Fort Lauderdale Fishing Is Great

Posted on by Captain Steve

Kingfish

Fishing in the Fort Lauderdale area doesn’t always provide us with a great catch. But today it was GREAT!

I’d like to introduce you to Sebastian. He and his family came out with us this morning for a 4 hour trip. Sebastian, as many of our guests, had never really done any kind of fishing, certainly not this kind. And one great thing about newcomers is they have no bad habits to break.

Sitting in the big chair, he was handed the first bite, a small Bonito. It had bitten a top bait and he was taught how to work the rod and reel, he picked it up quickly. You don’t wind when you lift the rod and you don’t jerk the rod up either. He listened to Adam’s instructions and did a super job with his first fish.

Kingfish

Next came a deep bite on one of the planer rods and dad was up. Another Bonito and those planer rods are not worked as the top bait rods. It’s important not to lift and then wind for a moment of not winding or too quick a drop can reset the planer and now you’re fighting that rather than the fish.

A double hit had both his sister and Sebastian reeling and things were going along so well. In just a little over an hour we had caught everyone a few fish including some nice Kingfish. One was too small and had to be released but the others were kept.

Being in the right place at the right time for fishing is pure luck and while dad was reeling in another fish, the high line went off and I mean OFF! Line was screaming off the reel, Adam was busy with dad’s fish, sis had just caught something and mom wasn’t feeling too hot. By the time I got the high line down to Adam, over half the spool of line was off the reel. And Sebastian was smiling…

We had no idea what had hit. A Sailfish? Maybe… Some big Tuna had also been around… No jumping going on so probably not a Sail. We were finally able to stop the fish and Sebastian began retrieving some of the lost line as best he could. And we ALL were excited to see what we had on. This fish was angry and kept peeling line off for short bursts but Sebastian kept grinding away until finally, after about 25 minutes, we got a glimpse of the fish. Long, slender and silvery in color as he flashed below the boat… It was a big Kingfish, certainly the biggest I have seen in a while. Some dancing around below us trying to evade Adam’s gaff and this is usually when you lose the big ones, becoming anxious for it to be done. But not Sebastian, he stayed steady and cool, probably because he was exhausted.

We don’t mess with big Kings on the boat, their teeth are small but extremely sharp and it’s best they go straight into the box. This picture taken at the dock tells the end of this story. This tough little angler had a hard time holding the fish up and let it rest on the ground for the picture. You can see the rest of the catch lying behind him.

When you are this big and you catch a fish that big? Fort Lauderdale fishing is great!

Captain Steve

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Fishing with Kites

Posted on by Captain Steve

Kite Fishing

We talk about kite fishing in our fishing reports and to our guests at certain times a year. Many first timers have never seen it done and have no idea why it is so productive with certain species of fish so I thought I’d take a moment to explain the art of kite fishing.

To begin we have to look at nature and how animals eat. Most land based animals chase their prey down. Speed and agility are what allow them to catch prey and, of course, prey has the ability to escape. Some burrow in tunnels, some have tremendous speed and others might have armor or the ability to bite back, always a deterrent. Those that can escape by flying up or beneath the surface of the land have the best shot at living another day.

When fish are looking for food, they see up toward the surface. Bait fish are silhouetted by the light of day and are easily seen from below. Most fish chase the bait fish to the surface where escape must be done with moves right, left or speed straight ahead. By chasing a school of bait fish, the weak fall behind and are singled out, just as predators do on land with herds of animals.

So, now that we have shown that fish prefer to eat up near the surface of the water, here is where fishing with kites comes into play. We’ll just go ahead and create the perfect eating position for a fish by dangling a bait fish on the surface. Here it is… come and get it!

We happen to use two kites at a time usually, allowing us to present more baits for more opportunities. The kite is launched from the flybridge on its own rod and reel.  Clips similar to our outrigger clips are placed on the kite line in various ways and spaces and the kite is sent out away from the boat with a fishing line and bait that is also taken away from the boat. These clips are spring loaded and the tension is set so that when a fish eats the bait, the clip releases and the kite stays in the air. The fishing line also has the ability to slide through the clip so we can feed the fish without any kind of tension or pressure being felt by the fish.

Sailfish Caught On The Kite

Since our kites are essentially sky hooks and we’re dangling our baits on the surface, virtually no tackle is in the water for the fish to see. The bait fish is aware he is in a bad, unprotected place and constantly tries to swim deeper into the water where he has a chance to escape. That struggle sends out vibrations that predators feel, just like we hear, and they are attracted to investigate.

