Getting Tuna Past The Sharks

By: Capt. Bruce Andersen

The late summer and early fall season is upon us and it is one of my favorite times to fish in the Florida Keys. Over the next few weeks, things should start to slow down in the Keys a little. There should be a few less tourists around and a lot less boats on the water. The fishing however should remain red hot and with less people on the water. It makes for a great opportunity to get in on excellent fishing while it’s not so crowded offshore.
One of my favorite fish to target this time of year are blackfin tuna on the offshore seamounts like the Islamorada hump, the 409 hump and the west hump.
There are several different methods of fishing that will get you in on the action, including trolling, vertical jigging, and live bait fishing. All of these can be very productive this time of year. My favorite is live baiting the tuna, especially with a live well full of pilchards to chum with. It’s one of the most exciting types of fishing I know of, and probably my overall favorite thing to do on the water. There’s also a good chance of running across mahi mahi out there and they’re always a welcome addition to the catch. Another thing that you’re sure to see plenty of, although they may not be so welcome, are sharks.
We’ve have an amazing number of sharks in the Florida Keys! The shark population has exploded. While that can be problematic when you’re fighting large blackfin tuna on light tackle it’s great news for anyone that wants to catch one. It’s a relatively easy order this time of year and if you’re looking to fight a big shark, just ask your charter captain and most days hooking up with one won’t be a problem.
We’ve been having more and more problems with the number of sharks the last few years. It’s becoming a major obstacle in getting fish to the boat as the sharks are taking a good portion of the catch away. Scientists call this depredation. NOAA fisheries recently released a statement arguing that shark populations aren’t on the rise. This was a troubling sign for most of the charter captains and guides here in the Keys as it seems there is a huge disconnect between the fisheries scientists and the guys on the water every day watching the reality of the situation. The sharks are taking a large toll on many of the fisheries that we rely on and they’re wreaking havoc on our catches daily. It would be nice to see the people in charge of fisheries management start to acknowledge the shark problem. If any of you have experienced shark depredation don’t be afraid to spread the word. Hopefully we can get the fisheries managers to come around and recognize what’s going on. In the meantime, luckily, we’ve still got plenty of great stuff to fish for and if anybody’s interested in catching a shark. I’ll be happy to take you!

You can reach Captain Bruce Andersen at Capt. Easy Charters,
MM 85, call 305.360.2120 or email at: