A school of Yellowtail Snapper. Some of the other fish we catch in the Florida Keys areTuna, Wahoo, Blue & White Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Sharks, Kingfish, Mutton Snapper, King Mackerel, Grouper, Cobia, Tarpon and more.

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How-To Series


Brought to you courtesy of Captain Ron Brack, Captain of the Charterboat "REEL PLEASURE" out of the Whale Harbor Marina in Islamorada.

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     In the old days there was a saying that these burly, huge fish would eat a tennis shoe. But those days are gone, and unfortunately their size overall has declined. However, they are still out there and still wonderful to catch.

     So here are some pointers on how to catch an extraordinarily strong fighting fish. Count on spending some time to bring them under submission, because their fight is down and dirty. First off, they like wrecks, usually big ones, the bigger the wreck, the more jacks there will be. They are also fond of deep-sea mounts and extreme depth change. I have caught them on the reef, but they are normally caught in water over 100 foot. In the winter and springtime, lots of juveniles can be found on the reef.

     These guys are aggressive by nature, and like to chase their dinner so go catch some live bait. They like Goggleyes, Blue runners Speedo’s an sometimes pilchards and when they are very aggressive jigs, are quite popular. Use no less than 20 pound test line unless you have another agenda. Your live bait rig should be tied double line to a snap swivel and then to a three way swivel with your weight of up to two pounds, hanging on about one foot down from your three way swivel. Your leader should be at least 10 foot long, preferably 18 to 25 feet of 80 pound test line, or 50 pound test if they are finicky. Now the coup' de gras, a circle hook with a size between 4/0 to 6/0. This way there isn’t any hook setting, just pull tight, fast and sure.

     Put the hook through the mouth of your bait and send him down into the depths. It usually doesn’t take long. When you feel the bite, wind out the slack fast and hold on. Keep an eye on your depth recorder. It will tell you how deep the fish are and that is where you want your bait to be. Drop to the bottom and retrieve up to the desired depth. If you're fishng with jigs, use the same method: drop to the bottom and start jigging fast; deliberately jerking and winding over and over. Keep a good hold on your rod because they hit like thunder!

     In conclusion, please only kill what you are going to eat, and release the rest. Purge them carefully and help them to recover from embolization and let them live to fight another day. WE are the future of the fishery. Keep the limits in mind.



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