Archive for the "Fishing Techniques and Tips" Category

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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Daytime Swordfish Fishing

Posted on by Captain Steve

Fort Lauderdale Fishing

Our most recent daytime Swordfish fishing trip was a HUGE success! The word from the Swordfish grounds had been great for the last week or so. And it just so happened we have a trip booked just for that!

Daytiming for Swordfish is highly specialized fishing. You’ll be between 1500 and 2000’ of water with a bait on or near the bottom. We use an electric reel for this. The main reason is… No one wants to wind up all that line and weight if you don’t get a bite and have to reset.

Our guests are local and it turns out the money they paid for their trip with was some lucky money won at the local Casino, compliments of the Indians. So we loaded up early and were off to the grounds.

Our boat make this trip in about 90 minutes from the dock. We did see a few things that looked promising on the way out but nothing panned out and our first drop got us a near instabite! The rod bent, the drag stalled and we were on!

This fish was a small one but still legal and it seemed like the bite was still good as we boated the fish without the use of a gaff. 50” lower jaw fork length and into the box he goes! A quick run in the boat to get back to our previous position and the second drop of the day was on its way down.

This time it took a bit longer to get a bite. We are tight again. This time it took 40 minutes before seeing this fish. He jumped about 150 yards from the boat and then again maybe 200’ from the boat.

This fish was bigger with a 57”LJF and we used the dart and then the gaff to boat him. It’s only 11:30 and we have 2 in the box!

Fort Lauderdale Fishing

All good things must come to an end. We again positioned ourselves in front of the fish and did get 2 more bites. But both came off around 800’ out. This was the story on the radio as well, bites but not staying hooked. None the less, our group was extremely happy with their bounty.

Daytime Swordfish fishing isn’t exciting when you’re doing it, not till you get that bite… Wait, that’s ALL fishing. LOL It’s the excitement of that coming bite that keeps us coming back.

Captain Steve

Posted in Fishing Techniques and Tips, Sport

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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

Posted in Fishing Techniques and Tips

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