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Fishing With Large Groups

Posted on by Captain Steve

Fishing with a large group like Corporate outings, bachelor parties and family outings, just to name a few, any group over 6 is a large group. You have two options, either charter enough 6 passenger boats for your group or put your entire group on one boat. We can do either and today’s group opted for 6 boats to accommodate everyone.

Today’s forecast was for 50% rain… It drizzled for about 5 minutes. But it didn’t dampen the groups spirit or their fishing.

You see, fish kind of like overcast skies. They can swim up near and on the surface of the water without casting a shadow. Today was no different, all the boats did well in the reef area with Kingfish, Bonito and Tuna. Bonito and Tuna are in the same family and occasionally school together.

Along with the bounty of fish providing plenty of action, a Sailfish decided to join the fray on our boat. Having a line come down, screaming line off and then seeing this large fish jumping behind the boat still thrills me, even after all these years.

A 20-minute battle is the norm and boating the fish has to be done carefully. We prefer to release these fish so we take care in handling them. A hose with running saltwater on board helps them breath as we take measurements and pictures. And, of course, that last picture before the fish is placed back in the water for release.

Sometimes we must coach them along, holding beside the boat helping them rest while they breath in the water for oxygen. Others you can barely get them back in the water before they bolt. It is an awesome feeling watching your fish swim away, if he gives you the chance.

Whether you want everyone on the same boat or multiple boats to cover your group, fishing with large groups is best back at the dock. Bragging rights and all.

Capt. Steve

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Barracuda

Posted on by Captain Steve

Barracuda

In my last fishing report I mentioned reeling fast to land the fish, the ENTIRE fish. One reason is the Greater Barracuda as seen here in this picture.

Barracuda are fairly prominent in our area, although recently laws have been passed to limit the size and number that can be taken. They like rock piles, reef areas and wrecks for their habitat. It offers them protection from larger predators as well as providing a great place to catch smaller fish that find the same attributes of protection of structures.

Barracudas are known for their speed and agility to chase down fish. They prefer fish that have been injured or struggling… say on the end of a fishing line?

A heart-breaking story from a few years ago… We were fishing for bait at the sea buoy on very light tackle. One customer hooked a large Blackfin Tuna on the 8 lbs. test line and a battle began. He fought this fish for over 30 minutes. We were getting close… The Tuna was doing his spin, they swim sideways when tired, in small circles. We could see the fish down 30’, then 20’ and then…

Mr. Barracuda comes along and bites off his tail! Now, without the fish able to swim, he is just dead weight at the end of the line. Our angler can barely gain line but is doing a great job with what he has. Another strike has the Cuda eat the mid-section… Still a good chunk of meat there but getting smaller.

It was that last bite, the one right behind the head that broke our hearts. We boated the head that remained and could see the Barracuda just lazing around below the boat, probably too full to swim much as we estimated the Tuna between 25 and 30 lbs.

Many times this story has been repeated by fishermen all over the world. But this is the one I remember like it was yesterday.

Capt. Steve

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The Catching Is Great

Posted on by Captain Steve

The goal in fishing is to entice a fish to eat your bait, fight that fish and land it. That’s called a catch. Right now, the catching is GREAT off the shore of Fort Lauderdale.

Within just 2 miles from shore our boat is giving the guests plenty of fish to fight. Starting with small bait fish, up to those Kings, Bonitos and Tunas and then on to some larger predators. Truth be told, you’d better land your fish quickly or you may not get the entire fish. While it is disappointing to lose some of your fish, there is that “WOW” factor as we wonder what it was that ate it.

Trolling has been the main stay lately. Cover some ground and see what pops up. Those Kings, Bonitos and Tunas I spoke of have been ranging from 6 to 20 lbs. and even bigger. The occasional Sailfish or Mahi is also possible. We expect this to continue into and through the summer.

While on the charter boat the mates go to extremes rigging baits to entice that bite, even the drift boat has been reaping the rewards. Just the standard 3 hook rig with a Sardine or Ballyhoo on it produced the catch in the picture above. And that is just the fish that were boated. Some do escape at any point between that initial bite and reaching the boat. Or they are taken from you by that predator laying in wait.

So, whether it is sport fishing or drift fishing, the catching is great! I guess that makes the fishing even better…

Capt. Steve

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We’re Sailing Through November

Posted on by Justin Ladenthin

sailfish fishing

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

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

Posted on by Justin Ladenthin

Gaffer Dolphin Fishing

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

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Father’s Day Fishing Trip

Posted on by Captain Steve

fahter's day

You know, Dad likes to fish anytime, not just on Father’s Day. However, the Father’s Day fishing trip always has us busy and this year is no exception.

We had a great family on board and when asked what they would like to catch? Just put us on some fish was the answer… My favorite answer to this question. But today we struggled at first with this somewhat easy task.

The radio for the fleet was reporting plenty of Kings and Bonito in the area. And yet, it had been over an hour of fishing and we still had nothing in our box. We’ve had the hits but missed every fish. It seemed an eternity before we finally stayed connected and just catching one King gave me hope our drought was over.

Now some folks like Kingfish, others aren’t too fond of them. Our group could take or leave them so after boating 6 or so, we opted for some off shore Dolphin fishing.

In order to catch Dolphin, you must find something to fish to. Plenty of seaweed has been around and with it being Father’s day, plenty of boats were out too. We got to the pretty blue water and began our search. Scattered grass and some big patches of weed were in our area. Little Bar Jacks that hide beneath the weed were also present. And finally, a Mahi! Easily too small to keep as was the second.

But we continued and finally began catching some we could keep. No real big ones but the action was consistent as 1 after another made it into our box. They weren’t together, just coming one at a time.  And being about 7 miles from shore, our time had come to go home.

