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We’re Sailing Through November

Posted on by Captain Steve

sailfish

We’ve launched into the Holiday Season and here in South Florida, the only colors changing are those of Mahi Mahi and Sailfish as we bring them along boatside. Here at Fantastic Sportfishing, we’re in the thick of the Fall Bite in the beautiful South Florida offshore fishery.

As we always make a point to do, we’d like to thank everyone who fished with us during October and those who intend to fish with us in November. Without you, we don’t get an opportunity to fish. We greatly appreciate your business and hope that you’ll come back to see us soon, especially our junior anglers who are looking forward to the upcoming holidays and holiday travel to visit family and friends. Keep in mind that Fantastic Fishing has trips available this holiday season should your travels bring you to tropical South Florida.

The crisp, fall weather has brought various schools of baitfish and the top-level predators who follow them, especially Wahoo and Sailfish. Our morning and evening trips have been producing well for all of our clients as we put the rainy season  , and the remnants of hurricane season, behind us.

Offshore Report: Time to Set Sail

Like most of our “snow birds” who make their way to South Florida to enjoy the winter months, the pods of Sailfish have begun to appear as they escape colder water and follow the huge schools of Ballyhoo as they make their way south down our beaches. We continue to catch Sailfish trolling the color changes between 100 feet and 300 feet of water. The Sailfish have been attacking Sea Witches (in blue/white and pink/white color combinations) trolled on the surface at 7 – 9 knots but the bite is switching over to live baits. Sailfish are starting to prefer live slow-trolled ballyhoos or goggle eyes dangling from a kite inside of 150 feet of water. The Sailfish bite will only get better as we make our way to Winter.

Blackfin Bonanza!

The Blackfin Tuna bite is epic right now! We’re averaging 15-20 Blackfin Tunas on every trip right now, with the size ranging from 8-12 pounds. We’re striking “black gold” up on the reefs inside of 200 feet of water trolling Sea Witches and Bonito Strips at 5 – 6 knots. The Tunas are keeping drags screaming and making for tasty dinners.

Tuna fish

There are also “bullet” bontios mixed in with the tunas and we’re using them as live baits for Wahoo, Amberjack and Sharks. If you have not seen how we fish with live bonitos, check out this video:

Wahoo on the Full Moon!

The Wahoo bite around the recent full moon was one of the best so far. We’ve been catching Wahoo up to 20 pounds on our trips. If you’ve never seen the line melt off of a reel, you need to come aboard to fish for Wahoo. We’ve had great Wahoo bites between 300 feet and 800 feet of water trolling Islanders and bonito strips below the surface on planers, with a little quicker pace than when we troll for Mahi Mahi or Kingifish.

The Wahoo’s cousin, Kingfish, are plentiful in the 7 to 15-pound range between 80 and 120 feet of water, with bonito strips, lures and feathers trolled below the surface on planers producing the most fish. “Kings” have also attacked our live baits on the drift as we target Sailfish in 120 feet of water.

Shark Fishing Stays Solid:

The shark fishing continues to be steady with some epic catches mixed in. We continue to average between 1 and 2 sharks – or more -each trip. During the last few weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of Blacktips as they chase the migrating baitfish that head down just off of our beaches every Fall. We also caught a 250 pound Bull Shark and a few large Hammerheads on live bonitos or butterflied Kingfish dropped down in 300 feet of water.

Bull fishing

Speaking of dropping down a live bonito, we’ve also caught huge, bruising Amberjacks on the reefs using live bonitos.

There are still plenty of migrating bait schools to enable you to take advantage of our Fall Tarpon Charters. Give us a call to book a trip with Fantastic Sportfishing.

Tight Lines,
Captain Steve

Posted in Uncategorized

The Trick is Catching Mahi Mahi; The Treat is Fresh Fish for Dinner

Posted on by Captain Steve

The offshore action is not waiting around for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. Here at Fantastic Sportfishing, we continue to enjoy stellar Fall fishing action in the beautiful waters of South Florida. We’re fishing every single day and we’re pulling up to the dock with stuffed fish boxes and sore arms.

As always, we’d like to thank everyone who fished with us during September and those who intend to fish with us in October. Without you, we’re stuck at the dock. We greatly appreciate your business and hope that you’ll come back to see us soon, especially our junior anglers who are picking out Halloween costumes that will be sure to drive their parents crazy.

The early fall weather has brought a bit of wind and some occasional sporty seas but the weather has also energized the baitfish and the fish that follow. Our morning and evening trips have been producing well for all of our clients and the heat and humidity has made things a bit more comfortable out on the water as an added bonus.

