Aug. 2000 - Oct. 2001 Key West fishing reports. Weekly Key West fishing action report.
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Sunday Aug. 27, 2000
Tropical storm Debbie played a big role in this past weeks fishing. With the threat of a possible hurricane passing close to, if not actually over Key West nearing weeks end. Many anglers found their fishing plans for Key west on hold. Mid week saw county officials issuing a mandatory evacuation of visitors to the Keys. Fortunately Debbie completely fell apart off of the Cuban coast line shortly after the evacuation notice was issued.
Offshore action for Dolphin remains constant along with good to very good
reef and structure fishing.
Dolphin from schoolie size to the mid twenty pound range are keeping anglers busy as captains are finding plenty of fishing action around either debris or bird activity in depths of 750 to 900 feet of water. On the reef and structures, excellent action for sharks and snappers, providing sufficient block chum is used to encourage the action.
Best bet this coming week. Stick to the offshore action and the reef and consider the following fishing comment...... September is certainly the beginning of the slow season for tourism in the Keys. Fortunately the fishing and catching opportunities remain active over the reefs and deep water structures throughout the year with only occasional slow ups, even though the species caught varies as the months pass. Snapper and grouper in particular live on the reefs of the Keys year around and are often over looked by many anglers visiting the Keys and Key West. While we have many migratory species (i.e. Sailfish, Kingfish, Tuna, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), Permit, Amberjack , Sharks and Tarpon) that pass through or visit our waters during seasonal changes, catching resident fish can make a great day of fishing when the pelagic fish are on the move or not here. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Sept. 10, 2000
Light winds and moderate seas for the past week offered easy access to Key West fishing spots. South side reefs and deep structures along with blue water action continues to produce strong fishing encounters.
Fair to good catches of snapper (Mutton and Yellowtails) mixed with activity from sharks, Barracudas, Bonitos, assorted Jacks and the occasional grouper, have been keeping reef and deep structure anglers very happy. Plenty of chum for the snapper and live baits, blue runners preferably, for the sharks and Barracudas (Cudas for short) is producing the best results.
Offshore of the reef from depths of 150 ft to 900 ft anglers continue to enjoy good action for Dolphin mixed with the occasional Wahoo. Though anglers are encountering more schoolie size (5 to 8 lb) fish, there is a reasonable number of over 15 pound fish being found along with the schoolies. Best results are coming form boats that are also carrying live baits since most of the larger fish are ignoring the dead baits and jigs casted at them as they come in close to the boat. Even some of the schools of schoolie fish are refusing the dead baits. If you are going offshore for Dolphin I do recommend that you catch at least a couple dozen small pin fish for exciting those Dolphin that are being picky.
Best bet this coming week. The reef and deep will continue producing good results. Offshore action on the other hand has already gone beyond what I consider to be our normal season. With that in mind, keep your options open by taking along some supplies for dropping back in on the reef. It could save your fishing day should the offshore prove unproductive. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
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Sunday Sept. 17, 2000
Winds from hurricane Gordon sliding westward of Key West have brought winds gusting to over 30 knots from the south to southwest. Short of fishing from the shore or bridges, Keys anglers have been virtually stopped from getting out on the water for a couple of days. Winds are predicted to subside to fishable condition by Tuesday.
This past weeks fishing in Key West had mother nature giving anglers the cold shoulder offshore as many boats reported a major slow down in the Dolphin action. Though offshore action has slowed, the reef and wreck action remains consistent with good activity for Yellowtail snapper, sharks, Barracudas, Grouper, Bonitos, a few Kingfish and a variety of Jacks. Once again the best results over the wrecks and reef is coming from boats with a good supply of dead baits, live baits and a supply of frozen chum.
A bit of advice for fishing deep wrecks to get the most out of your fishing time. First thing to consider is your fishing competition or more simply is there anyone else fishing the wreck other than you. If not, and you like catching fish on artificial lures or jigs, now is your best opportunity as most wrecks untouched even as short a time as over night will have most species of fish living or hanging about on the wreck looking for a meal first thing in the morning and the first attractive thing dropped to them and worked properly will usually produce hook ups as their desire to feed overrides their cautionary tendencies. If the artificials start slowing down on action, now is the time to kick it up a notch by adding dead baits into the mix. Jigs with Ballyhoos or strips of Mackerel, Kingfish or Bonitos will usually kick the action in again as the scent of the baits once again promotes the fishes desire to get a meal. When the dead bait action slows, it's time to get the dip net out and scoop into the live well for your final assault on the wreck fish.
While fishing a wreck it is best to think of your bait groups as numbers. The number 1 as all artificials, number 2 as all dead baits and number 3 as all live baits. Number 1 group is the least effective with number three the most. Now obviously we want the most effective method, but after all this is sport fishing and we desire to catch fish on a variety of tackle and baits. Which is why you always try to start fishing a wreck with the least effective number and work your way through to the most effective. If you start with the number 3 group you will most likely find the other groups will work poorly or not at all. So always start with the ones and work your way up. Your bite will last longer and you will have more fun. Many other factors affect wreck fishing to numerous to mention here and I do apologize for that.
Best bet this coming week. After Gordon's winds subside, it will be mostly best guess on what the reef wrecks and offshore will be like. Recommendation, prepare for all aspects of each and you shouldn't be able to miss out on a good day of fishing on your next fishing trip. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Sept. 24, 2000
As we reach the close of September and into Key West's Autumn fishing, changes begin in the form of increasing numbers of migratory fish in Key West waters. Game fish, such as Blackfin tuna, Sailfish, Wahoo, Kingfish and Mackerel start showing up in larger numbers along the reef line out to depths of 300 feet. Fishing this past week had all the markings of autumn action as increased numbers of hook ups of Blackfin tuna and Sailfish were reported. Though still just the beginning of the "Hot action" for the above mentioned species, as winter cools the waters to our north, fishing in Key West and the Key's heats up.
On other fishing fronts this past week, Amberjack s, Mutton snapper, Yellowtail snapper, Bonitos, Barracudas and sharks were all active. All provided fair to good action over the reef, deep water structures and wrecks. While in the blue water Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) still continue to be active. Look forward to continued action for the above except for the Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), which will thin in numbers as our waters cool.
The best bet this coming week. Look to start doing more slow trolling with live baits for Sailfish, Blackfin tuna, Wahoo and Kingfish as they increasingly arrive to our waters. Though we are at the early stages of autumn, giving some time to slow trolling live baits either in the early morning or late afternoon will certainly add more fish catching opportunity to the already good action found on the reef and in the deep. Best bait for the slow trolling, either small Blue runners or threadfin herring. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Oct. 9, 2000
Our first cold front for the fall fishing season is pushing through today and winds from the north to northeast at 20 to 25 knots will hinder Key West fishermen through late Tuesday, when winds will diminish.
Fishing action has been sporadic depending on the fish species sought after. Sailfish, Blackfin tuna, Kingfish and Barracudas have all made a fair showing this past week, but had many trolling boats begging for bites. While over the reef and deep water structures Mutton snapper, Jacks, Bonitios, Yellowtail snapper and sharks all made a fine performance for Key West anglers anchoring over the reef or deep structures.
Transition time for fishing in Key West is where we are at this time of year. Many migratory species such as Sailfish, Kingfish, Cero mackerel, Spanish mackerel and Balckifin move to our waters for the winter. Being still in the early stages of this change of "fishing seasons", we expect sporadic action on most of those migratory fish until they settle in. Usually by mid November to mid December. Until then, it pays to be prepared for every scenario you might expect out on the water. Making certain to carry live baits, dead baits and ample chum to cover all those fishes appetites.
Best bet this coming week. As this first front passes, we should find a well defined color change will develop along the reef line. Expect a good spurt of Sailfish action until that color change dissipates. Action in the deep and over the reef will continue active for Snappers, sharks and other reef fish. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Oct. 14, 2000
Excessive winds from the cold front that pushed through early last week was more than the weather man predicted it would be. Winds from the north to northeast at 20-25 knots created dirty water conditions from the shore line out to depths of over 500 feet along the Keys.
Of course with those high winds many who wanted to get in some fishing on Key West waters found seas beyond their desire to catch fish. Early on in the week before water conditions became overly dirty, a good bite on Sailfish did occur along with a spurt of activity for Blackfin tuna for the few adventurous anglers who did venture out. Over the reef, whitish green water along with a moderate current toward the west has had snapper fishermen enjoying an easy time of catching large (2-3 pound) Yellowtail snapper mixed with some grouper, Mutton snapper and shark action on the bottom.
Towards weeks end as winds continued to blow, the water became dirtier so that anglers found conditions very tough to get a bite in the milky water covering both the reef and deeper waters, especially those boats choosing to troll. As often is the case with very cloudy water, fish begin to rely purely on senses other than sight to catch what food is available. Given that watery scenario, considerations for trolling should lean toward using live baits as opposed to lures or dead baits. Predatory fish such as Barracudas, Kingfish, Sailfish, Tuna and Wahoo all can find a wiggling, struggling live bait much more quickly in that cloudy water than they can an artificial or dead bait.
