Keys Report, 1/18/2017

Florida Keys Fishing Report week of 1/18/17
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Well, in the midst of winter I feel the need to say that “Dolphin Season” is still about ten weeks away. This means any captains that do take the ride “offshore” will be targeting Blackfin Tuna with the remote possibility of finding a Mahi or two. Most Dolphin will be caught close to the reef by guys in quest of Sailfish. On the Islamorada Hump, at approximately 12 miles from the island there will be a good Tuna bite when the current is running. Some will drop multi hook rigs down to depths of 400 to 600 feet or more looking for Snapper, Grouper, Tilefish and Porgy. And this offshore report will be a broken record for weeks to come.
As expected Sailfish catches have been great. Captain Skip Bradeen on his Blue Chip Too released two Sails and got into some King Mackerel as well. The breezes have been blowing and that makes for good Sailfish conditions. Captains will anchor inside the reef and chum up bait to slow troll for the Sailfish. These live baits might be Ballyhoo, Pilchards, Cigar Minnow’s or Blue Runner. Depths from 200 feet of water right into even 40 feet of depth as the Sails will sometimes chase Ballyhoo out of the water in a “shower”. Yellowtail Snapper catches have been good as the water exiting the bay reaches the reef and makes the water a little cloudy, and the Snapper like the water off color. On the Charter boat Dee Cee with Captain Chuck Shimmelman out of Post Card Inn they released one Sailfish and caught one Cobia and a couple Kingfish with just one angler on Tuesday.
Gulf and Bay:
The catches of Spanish Mackerel have remained very good in the Gulf. As usual there are Snapper and jacks in the mix too. In Florida Bay there have been some Seatrout and Snapper caught while drifting and jigging in the grassy lakes that are the deeper areas inside of the shallow banks. The area of success has been in the Sandy Key area. Using a 3/8 ounce jig head with the long collar to accommodate a soft tail is the method. Some guys put a little tip of Shrimp on the hook and others use the Berkley Gulp baits.
Flats, Backcountry and Flamingo:
The strong breezes forced many skiff guides to fish the Flamingo area just to be comfortable. The moon was full on Thursday and that made for radical tides. The flats were dry several hours out of the day and that concentrated fish in the deeper drains and in the channels. Snook, Redfish and Drum were in good supply and for the most part eating Shrimp on the last of the falling water and a bit of the incoming. Out in the Cape Sable area the same situation made for good action on the same species. Captain Lou Brubaker caught a Tarpon along the beach west of East Cape point. The Tarpon of about 70 pounds ate a chunk of Mackerel.