Offshore Report: Mahi, Mahi and More Mahi Mahi:

The Mahi Mahi have been EVERYWHERE in recent weeks! We can’t get away from them! Our clients caught gaffer-sized Mahi (10 – 20 pounds) as well as smaller Mahi under the steady stream of weed patches that continue to be blown in from the Bahamas and from the Eastern Atlantic. We’ve been catching our Mahi Mahi between 300 and 500 feet of water on rigged ballyhoo and bonito strips with blue/white skirt combinations. We’ve also caught many on live baits tossed at the weed patches or underneath frigate birds.

 

The Blackfin Tunas and Bonitos can still be found up on the reefs in the 5 to 10-pound range inside of 200 feet of water trolling Sea Witches and Bonito Strips at 5 – 6 knots. The Tunas and Bonitos are keeping drags screaming and clients smiling.

Kingfish in the 10 to 15-pound range are still biting between 80 and 120 feet of water, with bonito strips, lures and feathers trolled below the surface on planers producing the most fish. “Kings” have also attacked our live baits on the drift as we target Sailfish in 120 feet of water.

Sailfish are Here:

The Sailfish bite continues to improve as the Fall weather patterns take shape. We continue to catch Sailfish trolling the color changes between 100 feet and 300 feet of water. The Sailfish have been attacking Sea Witches (in blue/white and pink/white color combinations) trolled on the surface at 7 – 9 knots but the bite is switching over to live baits. Sailfish are starting to prefer live slow-trolled ballyhoos or goggle eyes dangling from a kite inside of 150 feet of water. The Sailfish bite will only get better as we make our way to Winter.

Shark Fishing Stays Solid:

The shark fishing continues to be Fantastic! We continue to average between 1 and 2 sharks – or more -each trip. During the last few weeks, we’ve seen a flurry of Silky Sharks and Blacktips as they chase the migrating baitfish that head down just off of our beaches every Fall. There have also been some huge Hammerheads coming up to empty a spool every once in awhile. All of the sharks were caught either on Bonito or Kingfish dropped down in 300 feet of water.

As Halloween approaches, the Fall bait migrations should be in full swing on the beaches and on the reefs, which should lead to ever-better fishing. Ask about our Fall Tarpon Charters to catch one of these prehistoric acrobats as they follow schools of bait down the beach.

For those of you planning to visit Fort Lauderdale for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show at the end of October, now is the perfect time to book a trip with Fantastic Sportfishing to reserve your crew.

Tight Lines,
Captain Steve

Posted in Uncategorized

Schools Are In Session

Posted on by Captain Steve

Fort Lauderdale Fishing

Now that Labor Day is in our rear view mirror and everyone has settled into a new school year, the offshore action is not taking recess. Here at Fantastic Sportfishing, we continue to enjoy great late Summer/early Fall fishing action in the beautiful waters of South Florida. We continue to fish every day and continue to return with great catches.

As always, we’d like to thank everyone who fished with us during August and early September. Without you, we’re stuck at the dock. We greatly appreciate your business and hope that you’ll come back to see us soon, especially our junior anglers who are now hitting the books in earnest.

The late summer/early fall weather continues to deliver calm seas with occasional afternoon showers that consistently ignite the evening bite. Our early morning trips have been producing well for anglers who don’t want to get through the rain showers to find the fish.

Offshore Report: Mahi, Tunas and Fishing Live Bonitios:

The Mahi Mahi are back in schools just like kids all over the country. The Mahi Mahi schools have exploded over the past few weeks with our clients catching gaffer-sized Mahi (10 – 20 pounds) under the weed patches that continue to be blown in from the Bahamas and from a few tropical storm systems that have been churning out well east of us in the wide-open Atlantic. The  Mahi were caught on rigged ballyhoo, bonito strips and live baits tossed at the weed patches.

We continue to find Blackfin Tunas up on the reefs in the 10 to 12-pound range inside of 130 feet of water trolling Sea Witches and Bonito Strips at 5 – 6 knots. Bonitos are also mixed in with the Tunas and demand attention like a needy pet. They have been walloping our tuna baits and screaming drag for our clients.

What’s nice about the Bonitos is that we can keep the smaller ones to use as live bait for sharks and other species. What sets Fantastic Sportfishing apart from nearly every other charter boat in South Florida is that we use tuna tubes to keep the Bonitos alive to use as live baits. Bonitios do not live very long in a boat’s livewell because Bonitios need to be moving quickly through the water to stay healthy. Tuna Tubes simulate this speed of water across a Bonito’s gills to keep them frisky until we need to hook them up. It’s something that our clients love to see because these are big baits and we’re “swinging for the fences.”

