Stuart Offshore: Jan. 2019

Off the Chain
Off The Chain, a 32 Contender with a pair of 300 Yamaha outboards, a Birdsall tower, Cannon downriggers and Rupp Marine’s new 22-foot carbon fiber outriggers, the perfect south Florida setup. Photo credit: Capt. Scott Fawcett.

Happy New Year! And what better way to ring in 2019 then with sailfish, dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo and kingfish? With a warmer than normal December, the winter season is off to a slow start but has definitely shown some promise for good fishing. Flurries of sails, mahi, blackfin and kings have become more regular and now that Christmas is behind us and we’re having more frequent northwest winds, the fishing should really get good this month.

January is traditionally when the threadfin hearing and sardines show up along the beaches in big numbers. Most of the time when fishing off the Treasure Coast I would recommend focusing along the Six-Mile and Eight-Mile reefs and the edge of the Gulf Stream, and although those are places that definitely will hold fish and provide a nice line to migrate down during the winter months, don’t count out the near shore bait schools in January. Occurring a number of years that I’ve lived here over the last 33, the sail fishing has been nothing short of incredible just a few hundred yards off the beach during January.

Keep an eye out for frigate birds, free jumpers and even sailfish following up your sabiki rig while you’re catching bait. I recommend R&R sabiki’s because they are made with fluorocarbon and have more hooks on them than the average rig. Since we started to use them, we’ve almost cut our bait catching time in half, so I would definitely look into them if you haven’t already. Also, this is a great time to fish a live bait on a spinning rod while you’re catching bait. FinNor makes a great bait teaser reel (live bait runner) that you can toss out and leave unattended with the perfect amount of light resistance until you have a bite, then turn the handle to engage the drag and fish on!

During this near shore bonanza, one of the most important pieces of equipment is your sonar. By being able to mark the schools of bait and even identify the predators or lack of predators around them, you can maximize your hours spent fishing and really rack up the numbers in scenarios like this. Humminbird makes an incredible side imaging sonar that the sailfish, kingfish and cobia around these bait schools just can’t hide from. It truly gives the user an unfair advantage to the point where you can jog from bait school to school and only set out on the ones that have fish on them.

A good teaser is also important when you’re fishing around these bait schools. Strike Point Tackle makes a great stripteaser that I fish off of my Cannon 10 TS downrigger on auto mode, the cycling of the teaser going in and out raises lazy fish and triggers an instinctive response to bite. During this time of year, I don’t fish without them.

Looking forward to seeing you out on the water this year and I hope your next fishing trip is Off The Chain.

FORECAST BY: Capt. Scott Fawcett
Off the Chain Fishing Charters
Phone: (772) 285-1055