It's been a warm winter so far here while offshore fishing in Islamorada in December. I'm not sure when it will cool down, but fortunately the fish haven't minded! We are fishing the edge of the reef this time of year, so the average distance from shore we are fishing is 3 - 5 miles. Last weekend was the Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament and Capt. Paul Ross fished his kids on the Relentless charterboat, and they had a great day the first day releasing 6 sailfish and followed up with 1 more release on the second day. They finished in 2nd place with 7 releases over the weekend. Congrats!!! Most boats have been getting 1 - 3 sailfish bites on their trips, but making the bites count is how you have a great day. There was a couple slower days on the sails as well, with just a couple caught amongst the fleet. I think we'll get another good push of them as soon as we get some colder weather to fire them up.
There's been an assortment of other pelagic species eating the live baits while kite fishing, slow trolling, and bottom fishing. We've seen a couple mahi, blackfin tuna, kingfish, wahoo, barracuda, shark, crevalle jack, amberjack, mutton snapper, yellowjack, and more. The yellowtail snapper bite has been steady as well, so if you want some fresh for dinner keep that in mind.
It's harder to make it out 30 - 40 miles swordfishing this time of year with the higher winds on average as compared to summer time, but I did make it out on a couple swordfish trips on the "Broad Minded". One trip we landed a big 299 lb swordfish with Paul, and the next trip I had Joe out and we had a 150 lb swordfish close to the boat one time, but pulled the hook a little while later. The Catch 22 fished a couple days after that but unfortunately reported no bites. We also did a little deep dropping on one trip and had some barrelfish up to 25 lbs as well as a couple queen snapper.
Christmas week is going to be a busy one here in Islamorada, so give the Marina office a call at 305 664 2461 to book your fishing trip while you're down here! The sooner the better because the fleet is filling up fast! Also make sure to check out Bud n' Mary's Outfitters while you're here, we have a bunch of Outdoor Apparel and accessories!
Capt. Nick Stanczyk