 

Kingfish in the 10 to 15-pound range are still around between 80 and 120 feet of water, with bonito strips, lures and feathers trolled below the surface on planers producing the most fish. “Kings” have also attacked our live baits on the drift as we target Sailfish in 120 feet of water.

Sailfish are Coming

The Sailfish bite continues to be good even though the Fall weather has not yet arrived. We continue to catch Sailfish trolling the color changes between 100 feet and 300 feet of water. The Sailfish have been responding well to Sea Witches (in blue/white and pink/white color combinations) trolled on the surface at 7 – 9 knots. They have also been eating live slow-trolled ballyhoos inside of 150 feet of water as the schools of Ballyhoo start to make their way south for the Fall.

Strong Shark Fishing:

The shark fishing continues to be outstanding. Throughout August and early September, we continue to average between 1 and 2 sharks – or more -each trip. The Sharks are lurking around the schools of Tuna and Bonitios (sharks like to eat sushi too) and we’re able to get a live Bonito back into the water to get the bite. We continue to catch large Hammerheads, Blacktips, Reef Sharks and even the occasional Thresher Shark. All the sharks were caught either on Bonito or Kingfish dropped down in 300 feet of water. Check out this huge Thresher Shark!

Take a look at this huge Amberjack that our client caught when we dropped a live Bonito down onto a wreck to hook a Shark. You never know what is down there looking for a lively meal!

As we make our way through September and into the holiday season, we should start to see more bait show up on the beaches and on the reefs, which should lead to ever-better fishing.  For those of you planning to visit Fort Lauderdale for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show at the end of October, now is the perfect time to book a trip with Fantastic Sportfishing to reserve your crew.

Tight Lines,
Captain Steve

Posted in Kids Fishing, Sport

The Summer Fishing Forecast: Hot!

Posted on by Captain Steve

sw air

We’re almost to Labor Day but the fishing off Broward County has not taken a vacation. Here at Fantastic Sportfishing, we continue to keep the rods bent and the clients smiling. We’ve been fishing every day with full boats and crews to keep tabs on the hot areas and where the baits are holding up.

Firstly, thank you to all of you who fished aboard Fantastic Sportfishing during July and the first few weeks of August. We love what we do, and we love helping you catch the fish that make this area one of the renowned angling destinations in the world. We greatly appreciate your business and hope that you’ll come back to see us soon, especially our junior anglers who spent part of their summer break offshore with us.

The late summer weather has settled in with calm seas and afternoon showers that have been turning on the evening bite. Our early morning trips have been producing well for anglers who wish to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Offshore Report: Mahi, Kings and Tunas:

Even though the Mahi Mahi have become a bit scarcer, we’re still finding some gaffer-sized Mahi under the weed patches that continue to be blown in from the Bahamas and the wide-open Atlantic. Most Mahi were caught on rigged ballyhoo and bonito strips.

We continue to find tasty Blackfin Tunas in the 10 to 15-pound range inside of 130 feet of water trolling Sea Witches and Bonito Strips at 5 – 6 knots. Bonitos are also mixed in with the Tunas to pull drag for our clients.

tuna topia

Kingfish in the 10 to 20-pound range have been between 60 and 120 feet of water and have been particularly aggressive on the bonito strips, lures and feathers trolled below the surface on planers. “Kings” have also attacked our live baits on the drift. We also catch large Barracuda when trolling for Sailfish near the 100-foot depth.

Kingfish

Let’s Go Sailing:

The Sailfish bite has been a nice surprise. Normally Fall and Winter species, we continue to catch Sailfish trolling the color changes between 100 feet and 300 feet of water. The Sailfish have been responding well to Sea Witches (in blue/white and pink/white color combinations) trolled on the surface at 7 – 9 knots. There is nothing like watching the acrobatic show that these fish put on for everyone aboard.

3 hour sail

Shark Fishing:

The shark fishing continues to be steady. Throughout July and early August, we’ve been fishing for them and each trip has caught at least one shark, with most trips catching several. We’ve caught Hammerheads, Tigers, Blacktips and even the occasional Thresher Shark. All the sharks were caught either on Bonito or Kingfish dropped down in 300 feet of water. There is nothing quite like the slugfest you experience with one of these huge specimens. Both angler and tackle get a workout!

As we make our way into September, we should start to see more bait show up on the beaches and on the reefs, which should lead to ever-better fishing as we the fall months approach.  Since kids will be going back to school in a few weeks, now is the perfect time to finish the summer break on a high note – book a trip with Fantastic Sportfishing now. Before you hit the books, finish up your “Offshore Studies.” We’ll be happy to be your tutors.

