Hello from Key West, This is Capt. Paul Tryon with Key West Pro Guides and TailChaser Charters, here with your January/February fishing report:
Winter is trying her best to make it our way. We have had a few cold fronts move through, none as strong as the New Years record setter. The weather is absolutely beuafiful and the fishng has been red hot! The water temps are still in the lower 70’s, sometimes dipping into the higher 60’s in the backcountry. All in all it looks like the fishing is getting better with each passing day. The past few weeks have been very productive on the wrecks and reefs and we are seeing the backcountry and flats fishing starting to heat up too. Get ready for some great winter action!
Here’s how things are shaping up…..
The offshore fishing has been very good with lots of Sailfish being caugth in water as shallow as 20ft. we have had huge schools of Ballyhoo to bring them in close and are all getting lots of shots at them. The Wahoo bite has slowed a bit, still if you can find Speedos and slow troll them, your sure to get a few takers. They have been averaging in the 20-30’s and some have hit the dock as big as 64lbs.The Gulf Stream has averaged from 7 to more than 30 miles south of Key West; we have had a few really nice color changes from right on the reef out to about 160ft. of water, making the Sail fishing very good. Setting up for a troll or drift with live baits along this color change can also make for some great Wahoo and Kingfish action. As the water temps continue to drop with the approaching cold fronts, and with the Gulf Stream moving in and out of our area, the Sailfish and Wahoo action should increase with great results. On the reef we are starting to see some nice Black fin tuna showing up, most of them are from the upper teens to close to 30lbs. and are very aggressive feeders when live baiting with the live Pilchards. Our live bait situation is really good, we have been able to consistently catch more than enough.
Deep off the Reef:
The deeper wrecks off of the reef have been pretty good with really nice Black Groupers, big Mutton Snappers, Amberjacks, Barracuda, Bonita and lots and lots of Sharks. With the currents being light and the wind in the right direction, we have been anchoring up on the deeper wrecks lately and simply having our way with the fish! Dropping whole ballyhoos, small runners and other small baits to the bottom has produced nice Black and Gag Groupers along with my favorite the Mutton Snappers. Dropping a fresh live Ballyhoo to the bottom is sure to get nailed! Now that we have the water temperatures starting to cool off, the Black fin tuna should start showing up in real good numbers and will start to spread out over more of the deeper wrecks. The last few deep water wreck trips have each found a few hungry black fins and what a blast they are on the light tackle.
Wrecks and Reefs:
The Gulf wreck action has been really, really good and should continue to get hotter with each day of cooler water. We have been catching lots of really nice Kingfish on the wrecks and hard bottom, most averaging in the 20’s, lots of them more than 40lbs. live bait is the trick with them, we have been catching our limits every, single trip out! The Cobia action has been getting better, most are averaging in the 17-30lb. range, a few really nice ones have been hooked in the 45-50lb. range. The Cobias have been showing up lately on the closer in wrecks and reefs and always like to hang on the channel markers, hoping we toss a bait there way. The snapper and grouper bite has been good with gray snappers being caught up to about 4lbs. The sharks are very active; most of them are Bulls, Black tips and Lemon sharks. As soon as you get a good chum slick started they are as far back in it as you can see. On the slack tides while we have been King fishing they are providing constant action with most in the 4-5 foot range. These powerhouse fish are very strong fighters and a challenge on light tackle. We have been battling nice size schools of Bonita at some of the other farther out gulf wrecks and by tying off to any of the dozens of shrimp boats anchored in the gulf. Shrimp boat fishing is some of the best action trips you could possibly go on.
The flats and backcountry trips are heating up really good now. The days following a cold front when the winds are from the south, warming the waters, the fish are up on the flats feeding like crazy. The waters are nice and clear and we are finding plenty of fish. The Permit are on the edges of the flats and seem to be enjoying the cooler waters we are getting. The average size permit the past month has been around 20-25lbs. and very eager to feed. The bone fish are in good size schools with the average size fish weighing in around 7-8lbs. There are still a few smaller Tarpon here, the morning and late evening bite has been the best with the water temps rising. Some of the Tarpon schools are hundreds thick and we are seeing several schools at a time all in the 30-40lbs. range, perfect for fly or light spinning. We have started to see our annual migration of Pompano show up and as always, the Barracuda and Sharks are all over the flats; just about any bait thrown their direction is sure to get looked at. Basically any species that you target on the flats will be a good choice for a very productive trip in January or February.
This is Captain Paul Tryon, Give me a call to book your day with some of Key West’s best guides here at Key West PRO Guides and have some fun fishing! Until next month, keep those reels screaming! For booking information with Key West PRO Guides or TailChaser Charters, you can call me at 866-259-4205 or visit my website:
Capt. Paul Tryon