One of the great things about kite fishing is you usually get to see the bite when a fish comes along. Sailfish are usually quite obvious as they appear from the side or below the bait. Mahi-mahi are also quite easily seen streaking across the surface toward the bait. Fish like Tuna, Kingfish and a few others feed by accelerating toward the surface from beneath and are rarely seen before they make a splash at the bait’s position.

Bill's Sail

Depending on the type of fish eating, the line is either paid out to allow time for the fish to eat, or in some cases, the line is made tight to set the hook quickly. The boat is put in gear to help get some of the slack out, it does go all the way up to the kite line and back to the surface, and with luck, the hook is set, the clip releases the line and the angler is now tight with his fish.

Since fish like Sailfish and Mahi-mahi usually travel in groups, leaving the rest of the spread out can mean more hook ups. And of course, pitching baits from the boat aids this as well.

Sail Jump

While kite fishing is mainly done for catching Sailfish, almost any fish can be caught by this method. Live bait is best but dead bait can also be used. Sailfish have a very high rate of success fishing this way, around 80% or better. Other species, like Kingfish, have a lower rate of success, somewhere around 50%. It’s usually the smaller fish that escape.

While fishing with kites does have its advantages, there are disadvantages as well, but only a few with the main one being mobility. You are somewhat limited to where you can go with the baits up in the kites. Short of reeling everything in and re-setting, mobility is dependent on wind and current. So instead of finding the fish, you attract them to you. Other things we do aid this but… we can’t give all our secrets.

So now you have an idea of what the fishing kites do and how they work. In the winter months, our best time of year for fishing for Sailfish, you may be asked if you want to buy live bait. At least now you’ll know how they are used.

One thing about fishing is… It never works out well for the bait.

Captain Steve

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Sandbar Shark Makes Fishing Day

Posted on by Captain Steve

Sandbar fishing

SandbarIt is not always that people that fish with us here in Fort Lauderdale want to catch something big. Many times they just want fish and the focus is not on something large. But when Tom and Brian showed up at the dock early today, their goal was hoping to catch a shark… A BIG shark! And with a 6 hour trip ahead of us, we felt we had time to a little regular fishing as well as target something big.

 

With light winds and only a slight chop on the seas, we ventured out to find some green water as far as the eye could see. Not a bad color water for Tuna, Kingfish or shark, but not great for Dolphin. We spent our first few hours trolling and caught some Kings and small Bonitos on the reef area fairly close to shore. With a limit of only 2 per person, our Kingfish limit was reached and we ventured out to where the big ones are.

 

This is where patience is important… You usually have to wait for your bite and after deploying our baits? We waited and waited… And waited… The light current today was not helping our quest. The current carries the scent and predators down current pick this up and follow it to our baits. And after over 2 hours of this, we were running out of time.

 

I have to commend both Tom and Brian. They were quite content with what we had already caught and were willing to tough it out. Go big or go home. Their perseverance paid off.

 

Our bottom rod took a big bounce, relaxed and then doubled over as line peeled off. It takes a mere second to go from waiting to action and now we had other baits to clear before the fight began. With Brian in the big chair, he began following first mate Adam’s instructions as I kept the boat over the fish. At times, we couldn’t budge this stubborn fish that had yet to be identified, other times we were able to retrieve some line, only to lose it again as the fish kept peeling line on his runs.

 

It took Brian about 30 minutes to get the fish close enough to the boat for our first sighting which didn’t last long, the fish took off and was deep again. We knew it was a shark, just not sure what kind. Another 10 minutes and he was back at the boat and finally under our control  to be boated, measured, tagged and released… Sandbar Sharks are protected.

 

I cannot tell you what a great feeling it is to see a customer so excited about his catch. The picture tells the story as Adam holds the shark’s mouth open and Brian in the back. We opened the transom door and the fish literally swam out the back of the boat and into the water. He wasted no time in leaving our area

 

Thanks To and Brian for your attitude in what we do. You make our job easy.

 

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Kids Fishing Report

Posted on by Captain Steve

Kids go fishing!

For this fishing report for the Fort Lauderdale area, I’d like to talk a bit about size and kids. I am always asked “what’s the biggest fish I’ve caught”? Truth be told, I hope I haven’t caught my biggest yet and many of my customers have caught larger fish than I have. After all, how would people feel if I were catching their fish?

