Stuart Deep Sea Fishing Report & Forecast: January 2014

A new year, a new month, and new `bodies of fish` all appear in unison, this January, in the offshore waters of the Treasure Coast. These new days are characterized by a parade of saltwater pelagic (migrating) species like mahi-mahi, Spanish mackerel, sailfish, and several species of snapper, including lane and mutton snapper to name a few that stake out and claim temporary territories among our local reefs and wrecks in advance of coming spawning seasons. Fishermen with historical local knowledge will steer towards these territorial fish zones and dial in their fishing strategies to take advantage of this new year of fresh fish incursions. 

A favorite offshore species target during this time will be medium sized mutton snapper (fish from 5 to 10 pounds), which will post up in depths of 35 to 65 feet of water. These fish will range across the entire reef line, but prefer the contours on the edge of the structure and points outside of the break in the bottom, where patch reef and sand outline the main reef structure.

Presenting dead/cut baits on a 5/0 hook with a 50 pound mono leader of 15 to 30 feet in length will yield the best results in the proper conditions. These conditions are horizontal currents of 1/2 to 1 knot in velocity. Given these conditions and proper bait presentation in the reef contour zone, anglers must then wait on the right bite. A mutton snapper bite is characteristically finicky to start, with several pops and pulls, before the fish finally commits to “eat”. This biting behavior necessitates patience on the part of the angler who must wait and refrain from swinging during the first moments of the mutton bite allowing the fish to negotiate its prey and finally eat the bait. A steady pull from the fish of a solid 8 second count on the bait is a solid rule of thumb before an angler engages in a hook set.

For successful fishing in January as in all months, patience pays off.