Summertime Fishing in Islamorada

Hello Fishermen,

The summer is in full swing here in Islamorada.  The month started with nonstop rain- I felt like I lived in an Amazon rain forest.  Luckily, the rest of the month was hot and sunny.  The surprising thing this June was the huge variety of fish we were catching.  The gulfstream had pushed in really close. With the help of all the rain and dirty water, a beautiful color change formed on the outer reef.

The powder blue waters associated with the color change allow the captains to spot tailing sailfish, marlin, dolphin, and large tuna.   The condition lasted for only four good days, but it allowed for some great sight fishing.  Several boats even captured sailfish in the double digits, which is very rare for this time of year.

The dolphin season started off strong and has continued to be great so far through the month of June.  I can honestly say it’s been the best season we have had in over ten years.  There have been a large number of schoolies every day. But, what really makes for a good day is to see the larger slammer dolphin.  This year has been one of the best.   The Gulfstream has been a big help, bringing us a new body of fish on a regular basis.  There has also been a consistent amount of healthy Sargasso weed full of bait.  With all the bait under the weed,  the sooty terns have been making it easy to find the feeding dolphin.  Another bonus this season has been the amount of good debris we have been finding.  We’ve been catching some quality triple tail and wahoo on the better pieces.  In fact, just recently we found a nice tree stump with two huge cobia circling around it.  That doesn’t happen often.  So when it does,  you need to take advantage of the opportunity.  We pitched a couple of live baits to the eagerly waiting cobia. After a couple of good fights, Elizabeth and Jessica Hanwell had two beautiful cobia in the fish box.  The largest one tipped the scales at a whopping 56lbs.  Great job, girls!!!
The reef fishing has been great as well.  I haven’t been doing much of it, since the offshore fishing has been so fun.  We have managed to get a few hours in on our way home after dolphin fishing a couple of times this month.  Typically, I like to go wreck hopping for grouper and mutton snapper.  And sure enough, on our second spot we got a couple of beautiful muttons along with a huge jack crevalle.

The Humps have finally started producing in the last few weeks.  I was starting to worry about the lack of blackfin tuna, but they finally showed up.  We’ve been targeting the tuna on light spinning rods each morning on our way out to the dolphin grounds.  We’ve also seen a good number of marlin feeding on the tuna and schoolie dolphin lately.  So we always try to be ready when that opportunity comes around.  In fact, two weeks ago we spotted a white marlin feeding on some bait under a weed patch.  We pitched it a small pilchard on 12lb spin and an hour later we were taking pictures of a gorgeous fish.

I expect the dolphin fishing in July to get a bit tougher than it has been.  But the trade off is the small schoolies will have grown into a much better size.  Another good target species in July is the nighttime mangrove snapper fishing. They are gathered up in big numbers on the outer reef getting ready to spawn.  The best baits are cut ballyhoo and live pilchards.  So hurry up and plan your next trip to get out and go fishing.  If I’m not able to get you fishing, don’t forget to book a trip on The Warbird with Capt Shannon Attales.  He has been coming in with some great catches too.

Tight Lines,

Capt Brian Cone








The Opening of Dolphin Fishing in Islamorada

Dear Fishermen,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write a fishing report.  I’ve been busy moving and rigging the new Conetagious. It is a World Cat 33TE, just like my last boat.  I’m happy to say Capt. Shannon is running the old Contagious which is now called The Warbird.  It was a pleasure to have him as a mate/ co captain and I wish him the best.  I know he will do great!  He will be running fishing charters out of Robbie’s Marina as well.

The beginning of dolphin season has started out as strong as ever.  I can honestly say the first month has produced some of the nicest slammer size dolphin we have seen in years.  Nearly every day we have caught a respectable sized slammer.  The frigate birds have been pointing out these larger dolphin while they feast on the abundant number of flying fish around.  But as of late, the sooty terns have been getting into the act.  A frigate bird is nice to find, but when the sooty terns are on the big fish, it is a real bonus.   First of all, there are more terns on the water to help find the fish, and they also pin point where the fish actually are.   The frigates may stay as far as 200 ft away from the fish, where as the terns will be within 30 to 50 ft.  Most of the large fish have been super aggressive this year, so dead ballyhoo has been the norm.

Occasionally, we’ve had to break out a live bait to encourage a smarter fish to bite.  Our largest bull this year was an impressive 48 lb bull caught by Alan Gray.  We’ve had several other nice fish in the 30’s and 40’s.  I anticipate catching a real monster this year from what I’ve seen so far.

The nice thing about the Islamorada area is the variety of fish.   May has been a perfect example.  If the dolphin fishing is slow, there is always something to fall back on.  The other day the ocean was full of boats running around with little luck finding dolphin. So rather than suffer, we decided to go try some deep dropping.   It didn’t take long to locate some fish and we were pulling in some nice vermilion snapper and porgies.  We even managed to catch a really nice 20lb snowy grouper.  The trick to having good success is to find good bottom and having a light current to help hold bottom.  We’ve had our best luck from 400 to 550 ft of water.  We typically use a three hook chicken rig with a variety of baits.  Squid is a must, but live pilchards and cut bonita work well too.

The outer reef and wrecks have also been holding nice mutton snapper and groupers, along with some really nice permit.   There has also been a good number of sailfish traveling down the reef out to 200 ft.  They’ve been overlooked this year because of the great dolphin fishing, but are a good second choice.  But, be prepared to get a attacked by a large number of bonita.

I expect the good dolphin fishing to continue throughout the summer. Some days may be better than others.  I always say the gulfstream is a fisherman’s best friend.  The gulfstream current averages 3mph, so you can understand why we get such great fishing on a consistent basis.  Everyday we are blessed with a new body of fish to work with.

I want to congratulate my anglers Don Deleon, Dr Travis Bennett, Bill Keller and mate Dan Naumoff for winning the Islamorada Area of the Florida Keys Dolphin Championship.  They caught a 39.7 lb bull and 27.4 lb cow to place 3rd overall and 1st in the bull and cow combo. It was a great start to the dolphin tournament season.