June 1 report

A recent trip with these 2 young boys had me reflecting on this very question. One great thing about kids is that they get excited no matter what size the fish is. They needed help in reeling the fish in, even complaining they couldn’t do it anymore to which Robert and Sean prompted them on. A hand was added to the handle to help land the fish they caught. They felt pride and excitement even though they needed help at their new BIGGEST fish! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what keeps me coming back to work each day.

So… what’s YOUR biggest fish? It doesn’t really matter if you’re young or old. Size is relative to your size and what you’ve caught in the past. Maybe that’s why kids are so easy to please.

As for what we’ve been catching? Small Blackfin Tuna with some really nice, big ones have been biting. Kingfish on the reef with Bonitos mixed in and each day we hope for Dolphin, but they have been coming and going with no regular schedule. Fishing for sharks has slowed but if you reel your fish in too slowly, you stand a chance to lose it to a shark so they are still around.

The main thing is we’re catching fish and having fun doing it. And that’s all for now for the Fort Lauderdale area and this fishing report.

Captain Steve

 

 

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Shark Sailfish Dolphin Fishing Report

Posted on by Captain Steve

Fishing Charters

With April almost upon us we look forward to spring fishing here off Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Florida. But our winter has been pretty good compared to the last 3 years with a mix of some Shark, Sailfish and Dolphin activity.

While the winter time is our most productive time of year for Sailfish, this year was better than recent years. Not in the numbers we like to see and certainly not consistent but we’ve had a good showing, especially recently. At this point in time, we’ll be seeing these fish moving both directions in their migration patterns as opposed to south in the winter. Believe me, there’s nothing more exciting that getting one of these on your line, even for guys like me who have been doing this for years!

I chose this picture of the Sailfish because it shows the entire fish. This particular fish was 87”. If you look closely, you’ll see a clear tube which feeds the fish we boat seawater to help them survive as we measure and tag them before their release. Preserving our fishery is very important to us and we do this with most boated game and sport fish.

April also brings some Shark activity. To this point we have had some good results when trying for something big but that’s going to improve, it always does, Thresher, Hammerhead, Bull, Sandbar, Tiger and Dusky Sharks just to name a few. It is this time of year that landing any other fish becomes difficult because of the predators eating your catch before you can land it. Reel quickly or you might end up with just the head of a fish on your line…

Dolphin are generally caught in the late spring and early summer but this year we’ve had good to excellent results through the winter. A trip just the other day produced a nice catch of some schoolie Dolphin and a few big ones to round out the field. Usually when a catch like this happens, it all happens at once but this day offered bite after bite with the fish hitting in pairs. Most the fish were in the 6 to 8 lbs. range with a few in the low teens to round things out. We had to almost force them to take a few to a local restaurant to be prepared but the rest? Well, my wife has a killer recipe for Dolphin… 

The weather is warming, the fish are on the move and things are heating up toward some excellent fishing. Sharks, Sailfish and Dolphin are just the tip of the iceberg but certainly part of the main group. It gets easy writing fishing reports this time of year…

Captain Steve

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Swordfish Trip Lands Thresher Shark

Posted on by Captain Steve

Fishing Charters

No matter how well you plan a fishing trip it doesn’t always work out the way you might think. While most trips aren’t set for a specific fish, our Swordfish fishing trips kind of are. Swordfish are the target as to the distance we have to travel to get to the grounds. But there are plenty of other fish along the way.

Our nighttime trips are pretty much just Swordfish as we travel out as the sun sets. But the daytime trips can offer Dolphin, Wahoo, Tuna and Marlin on the way to the grounds. It is also nice to be able to see the fish you’re catching whether you are bringing him up from depth or having him strike from the surface. Daneane got to see her fish coming in, a Dolphin weighing about 8 lbs.

Once we reached the Swordfish grounds, our first drop got no attention. Fishing in such deep water on the bottom poses all kinds of problems and it takes touch to know your bait is in the right position. Our electric reel tells us how much line is out and that first drop had over 2500’. We gave it 45 minutes, retrieved it and reset a little deeper.

The second drop was down about 30 minutes when a bump was felt. With all that line out, that’s about all you see too, just a bump. Was he there? Had he eaten? Sean began bringing the bait up and it slowed a few times, even took a little drag out. I think we’ve got one!!!

