Supposedly, it’s fall, but it feels like summer

Is it really October already? Because it still feels like summer with daytime temperatures still reaching into the 90s and a mixed bag of weather greeting us daily. Nevertheless, the fishing continues to produce a lot of action on both sides of our islands here in the Upper Keys.

Out in the deep, the dolphin bite continues to be very sporadic with the action good one day and slow the next. Fish are averaging around 5 to 10 pounds, with larger fish caught daily.

While dolphin continue to be caught throughout the Keys, the areas seeing the most activity tend to be the Marathon and Islamorada humps.

For a more predictable bite, most charter captains have started targeting blackfin tuna with live baits and small trolling feathers. An early start is required, as the best bite happens during the early morning hours. Small 2- to 3-inch feathers, colors purple/black, purple/red and cedar plugs, have been great producers when trolling.

Several boats targeting tunas have had some encounters with wahoo this past week up to 50 pounds while trolling. Expect this action to only get better as we get further into the October full moon.

Closer to the reef line, Capt. Chan Warner and his crew aboard the Gulfstream party boat out of the Key Largo Fisheries Marina has been very busy this past week. He hosted the South Florida Chapter of the Ladies Let’s Go Fishing Club during their 5th annual fishing trip. Their trip produced lots of yellowtail snapper averaging 2 to 4 pounds, with a few fish over 4 pounds.

Fishing in 110 feet of water off of French Reef also produced a few mutton snappers and legal groupers for those fishing the bottom with fresh cut bait. Capt. Chan mentioned that there has not been a lot of mutton snapper caught this past week, however those that were caught have been quality fish weighing from 8 to 10 pounds.

Last week also saw a good run of kingfish between 15 and 20 pounds caught on ballahoo “kingfish jiggers” sold out of the Fisheries, with double and triple hook rigs drifted back in the chum slick.

As if it was not enough to fish aboard the Gulfstream with the Ladies Lets Go Fishing group, Upper Keys Fishing Club members Capt. Lee Lavery and her fishing buddy Deborah Calhoun fishing aboard the Ladyfish had a great trip off Key Largo catching mutton snapper and grouper. Their grouper ranged in size from 24 inches to 10 pounds, and their muttons were up to 12 pounds, caught while fishing the bottom. Way to go ladies!

It was another fantastic week to be in the backcountry with lots of redfish, snook, seatrout and a few tarpon. If you are targeting snook, then chances are that you will catch several small fish before you get the big one.

Decent numbers of snook continue to be caught around the Capes and along the outflows on the west coast.

Artificial lures work great, but to give yourself the best chance, you will need live pinfish or pilchards rigged with a 2/0-5/0 circle hook under 12 to 18 inches of fluorocarbon leader and a bobber. If you are looking to catch dinner, the most predictable seatrout bite has been around the Madeira Bay area of Florida Bay using Paradise Poppers and Gulp shrimp color white and new penny. Look for the mullet mud’s to lead you to the best bite.

Now that I have a chance I would like to congratulate Capt. Jared Raskob and his angler John Timura for winning the 2013 Herman Lucerne Memorial Championship! It was another challenging tournament with only two teams catching all seven species.

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 or call (305) 481-0111.

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