Upper Keys Fishing

by Capt. Dallas Hopper

It’s got to be the most action packed month of the year, May. There’s so much going on! The mahi are back in numbers, there’s sails tailing down the edge, grouper season is open and the snapper bite is on.

If you’re looking for mahi, you’re in luck. Focus your efforts in the 300-700 ft range, a good pair of binoculars is a huge help to finding the fish. We’re always looking for grass lines, large floating debris, frigate birds and seagulls, find any of these and the fish are not too far behind. Our typical trolling spread consists of four 30lb conventional outfits with a mix of rigged ballyhoo and small to medium sized lures. The best colors always seem to be blue/white, pink, black/purple and pink/blue.

Grouper season opens back up this month and with as many fish that we have let go over the last four months grouper fishing is going to be busy! The hardest part will be making up your mind on where you want to fish, you can fish the deep water, the deep reefs and wrecks or even the shallow patch reefs. There is such a large variety of grouper to target, snowy, yellow edge, black, red, gag, strawberry and scamp.

Kite fishing on the edge is still productive, were still catching blackfin, kingfish, sail fish, mahi and even a few bonus cobia. Most of the action is taking place in the 160- 240ft range, a smoking north current is the key ingredient to a solid bite on the edge. Keep and eye on days with a north wind, there are plenty of sails around and with the right conditions you just might find fish tailing down sea ready to eat any livebait in front of them.

The yellowtail and mutton snapper bite has been solid, with many of the fish full of roe. We’ve been fishing for the tails around some of the wrecks and rock piles in the 110-125 ft of water and most of the fish are jumbo sized. You have to beef up your tackle for these fish, 20lb spinning gear is a must. The mutton have been biting better in the deep water, 200-300 ft is the range we’ve been targeting and were using 40ft of 50lb fluorocarbon with a live ballyhoo.

In the upper keys and looking to do some fishing? Give us a call and we’ll get you out fishing on our 40ft sportfish or our 27ft center console.

Capt. Dallas Hopper

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

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