Fish early or late afternoon to beat the heat

This is the time of year that I start encouraging my clients to get an early start in order to beat the heat and catch the best bite. The early morning/ late afternoon bite can be the best bite of the day for both offshore and inshore, although fish can continue to be caught all day long.

To be successful fishing this time of year you need to be prepared and plan ahead.

Offshore, the dolphin bite has slowed a little, with some boats finding that magical piece of debris or patch of weed and others striking out. Although every day a few boats are returning with fish over 20 pounds. However, the average size remains around 5-7 pounds. Dolphin are being caught on half-day trips, but to really give yourself the best chance, a full day out is needed.

Blackfin tuna continue to be caught around the humps and deeper wrecks in the early hours of the morning.
Small black/purple and black/red feathers dragged way behind the boat around these areas have been a very successful technique. When the dolphin bite slows, most boats turn to bottom fishing for grouper and amberjack found on the wrecks and ledges. Heavy tackle and live baits like speedos, ballyhoo and grunts are the best baits to have when targeting grouper/amberjack around structure. Along with the groupers/amberjacks being caught have been mutton snappers, sharks, and a few kingfish.

It has been a hot one outback this past week and keeping cool has become almost as important as finding the fish. One of my little tricks is to have a couple of extra Buffs in the cooler for when my customers start to feel the heat. There is nothing better than a cold Buff around your neck for when the wind dies on the flats.

With all the rain we have been having both on the mainland and closer to home, the Everglades is alive with activity. The flow of fresh water south into Florida Bay is in full swing. This means that all the bait is being flushed into the Bay, and the predators are waiting around any outflow or bottleneck where there is moving water.

If you plan on fishing these areas, be warned the mosquitoes have also returned in great numbers and can turn a great fishing spot into a bloody nightmare, so be prepared. My favorite lures for these areas continue to be gold and silver weed less spoons. You can throw them great distances on light tackle, they are weed less plus almost tree less, and everything will eat a spoon.

It is time again for the Upper Keys Fishing Club annual dolphin tournament to be held June 9. Awards will be given for the largest overall fish and heaviest three fish combined. This one-day tournament is for Upper Keys Fishing Club members only; however, becoming a member is easy and cost effective. Annual dues are $35 individual and $45 for a family. For more information, check out the clubs website at :www.upperkeysfishingclub.com. Another option is to attend one of our monthly meetings held Wednesday, June 6 in the Key Largo Public Library, starting around 7 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!

Capt. Mike Makowski is a backcountry fishing guide and owner of Blackfoot Charters in Key Largo. His column appears biweekly. To send him fishing reports or photos, e-mail captmikemakowski@yahoo.com or call (305) 481-0111.

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