sunday.
Best bet this coming week. Obviously the reef line will be very productive. However, with very light winds predicted for Friday and Saturday, we will likely spend the day in pursuit of dolphin offshore. The other alternative will be that we may venture up into the Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of Blackfin Tunas behind the shrimp boats.
Thanks for stopping by; Captain Carl Rees
This report is from April 11th, 2005
This past week's Key West fishing has produced excellent results for yellowtail snapper, Cobias, Amberjack and Mutton snapper along the reef line. Late afternoon action over the deepwater wrecks is producing reasonable results on Blackfin Tunas. The toughest part of catching the Blackfin Tunas has been the lack of sufficient Pilchard's in the shallows. Blackfin Tunas weights are averaging between the high teens to the high 20s.
Just off of the reef line in 150 to 180 feet of depth, Sailfish action has been keeping the sportfishing enthusiast very happy with three to five sailfish landed each day. Bait of choice for the Sailfish has been live Thread fins, though small blue runners are also attracting interest from the Sail's.
Speaking of Sailfish action, this Wednesday will be the kickoff of the 5th Annual World Sailfish Championships here in Key West. The Looney Tunes will be participating in the Sailfish tournament looking to add to our history tournament winnings. All rods and reels have been rigged out with 20 pound test line and according to IGFA standards. We have already collected most of the live bait we will be using in the tournament and look forward to "lines in" on Wednesday morning. This is a catch and release tournament with $100,000 up for grab for first prize followed by 15,000 for second place and 10,000 for third place.
As the month of April progresses and eases into May, ever-increasing amounts of snapper activity along the reef line and over the deepwater wrecks will keep most anglers very content. It Is Important to keep in mind that fishing along the reef for snappers is steady summer action. But that's not all you'll catch while snapper fishing the reef line. Permit, Cobia, Amberjack, Bonito, Blackfin Tunas, Barracuda's, Sailfish and the occasional Dolphin will add to the snapper fishing action as they are attracted to the chumming that is required for productive snapper fishing. With this in mind, the south side waters of Key West from the reef line out into the blue waters will be the focus of attention by Key West anglers.
Just a quick note about Tarpon action in Key West Harbor. Action has been normal for this time of the year and I would only recommend fishing the harbor if one of two criteria is met. One, obviously you want to catch a Tarpon. Or Two, the seas are too rough to reach the much better action along the reef line. Thanks for stopping by; The Captain
Previous Fishing Reports # 1 Dec.97-July.98
Previous Fishing Reports # 2 Feb. 98-July.99
Previous Fishing Reports # 3 Aug. 99-Aug.2000
Previous Fishing Reports # 4 Aug.2000-July. 2002 I apologize for the gapped reports.