You may think pushing a button is easy to reel a fish in but the only thing different about it is you’re not winding the reel, a motor is. You still have to fight the fish. When he pulls, you have to ease off and when he’s coming at you, you have to be on him, ready to change in a flash. And then our fish did his run…

The counter was now at almost 5,000’ of line out and we were dealing with about 3 knots of current. This fish was also pulling much harder than most swordfish which meant either he was a huge one, foul hooked or maybe something else. We would find out just over an hour later.

The weight was up and off now and we still had over 150’ of line out, all leader now. Slowly the line kept retrieving and finally some color was seen. It took another few minutes before we could identify our Thresher shark and realize he was foul hooked in the dorsal fin.

ThresherThreshers have an unusually long tail that they use to strike their prey. A swift flick can stun almost any fish and they can use it with a high degree of accuracy. It’s not uncommon to bring these fish in backwards by the tail but with this fish hooked in the top of the dorsal, we were bringing him up sideways from over 1800’ of water. He measured out at 128”. In the picture, that’s Sean holding the tail…

There are 2 kinds of Thresher sharks, the Big Eye and Small Eye. Big Eye Threshers are protected by law and this fish was released, the hook still in him and will bare him no harm. After all, piercings are in these days to some…

So while we did not catch a Sword this trip, there were no unhappy faces aboard as we watched this fish swim lazily away and down. And a fine dinner was provided by the Dolphin in the box.

Captain Steve

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Christmas Fishing Report

Posted on by Captain Steve

Fishing Charters

With Christmas almost upon us and our busiest week of the year after that, I thought I’d fill you in on what’s been happening with our fishing recently.

With some rather gusty winds and sporty seas, fishing has been pretty good. Sailfish and Mahi-mahi have been the most prevalent fish around lately, some being caught on the troll but most being caught with live bait. Fishing with kites has been the most productive in water from 80’ out to over 300’. And multiple hook ups are not uncommon.

The Mahi’s have been mostly schoolie size, 5 to 12 lbs. with a few bigger ones as well and the Sailfish have ranged from small to huge, no telling what will bite. But that’s part of the game.

Scattered Kingfish on the reef are with a few nice ones being taken by live bait as well as some small Tuna and Bonitos. Bottom fishing has been tough as of late because of the windy conditions.

I always include a picture with my reports and today is no different. While not a monster to most, this young man caught the largest fish of his short fishing career, a 15 lbs. Wahoo that’s almost as long as he is tall. And it is that beaming smile upon his face and the pride of his father that has me choosing this picture. For almost 40 years I’ve been guiding folks to memorable trips at sea for fishing and it is these pictures that are most dear.

So in what will be my final report of this year, we at Fanntastic Fishing wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May we ALL prosper and catch LOTS of fish!

Tight Lines,
Captain Steve Souther

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Hollywood Fishing Is Fantastic

Posted on by Captain Steve

Peter Fishing Trip

Today was a GREAT day for our first fishing trip since returning from the Bahamas. Our 6 week trip standing by the Emerald Express at Crooked Island did not offer us much chance to fish. But with Peter and Jamie coming from Fort Meyers for their all day fishing trip, we began the day early and the action never quit.

With high winds and heavy seas we pushed out the inlet and began trolling by the sea buoy at Port Everglades. Our first pass netted us a strike as Sean was putting out the shock cord for one of the deep lines. This shock cord connects to the planer except… It wasn’t connected yet. LOL Peter had to hand line in the first fish, a nice sized Mahi-mahi. Well, not a bad start.

As we pressed on another fish, then a second hit, now both anglers were hooked up again with Dolphin. We trolled for about another 3 hours, never seeming to go more than 10 or 15 minutes without some kind of bite, the fish coming in 1 or 2 at a time, as we moved north against the current and wind. Grey skies finally began to let some light through and we opted to try some live bait and flying the kites.

After splashing 1 kite in the water while trying to launch, we finally had a few baits up on one and a small shark came by. Not what we were hoping for but fun none the less. These sharks are only about 2’ long and there are tons of them around right now. But a Sailfish or Big Dolphin was what we wanted and we reset the bait.

A few more Dolphin were caught, another shark or two as well. And as a rain storm approached and we had to bring the kite in, the boys said they were done. The box full of fish was plenty and no one was looking forward to getting wet. So with a little over an hour left to fish, we came home early, missed the storm and spent the next hour or so cleaning fish for the guys.

