As the kids start heading back to school and the summer
comes to an end, the hustle and bustle of the Florida
Keys tourist season tapers off. Once again you can drive
to and from Miami in less than three hours and go to
your favorite eatery without making a reservation. If
you are not into crowds this is the time for you!
August is one
of the warmest months of the year, water temperatures
can reach 90° in the
shallows. With the high temperatures the legendary
tarpon schools of Bahia Honda and the Key West Harbor
begin to dissipate as they head North for their annual
migration. Although the larger schools of rolling tarpon
have left, there are still plenty around the Florida
The juvenile tarpon, in
particular, hang around channels like Shark Key Cannel.
These lingering tarpon make
a favorite late season sport fish.
also known for its red hot Bonefish bite.
Capt. Jamie Connell of
Flying Fish Charters works the outside edge of the
Content Keys on a falling tide for large bonefish.
He specializes in sight
casting the bonefish on fly.
The large schools of Permit that were
gathered on the wrecks and reefs are also on the move,
back into the shallows, they can still be found on the
wrecks but with less frequency.
schools of migratory fish have packed on some size and
While fishing it is always
a good idea to search for debris and weed lines floating
on the surface. Fish like Mahi Mahi are attracted to the
floating fragments because of the small bait fish that
offshore this time of the year, it’s also not a bad idea
to have some chicken rigs for deep dropping in four
hundred to six hundred feet of water.
You might be pleasantly
surprised by what you drag up from way down deep: Large
Tile fish, Snowy Grouper along with Rose fish are some
of the usual suspects.
If you are
looking for reef fish I suggest you work the outside
edge of the reef, from fifty to one hundred fifteen feet
At those depths you will
find some late spawning Mutton Snapper as well as Grey
The bite is usually better
in the late afternoon.
At this time
of the year I like to get an extra early start, that way
I can have an early finish. I try to avoid the midday
heat. Being poorly prepared for the August heat in the
Florida Keys can lead to a miserable day on the water,
not to mention a miserable next few days. Make sure you
stay covered up with proper clothing and plenty of
August is all
about being in the water, an ideal day for me consists
of working the blue water and or doing some reef and
wreck fishing early on.
I like to follow that up by
doing some spearfishing around midday in order to cool
Hogfish, mistakenly called Hog
Snapper, are a favorite target for the spear fisherman
in the Florida Keys. Known for its white flaky meat,
Hogfish are rated number one in table fare. Most Hogfish
are harvested by way of spear fishing but can also be
targeted by using live shrimp on a light jig.
Contrary to popular belief,
Hogfish is not a snapper but a Wrasse native to the
western Atlantic Ocean. They can easily be found in the
local shallow reefs as well as in the surrounding
The regulations are 12’’ to the
fork of the tail and five per person. Please keep a
close eye in the regulations since they are talking
about change coming down the pipeline.
Lobster is on
everyone’s mind as season opens up the first week of
sure to bring a net, tickle stick, and measuring device
Don’t forget to check every
ledge and rock where the mother lode may be hiding.
But keep in mind the coral
reef is where the Lobster live.
Be sure to use care when
free diving or scuba diving to avoid grabbing, kicking,
and breaking off the reef.
In the upper
keys the fishing is always a bit different because of
their proximity to the everglades.
Capt. George Clark of Rodeo
Charters works the mouth of the creeks for Snook, Red
fish, Jack and juvenile Tarpon with an occasional large
sea trout working the area. He also tells me you can
expect a late run of bigger tarpon moving thru the
Everglades on the banks west of the park on the edge of
the Gulf. His bait of choice this time of year is finger
mullet and large schools of Redfish can be found with
them around Flamingo area.
BEST BET KEYS
With the lobster season opening up in
the first week of August you have to take the plunge and
chase some tails.
You do not have to be a scuba diver
to take part, Lobsters can be found in many shallow
reefs and ledges in just a few feet of water.
Summertime in the Florida Keys is
notorious for flat calm conditions that make for
lobster, you can easily find Hogfish, Snapper and
You cannot go wrong spending a day
in the water harvesting Lobsters and Hogfish.
Be aware when diving to not damage
the coral reef while chasing down dinner.
Please take time to read the rules
and regulations and make sure your diver down flag is
dog days of summer have arrived and with it, some great
fishing in the Florida Keys. Whether you are a novice
angler or a serious tournament fisherman, there is
something for everyone this time of the year. From Grey
Snapper fishing on the reef to the Bacardi Oakhart
Marlin Tournament, there are tasty fish to target and
some serious fishing to be done.
