Spring is finally here!!! I’ve heard that everyone up north has been getting pounded with cold winter blasts lately. Here in the Keys, it was one of the coldest Marches I can remember in a long time. This doesn’t make for easy fishing. The fish in the Keys waters are like the people. Once they’ve acclimated to the warm waters, they tend to like to stay warm. Once we get a normal spring pattern with predominant east winds, the water temperatures will warm up. That means the fish will start biting better too.
It’s not that the fish aren’t biting, it is just been hard to find a consistent bite on a regular basis. Nearly every day in March, the winds were blowing from a different direction. This makes it hard for the fisherman to develop a pattern on what to do. The good thing about this time of year is the huge variety of fish that can be found. On any given day you can catch nearly 10 to 20 types of fish.
One of the more productive fisheries when it is cold is dropping on the deep reefs. You never know what you are going to hook. On a good day we would catch a nice mess of porgies and tilefish to go along with a good size snowy grouper. We even managed to catch other crazy species like the long fin seabass that Shannon is holding in a picture. It just might be one of the prettiest fish I’ve ever caught. The best method to target these fish is to pick a calm day. The biggest challenge is the current. We typically use a chicken rig with about 12 oz give or take, depending on the drift. Squid and small live baits work the best.
And while you are dropping, be on the lookout for working birds. Several times we were able to locate a school of feeding dolphin. Quite often you can be lucky enough to have the dolphin just swim up to you. They are a very curios fish. So I suggest having a few small spinning rods ready to go just in case.
All I can say is I’m glad April is finally here, and hopefully the fishing will get back to what it should be. I really love the potential the month of April brings to the Keys. On the calm days we can go target the deep water fish like vermilion snappers. And if it”s windy the cobia and sailfish have a tendency to tail along the current edges. It is a fun way to sight fish for these fish. The warmer winds also bring the beginning to dolphin season. Last year at this time we were having really nice catches of dolphin and wahoo. It hasn’t happen here yet, but it will be soon. The best bet is to find a good weed edge or piece of floating debris. This month is also the best month to look for working frigate birds. Most of the dolphin will be feeding on the abundance of flying fish in our waters. And until the sooty terns show up, us fisherman need to rely on the frigates as our bird dogs.
The wreck fishing is also a great bet for the spring time, too. We’ve been catching some nice jacks and mutton snappers on live bait. The permit will also start showing up once the water temperatures start to warm up. Last week we managed to catch a nice African Pompano. The cooler temperatures have help produce a decent kingfish bite as well. The hardest thing is to try and get a live well full of good baits. But, once you do the action isn’t far behind.
I hope everyone can get out and enjoy our beautiful waters here in the Florida Keys.
Captain Brian Cone