Upper Keys Fishing

by Capt. Dallas Hopper

This year is flying by so fast, we’re already over half way though it! Wish we could slow down time so we can enjoy July a little longer because the summertime bite is on. It’s a hot one this month but the only thing hotter than the weather is the fishing.

The Mahi fishing has been on fire! There has been a nice mix of fish around this month and in good numbers too. While the majority of the fish are in the 4-15lb range there are quite a few slammers making their way to the fish box as well. Most of the fish we have seen have been in the 600-1200 ft range under all the usual telltale signs; birds, sargassum grass mats and debris. They’re not too picky about what they eat but our favorite bait to throw at them is chunked bonita, squid, ballyhoo and of course live cigar minnows or pilchards.

The full moon in July brings us to one of the hottest snapper bites on the reef, this is the time of year when the mangrove snapper move to the edge of the reef to spawn. You can fish for them any time of the day, but it seems they bite better at night and as a bonus you can avoid fishing in the heat of the day. They like to hang out near the edge of the reef in the 30-80ft range over rocky bottom.

We’ll target these fish on 15lb spinning tackle with a short 30lb fluorocarbon leader and an 1/8oz , 2/0 jig head tipped with ballyhoo chunks, shrimp, live pilchards or small live pinfish. At the peak of the spawn its fast action fishing, it’s not uncommon to have the up near the boat and eating out of them chum bag.

Lobster mini season opens up the end of this month so it’s time to get in the water and start scouting for those lobster honey holes. Get your snorkel gear out and hop in the water on the shallow patch reefs, it’s fun way to escape the heat. If getting in the water isn’t your thing but you still need to satisfy your crustacean craving get set up for bully netting and give it a try, it’s a blast chasing these bugs around the flats at night.

It’s a busy month here in the keys whether you’re on a boat or in the water so be sure to stay safe and have fun out there. We have a few days left open this month so give a call and well get you out there on the water and in the action.

Capt. Dallas Hopper

Fantastic II Charters “guaranteed fish”
305-451-2890 • www.charterkeylargo.com

Coastal Angler & The Angler Magazine