Even choice of live baits can effect your catching. As example, in very dirty water the time it takes to troll over an area that you suspect harbors your target fish, say for instance Kingfish, it may seem that a frisky Blue runner may be the best bet for a strike. Due to the necessary higher trolling speed a runner demands, you often travel to quickly through an area for the Kingfish to locate the live bait. A bait such as a Lane snapper that can be trolled more slowly can often produce better results only because you are giving the predatory fish sufficient time locate the live bait as it enters his senses range.
Best bet this coming week. Winds are dimishing at the time of this report and you can expect the waters to start clearing. As they do, we can look forward to again a surge in Sailfish, and Wahoo activity. As for the reef, expect good action as the cloudy water conditions will certainly give the advantage to the anglers. Deep water wrecks and structures will give good fishing results, but until the water clears some, I do recommended anchoring rather than drifting the structures. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Nov. 6, 2000
Blackfin tuna and Sailfish were the highlight for Key West anglers this past week. For the entire week cool temperatures and moderate winds from the northeast continued to created excellent fishing conditions for Sailfish and Blackfin tuna to pop up on many areas along the reef line.
Yesterday and Saturday the second annual Cuban American Billfish tournament took place here in Key West. As is the case with many of the tournaments in the Keys, the charter boat "Looney Tunes" (that's me) joined in the fishing fun. With anglers Charles and Paul Argento from Brown Mills New Jersey the "Looney Tunes" finished first place with most Sailfish releases. Congratulations to Charles and Paul for doing an excellent job of angling and a special congratulations to Paul on catching his first Sailfish.
On other fishing fronts, the reef and deep water wrecks continue to offer good to excellent action for Kingfish, Yellowtail and Mutton snapper, along with fair to good action for Red and Black grouper. Black grouper fishing in particular will continue to improve over the next month as the shallower water temperatures drop lower and those fish seek deeper, warmer water. Blackfin tuna action over the next month will also improve to a level that will have most anglers begging for a break from the hearty battles they deliver. November is typically the peak month for them with December and January still providing good to excellent action for tuna.
Best bet this coming week. Now's the time to make sure your cast net is in good condition for making cast for live baits in the shallows along the shore lines of Key West. Pilchards (the preferred bait) will get those Blackfin tunas popping and jumping out of the water. Anchoring over the deep water wrecks and tossing those lively little baits that you have captured with your net is the quickest way to fast and furious Blackfin tuna action. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Nov. 13, 2000
Blackfin tuna and Sailfish action was again the highlight for Key West anglers this past week. Additionally, anglers are experiencing increased winter action as good to excellent catching of Cero and Spanish mackerel are being found along the reef lines and areas south east of the Marquesas and in Hawks channel. Small drone spoons and live pilchards are producing the best results for the mackerel.
Reef and wreck action has continued producing good to fair action for Yellowtails and Mutton snapper along with a variety of other fish, including Kingfish, Almaco Jacks and Amberjacks. The reefs and wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico (north of Key West) are showing the signs of winter as reports of increasing numbers of Cobias are showing up over those wrecks and reefs. Look for continuously increasing action in the gulf as we head deeper into winter.
As we are getting very close to the time of year for large numbers of Kingfish to enter our waters from the north, I will post a purely "how to" report for catching Kingfish via way of Jigs. Look for it to appear Sunday Nov. 26th.
Best bet this coming week. The reef will offer up the best variety of action while just outside the reef in depths of 120 out to 300, Sailfish and Blackfin tuna will continue to give anglers great fishing action. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Nov. 26, 2000
A Twist, a Jig and Kingfish
by; Capt. Carl Rees
Take a hook, pour some hot lead on the shank of the hook near the eye, throw some paint on the lead, wrap a touch of hair around the hook shank and what do you have? The great fishing invention known as a JIG. Certainly if you followed those instructions for making a JIG it may turn out unrecognizable to many as a jig, but the principle would be correct. A hook, to hook the fish, lead to sink the hook, hair and paint to catch both the fishes eye and yours.
Let us assume your jig has ended up being a perfect reproduction of a Jig known commonly as an "upperman jig" or "bean jig". Great, now that your jig has a name all that is left is to know how to use it and what you can expect to catch on it. The title for this article should be a big hint on what it will catch, but don't be surprised that as we learn to jig our jig, fish other than Kingfish find it attractive.
Opinions on how to use our jig properly may vary amongst anglers but the three basic movements are always the same. One, dropping the jig, two, retrieving the jig and three, repeat one and two. Now that is simple enough, but under real fishing circumstances we need to "kick it up notch". Step two, retrieving, is our productive "strike" step, and this is where you will need to learn a few simple rod and reel actions to get those Kingfish to strike.
After you have dropped your jig to near bottom or on the bottom you begin your jig retrieve with short, rapid upward jerks of the rod, all the while turning the reel handle only when you lower the rod to begin another jerk upwards. This may sound simple until you actually try it. Most novice "jiggers" usually fail to get hooked up for only one reason. They jerk and retrieve to slowly. Kingfish have little problem catching a jig moved as fast as you can turn the handle on your reel.
I have taken effort to actually use the full capabilities of your computer to demonstrate what your jig should actually do and if you will click here, you will see a Flash movie with a "bean" jig moving the way it should. After seeing the demonstration please return here to consider the other following items.
If you have finished with the movie, then I hope you have a better understanding of how the jig should be presented. Assuming you do, we should now consider things such as rod, reel and line, size of jig, color of jig, wire leader type and most importantly, where and when to use the jigs.
The type of rod and reel is very important for imparting the proper action to the jig with the least amount of work involved. Anyone who has worked jigs for several hours will tell you that a rod reel combination that is either to heavy or to light will cause you to lose fish and make you work more than is necessary. So, the rod that will best suit you for most applications of the jig/jigs we are dealing with here, will be a 7ft. long spinning rod designed for 12-20 pound test line and lure size of 3/8 to 1-1/4oz, with a spinning reel that has at least a 4.6-1 retrieve or more, loaded with 15 or 20 pound test line. One rod that I favor for jigging and that is readily available is Fenwick's GAVS 70 MHF. The type of rod you select must be limber enough to bend as you jig, but not so stiff that the rod shows little bending as the jig is snapped upward. A rule of thumb would be for the rod to bend about 20 degrees downward on the tip end of the rod when the jig is snapped upward on the retrieve.
The size of the jig most commonly used in Key West King fishing is 1oz. to 1-1/2oz. White in color with a tail area that is also white. A variety of colors can be found and I will include two places in Key West at the end of the "how to" where you can get jigs for kings for your own use.
The type of wire leader of choice is # 6....61 pound test and # 7.....80 pound test in coffee or bright color. Use either a swivel or Albright knot to attach12 to 18 inches of wire attached to your leader of which is 50 or 60 pound mono which will be attached to your 15 or 20 pound line on your reel. Use a haywire twist for attaching your Jig and you're ready to jig. While either #6 or #7 wire works well jigging, you can use lighter if the fish are a bit shy. Caution though, the lighter wire can kink easier when you jig as quickly as you should to entice the strike from the Kings. It would be best to move to lighter rods and jigs if you wish to move to lighter wire.
Now to address the where and the when. For Kingfish in Key West the season
runs from late November through mid April. Certainly one should not expect mass
quantities of Kingfish in our waters through that entire time. Rather,
anticipate that during a two month span starting late January through March
Kingfish will be in our waters in sufficient quantities that jigging is a
desirable method. The when aspect of jigging Kings goes beyond a seasonal
consideration. It also includes water conditions. Now this subject can get
complicated, but, these squares of color should help you understand water
The first square represents clear water to a dusty blue. Fine conditions for using jigs for Kings. The second square represents clear green to slightly powder green. Here again, fine water color for jigging Kings. The third square represents dusty green to very dusty green, verging on whitish green. That third square of water color will prove to be difficult conditions for Kings to see your jigs, though they may be there. You should try finding cleaner water or using live baits in that color.
The where to jig for Kings in Key West is something that can take time to learn, especially since we will not cover what the actual marking of Kings look like on a depth recorder at this time. But I will give you three likely areas to jig should you be visiting Key West with your own boat. First is Eastern Dry rocks, Kings can be found there often for jigging enthusiasts. They may be on top of the the reef or on its edges or out to depths of 150 feet. They do move about quite a bit and it is common practice to look for them using only your depth recorder. Once you find what you believe is a school of Kings on your depth recorder, make a drop on them with the jigs. I am going to assume that you have made your drop and you have successfully gotten hooked up on one or more Kings and have landed them, great job!. Now you look at your depth recorder only to discover there are no King marks. They often move from where you first found or marked them. If they did move, you will find that they often nose forward into a tide or current and actually make headway into it. Be sure to try and determine if there is water movement or not as you make your drops. Once you mark what you think are Kings, punch your Man Over Board button on your gps, that way as you they leave you or you drift away from the school of fish, it will be easy to return to where you started. If you don't mark them again, move your boat in the direction that will take you against the wind, current or tide. Chances are you will mark them again. When you do, hit that M.O.B button again and drop those jigs.
