When The Winds Blow

By: Capt. Joel Brandenburg

Offshore winds mean inshore action. Even with our 53ft Hatteras, sometimes offshore wind and waves get so strong that we can’t justify putting our clients through 8 hours of roughness, so when the seas howl, we change it up and fish inshore.

We like to fish in the back country out of our 24ft tower boat and many times we target the East Bahia Honda Island area. Fishing in 1ft to 12ft of water we’ll target mangrove and yellowtail snapper. We also catch grouper, cobia, barracuda, permit, bonefish, yellow Jack, jack crevalle, spanish, cero and king makerel and a dozen other species. We look for underwater trees that blow onto the flats still from hurricane Irma and pull a lot of fish out from the root balls of those trees. We also look for what we call green holes on a low tide.

A green hole is a deep natural vein that cuts though a flat and the flat may be 2ft and the vein might be 8ft deep with jagged ledges only 10 yrds wide and 150 yrds long. The veins usually have a neon green glow and hold a lot of fish especially on a low tide. We also look for spots with a swiss cheese bottom. Grass flats with random coral heads and bomb holes. We use large live shrimp or large chunks of cut ballyhoo. Live pilchards and small pinfish are effective too. We use 15lb mono with the appropriately sized jig head or large hook. Your jig head should be big enough to guide your hooked bait towards the bottom, but small enough that your bait bounces along the bottom in the current vs a weighted hook that’s so big that it instantly pins your hooked bait on the bottom.

Let your bait go with the flow at the same rate and speed as your chum flowing out of the chum ring. This technique is called “flat lining”. We like to use Chum block placed into chum rings.

The life expectancy of a block of chum is determined by water temperature, speed of the current and brand of chum. A chum block typically last 1 hour. He who has the most chum wins in the Florida Keys back country! Flowing chum creates an oasis in the desert effect.

We like to use yum yum yellow colored jig heads and large hooks. The most important thing to remember about flats fishing is to fish the current that matches best to the wind. Ideally, anchor in a spot where the wind and current are going the same way.

— To fish with Captain Joel Brandenburg of Ana banana Fishing Co., call or text him at 305.395.4212 or 813.267.4401 or visit www.marathonfloridakeysfishingcharters.com or stop by at 11699 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL