Spring time in the keys

I am elated to announce that Saturday is the official start of spring. Hopefully you have adjusted your sleep and are now used to the extra hour of daylight since last weekend when we wound our clocks ahead one hour for daylight savings time.

The areas of the Upper Keys have been brimming with life both offshore and in the backcountry once again. It’s still on the chilly side but hearty souls have been fishing despite it for weeks and catches have been various and bountiful.

Offshore on the patch reefs and at the reef’s edge activity seems like it has been nonstop, especially off of Islamorada for those fortunate enough to have gotten out. A mix of yellowtail on the edge of the reef, big mangroves on the patches, and mutton snappers at the deep wrecks has been the constant topic of conversation at a variety of different spots and at different times of the day.

There are some big cobias traveling through the area right now. Some have been found swimming with a big whale shark or a leatherback turtle on the surface out in 200 feet, but some have been taken from a traveling stingray at or near the bottom in 30 feet of water just inside the reef.

A tuna tower with smooth-working controls is something you can take advantage of during the spring of the year when many of our fish are now migrating through or out of our area on the offshore side of the Keys.

Both offshore and in the Gulf, the Spanish mackerel continue to hang around in Florida Bay and connecting waters near Long Key even in the cooler weather. Plenty of king mackerel have been easily available off Tennessee Reef and areas to the southwest as far down as Key West.

Tunas and amberjacks are swarming at and around the hump areas off both the Islamorada and the West Hump off Marathon. Live bait is always a fun way to fish the surface of the hump areas offshore, but the butterfly jigs are producing a lot of bites as well.

Capt. Kerry Price, who is known as “Zilla” to most of his friends and fishing family, did it again with a fish as big as Godzilla.

Last week while he was guiding his guests around the hump areas to some big tunas and trying for amberjack, he noticed it was a little on the slow side. After drifting back a bonita that they had caught, back into the swift-running Gulf Stream current and right over the top portion of the hump area, they got a tug on their bait.

Over two and a half hours later, and despite the monster’s snapping jaws, Zilla reached down and pulled a 250-plus-pound hammerhead shark over the gunwale for some photo opportunities for the group. Amazingly, Zilla does it again aboard his boat the Heidi Baby. The man never ceases to amaze me.

Kids please don’t try this at home. If you do, watch your fingers around a shark’s mouth.

Good luck fishing this week. I will catch you next tide!

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