The other two good jigging spots I recommend are Western Dry rocks and the End of the Bar. Each spot can be found on locally sold charts along with various other fishing information you will find very helpful.
I hope this has been of help to the fledgling jigger or even the expert. If you find you are in need of further jigging information, feel free to call or e-mail me anytime. Call 906-984-4079 or e-mail me at Captain
The pictured jigs or similar jigs can be bought from the following:
From: Conchy Joe's 305-295-7745
2502 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Key West, Fl. 33040
Behind "Checkers" Restaurant
Monday Dec. 4, 2000
This past weeks fishing has anglers and captains enjoying a variety of sport fishing action as Sailfish, Kingfish and snapper were in good supply along the reef line and color change areas. The highlight for the week though would have to be that Blackfin tunas are being caught in increasing numbers over the deep water wrecks and along some reef areas. All the more exciting is that a fair number of Yellowfin tunas have been popping up at the "end of the bar". An occurrence that has not come about in more than four years. Let us hope that those Yellowfins will stay with us over the next few months, providing Key West anglers some truly extreme fishing.
Strong east bound current over much of the reef line areas would be the major cause for the sudden appearances of Yellowfin tunas, and should this strong current continue, we can expect for more of them to show up. Increased action for Wahoo's this past week is also being fuel by this very fast east bound current. Without doubt the Key West winter fishing action is shaping up to be very good.
Though winds are predicted to be brisk from the northeast over the next few days, because of the way the land lays here in Key West, much of the reef line areas are still very fishable because the land blocks much of the wind, allowing anglers to experience only moderate seas while fishing the reef and other close in areas. Always keep this in mind if you are visiting Key West for fishing. Strong winds do not always mean you can't get out for your intended fishing trip. Rather you should consider the direction from which they are coming from.
Best bet this coming week. Live baiting for Tuna and snapper/grouper action will be the first choice. Second will be trolling live or dead baits for Sailfish as they have a weakness for feeding in the east to northeast winds. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Dec. 17, 2000
Just eight more days till Christmas and mother nature is delivering Key West anglers early gifts for the holidays. The fishy gift of Blackfin tuna was found in many boats over the past week as they were very active for those boats and anglers that had generous amounts of live pilchards to give them. The tunas gathered for their gift giving battles over most deep water wrecks and structures on the south side of Key West.
South side reef and deepwater action has remained steady for everyone anchoring down or drifting with live baits. Kingfish, Tunas, some Wahoo action, and Yellowtail snapper have all performed well over the past week on the live baits and their feeding activity should remain good through the balance of this month. The yellowtail snapper do need a bit more encouragement than just the live baits. I recommend you carry along at least five to ten blocks of frozen chum to encourage them to bite steadily.
Water movement along the reef line near the "end of the bar" has continued to flow eastward. This is such great news, for the Yellow fin Tuna action to continue we need that eastward current. As you might have read in the last report, Yellow fins have been caught and seen at the "end of the bar" and along the bar. While only a few have been caught, many more have been seen. Very good news indeed for those anglers visiting over the next two weeks as the backside of the full moon is their more active feeding time.
Best bet this coming week. Tunas, Kingfish and snapper will be the pursuit for captains and anglers as they have given great action this past week. However, if possible, consider that there are still large quantities of sharks around the same areas that the Tunas, Kings and snapper are. If you feel up to a hardy catch and release with a shark, let your captain know you want to battle with one. It should be fairly easy to encourage a shark to accommodate your request. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Dec. 25, 2000
Merry Christmas everyone !! This past week of fishing for Key West anglers proved to be first-class, as Wahoo, Kingfish, Yellowtail and Mutton snapper were caught in excellent numbers. Though anglers had to battle rougher than usual seas, most everyone that got out to the south side reefs and wrecks found good to excellent fishing action.
Given the weather prediction for this coming week there maybe fewer anglers making way to the south side for fishing. Winds of 20 knots and gusty will blow from the east to southeast for most of this coming week. Not good news, but it is mother natures way of keeping us from catching all the fish. There is alternative inshore fishing and if this is your fishing vacation in Key west, you should consider the near shore fishing, it can prove to be fun action as there are numerous fish in the channels around Key West and over the shallow water rock piles.
For those of you willing to brave the seas and winds, you will find that the fishing action for Kings, Yellowtails and Muttons should continue to be good. Expect to see increased Sailfish activity with the east winds, be sure to bring along live baits such as Threadfin herring, small Blue runners, as they will be your best bet for catching the Sailfish. With these higher winds, drifting with the live baits in depths from 120 to 250 should prove most productive.
Once again, Katie (my wife) and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!! Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Jan. 1, 2001
Burrrrr !! Even Key West is experiencing the chill of winter as temperatures dip into the low 50's. Though unusually low for Key West, we do have some chilly days during the winter fishing season and you should always pack a few warm items for wearing out on the water.
East bound water movement that had fueled the continuous fishing action for Tunas, Wahoo, Kings and snapper at "the end of the bar" did come to an end early last week and so did the steady action there. On the bright side, that action could be on the verge of starting over as water movement started trickling toward the east yesterday.
Over the past week, deep water wrecks and structures have been active for snapper, grouper, Amberjack s and Kingfish action. Reef activity has supplied ample Yellowtail snapper for those boats carrying a generous amount of frozen block chum. Yellowtail snapper ranging from 1-1/4 to over 3 pounds have provided many visiting Key West anglers there bag limit of ten snapper each for only a few hours anchoring on the reef. Add that to the slow trolling action for Kings and Sailfish mixed with the deep water catching and visiting anglers are enjoying a variety of fishing fun on Key West waters.
Best bet this coming week. Continue to be prepared for all types of fishing action. Bring all the fish goodies, live baits, block chum, dead baits, artificial baits (such as jigs for Kingfish). As we have experienced virtually daily changes in fishing action, it pays to be prepared for pursuing all fishing aspects of the reef, the deep and trolling so you don't come home empty handed. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Jan. 21, 2001
The delay in updating the fishing report was due to a family medical emergency that required me to travel out of town and away from the computer that I use for fishing updates. I apologize for any inconvenience and would like for you to know that my Dad is home and doing very well. Many thanks to all of you that expressed your concerns.
Though I was out of town, having three boats in Key West does require that I keep in touch with what is going on. The fishing and weather for the past ten days in Key West were both very good. Visiting anglers enjoyed steady action for Kingfish, Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna and Bonitos mixed with some spotty activity for Snappers, African Pompano and Cobia.
A few of you who will be visiting Key West this coming weekend for the annual SKA Hogsbreath Kingfish tournament (Jan. 27 and 28) would certainly like to know how good the Kingfish action has been the past few days. The commercial netters and hook and line fishermen have been doing very well. The net quota of over 500,000 pounds was nearly filled by yesterday though they only started netting early last week. The hook and line guys have also been doing well as most boats have been returning with their limit of 1250 pounds per day.
As to the location for most of the action for the Kings. The following spots all produced well this past week. Western Dry Rocks, End of the Bar, Northeast grounds, Middle grounds, The Rock Pile, The Little Banks and Polaski light. Keep in mind that each of these areas produced well for the hook and line boats fishing for Kings in the 5 to 20 pound range. They do not use live baits for those bigger fish.
Best bet this coming week. Kings will be the steady action while Blackfin tunas near the end of the bar will keep you very busy provided you have a generous amount of live pilchards in your bait well. For you guys looking for live baits this year for the SKA tournament, I will not be selling baits this year but if you would like to call me (305-294-3479) when you get here, I will have info. on who you can contact for your baits. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Feb. 4, 2001
Where are the Kingfish? That question has had many captains and anglers somewhat puzzled as they seem to have disappeared over the past week. Sure there are a few spurts of King activity over the past few days, but usually this time of year we experience steady if not exceptional action for Kings.
While the Kings have been playing hide and seek, other fish such as Blackfin tuna, Amberjack s, Sailfish, Spanish and Cero Mackerel have provided Key West anglers with good action. Particularly active have been the Sailfish and Blackfin tunas. From single Sails to groups of five and six at a time have been reported munching live baits either slow trolled or drifted in depths of 120 to 250 feet. Blackfin tuna have also popped on up on the same boats fishing for the Sails, though the better action for them has been anchoring over the deep water wrecks and throwing Pilchards.
Pilchards as bait has been the best bet for getting continued action for the Blackfin tuna, especially if you desire to catch your tuna on fly rod. Good news is that the Pilchards have been very easy to find. Large schools of them are running the beaches both south side and north side of Key West. Pelicans (birds) have performed well by actively diving on the Pilchards in the early morning, making locating the bait very easy each day.
Other fishing action over the past week included fair to good action on the reef for snappers (Yellowtails) and some grouper. Good action over the deep water structures and wrecks for jacks (Amberjack and Almaco) and Mutton snapper mixed with a little action from Wahoo's. Cobias over the north side wrecks has been improving and should be very good over the next month when north winds allow us to venture into the Gulf.