In the end, we had 6 Kings, 8 keeper Dolphin, we had released some 15 Jacks and probably almost as many small Mahis. But our group was quite pleased with the Father’s day fishing trip.

Remember, dad will go fishing anytime! LOL

Captain Steve

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The Bite Is On

Posted on by Captain Steve

3 hour sail

If you are looking for fish to bend the rod, you should be fishing right now! The bite is on here in south Florida. Mahi-mahi, Tuna, Kingfish and others are bending our rods with frequency. And all this action has been within a few miles of shore.

 

While I try to spin whatever we’re catching into good news, I don’t have to work at it this month. The picture above is from our Southwest Airline group. Each year they come for their annual get together and always need fish for their fish fry on the last evening. They won’t go hungry this year, that’s for sure.

 

Kings and Bonitos, along with some Tuna are mixed in the reef area. Depending on the water color, Mahi-mahi and Wahoo may also be there. But that’s not all we’ve been getting. A few sharks and Sails have been mixed in as well. Most of these fish are being caught trolling.

 

And after all the time I’ve been doing this, I still get a thrill when someone catches a Sail and says they can scratch that off their bucket list. It just makes me smile as it did with this gentleman and his prize.

If you are looking for action, for edible fish or just to bend the rod, now is the time. The bite is on!

 

Captain Steve

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Springtime Fishing Begins

Posted on by Captain Steve

tuna topia

While some of you are living where the weather has been unseasonable, here in south Florida our springtime fishing started about a week ago. And our all day trip today was proof positive of this.

 

Our 3 guests had but one day before heading to Bolivia. They are volunteering to help build churches in areas that cannot afford them. Certainly a noble cause and perhaps even lending to a fun, fish filled day.

 

With the forecast of rain, we opted to catch our own bait. Chum and the usual areas were not providing so our trolling gear was deployed. It took maybe 20 minutes for our first bite and the action was near nonstop the rest of the day.

 

First were the Kingfish in the reef area. Bites were coming one or two at a time. While our guests had never used this kind of tackle before, they adapted quickly and soon were beating Dom to the rod when a bite came. They were having so much fun, even after the 2 per person limit was reached, we continued catch and release for a while before venturing just a bit further off shore.

 

The top picture is Dom holding a Yellowfin Tuna. This small Tuna was schooling with the Blackfin Tuna. We had stumbled into Tuna Topia and some nice sized fish were biting. Yellowfin are rare in our area and we ended up with 2 along with a hoard of Blackfin.

 

We took a break from this action to put the boys on something bigger. The Amberjacks cooperated nicely for this purpose and the guys enjoyed posing with their catches before releasing those back to the sea.

Our troll home was still producing more Tuna but these were considerably smaller than the ones from earlier. We had plenty and were releasing them as we went until the time came to return to the dock.

 

This is the kind of action you expect from springtime fishing. I look forward to fishing again today.

 

Captain Steve

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Best Time To Fish

Posted on by Captain Steve

Catch Tuna fish

Almost every day people call for information and one of the questions they ask is “When is the BEST time to fish”. In some cases, they are asking about a particular month or time of year. But mostly, it is more about the morning or afternoon trip. Which is better? Well, let me give you some tips about the best time to fish…

 

First and foremost you should know we fish year round here in Fort Lauderdale. Unlike hunting, which has open and closed seasons, fishing can be done 365 days a year. It is true that some species might be off limits at times… Groupers are closed right now until May 1. But many other species are available.

 

Twice each day, as the sun climbs and falls, the morning and afternoon bite is the strongest. When the sun is high in the sky, fish feeding near the surface cast a shadow down into the water. Predators use this for their feeding pattern. So, the lower the sun, the better your chances. Early morning and the late afternoon are usually the best.

 

If you are here on vacation and have the ability to avoid the weekend, that can be advantageous. With spring break going on, lots of people are out there fishing.  If you cannot avoid the weekend, I recommend a 6 hour with an early start or an afternoon 6 hour. Both give you that early morning, late afternoon bite.

 

But… I’m on vacation. I don’t want to get up early. Or… We have dinner plans and need to be back by 5. The fact is no matter WHEN you fish, your crew is going to do their very best to find and catch you some fish!

And if you live here, get up for that early morning bite. Or push your dinner plans back an hour. But in all truth, the absolute BEST time to fish is when you can.

 

Captain Steve

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Fort Lauderdale Fishing Report

Posted on by Captain Steve

Mahi Mahi Fish

With some changing weather and spring just around the corner, things are changing as the ocean warms. While some fish are still migrating south, others have started their return to the north and cooler waters. The next few months should make for some exciting fishing.

 

Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin should become more plentiful. Kingfish and Bonito should also show their presence in the reef area. But you’ll have to be on your game and get the fish into the boat quickly. Sharks will also be around and while have a fish is better than none? They usually eat the good half.

On our sport boat, we have been having excellent action on the wrecks and reefs with Barracuda and Amberjack. Mostly light tackle is being used with live bait for some great fights! A few Kingfish and Wahoo are also being caught this way. You just never know.

Our most recent Swordfish trip was a huge disappointment. Making 4 drops during the day netted one hook up and one miss. The hook up was a big fish and we fought it for almost an hour. We got the weight off and had the leader twice but this fish was not to be caught. His final run parted the main line. I’ve learned this is part of the game but absolute hate not seeing what we had on.

 

Our drift boat is have some good action as well. Captain Patrick’s most recent catch is posted on our Facebook page. Snapper, Triggerfish and other reef fish are plentiful. You can find the page here: https://www.facebook.com/Fanntastic-Fishing-1476203306014764/

 

Whatever you choose as far as fishing? Be it sport or drift, things are improving and fish are cooperating. Enjoy the day, keep the rod bent and you’ll be rewarded. Tight lines.

 

Captain Steve

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