Every year we wait for what we call the annual bait migration along our coast. This is what starts our best fishing of the year.
I know it’s been very, very hot, and a little rainy this year, like nothing I have ever seen in the past 60 plus years here in this area. Old timers come into the shop and ask me if I have ever seen weather like this, and I have to tell them “no,” and not for this long, with the afternoon rain storms and 90 plus degree weather daily. Yes, it’s been amazing, but in the next couple of weeks it will change very fast.
During the annual bait migration from the north all along our coast, and with these massive schools of bait fish, we get the fish that feed on them in the surf. You’ll see snook and tarpon feeding on the large schools of mullet and, over the past few years, we are seeing more and more sharks feeding.
A few surfers, swimmers and everyone wading in the shallow water, mixed in with these bait schools, can get bitten. Be extra careful in the early mornings and late afternoons. Many years ago, we never had this problem anywhere nearly as bad as this. The real reason is that no one today kills sharks as they did in the past. The charter boats, the private boats and the commercial long-liners all catch and release sharks today. We know we have many sharks along our coast more than just several times a year, so just be careful and be smart. We are all careful on our main highways and on I-95. It works the same way in the ocean.
In the 90-120 foot depths, we get large schools of pilchards, ballyhoo, sardines and 10 other varieties of bait fish. These schools attract the sailfish, kingfish and all of the reef fish including snapper and grouper and another 20 different groups of bottom-feeding fish.
Out another 200-500 feet in depth is where we see other baits, with large schools of dolphin, mahi mahi, as we now call them, and another fish we caught very few of 20-30 years ago, the Great Wahoo! Yes, and big old fat blackfin tuna. We catch many thousands of these fish every year, all of which are very good eating.
The next thing that happens is, with all these fish feeding in a certain area and at certain depths, you can figure out how, when and where to catch them. So, all the clubs and groups set up yearly fishing tournaments that range in size from 20-30 boats on up to 200-400 boats, with very large amounts of prize money.
In the New England area last week, in 3 days 415 boats were fishing for $6.16 million. Several boats won between one and two million dollars for the largest fish in certain categories like white marlin, shark, tuna, blue marlin, dolphin and wahoo. All of the boats had to put up the prize money to fish the different categories. Yes, it’s a yearly deal and it gets very exciting.
Again, people say we have no seasons here in South Florida. Sorry, but we do. You can tell by wind direction, temperature, rain amount, and the time of sunrise and sunset.
Most of all, give us a call or come see us and, most of the time, we can tell you what fish will bite, when, where and on what tides. Being here the past 43 years makes it a little more than an educated guess.
Tight lines and good catching!