Best bet this coming week. The Kings have not left us yet and we will have some great action for them over the next month and half, so keep trying your favorite Kingfish spots. Blackfin tunas, Wahoo and Sailfish action will continue active, but mostly for the boats with the live baits. The reef action for snapper will be spotty over the month of February, but be sure you always carry some frozen chum on your fishing trip. It is a rare day when chumming the reef cannot save a slow day of other type fishing. Thanks for stopping by; The Capt. Carl ReesThe Capt. Carl Rees.
Monday Feb. 12, 2001
Anglers visiting Key West this past week enjoyed much improved action winter Kingfish. Most captains reported catching their bag limit of Kings (two per person) with little problem. Live baits were the more productive method for the Kings though many anglers caught kings on artificials and Fly rod. Fish weights ran from teenage poundage to fish over 40 pounds. Look for the Kingfish action to continue over the next month.
Deep water wreck and structure fishing action has produced moderate to good catches of Mutton snapper, Amberjack , Almacojack , Blackfin Tuna and some grouper. Current, tide and water color conditions have fluctuated continually over the past week making the deep water somewhat flip floppy on fishing action.
Gulf fishing action over wrecks and reef improved as the winds swung slightly toward the southeast over the last few days. Cobias to 30 pounds and large Kingfish (25 to 40 pounds) were the major activity over the gulf wrecks and reef, mixed with Mangrove snapper, Jew fish, Lane snapper and Barracudas. Look for continued Gulf fishing action as winds are predicated to to swing even more southerly over the next few days.
Tarpon action in Key West harbor is starting to show signs of spring fishing, with boats reporting jumping or catching two to four fish each day for their efforts. Tarpon action will continue improving through this month and next.
Best bet this coming week. Gulf fishing action should be a good bet, especially as winds swing southerly. Key West south side action for Kings will also continue, but most of the fish will be smaller than those caught in the Gulf. The deep water action over the south side wrecks will continue to produce good action for Muttons, Jacks and Tunas. Thanks for stopping by: The Capt. Carl ReesThe Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Mar. 4, 2001
Blackfin tuna activity was the "HOT ACTION" this past week. Boats with generous amounts of live bait found themselves enjoying hearty battles from Blackfin tuna that showed up in large numbers in and around the "end of the bar". Mixed in with the feeding tunas was a fair amount of Sailfish that competed for the live baits tossed from the live bait wells of Key West light tackle charter boats.
With the light winds for most of last week, anglers enjoyed fishing action on a variety of fish. Tarpon and Permit made a good showing in Key West harbor for visiting anglers. Pursuing Cobia over gulf wrecks was fair as boats found Cobia up to seventy pounds. Though the number of Cobias found over most of the wrecks was small, the size of the fish averaged in the thirty pound range.
Reef and deep water fishing was slow as almost daily changing water direction and speed made for confused fish and anglers. Quick east bound water movement was the dominate direction, though west, south and southeast directions of varying degThe Capt. Carl Reesof speed was found off and on during the week, making for up and down fishing action on the reef and in the deep.
Kingfish catching slowed this past week as water clarity was poor in most of the areas that proved very productive the previous week. We should experience one or two more good weeks of King action this month before water temperatures rise to a point that will have them moving back northward.
Best bet for this coming week. With a strong cold front predicted to cause high winds (20 to 25 knots) for the first part of the week, Tarpon and Permit fishing in Key West harbor will be your best bet for fishing action till winds subside Wednesday. Thanks for stopping by Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Mar. 19, 2001
Blackfin tuna and Sailfish activity has continued to be vigorous for Key West anglers. For close to three weeks now, strong east bound water movement along and over the reef and bar areas has produced ideal conditions for feeding tuna and Sailfish. Mixed in with the Sails and tunas, Bonitos (little tunny) are also feeding strongly for visiting Key West anglers. Live bait (pilchards and thread herring) have produced the best catching results, though trolled dead Ballyhoo have also produced well.
While the strong east bound water movement has produced winning fishing action for the tunas and sails, it has also caused the reef and deep water structure fishing for snapper and grouper to be very tough and sluggish. When the speed of the water slows, look for some very good reef and deep water fishing action.
Tarpon and Permit fishing action in and around Key West harbor was somewhat sporadic after last weeks cold front. Since then, water conditions have improved and most boats are reporting from 3 to 10 Tarpon hook ups per day with the fish averaging between 50 and 150 pounds. Mixed with the harbor Tarpon action is a variety of other fish catching. Permit, Mangrove snapper, Mutton snapper, Cobia and a mixture of smaller jacks have kept Key West harbor anglers very busy and happy.
With a few days of light winds this past week, many boats ventured into the Gulf to fish the numerous wrecks and structures. Results were mixed as few Cobia were found over the wrecks. Snapper fishing (Mangroves, Muttons, Yellowtails and Lanes) proved to be the best activity over the wrecks, mixed with a fair amount of Barracuda, Kingfish and Jewfish action. Kingfish action usually still strong in the Gulf this time of year has proven to be slow. Warmer water conditions seem to have pushed most of the Kingfish further west and north of Key West anglers.
Best bet this coming week. Brisk winds are predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday. After the winds start slowing on Thursday, there is a very good chance we will see a lessening of the strong east bound water movement. Should that occur, be prepared to visit your favorite deep water fishing spots. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees.
Thursday Mar. 22, 2001
Over the past week the strong east bound current that had created excellent Blackfin tuna and Sailfish action along the reef line finally weakened after close to four weeks. With the weakening current came quickly improved action over the deepwater wrecks and structures. Numerous boats reported excellent catches of Mutton snapper, Amberjack s, Almaco jacks and other predators that feed around the deep wrecks and structures.
Three tentative world record fish were landed on Tuesday of this week while fishing over deep water wrecks. John and Suzanne Hauprich of Grasonville, Maryland who caught their first world records with me two years ago aboard the "Looney Tunes" requested they would like to pursue more world record catches. John set two tentative world records by landing an Almacojacks at 17.8 pounds and a Mutton snapper at 20.8 pounds, both caught on 6 pound test. Suzanne set one tentative world record by landing an Almacojack at 20.8 pounds caught on 6 pound test. Congratulations to John and Suzanne on some very fine angling. After the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) test the 6 pound line used in catching their fish, and it passes testing, the IGFA will make the official announcements that the fish are new world records, I will keep you informed. If you or someone you know would like to try their hand at a world record catch, contact me, I will be happy to help prepare you for a world record fishing challenge.
On other fishing fronts. Tarpon fishing in Key West harbor slowed dramatically as the strong north winds last week caused excessive dirty water conditions. Those same strong winds kept most boats from venturing out for Cobia fishing over the gulf wrecks.
Best bet this coming week. Winds over the next few days are predicted to be gusty from the east south east and will keep many anglers close to land until winds begin diminishing over the weekend. Water conditions in the harbor will slowly improve with the east to southeast winds and that will present your best fishing opportunity until winds diminish. Tarpon, Permit, Mangrove snapper and a variety of other fish will keep you busy in the sheltered waters of Key West harbor. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Monday April 8, 2001
Warm east to south easterly breezes have fueled a variety of fishing action over the past week. Sailfish and Blackfin tuna played the main attraction for anglers fishing south side waters, while Tarpon and Permit gave anglers ample action in Key West harbor. Boats venturing north to fish Gulf wrecks found fair to moderate action for Cobias and Permit, with a mix of snappers and groupers.
As we enter the spring fishing season for Key West, anglers can look forward to increasing reef and offshore action. Anglers venturing to the reef will experience peak reef fish activity as Yellowtail snapper, Mutton snapper and Permit begin their spawn cycle this month. Offshore, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) and Blue Marlin will migrate into our waters and rank supreme for offshore fishing excitement.
Best bet this coming week. Over the past couple of days, strong east bound water is once again edging toward the reef line. This quick east water was in depths of 150 to 300 foot depending on your location along the reef line, with the closest in areas mainly west of the ships channel along the "Bar". As this strong water will most likely move over the reef, expect increased Yellowtail snapper activity in your favorite snapper holes. Sailfish action should continue along the reefs edge, and may increase somewhat as the east bound water moves over the reef. Tarpon and Permit action in Key West harbor will continue to be very active. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday April 22, 2001
Very fast east bound water has curbed fishing over most south side reefs, wrecks and deep structures since April 8th. That is an accumulation of over 14 days of Gulf stream waters running over many popular Key West reef and deep water fishing areas. Fishing in such fast water conditions is certainly difficult and catches reflect the difficulty as they have been way down for our very popular reef fishing. Add to that increased winds of 15-20 knots from the east over the past few days and south side Key West fishing was tough for even the most experienced.