No matter what you are fishing for, make sure you
stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun because
it will wear you down.
Usually Mahi Mahi or Dolphin are on the menu when
you head offshore.
Anywhere past the reef line can be a great place
to find them, but you have to know what you’re looking
for. Typically, you can start trolling in a few hundred
feet of water and continue your way south toward deeper
water until you find an area to work over. Everyone
knows looking for floating debris and weed lines can
lead to some great Dolphin fishing, but also look for
Frigate birds and rips in the current offshore.
It’s not just about Mahi either; make sure you
are ready for that Billfish or Wahoo bite, they will be
out deep this time of year. Big Wahoo and Blue Marlin
love to eat chicken Dolphin. If your trolling, it’s
usually a good idea to have a big lure ready in case you
get a billfish in the spread.
big Grey Snappers are heading out to the reef to spawn.
You can get them any time during the summers, but around
the full moons you will get the best bite.
Look in 80-100
feet of water, when you start marking a school anchor up
current from them and throw a block of chum out.
Dropping live pinfish to the bottom is the most
affective, but if you don’t have live bait, the Snappers
will eat dead bait, like squid or ballyhoo as well.
Don’t forget about the Yellowtail Snapper, make
sure you have a jig drifting back with some bait on it.
This is a great thing to do if you are looking for some
tasty fish or if you have young anglers looking for some
Consider going extra early or a bit later on in the day
to avoid the intense afternoon heat.
Often this time of year, the wind can lay down
and when your anchored on the reef mid-day, that heat
can be stifling.
In the backcountry, more Bonefish and Permit show
up on the flats as the tarpon start to head out of town.
Late summer and fall is a great time to target Bonefish
on the flats, they love that shallow warm water.
These guys love to eat some shrimp on buck tail
jigs. Don’t be afraid to jump out of the skiff and wade
after them if it gets too skinny. After spending most of
the spring and early summer spawning offshore, the
Permit also start to make their way back on the flats.
They too like to eat shrimp on buck tail jigs,
but tossing a little crab at them is the most effective
way to target Permit.
The Tarpon, however, start to move on as you see
less fish this time of year.
Even though the main migration is over for the
tarpon, those that stick around are usually cooperative
when it comes to eating. The light winds and variety of
species make this a great time of the year to cast flies
in the shallows.
If you are
in Key West and looking for a unique adventure with off
the charts action, head even further west to camp out at
the Dry Tortugas.
With the winds settling down, the 140 mile run
round trip is well worth it.
On your way out on the Gulf side, keep a look out
for Shrimp boats to fish behind.
There you can find a variety of fish, including
North of the Dry Tortugas you can fish all kinds
of wrecks and coral heads, and when running south you
can fish the reef or head offshore. With the weather
window open, now is the time to check out the pristine
waters in this remote setting around the Dry Tortugas
Diving in the Keys right now is very popular as
well, due to the aforementioned warm waters and light
winds. You can have great visibility on the reef and
wrecks, which can lead to some close encounters with sea
life. Above all, this month everyone has lobster on the
mind. People from all over Florida come down for the
Mini Lobster season, which always falls on the last
Wednesday and Thursday of July.
Diving for the lobsters in the Keys is great fun
and can lead to a wonderful dinner.
However, with the
popularity of mini lobster season comes a lot of safety
risks. There will be a lot of people on the water, many
of whom do not have a lot of boating experience or
familiarity with the waters in the Keys.
Be sure to use extreme caution when
participating and use care when diving to not destroy
the reef by breaking and kicking coral in the mitts of a
Grey Snappers, or more comonly
known as Mangrove Snappers, are plentiful on the reef
this time of year. The big fish leave the backcountry
channels and mangrove estuaries and head out to deeper
water to spawn.
Live Pinfish are definitely the bait of choice; you can
free line the pinfish on a small jig or drop them to the
bottom on a Carolina Rig. Forty pound Vanish
fluorocarbon will do the trick, but make sure you check
the leader after every bite. Grey Snappers are notorious
for fraying leaders and that could cost you the big one
if you’re not paying attention. I also recommend a light
drag for the Grey Snappers in order not to pull the hook
on them, but keep in mind, the larger the Pinfish, the
bigger the Snapper. recommend a light
drag in order to not pull the hook o