All in all we caught15 Mahi-mahi from a few barely legal to the biggest at 18 lbs., few Kingfish, a small Tuna, a couple of sharks and a few Bonito. It wasn’t an easy day, but it was rewarding. The guys were headed to the restaurant next door for a fresh fish dinner before heading back home. I had fresh fish that night too…

It truly was a great way to return to our dock from that long trip. Yes sir, fantastic fishing off Hollywood!

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Dolphin Fishing

Posted on by Captain Steve

Mahi Mahi Fish

Dolphin fishing off Fort Lauderdale hasn’t been great the last few years but this year but this year has been different. Summertime fishing used to be mostly fishing for Dolphin out in the deep, it was their time. These last few years saw the Dolphin coming much later in September, October and even later toward winter.

But this year we’ve had some good luck anywhere from 4 to 15 miles from shore as it was on out trip the other day.
Gerard, from Chicago, brought his group of three boys out for an all day trip. As we began at the reef trolling in hopes of a few Kings or Bonitos, Gerard made it clear he’s much rather be out in the deep looking for some Mahi-mahi. We had all day and some reports were finding some weed so why not? And off we went. While the big line was about 14 off, we started finding some nice patches around 8 miles off the beach. Our first big patch had us slow down and put the gear out and a bite came right away! But getting the boys up was a struggle, apparently they had been up late and we ended up missing that fish. Fear not, more were to come. Another pass got us a nice sized Blackfin Tuna and then 6 or so small Dolphin but only one keeper. Still the action was welcome.

We continued on searching patch after patch. It seemed we never went more than 15 or 20 minutes without getting a hit. Some were so small, they had to be tossed back but our fish box was getting fuller with each new patch of weed. A small Wahoo was also caught from under a crate we found.

While we still had some time, the boys had had it and we headed in a little early. We ended up with 8 or so keepers out of 25 or 30, the biggest being about12 pounds or so, the small Wahoo, the nice sized Tuna and a few Bonitos we’d caught before coming out. I’d thought Gerard was ready to cook up a feast but he said he just wanted to catch them and Darin and I reaped the reward. Had the Mahi last night for dinner by the way, it was excellent! Tuna tonight!

We’ve had a few trips like this lately. Because of the distance from shore, a 6 hour trip is the minimum and all days are better. But once you find the fish? The Dolphin fishing is great action! And so good to eat…

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Fishing Report

Posted on by Captain Steve

Rosies fishing trip

It has been a few weeks since I’ve written a fishing report for the area off of Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, Florida. And in this time, we’ve seen some great fishing and some not so great fishing. But that’s fishing! LOL

With generally calm seas and light winds this area has been saturated with seaweed. Sargassum is a branchy type seaweed and is home to all kinds of small creatures like brine shrimp and other small species that provide food to bait fish which… attracts larger fish like Dolphin. While the weed has been so thick it is almost impossible to fish through, it has offered us some of the best Dolphin fishing we’ve had all year.

Many of the fish have been small and were thrown back but small legal sized schoolies as well as some larger fish in the 20-30 pound range have been taken. It sure is nice to come in with some of these to clean for the table, both our guests and our own tables.

While the reef area in close to shore has been slow a few Kingfish and Bonitos are being caught. But the Bonitos should be here in force and they are not. A valuable bait source for the charter boats, we need these fish to make our strip baits. We look forward to their return soon and you’ll enjoy the fight they give, at least for a while.

Our bigger game fish have been hit or miss. We’ve had some success with Sharks and a few Sailfish have been being caught late in the day, not unusual for this time of year. And while our most recent Swordfish trip did not net us a Swordfish, the boys had a blast filling the box with the Dolphin we found on our way to the grounds. Can’t wait to try again!

Bottom fishing has been very good. Large Yellowtail and Mutton Snapper have been in the reef area close to shore while the deeper wrecks are producing some good fishing with Amberjack, Grouper and even a Cobia or two. But a recent group of guys were so worn out from catching the Dolphin the day before they requested some bottom fishing. Deep drops for Blackbellied Rosefish were our target in very deep water that require use of the electric rod and reel. Bringing fish up 900’ by hand is excruciating and once we got on them? You can see in the picture they were biting as we were bringing them up 4 and 5 at a time. While the Dolphin will provide many meals from the day before, these Rosies will be a special treat!

We’ve been busy getting our NEW Buddy Cannady 47’ Sport Fish boat ready for service. Just another week or two and we’ll be in service. And then maybe I can be more prompt on my fishing reports for the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood area.

Captain Steve

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