Though the reef areas have slowed due to wind and water conditions, that is not to say anglers visiting Key West have not gotten out for some fine fishing. Boats that did venture south found moderate action for Sailfish, Blackfin tuna, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), migrating Cobias, Barracudas and Bonito along the reef in depths from 40 to 300 feet. Anglers seeking calmer seas found Key West harbor fishing productive for Tarpon with a mixture of snappers, sharks, Jacks and some Permit activity. Reef patches west of Key West in Boca grand channel and patches to the north and west of the Marquesas have produced well for a variety snappers, sharks, Mackerel, smaller grouper and a range of other reef fish while providing reasonably calm seas.
Best bet this coming week. Winds are predicted to weaken during the middle of this coming week. As seas calm, expect to see a spurt of offshore fishing action for Dolphin and Sailfish as a color change should rapidly develop along and near reefs edge as winds subside. Chances of slower water movement over the reef will also increase as winds subside. As we draw closer to the full moon of May, expect improved blue water, reef and deepwater wreck fishing action. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees.
Tuesday May 1, 2001
Over the past week, strong east winds and strong east bound current continued to keep many Key West anglers close to shore for their fishing trips. Sheltered water fishing in Key West harbor and other protected fishing holes for Tarpon and a variety of and other fish such as Jacks, sharks, snappers, Barracudas and smaller grouper gave anglers plenty of action and calm seas.
Despite the "sporty" sea conditions offshore and over the reef line, many anglers did brave the seas in hope of catching Sailfish, Blackfin tuna, Bonito and Dolphin in the blue water or to have a try at some of the snapper and grouper fishing along the reef and over deep water wrecks. Results of those adventurous boaters and anglers had mixed conclusions. Sail fishing along the reef, especially from eastern dry rocks to western dry rocks in depths of 80 to 250 feet proved very productive for Sailfish and Bonitos with a few Blackfin tuna and Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) mixed in. Those choosing the deep water wrecks and reef were hindered by the seemingly endless strong east current, resulting in slim fishing action for their efforts.
Best bet this coming week. Winds will be laying off starting tonight and will give anglers much improved sea conditions. Since winds will shift to a westerly flow, venturing into the gulf for wreck fishing or Tuna fishing behind the shrimp boats will likely be a poor choice. On the up side of the wind shift to the west will be that wind and water direction will then be moving in the same direction. Expect to find much improved fishing along the reef and in the blue water on the south side of Key West, especially fishing points west of the "end of the bar". Tarpon action in the harbor and other Tarpon frequented fishing spots will keep on providing anglers ample smooth water action. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday May 13, 2001
Unusually rough seas for May over the past couple of weeks for visiting Key West anglers meant toughing out gusty winds of 15-20 knots and more. Though winds where high, most anglers found Key West offers some very unique ways of still enjoying the fishing. With sheltered waters of Key West harbor playing host to feeding Tarpon, Permit, Jacks, groupers, snappers and a variety of other fish, anglers found catching and fighting fish is very doable in Key West though the winds may blow.
For anglers fearless of the 4 to 6 foot seas found along the reef line and over deep water wrecks, they enjoyed catching Sailfish, Dolphin, Bonito, Permit, Mutton snapper, Yellowtail snapper, Amberjack s and a mix of other fish. Defiantly fishing rewards larger enough to justify their braving the rough seas. Easterly bound current that had caused seas to be even higher just a few weeks ago have finally switched toward the west giving anglers fishing the reef areas excellent snapper and grouper opportunities with improved sea conditions as waves and current are moving now in the same direction.
Best bet this coming week. With lighter winds from the east southeast predicted for the coming week, expect offshore action for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) to provide plenty of fishing action. Reef areas along with deep water structures and wrecks will continue to produce excellent activity for Amberjack s, Yellowtail snappers, grouper and a variety of predator activity from sharks and Barracudas. If winds remain light from the east southeast, gulf action over wrecks and behind shrimp boats should keep anglers happy with Blackfin tuna, Bonito, Permit, Cobia and a mix of snappers and predators. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Tuesday May 22, 2001
Light winds and moderate seas have allowed Key West anglers to pursue fishing action in all directions. To the south for Dolphin and reef fish, west to Key West harbor for Tarpon and to the north for gulf wreck fishing for Permit.
As winds continue from the east southeast, catches of Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) have been strong over the past week as generous amounts of weed (Sargasso) has the Dolphin feeding from the reef line to depths of over 2000 feet (just past "Woods Wall"). Dolphin from schoolie size (5 to 10 pounds) to big gaffers in the 15 to 40 pound range are being reported by most boats roaming the offshore blue waters.
Reef and wreck activity to the south of Key West remains solid as Yellowtail snapper over the reef are very active and Mutton snapper over the wrecks continues extremely active. Liberal amounts of frozen chum have produced the best results for the snapper on the reef, while live baits are producing the best results for the deep water wreck action.
Key West harbor Tarpon fishing has remained dependable as schools of Tarpon roam the harbor in search of food. Most boats are reporting hook ups of one to six 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 a 100 pounds or more on twenty pound tackle.
In the Gulf of Mexico to our north, Permit action over the wrecks has been reported as very strong. Heavier tackle is being used as the Permit are fighting in close to the wrecks, cutting anglers off who use lighter tackle.
Best bet this coming week. Take your pick, winds are predicted to remain light and should afford anglers opportunities to pursue any of the fishing action mentioned above. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Thursday May 31, 2001
Key West fishing for Tarpon and deep water wreck fish have provided the most activity for visiting Key West anglers over the past week. While there continues to be plenty of Dolphin fishing and catching further offshore of the harbor and reef line, one problem has persisted these past few days out in the blue water; plenty of Dolphin but they have been quite small. Small Dolphin (1-3 pounds) often referred to as "Chickens, Bacon Strips or Peanuts, are plentiful from 200 to over 2000 foot of depth. With very few of the larger Dolphin (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. I should add a bit of caution here; we are still early in our Dolphin season and as we near the coming full moon of next week, we will likely see an upswing in bigger Dolphin being caught. June and most of July are considered the most active months for Dolphin fishing in Key West.
Many fishermen that are in the know about the spawning habits of Mutton snapper are very excited as this coming week approaches. June marks the peak of the Mutton snapper reproduction cycle that takes place over a five month period, occurring at night on each months full moon and the few days thereafter. A hearty fighting fish that roams in both shallow water and too depths slightly over 300 feet. As the June 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 snapper in the ocean. 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.
Best bet this coming week. Snapper fishing along the reef will be at its peak this coming week and into the following week. Fishing the early morning or the late afternoon will prove to be most productive for catching Yellowtails, Muttons and Mangrove. Expect plenty of action from sharks and Barracudas as they pick off some of the snappers as you hook them. With the heat of summer upon us, consider that you can beat the heat to some extent by following the example of the fish. They do prefer feeding early and late in the day. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Monday June 11, 2001
Snapper fishing along the reef provided Key West anglers with some extreme action over the past few days. Many captains and anglers reported reaching their bag limit (ten per person) of snapper with ease as light winds, moderate water movement and greenish water color gave fishermen ideal fishing conditions over many parts of the reef. Mutton snappers and Yellowtail snappers supplied the best action as they ate heartily both early morning and later afternoon, while Mangrove snappers offered up great fishing action for anglers who stayed till after the sun set. Live baits and dead baits both worked well though anglers using live baits did fair a bit better. Expect the snapper action to provide strong action through June and into July.
Offshore fishing for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) continues to be tough as captains and anglers report very few large fish being caught or seen. While weather conditions have provided great fishing opportunities for offshore blue water action, the dominate complaint from everyone venturing into the blue continues to be that there are just to few larger fish. Expect to hear fewer complaints form the offshore anglers as we head into the dark of the moon phase. A bright moon allows Dolphin to continue to eat after sunset and into the night, while the dark moon provides little feeding opportunities, giving anglers a generally hungrier Dolphin during the daylight hours.
Best bet this coming week. Tarpon fishing has remained strong in the harbor, though I recommend you consider beating the heat of the day by fishing early morning or late afternoon. The reef action for snapper is a great idea, but be sure you bring plenty of frozen blocks of chum to keep their interest. Offshore in the blue water for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) should afford a way of keeping cool on the calmer days, though you may have to cover quite a bit of water to find some of the bigger fish. Thanks for stopping by: Capt. Carl Rees
Monday June 25, 2001
Offshore Dolphin action and reef snapper fishing over the past week kept Key West anglers very busy. Schoolie Dolphin (3-10 pounds) along with a good mix of double digit fish up to 40 pounds have had anglers enjoying fine offshore blue water fishing. Along the reef line, snappers (Yellowtail and Mutton) have continued their spawning activity offering quality reef fishing action. Though conditions along the reef have varied in both water color and water movement speed, most anglers have found that with a good supply of frozen chum and a little moving about on the reef, that their bag limit of ten snapper per person has been easily attainable.
I would like to inform everyone who visits the photos section of this web site that I am very much behind in updating the photo pages. Over the next couple of months as we experience the annual slow down of visiting anglers to Key West, time will be sufficient to bring the photos section up to date. I want to thank everyone who fished with me this winter/spring season for their patience on the photo topic.
