We love to catch Blackfin Tuna offshore.
Offshore fishing in the Florida Keys is undoubtedly one of the most requested fishing charters we offer at Manicsportfishing. Today we will review what you can expect on an offshore fishing trip. We will also share information on the species we target and some tactics we use to catch them.
Late Spring Through early Fall Offshore Fishing Trips
Regarding offshore fishing, most of our clients think of mahi mahi, a.k.a. dolphinfish. The dolphinfish is popular because hooking one means an action-packed fight that makes them fun to catch. Upon successfully catching your mahi, you are rewarded further with delicious fresh fish! mahi eat all types of baits; they are aggressive feeders. We often catch them trolling near weed lines or floating objects.
Mahi Mahi can display a wide spectrum of colors from yellows and greens, to even blues and whites.
Blackfin Tuna is another excellent fish to catch on our offshore fishing charters in the Florida Keys. Marathon Florida is fortunate to have the famous Marathon Hump at our doorstep. The Marathon Hump is essentially an underwater mountain. The surrounding water is over 1000 feet and rises to 409 feet! This is why it is called the 409 Hump. The depth change and current provide a baitfish buffet for blackfin tuna, mahi, sharks, and large fish near the bottom. If you dare drop a live bait deep down near the Hump, get ready because you may hook a monster of a fish!
Blackfin Tuna are an excellent source of sushi-grade meat.
Typically, we target mahi, and tuna in the late Spring and summer into the early fall season. Fortunately, there is always something to catch offshore in the Florida Keys!
Late Fall Through Early Spring Offshore Fishing Charters
When booking an offshore charter in winter, you can expect to fish for sailfish, blackfin tuna, and wahoo. The great thing about offshore winter trips is you often do not need to go nearly as far out to catch offshore fish, as the bait is usually closer to land this time of year. It is not unusual to find Sailfish or Wahoo right on the reef and blackfin Tuna just a little further out. This is great news for us because it gets pretty windy some days in the winter; traveling 25+ miles out to the Marathon Hump is tough to achieve in the winter months.
Having The Right Tools For The Job
Preparing for an offshore trip for our clients is second nature for us, but if you are looking to try it on your own, there are many things you need to consider. Having the right equipment for the job is essential, but so is maintaining and preparing that equipment before the trip. Besides having vessels customized for fishing, we also have many more fishing rods on our boats than most people. The main reason for this is simple. We plan on hooking up to a lot of fish. Mahi and Blackfin Tuna travel for the most part in large schools. When you hook a mahi, we typically stop the boat and hook many more. For these reasons, we fish with an arsenal of ready fishing rods on every trip.
There are many ways to locate and consistently catch these fish as we do. One way is having the best boats and electronics available. For example, our boats are equipped with bird-finding radar. Most of the time, when fishing offshore, if you find birds, you find fish. Seeing birds with radar up to 29 miles away gives us a significant advantage in having a successful offshore fishing trip.
Another key to our success is our flagship boat, the 36′ Yellowfin, with triple 300hp mercury outboard motors. This boat is equipped with a tower that allows us to drive and see over 15 feet above the water line. We can spot floating debris, weed lines, birds, and jumping baitfish that boats without a tower cannot. Once we see the telltale signs of fish, the 900 horsepower gets us there fast!
Our 36′ Yellowfin sports 900 horses of fish finding power!
Fish Finding Techniques
When we fish offshore, we never reach a certain depth and start trolling blindly. We only start fishing when we see signs of fish! This is important as it often can mean the difference between a fishing trip and a boat ride.
Offshore fishing is an intense hunt! Five boats may leave at the same time of day and return with completely different results. It is a big ocean out there, and anything can happen; preparation is vital to your technique. You want every available tool at your fingertips so you can respond quickly and correctly to a situation, just like we do. So how do we hunt? Well, first of all, you need to know what to look for!
What To Look For
On any given day, we know exactly where the Gulf Stream is located. We subscribe to offshore water temperature breaks, and color change data. This is an expensive service, but it is beneficial on offshore charters and worth it. This information, coupled with our bird-finding radar and a good pair of Captain’s eyes, helps us find where the fish are. Spotting floating objects in the water can also help us find fish offshore. Free-jumping Sailfish can also be a visual indicator of opportunities. We also have a fish finder that uses sonar to give us a picture of the bottom when deep-dropping or wreck fishing.
Mahi aren’t picky on most days. We can troll them with brined ballyhoo or artificial lures, and once the school is behind the boat, cut bait or squid will work just fine. But some days, the mahi need a little convincing, and that’s when we use live bait. Blackfin tuna also bite brined ballyhoo, or artificial lures on the troll, nut we can really fire them up on livebait when we have it. Mahi seem to love live ballyhoo, and live pilchards, when available, are a blackfin tuna’s favorite. When accessible, we catch our live bait, or we have companies we can buy it from. Sometimes we will use vertical jigs or slow pitch jigs for these fish. Every day is different, which keeps things interesting.
If for some reason pitching live bait and cut bait isn’t working we will switch to just trolling for these fish. It helps that we know what color lures are working, what depths to troll our lures, and at what speeds.
We do this for a living; we are out there daily and ensure we are prepared for whatever the fish want that day but nothing is guaranteed when it comes to fishing. All we can do is ensure we have every option on each fishing charter to yield a great fishing trip and show our clients a good time. We are always happy to share various knots , techniques, and fishing styles with everyone on the fishing charter if they want to learn.
To Kill Or Not To Kill
Mahi mahi and blackfin tuna yield more meat per fish than many other species. We always ask our clients to keep in mind how much fish they want to keep and will eat. We already know you want to catch a lot. But catching and eating are two different things. These fish have a high survival rate when released, so killing all of them is not necessary. Always let us know your goals before the trip so we can release whatever fish you don’t want to eat. Releasing fish back into this fantastic fishery to be caught another day is excellent for everyone’s future!
Always be sure to know the law. This Goliath Grouper had to be released according to regulations.
Fishing offshore can be an incredible experience in so many ways. The sea life we see while fishing is always a treat for our customers. We are sure to point out Sea turtles, Sunfish, Whales, and Dolphins as we spot them.
If you are interested in a Florida Keys offshore fishing Charter, call us and explain your offshore goals or visit our contact page. We have different charter boats to fit your group. We look forward to seeing you holding a fish of a lifetime and a memory that will last forever!
Captain Greg Fabrizi
Offshore charters are a great way to make some memories on your vacation!