You can be the LeBron — a champ — of fishing

Fishing on the reef is as hot as the Miami Heat.

Big mangrove snapper — five pounds and greater — are in 40 to 45 feet of water on the reef edge to spawn. Large chunk baits or small live baits presented on or near the bottom will attract them. Copious amounts of chum are imperative, as these fish are very aggressive and feeding heavily.

The yellowtail snapper are hanging anywhere from 35 to 90 feet. The deeper you go, the bigger the fish. Small filleted baits, shrimp or pieces of ballyhoo will do the trick.

The occasional mutton is mingled among the other snappers, but you can’t really count on them right now. And there are still a few grouper on the reef. Choose large live baits, such as pinfish.

The wrecks are holding amberjack and jack crevalle along with a few muttons. Live bait is key.

There are plenty of dolphin offshore, but the majority won’t make the mark on the measuring stick. You’ll find them on weeds and under birds.

I’ve heard no reports of blackfin tuna. The dolphin and tuna fishing should improve once we’re past the full moon.

In the bay, there’s a good mangrove snapper bite on the banks, inshore wrecks and at the bridges. Lemon, blacktip and bull sharks are providing lots of entertainment on the banks, flats and at the bridges.

The week’s best catches

Greg Nacron from Boca Raton caught four tarpon, including two over 100 pounds, with the biggest estimated at 125 pounds, while drifting blue crabs during the new-moon outgoing tides. He was fishing a night trip with Capt. Chuck Brodzki off Lower Matecumbe Key.

Capt. Larry Bell and mate Alex Bell of Blue Magic Charters out of Keys Fisheries in Marathon took Zara Myers and family, from Central Florida, dolphin fishing, and they caught a dozen schoolies. A night mangrove snapper trip with Zach Frey, from Palm Beach Gardens, produced 19 good-size fish.

The SeaSquared crew did quite a few shark-fishing adventures last week, with all groups landing multiple lemon, blacktip and bull sharks. Fishing on the reef produced limit catches of very large mangrove snapper. And family fishing in the bay on breezier days was very productive for mangroves and sea trout.

The Carter family, from Auburn, Ala., had an awesome day on the reef with Capt. Kevin Wilson and first mate Barbie of Knee Deep Charters in Geiger Key.

Reid hooked something big and, clearing the lines, the rod went overboard. The captain dove in, saved the rod, and Reid reeled in a huge jack crevalle. Burt and Kyle released barracudas, and the group had five nice mangrove snapper for dinner.

Capt. Moe Mottice, of Moe’s Custom Charters in Key West, caught dolphin up to 38 pounds on trolled ballyhoo. He reports the tarpon fishing in Key West Harbor has been incredible with loads of hookups and catches. And on the reef, the mangroves and yellowtails are keeping his anglers busy.

Casting contest

Capt. Spider’s Casting for Charity returns June 27 to the 7 Mile Marina/Salty’s Waterfront Grill at mile marker 47 bayside in Marathon. The contest runs from 7 to 9 p.m. (new summer hours) and will benefit the Marathon High School Maritime Scholarship Fund.

Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of Captain Pip’s Marina and Hideaway Marathon. You can reach him at 743-5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.

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