Best bets this coming week. Reef fishing action for snapper will continue strong for a few more weeks, with early morning and late afternoon being their most active feeding time. Be sure you bring plenty of frozen blocks of chum to keep their interest. Offshore, in the blue water, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) will continue active over the next month as we head into their peak activity in Key West offshore waters. Special Note: Beating the heat of our summer days this time of year by fishing early morning or late afternoon should be a consideration when planning your Key West fishing trip, especially when winds are forecast to be less than 10 knots. Check with your preferred captain about fishing early morning or fishing late in the afternoon to help miss the midday heat. You'll find most are eager to accommodate. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday July 8, 2001
Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), and snapper continue to provide the back bone of fishing action for visiting Key West anglers. From the outer reef line to depths of over 1000 feet, Dolphin are being found in good numbers along weed lines, under birds and floating debris. Mixed fish sizes, from 4 to 8 pound schoolies to gaffers in the 10 to 25 pound range are being caught and landed. Easily giving the offshore blue water fishing action top billing throughout the the Keys over the past week.
Reef fishing action for Yellowtail snapper, Mangrove snapper and Mutton snapper proved to be most rewarding for many anglers as the snapper continue their spawning activities. Many anglers reported catching their bag limit of snapper (10 Per person aggregate) so quickly, they chose to venture offshore for some of the dolphin action. Those experiencing the best success for the snappers all indicated that plenty of frozen chum in their chum bag had kept the snappers gathered close to their boat, making the catching quite easy.
The blue water and reef action will continue to be quite active through the end of this month and somewhat into August. As we get into the month of August, most of the snapper spawning comes to an end and a significant slow down in catching them will occur. Similarly the Dolphin fishing action in the Blue will also experience a significant slow down as the Dolphin migrate rapidly through our waters, though there are years where they have remained active during August, it is the exception. There is a bright side to the annual slow down in fishing action however. Lobster season will begin on August 5th, bringing "bug hunters" from all over the US to pursue the tasty crustaceans in Key West waters. If you are thinking of coming to the Keys in August for fishing, and you don't mind getting in the water, you may want to consider catching lobster instead of catching fish. Contact me if you would like to give lobster catching a try. Myself and a number of other captains are for hire to help you become a first class lobster catcher. firstname.lastname@example.org Best bet this coming week. The offshore and reef action will be your best bet. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday July 22, 2001
Summer time sport fishing continues productive for visiting Key West anglers. Offshore action for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) has remained strong as anglers are finding plenty of schoolie size fish (3 to 10 pounds) under weed lines, bird activity, and floating debris. Larger fish, in the 20 and up size have been elusive for most boats venturing out into the blue water, yet that is not unusual just prior to the dark of the moon phase. There should be a surge of bigger Dolphin activity as we move toward the next full moon.
Over the past week fishermen from many parts of south Florida and the Bahamas gathered in Key West to take part in the annual Drambuie Key West Marlin tournament. 57 boats and 326 anglers ventured into the blue waters of Key West in hopes of catching Blue Marlin, White Marlin, and Sailfish. Though only one Blue Marlin was caught and released during the three day tournament, many Blues were seen either free jumping or checking out lures and baits behind boats, seemingly only to frustrate and tease many tournament anglers. One Blue Marlin, one White Marlin and three Sailfish could not resist temptation to the many trolled baits being offer by the 57 boats and first, second and third place winning boats were as follows. First place: The Finesse, captained by Ken Harris, Second place, The Rampagous, captained by Brett Taporowski and Third place, The Looney Tunes, captained by (Me) Capt. Carl Rees.
Best bet this coming week. Lobster sport diving days take place this coming Wednesday and Thursday and many anglers throughout the Keys will be getting into Keys waters to catch the tasty spiny crustaceans instead of fishing. But if your not inclined to get into the water to catch lobster, then reef action for snapper, grouper, sharks and barracudas along with the offshore action for Dolphin should fill your day with plenty of fishing action. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Aug. 5, 2001
The earlier part of the week had Key West anglers covered in rain and storms sufficient to keep the most dedicated anglers tied to the dock. Conversely the past two days have offered improved fishing weather, and anglers are enjoying fair to good action for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) found under weed lines and bird activity in depths of 250 foot to 1000 foot.
Closer in along the reef, a trickle of current moving westerly has provided improved snapper fishing conditions. Yellowtail snapper and a host of predator action from sharks, Barracudas and some grouper activity, have kept reef anglers busy. Be sure to bring sufficient frozen chum for fishing those snappers on and over the reef.
Now that we are coming into the peak of our rainy season, thunderstorms can and are often a daily concern for anglers visiting the Keys and Key West. Though the afternoons are more likely to produce the more violent T-Storms, they can come at any time. Whether in your own boat or on board a hired vessel you should always check the weather forecast before venturing out onto the water of the Keys during the Month of August. August is the month with the most thunderstorm activity for the Keys.
Best bet this coming week. Reef fishing activity and offshore action for Dolphin will continue to be the best bet for visiting Key West anglers. Keep in mind that Lobster season opens tonight at 12:01 a.m. and lobster enthusiasts will be out diving in numerous areas throughout the Keys. Keep a close eye out for divers and dive flags as you make your way out onto the water. Furthermore, while out on the water, you will encounter numerous floating trap balls that are attached to the lobster traps that lay on the bottom. Give the floating balls some room, or you may encounter the rope that attaches the trap and floating ball together. Catching a rope in your prop could easily strain your fishing adventure in Key West. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Monday Aug. 20, 2001
Reef fishing action took the lead in Key West fishing activity this past week as offshore blue water action for Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) slowed. Bag limit catches (ten per person) of large Yellowtail snapper caught along the reef this past week had many anglers both annoyed and entertained by the torrent of predator action they experienced while snapper fishing the reef. Large Bull sharks, some Lemon sharks and numerous Barracudas played havoc with reef fishermen as they found hooking up the snappers fairly easy, though getting them to the boat was not so easy. Most captains and anglers reported that as each snapper was hooked, it became a real angling challenge to get their fish to the boat before either a shark ate the fish whole or a Barracuda sunk his teeth in. Numerous anglers enjoyed taking action against the sharks and barracudas by taking the partially eaten snappers, hooking the leftovers onto wire rigged tackle and giving battle with the aggressors that seemingly wanted to eat every snapper they hooked.
Further offshore in the blue water, Dolphin action has declined even though a little over a week ago fair to good numbers of schoolie size (4-6 pounds) Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) mixed with a few teenage and larger weighing fish were being landed. Though not unusual to see a decline in Blue water Dolphin action this time of year, we may see a surge in activity on the back side of this dark moon (Aug. 19). Of special note on the blue water scene is the number of Blue Marlin being reported hooked over the past week. As many as five to ten Blues per day (not per boat) are being seen or hooked by offshore trolling boats, adding a special fishing treat to Key West offshore fishing. Most of the Blue Marlin action is being found from 650 feet to depths past the wall (1000 feet).
Best bet this coming week. The most variety of fishing action will continue to be along the reef. While offshore fishing for Dolphin could be an uncertain proposition. So, if you choose to go offshore, you may well be advised to carry some frozen chum along in case you find the offshore action to thin for your liking. Having that chum along will give you an opportunity to try your hand at some great snapper fishing as you pass over the reef on your way to home port. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Sept. 9, 2001
Just because Sept. is considered part of the slow season for tourist visiting the Keys, does not mean that the fishing is slow. Yellowtail snapper fishing over the reef areas has remained productive for those anglers carrying sufficient frozen chum to encourage the snapper to come close to their boat. Most anglers have complained that if the snappers did not come close enough to see them, that sharks were eating most of the snapper they hooked. That kind of shark activity is very normal this time of year and those captains and anglers, in the know, will tell you that you need to chum those snapper sufficiently to get them close, or you may never land a single snapper as the sharks may very well eat every fish you hook. Mixed in with the snapper action over the reef has been fair to good action for Barracudas on the surface and some grouper activity for those using live baits on the bottom.
Offshore action has remained typical for this time of year. On with the action one day and off with the action the next. Dolphin catching has fluctuated like that for the past couple of weeks and will continue to do so till they migrate out of the area by mid to late Oct. Most boats are reporting mostly schoolie size (4 to 8 pounds) Dolphin being caught, with few 15 to 40 pound fish being seen or caught. There have been a few exceptions of boats returning with catches that reflect the peak of the season Dolphin fishing. The true saving charm for the offshore scene has been that a few Wahoo and Blue Marlin continue to be caught and landed while trolling the offshore blue waters of Key West.
Deep water wreck fishing just offshore of the reef line has remained active, though most of that activity is from Amberjack s and sharks. Few Mutton snapper or grouper have been landed due mostly to the amount of sharks found around the wrecks this time of year. Which again, the sharks find that eating the grouper or snapper you hook up is rather a simple process. You hook it , they eat it.
