February 2018 Outlook and Update

February 3rd, 2018

Turn the page and we are on to February!  It is a big deal here because each month we are better off than the last, stronger than before and get a little further from where we started.  Where we are in relation to how far we have come from the storm is a positive.  Everything is falling in line for better and better things to come.  More businesses are open, more is available for our visitors and things are still progressing to what we once considered normal here.

I have a lot to talk about, but I will try to keep this on topic.  I will start with fishing and general info.  Watching the weather there is no doubt that things here and where you are from have been a little bipolar.  Your arctic blasts have been making it all the way down here and we have been having a cooler winter season than last year and the wind has been more of our enemy than our friend.  I completely understand that the warmth here is far better than 98% of the country, but we have had our challenges with conditions.  February and March fall into our known windy season because of the passage of strong cold fronts.  It does and can affect fishing, but it roughs up our seas, makes the water dirty and drops our water temperatures.  There are ALWAYS places the fish are biting, but it comes down to what you are comfortable fishing in.  This is where the finesse of being a good charter captain plays a huge role in the success of your trip.  I understand this game.  There are all sorts of players in the game and a million moving parts and variables that are the components of any trip.  The trick is to match everything up to create the best possible outcome.  Please provide me with all of the information about your group.  I don’t know anything about you.  Tell me so I know.  I don’t like to assume.  I’m not the best guesser.  I take your info, take what the weather gives us and make the best match to what the best fishing opportunity is for what your group would like to do.

Fishing!!  I almost forgot.  It has been excellent.  Looking back at my report from this time last year there are some changes.  My common patterns fishing patterns are a bit different.  There has been a bunch of colder, dirty water inshore and my success has come from fishing deeper, cleaner warmer water on the edge of the main reef.  Yellowtail snapper have been a great morning option and we transition late morning by working our way inshore for a mix of jacks, mackerel, porgies, bluefish and some catch and release species like grouper.  It all comes down to conditions.

great half day reef trip mix

The water tells me what I can do and what is going to work.  I am constantly reading the water and it is always changing.  The reef bite has been strong and consistent.  On the really calm days offshore tuna trips have been very successful.  This time of year we have a ton of hook ups on tuna 27 miles offshore on the humps.  Sharks are the biggest factor in the level of success we have.  The tuna run from 2-15lbs, but if the sharks are bad, it comes down to how fast can you reel it in before the big toothy things get it.  Some days are better than others.  Tuna fight so incredibly hard and bad shark days mean we lose 50% of the regular sized fish and all of the big ones.

tuna tuna tuna and more tuna!

It is a mean game!!  Today the reef was a little sharky too, so make sure you are ready to be fast, apply skills and hopefully get some lucky breaks.  Given the amount of windy days we have had and will have, the reports from fishing the protected areas of the bridge channels have been good for mangrove snapper and jacks.  Other calmer water options come from fishing on our shallower bayside for snapper, mackerel and some other rod bender species.  I have not gone this route this season per conditions, but I expect to be on that side a handful times in February.  It is a good easy option for those more inclined to getting motion sickness.  If you are not sure what is right for you, just call me in the evenings or shoot me an email via my contact form and together we can figure out a plan best suited for your group.  Fishing done!

I do a ton of other things. All of my in the water activities have been highly conditional due to the poor water conditions we have seen for several months now.  We have had some improving water clarity on the main reef, but our windows of opportunity have been extremely limited.  I want to do what you want to do.  Fishing has been great.  Snorkeling and spearing has been so very limited and can be hope for and not expected.  Lobstering is done, done and done.  That’s a no.  Our inshore water temps have been mid 60’s and outer to mid main reef has been around 70 degrees on average depending on this or that.  That’s pretty darn cold by most standards.  That is definitely well into either shorty or full wetsuit territory.  No big deal, all can be rented from Captain Hooks Marina, where I pick you up.  It is just another consideration for the comfort and success of your trip.  Yes, we can do in the water activities.  Yes, it has been good at times.  Good conditions have been the exception to the rule this year, so I will default on the side of an abundance of caution and we will have an alternate plan for your trip if the conditions are not appropriate for your particular in the water trip.  Since hurricane Irma, a few dive shops have gone out of business locally.  I expect a few more to fall because good opportunities to operate good trips have been uncommon and we are reaching a critical point dive only businesses are going to continue to suffer.  I can’t be in that position, so we will plan for the bast and have a back up plan for your in the water trips and activities.  I hope you understand.

Thanks for reading all of this or parts of it.  I know it is a lot.  I try to write these reports to help you understand what is happening and what you can expect for when you are here.  I have to generalize a lot of information to help you make sense of a constantly changing environment that I work in.  I understand many people don’t prepare for the reality of weather and environmental challenges, so I put as much graphic description into my reports to try to bridge the gap.  A phone call will always help dial it in a little more.  We certainly have some great days that are so perfect there are no words to describe, but we have had enough challenging days to make me nearly go crazy…..er.    The Keys are beautiful and strong and we are open for every kind of visitor seeking warmth, relaxation or adventure.


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