The wind has given us fits down here the last week in the Florida Keys, changing direction from northeast to east then hard southeast. As I’m writing this, the wind is trying to die out but we have another cold front on the way, leaving but a small window of opportunity in catching fish but catch we shall! Wind or slight wind, none of this seemed to matter to the fish on the reefs, as there were what seemed to be acres of ballyhoo stacked against the shoals and the fishing has been outstanding!
Marauding schools of jack cravelles, yellow jacks, Cero mackerel, barracudas, bonito, blackfin tuna and packs of sailfish have been in shallow water showering the schools of ballyhoo. This is the sound one hears as the fish attack the baits and as they flee, in a mad furry of erratic discomposure, it makes a sound much akin to listening to a shower, as well, the fish spray too looks as though Neptune turned on an upside down shower head.
This past week I was fishing with Gary Kolesar and his sons Ryan along with Justin from Michigan and we caught large jack cravelles, Cero mackerel and barracudas in just 11ft of water. First we anchored and caught live ballyhoo for bait, then set out the baits and waited to draw in the fish. Ballyhoo were showering all around and frigate birds were snatching the flying ballyhoo right out of mid-air. After catching several fish we got off the hook and followed the frigates, casting surface plugs into the melee, when the surface exploded with jacks chasing the bait fish.
Gary Kolesar Catches Jack!
The next day I was out on the reef due south of Key West with the Dubose family from North Carolina, where we had the same conditions and plenty of ballyhoo showers too. We anchored in 25’-30’ of water off the shoal and proceeded to catch blackfin tuna, bonito, Cero mackerel, barracuda, yellow jacks, grouper and yellowtail snapper. Father Will and sons Hill, Brown and Jack all caught plenty of quality fish while mom, Paige took pictures. Even though sea conditions were pretty sloppy everyone hung in and caught fish.
Hill Dubose Catches Action too!
The key to fishing around the shoals is to find the ballyhoo and look for showers of the baitfish and birds working the area. Anchoring and using block chum to draw the fish in or drifting live baits while casting artificial lures all work well. It was a great day angling the waters and you too should come on down to Papa's town and together, you too, can hook it up