Tight Lines,
Captain Steve

Posted in Fishing Techniques and Tips, Kids Fishing, Sport

Bite the Bullet

Posted on by Captain Steve

Bonito For Live Bait

When you want to “swing for the fences,” the best way to raise a big pelagic species in the Southeast Florida area is to slow-troll a False Albacore or small Blackfin Tuna. Species such as Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin Tuna – even larger Sailfish – cannot resist a nice, juicy “bullet” trolled right in front of them. Here at Fantastic Fishing, we love nothing more than to troll a few “bullets” to put you on the trophy fish of a lifetime.

A “Bullet” is the nickname often used to describe a False Albacore (also called Little Tunny – in Southeast Florida, many anglers and crews refer to them as “bonito”) or a Blackfin Tuna, typically weighing in at between 2 to 6 lbs. False Albacore/Little Tunny are members of the Tuna family while the Atlantic Bonito is actually a member of the Mackerel family.

During the Spring and Summer months, False Albacore/Little Tunny and Blackfins can be found mixed together in large schools up and down the coast in depths from 50 feet out to 400 feet. Wherever you find them, you’ll find predators “nibbling around the edges” of the school. So, let’s match the hatch and give the predators what they want.

The first step is the catch the bullets. Small trolling feathers or spoons – or a mix – will work. Use 20 lb. – 30 lb. trolling outfits to catch the bullets. We prefer tolling between 4.5 and 6 knots. You don’t want to spend time fighting the bullets – you need to get them to the boat quickly yet gently. The sooner to the boat, the fresher the bullet. Ideally, you want to catch multiple bullets at a time so that you can start trolling more than one bullet.

The following videos shows our crew catching and rigging up live bonito:

 

Here’s the challenge for you and your crew: Unless you have “tuna tubes” installed in your boat to keep the bullets alive, you need to bring the bullets aboard, rig them and get them back into the water so that you can being trolling them – and be quick about it!

You need to have your live bullet rods staged and ready to go. Typically, we’ll use either 50s or 80s with 2-speed features on stand-up rods to troll live bullets. Make sure that the terminal tackle includes a Bimini twist connected to a wind-on leader of at least 200 lb. test, connected to a heavy-duty ball bearing snap swivel. We prefer our leaders to be at least 150 lb. test mono connected to a trace of Number 9 wire (105 lb. test) or greater. The type of species you’re targeting will dictate whether you go lighter or heavier with your wire leader to reduce visibility. If you’re targeting yellowfin tunas, you may not want to use wire at all. If there are sharks around, you want to step up to a heavier wire.

As for hooks, we prefer to use 10/0 J hooks. Why not circle hooks? If you’re targeting Wahoo, you don’t have the luxury of the fish swallowing your bait and then letting the circle hook dig in on its way out of the fish’s mouth. You need the hook to grab and grab quickly. If you’re only targeting tunas or billfish, you can get away with circle hooks.

Once you bring the bullet aboard, cover it in a damp towel so that you can manage the bait without harming it too much. Again, you need to be quick about it. You can either run the hook from your 50 through the bullet’s nostrils, up vertically through the upper lip of the bullet or you can bridle the hook to the top of the bullet’s head by running a rigging needle through the eye sockets. Once done, get the bullet back into the water with the boat slightly in gear.

At this point, you hopefully have 2 fresh bullets swimming behind the boat and you’re making less than 2 knots of forward speed. Slowly drop both bullets back and be sure to stagger them: One bullet short and one bullet long. The trick here is to troll the bullets with enough speed to keep them swimming and to make your way to deeper water but also not so much speed that you kill the bullets and cause them to spin/. You will likely need to do “in and outs” with the throttle to avoid drowning the bullets. A dead bullet does you no good – you will be firing “blanks.”

The next step is to make your way out of shallower water to deeper water to find the Wahoo, Tuna or billfish. You want to do this as quickly as possible – all while not killing the bullets – so as to minimize the possibility of having a bullet bitten in half by a Barracuda or Kingfish. This is typically a depth of 250 – 500 feet. Slow troll your bullets until a) you get a shot or b) your bullets die. Once you catch a fish or your baits die, you get to head back to shallower water to start the process all over again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

You will be amazed at the size of the species that will attack the bullets and the ferocity of the bites. Most strikes are top-water bites that will make you weak in the knees. When you’re “swinging for the fences,” don’t be surprised when you hit a Grand Slam.

Call us to book your Fantastic Fishing Trip today!

Posted in Fishing Techniques and Tips, Sport

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