Hot Summer Coming on for Key West Fishing

Summer is coming on and the Key West fishing is heating up as rapidly as the weather with a wide variety of species on the move and bending rods. Despite the clinging winter in other parts of the country, Key Westers have enjoyed a nearly unbroken 3-week run of temps in the mid- to high 80s. Backcountry, on the reef, and offshore, the fishing has been good all over for the past couple of weeks.

One thing the warmer weather signals is the Mahi Mahi bite, which is gathering momentum as lots of smaller schoolie fish are being found hanging around and feeding under offshore birds and flotsam along the edge of the Gulf Stream. Captains are reporting good early-season Dolphin fishing to go along with the still-hot Sailfish bite, and a few of the larger Bulls and Cows have also been showing up on the docks in the past week or so in a preview of the big fish that will be arriving in Key West waters as full summer comes in. The Mahi Mahi are hitting both lures and live baits; if the big ones are still scarce, there is plenty of fun to be had catching the smaller fish on light tackle, and they are delicious on the grill as well. As an added attraction, May will bring on the Blue and White Marlin that are always tracking the schoolies, opening up the possibility that an everyday fishing trip will turn into the trophy fight of a fishing lifetime for the angler lucky enough to cross paths with one of these legendary game fish.

The Mahi Mahi are also lighting up the busy Keys’ early summer fishing tournament season. With the Key West Sailfish Championship that was to be held April 23rd through the 27th postponed until April 2015, a couple of local Dolphin fishing competitions are taking center stage. There is some good prize money on the line in the Mercury/Seahunter Boats Florida Keys Dolphin Championship running May 16th through the 18th, with fishing taking place from Key Largo down to Key West. Over $100,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs, including $15,000 for the first place Dolphin. The largest fish over 55 pounds is also good for a Mercury/Seahunter Boat worth $75,000. To sweeten the pot further, if an angler bags the largest Dolphin over 55 pounds while fishing from a Sea Hunter Boat purchased from an Authorized Dealer in the 6 years prior to the tournament, he or she will pocket a $50,000 bonus. That is a serious payday for having a lot of fun. Follow that up with a $13,000 win for the heaviest combined three fish in the Yamaha Dolphin Masters Invitational running out of Key West May 23rd and 24th and you will be able to take the rest of the summer off and just go fishing.

The other big news on the Key West fishing scene is the May 1 opening of Grouper season in the south Atlantic. Bottom fishing aficionados flock to the Keys to go after these hard-fighting, good-eating fish. Whether you go out for Black Grouper, Gags, Reds, or any of the many other varieties, fun is almost guaranteed as these hungry fish will hit most any bait, live or cut, and will test tackle as well as a fisherman’s strength and will. Wrecks, rock piles, and hard bottoms with cracks and ledges will all hold Grouper, and it will be up to you to keep the fish out of that structure once you are hooked up. Be sure to bring extra leader. And remember, when fishing the wrecks, you never know what is down there waiting to hit your bait. African Pompano, Amberjack, Snappers, Sharks and many other species will put your fighting skills to the test. In fact, it is often a challenge to get a hooked fish up before another hungry predator grabs it.

As a backdrop to all the other great fishing going on, the Keys Tarpon season is in full swing, and the fish are biting. Captains are reporting hundreds of fish in Key West harbor and excellent fishing in the deeper channels throughout the Keys. Multiple hookups and jumps in one outing have been common around Key West the past couple of weeks, and the action should keep going strong through the month. The Permit fishing has also been good, and there is still time to get out on the wrecks for a big Permit the easy way before they move onto the Flats for the summer. There is no better time than now to shake off the winter blues and come Fish Key West for the catch of your dreams.