Best bet the next few weeks. With the number of shark around the wrecks and reef, maybe battling one of those "eating machines" on hook and line would be a fishy activity for you to consider. I recommend a minimum of fifty pound tackle to do the job, and don't think you're over doing it if you use heavier tackle. When you consider that many of the sharks around the deep wrecks can eat two thirds of a 50 pound Amberjack in one bite, they certainly would not be called "small". Be certain that you have the appropriate fighting belts and harnesses for attaching to the rod and reel should you decide to go "Sharkin". If you don't, you may find the battle with the shark more than you bargained for and you will take a whipping from your tackle, instead of giving the shark your best fighting effort. Thanks for stopping by; The Capt. Carl ReesThe Capt. Carl Rees
Sunday Oct. 7, 2001
Snapper fishing over the reef has remained the strongest fishing action for Key West anglers. Coming in a close second, is deep water wreck fishing. Most of the deep wrecks are still experiencing strong activity from sharks, Barracudas, Amberjack s, Mutton snapper, a few Kingfish and some grouper. Though the grouper, Muttons and Amberjack s are the primary target fish over the wrecks right now, sharks continue their aggressive eating of those fish as they are hooked up over the wrecks. (See last report for details on shark aggression over the wrecks.)
Winter fishing action is coming. Signs of that have been reflected in reports of increased catching of Blackfin tuna, Sailfish and Bonito while trolling along the reef line in depths of 125 to 250 feet. Increased catching of Blackfin tuna, Sailfish and Kingfish will continue as they migrate into our waters in greater numbers, as waters to our north cool with the onset of winter.
Best bet this coming week. The reef and wrecks will continue to be the best choice for constant fishing action. Just keep in mind that sharks will persist along the reef and deep for at least the next two months and they will hinder your catching somewhat. If they get to aggressive, either move to a new fishing spot or hook them up. Dolphin action has virtually come to a halt in the Blue water and though you may want to try it, don't expect abundant action. Some smaller Dolphin and the occasional Blue Marlin hook up has been the general Blue water picture. Stick to the reef and wrecks if you want to have plenty of fishing action. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Windy and unsettled weather has dominated the fishing action over the past few days. Causing many anglers and captains to decided that the 20 to 25 knot winds were more than their fishing desires could handle.
Prior to the winds that started on Tuesday afternoon, the reef and wreck action remained solid. Perfect conditions for fishing the deep wrecks had anglers enjoying strong activity from sharks, Barracudas, Amberjack s, Mutton snapper, small quantities of Kingfish and some grouper.
As winds abated on Friday, anglers venturing to the reef and Blue water found that the strong winds had created a distinct color change just past the reef line. Trolling that color change has produced moderate to excellent action for Sailfish and some Blackfin Tuna. The deep wrecks have continued active though anchoring down proved more productive than drifting the wrecks. Due mostly to the dirtier water color. Mutton snapper, sharks and Amberjack s were the most active species over the wrecks. Look for the Blackfin tuna activity to continue on the up rise as we head into November.
Reef action for Yellowtail snappers, grouper and Barracudas was a bit slow after the blow due to slower water movement and dirty water conditions. Reef action will improve as winds swing southeasterly, bringing in cleaner water.
Best bet this coming week. The winds are predicted to remain light and should afford anglers good opportunities for slow trolling live baits for Sailfish and a few Blackfin tuna. Especially along the areas where the color change remains past the reef line out into depths of 120 to 200 feet. The reef will be active for snapper as the water color and water movement improves. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
THE FOLLOWING IS A PERSONAL COMMENT ABOUT MY FISHING DURING THIS TIME OF YEAR.
On top of October being one of the normal slow months for tourist visiting the Florida Keys for fishing, I'm often asked what I do during the months when customers for charter fishing is slow in the Keys. The answer is, I go fishing. Unlike many other guides that take land jobs, or leave the Keys for points north, I still continue fishing, though commercially. I have never tired of enjoying the challenge of catching enough pounds of fish in a day to make a pay check that is equivalent or greater than running a charter trip. Though catching fish "commercially" has become politically incorrect now a days with world fishing resources in steep decline and environmental groups selling ideas of eventual dome for many domestic fisheries, I still continue commercial fishing each year for three distinct reasons.
The first, and most obvious is for profit. The second is that by my direct fishing of our local resources commercially, I keep an uninterrupted feel for the true health of our numerous local and migratory fisheries. Admittedly, some local species do need more protection for the future of the resource, primarily the grouper species. The third and most important reason, it has an enormous impact on the quality of the charter fishing trips I offer to anglers that charter me each year on their visits to Key West. In the pursuit of commercial fishing, I have been fortunate to invent and improve many fish catching techniques that are now the accepted fishing methods by many of the commercial fishermen and charter guides in the Keys today.
By successfully converting most of my "invented" commercial techniques for use in charter fishing, I have succeeded in providing anglers aboard the "Looney Tunes" a premium light tackle fishing experience on Key West waters. So, I hope it is enough to say that I will continue the commercial fishing each year in the slow season for both the profit and to offer a top quality fishing trip for anglers that hire me each year.
This past week visiting Key West anglers have indeed enjoyed a fine beginning to our winter fishing season. Most captains have continued to concentrate efforts at or near the "end of the bar" as Blackfin tuna remain very active in that area. Though it has been necessary most days to have generous quantities of live pilchards to keep the Blackfin tuna actively eating, anglers trolling dead baits have enjoyed a variety of success at catching Blackfin tuna, Kingfish, Wahoo and a few Sailfish.
Anglers fishing along and over the reef line continue to experience a moderate to strong east bound current and dusty water color. With the consistence of this east bound water movement over the past couple weeks, snapper catching over most deep water wrecks has remained slow. Though there has been windows of catching as the tide moves the strong east bound current further offshore, accurate tide change information for the reef has been a must to take advantage of catching over the deep water wrecks.
Best bet this coming week. Blackfin tuna catching will be the fishing of choice by many anglers. If the east bound current abates over the next week, (it likely will as we approach the dark moon) deep water wreck fishing will light up significantly. A down side to the lesser current will be that the Blackfin tuna bite will slow, so be prepared to take advantage of your favorite deep water fishing spots. As the month of Dec. progresses, we will start seeing more variety in our fishing as the water temperatures continue to cool around Key West. As a result of the cooler water, Kingfish will move into Key West waters in major numbers, offering visiting Key West anglers increased fishing variety. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Wednesday Dec. 25, 2001 Merry Christmas !!
Anglers visiting Key West waters this past week enjoyed a variety of fishing action. The "end of the bar" area located about 18 nautical miles west of Key West has remained very active for Kingfish, Wahoo, Yellowtail snapper and Mutton snapper, mixed with varying action for Blackfin tuna, Bonita, Dolphin and Sailfish.
Though I usually write this fishing report to give you an overview of the fishing action here in Key West. I am going to include in this report only, some highlights of fish caught by anglers fishing aboard the "Looney Tunes" with me over the past week. Starting with yesterdays catch, Ed Steinmetz, Bud Brewer and Jim caught 27 Yellowtail snapper to start their morning. While catching the snapper we also caught 25 to 30 bait fish from our chum slick. These bait fish known as "speedos" are an irresistible live bait that we use for slow trolling for Wahoo, Kingfish, Tuna, Barracuda and Sailfish. Ed, Bud and Jim each had steady action from the live baits as the Kingfish were very aggressive, and at times would only let us get one bait out before we were hooked up and fighting another King. We used all of the live baits, but kept only the three largest Kings which weighed in at 32, 26 and 23. Though we pulled hooks on some fish, and had a portion of baits that were cut in half or chopped off, all the other Kings we landed, we released to fight another day.
Next on the angler list is Dave Dalva. Dave is a member of the New York athletic fishing club and each year we work toward catching fish that compete within the club records. Dave landed numerous fish on 8 and 12 pound test line. Four of which will put Dave in the club record book. On 8 pound, Dave landed a Cubera snapper that weighed in at 13.12 and a Mutton snapper at 15. On 12 pound he weighed in a Cubera snapper at 17.25 and a Mutton snapper at 16. He also released one Sailfish and took back home his limit of Yellowtail snapper. Dave fished with me for two days, of which we spent the first days trying to catch a Yellowfin tuna, which we did not see or catch. Which brings me to Curt Howe and his son Matt.
Curt, Matt and I fished an afternoon trip on Tuesday at the "end of the bar" for snapper and tuna. We caught several Kingfish, six Mutton snapper and toward the end of the day the Yellowfin tunas popped up behind the boat eating live baits that we and other boats were tossing out. The tunas were playing it safe by staying well back from the boats. It became obvious after about thirty minutes that the tunas would continue to stay far back from us and the other boats. I have seen tunas do this before and if conditions permit, dropping off of the anchor and drifting through them can prove the best way to get hooked up. We did release from the anchor and got hooked up on a Yellowfin. The area around the "end of the bar" has numerous traps that lobster fishermen place for their fishing and often, we hook and line fishermen end up tangled in the trap ropes of the lobster traps. That was the case with our Yellowfin tuna. After getting lose from one trap rope, we became tangled in another and eventually lost the fish. Matt was disappointed as was Curt and I, but at least he did get hooked up. Only one other boat hooked a Yellowfin that day, he also lost his fish in a trap. I would estimate that Matt's tuna if landed, would have weighed at least 150 pounds.
