Captain G.W. DePauw
With the end of September rapidly approaching, the target species seem to change right along with the seasons. Blackfin tuna move into the reef and offshore waters looking to wreak havoc on schools of baitfish. Look for man of war birds working the water, fighting it out with the tuna for bait. Common methods for catching these speeding footballs include trolling small black and red feathers placed well behind the boat. I like to rig them with 60lb Fluorocarbon on a double hook rig known as a scissor rig. The scissor rig has both hooks connected at the same point on the leader with each hooks point towards the center. Another extremely effective method for catching tuna is live bait chumming. Load up on pilchards early in the morning and head out to areas like the Islamorada or Key Largo Hump. Toss out net loads of pilchards every five minutes or so and keep a few live baits out on flat lines and get ready for action. Another thing to try is rigging a 1oz Hook Up with a whole squid and let it drop down as you drift.
Also with cooler weather approaching the sailfish bite will steadily increase as winter approaches. There’s no more exciting specie than sailfish for me. The speed and acrobatic ability of the sailfish is unmatched by any other fish. My preferred method for sailfish is kite fishing. I have switch from the tried and true Bob Lewis kites to a S.F.E kite. This new kite will handle winds from 5 to 25 mph with a simple adjustment of the bridle. Baits I use range from ballyhoo, blue runners, pilchards and goggle eyes. Flat lines on the down current side as well as a few weighted live baits lower in the water column will cover all the bases.
Kingfish will also be a hot ticket item as the water temp drops. Rigged ballyhoo on #7 wire will do the trick. I like to fish multiple depths with the use of planers. Use two different size planers like a #3 and a #4 at different lengths behind the boat to cover different depths. I also pull a weighted ballyhoo just under the surface along with a plain rigged or “naked” hoo on top. This method really covers a lot of water from a small boat. Try dressing up the planner baits with a blue and white trolling lure over the bait. Islander lures work well for this as do Billy Baits.
On the flats bonefish will still be a main target for me the next few months. I had the pleasure of guiding Brian Clemmons on his first trip to the keys. It was a gift from his wonderful wife Carol for his 60th birthday. We started by throwing baits to a few groups of small tarpon but they respectfully declined our offerings. So onward we pushed, hunting all over for more tarpon or permit. There seemed to be an algae bloom covering most of where we searched so I decided to shift gears and head to the ocean side for some sunset bonefishing. Well, I was right. After watching a few groups of tailing fish ignore our baits, Brian made a great cast at an approaching school. Tails up and chewing. After a minute or two of watching the fish work near his crab, ZING!!!!! Off comes the line and he was hooked up. The fish made its famous lightning fast runs and after a 15 minute battle we had the fish at the side of the boat. Here’s where it gets crazy. The fish rolled over on its back and the hook came right out. Brian said “I lost it, the hook came out.” Luckily the fish was still on its back and within reach. In an instant I responded with “Well I got ‘em.” A nice 7 pound bonefish in my hands and in the boat he came for his quick photo op and Brian released his first bonefish on his first trip ever to the Keys. Nice birthday present if you ask me.
All in all, the fishing continues to provide plenty of action for Keys anglers. Keep checking the report for latest catches and tips from Capt. GW. Until next time, I’ll see you on the water …
Captain G.W. DePauw III
305 522 3718