That was the fishing aboard the "Looney Tunes" the past four days and hope it gives you "feel" for the fishing action in Key West. Have a Happy Holiday!! * Photo mentioned here has been moved to Walter Cain, Scott, Eric and Joe photo page. The photo below is of Walter Cain, Scott and Eric holding a 58.7 Wahoo that Scott landed (the guy in the middle) last week on 14 pound line. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Over the past few days high winds and heavy seas brought on by a passing cold front, has slowed fishing efforts for Key West anglers. Prior to the cold front arrival, anglers were enjoying a wide variety of fishing action. Catches included Kingfish, Sailfish, Blackfin tuna and a mix of snapper and grouper activity over the reef and deep water structures. Reasonable Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi) activity in the blue water did occur as winds shifted southerly prior to the cold front arrival.
Last week, Kingfish became a highlight as they made their first substantial showing in Key West waters. Anglers who ventured the 30 plus miles to the north west grounds found themselves rewarded with ample Kingfish action. Though the size of the Kings were mostly in the 8 to 15 pound range, some fish over 30 pounds were brought to the dock. Unfortunately, the cold front brought high winds that ranged upward to 35 knots from the north, with that in mind, the north west kingfish grounds area will likely experience very dirty water conditions. If so, the Kingfish will move on to points westward and south. The upside to their moving on is that it will bring many of them to the reefs south of Key West.
Best bet this coming week. Action along and over the reef line will provide anglers a mix of fishing activity. Bar Jacks, Cero and Spanish Mackerel, Yellowtail snapper and assorted other fish will keep many visiting Key West anglers very busy. Deep water action for Mutton snapper, grouper and Blackfin tunas will be contingent on water color and water movement. Prior to the cold front, there was very little current in the deep water and was mixed with varying degThe Capt. Carl Reesof water color, from very dirty to a clear blue. Those conditions provided excellent bottom fishing action with only moderate tuna activity. If water movement will pick up this coming week, along with a clear water color, tuna action will increase rapidly while snapper and grouper activity will diminish. Look for increasing Kingfish and Sailfish action as we move deeper into our winter fishing season. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees. p.s. I apologize for the slow down in getting the angler photos up on the photos page. I will be working on many of them this week.
Kingfish and snapper on the reef and over the deep water wrecks this past week have kept Key West anglers very busy. Kingfish ranging from under 10 pounds, to over 30 pounds have offered considerable fishing action for anglers fishing either the gulf side of Key West or the south side. Over the reef, anglers pursuing Yellowtail and Mutton snapper are enjoying excellent catches as water color (green) and modest water movement remain favorable for catching the snapper.
Sailfish activity has remained slow thus far in our winter fishing season. I believe it is due primarily to the slow west tide and greenish water color. Water color has slowly been clearing the past couple of days and that should give us a surge in Sailfish activity as it clears to a blue color.
Blackfin tunas continue to be caught but activity remains modest. The slow action is due mostly to the slow water movement. Should the water start moving back to the east, the tunas will likely provide strong action again as they did in early to mid December.
Cobia activity over the Gulf wrecks has also remained slow. Few large fish have been taken. Kingfish and snapper fishing has been the strongest action at the Gulf wrecks.
Best bet this coming week. Kingfish action will continue to improve as we head into February. Thus far, Kingfish have made reasonable showings at Western Dry Rocks, the "end of the bar" and the "rock pile" west of Key West. Expect to see improving activity from Blackfin tunas and Sailfish over the next week as the water will likely continue to clear. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Kingfish has been the sport fish of choice this past week as the fifth annual SKA Kingfish tournament played out over the weekend. Numerous local and out of town anglers seeking to catch the largest King for a prize of $10,000.00 found plenty of Kingfish action in Key West waters. With the light winds that held seas to a minimum, tournament anglers ventured from as little as 6 miles from Key West to as much as 80 miles in hunt for the "Big One". As happened in last years SKA tournament, the big one was caught within a 17 mile range of Key West. First place winning Captain Tony Murphy explained that he and angler Dave aboard the "Key Limey" caught their 55.8 pound Kingfish with their first bait out, on the first day of the tournament. Congratulations to Capt. Carl ReesTony and Dave for a job well done!!
Local anglers Bud Brewer and Ed Steinmetz fishing with me aboard the "Looney Tunes" for the two day tournament enjoyed plenty of Kingfish action. Though we caught numerous fish in the 20 to 30 pound range, we were unable to find a fish to put us in the money. A Kingfish that I would estimate in the 40+ range that took our first bait on Sunday morning proved that even fish have a certain amount of luck. The Kingfish that erupted from the water with our two pound Blue runner in his mouth cleared the water surface by 15 feet. When he came back down he actually landed, with mouth open, on the mono leader that was attached to the wire leader, cutting himself free of the rod. He (the Kingfish) leaped three more times with the hooks in his mouth and the bait jammed against the the knot that attached the wire to the mono leader. Though not unusual to see a Kingfish rocket into the air while attacking a live bait, it is unusual to see the same fish jump three more times carrying a blue runner along with him. We don't know if he was trying to shake the Blue runner lose or still trying to catch and eat it. Either way, we think he was a very lucky fish.
Best bet this coming week. Kingfish action will continue to be ample over the next month along the reef line and many Gulf wrecks and structure. Reef and wreck action on the south side of Key West for snapper will experience some slow down as the Kingfish dominate many of the snapper areas along the reef. Sailfish and Blackfin tuna action will likely improve this coming week as a well defined color change from green to blue water has developed along the reef over the past couple of days. Those conditions are ideal for the Sailfish and Tunas. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Kingfish and snapper action over the reef and deep water structures has remained strong this past week in Key West waters. Anglers seeking to catch snappers (Yellowtail and Mutton snapper) on the reef or over the deep water wrecks report there is plenty of Kingfish activity while fishing for the snappers. Use of either jigs or live baits to entice the Kings to bite has lead most anglers too capturing their bag limit of Kingfish while working toward their bag limit of snappers (10 per person). Barracudas, Bonitos and Amberjack s mixed with some shark activity while fishing for the snappers is also helping to keep the reef and wreck action at a premium.
Unusually warmer water temperatures for Key West this time of year has helped to create some rather strong Tarpon action in Key West harbor. Though we typically expect March to bring ample large Tarpon to Key West harbor, warmer than usual January temperatures have provided visiting anglers generous early Tarpon action. A variety of smaller snappers, together with small sharks, Jacks and Mackerels are adding to the Tarpon action in the harbor.
Some Cobia activity is being found over Gulf wrecks and structures, but most fish seen or captured are under the 30 pound range. We should start seeing some bigger fish (Cobia) showing up over the next month as more of them migrate into out waters from the north.
Best bet this coming week. Conditions over the reef and in the deep water have continued to favor the snapper and King fishing, and has kept the tuna and Sailfish bite to a minimum. Middle of last week, waters along the reef briefly cleared and a quick spark of Sailfish and Blackfin tuna activity was found along the color change. Expect conditions to remain in favor of snapper and Kingfish activity this coming week as we will have brisk winds from the north, the north winds will keep the clearer water pushed offshore of the reef, maintaining fishing conditions along the reef in favor of the snapper and Kingfish action. As winds subside late in the week, Sailfish and Tuna action will likely improve as water color along the reef should clear again. Thanks for stopping by; Capt. Carl Rees
Kingfish have offered consistent fishing action over the past five days as several large schools were found in the western dry rocks area of the reef. Kingfish averaging 10 to 20 pounds were easily caught using virtually any method of your choosing. Whether trolling, jigging, plug casting or using a fly rod, anglers desiring plenty of action found the Kings delivered ample rod bending.
Tarpon fishing has also been consistent this past week as the "early Tarpon run" continues to provide anglers great action in the calm waters of Key West harbor. With the strong north winds and cooler temperatures over the next few days, the Tarpon action will likely slow significantly. The wind shift later in the week to the southeast should once again provide anglers a good bout of Tarpon action.
Strong westerly current and clear water along the reef line has hampered the deepwater wreck fishing, keeping the action over the wrecks to a minimum. As of yesterday the west current is slowing and greenish water is moving deeper. We should see improving action over the wrecks for grouper and Mutton snapper this coming week as the lesser current improves fishing conditions over the wrecks.
Sailfish action and Blackfin tuna activity remains slow. If water movement along the reef will start moving eastward again (it has not since late Dec.), we should see improving activity from Blackfins and Sailfish.
Best bet this coming week. Expect the Kingfish activity to continue as we are at the heart of the season for them. Tarpon action in the harbor will continue, but be prepared to pursue other fish as the wind shifts will vary their feeding activity from day to day. The snapper fishing along the reef will remain consistent, though ample block chum will be the only way to provide continuous action for them. As for Blackfin tuna and Sailfish catching this coming week, if mother nature will give us some east bound current, they will become very active. Thanks for stopping by:; Capt. Carl Rees