July 16th 2023 – The reef bite is good off of Key West this week. With hotter than normal temperatures baking the islands getting off shore to the reef line where the water temps are a little cooler makes for a fun day of catching quality tasty fish.
The new moon approaches and the mangrove snappers are still doing their thing on the reef to make sure the population stays in check. There are many places on the reefs up and down the Florida Keys that this happens making the Mangrove snappers an easy target for reef fishing enthusiasts that want to get some dark meat snappers for the freezer or dinner that night.
Along with the mangrove snapper bite the yellowtail snappers are also doing really well. Good reports of yellowtail snappers are coming out of Key West almost daily. Most boats do not need to run far to catch these fish and often they are mixed in with the mangrove snappers and mutton snappers for a nice well rounded catch.
Yellowtail snapper of course are the gourmet snappers of choice in the wholesale fish markets they pull a premium. All the snappers are good but the yellowtail is a real treat with a sweeter meat than say, the mutton or the mangrove snapper who are a bit more of a bottom feeder. Muttons are a prize as well with the larger filet and they taste an awfully lot like the American Red Snapper. Which the feds will not allow us to harvest here in the South Atlantic for the exception of two random days in the summer where we get to keep 1 per person. (ridiculous).
An angler does not have to invest a ton of time into snapper fishing a real easy 4 hour reef fishing charter is a great way to go to to get some tasty filets to take home or to a local hook and cook restaurant.
The charter to look for to get a nice catch of snappers is a reef fishing charter. Most of these trips are done on board larger center console fishing boats.
DIY Pro Tips
These tips are to help the Do It Yourself anglers catch some fish. feel free to text me (below) and ask questions, if I have time I will answer them.
- Chum is the best way to attract snappers to your anchored boat. Bring lots! have a chum bag.
- Find patch reefs and reef line in the 25 – 100 ft range that have some – or a lot of activity on them that you can see with your bottom machine. (example below).
- Our Florida Keys waters are super clear so fluorocarbon is a must with leaders as light as 12lbs. I prefer to use braided running line to feel the super delicate bite. Spin rods in the 12 – 25 lb class are great. Hook sizes from 1/0 to 3/0 can be used.
- Recommended bait will be bonito bellies, ballyhoo plugs, live bait and small jigs.
- When the fish hooks up.. DO NOT HESITATE… Get him in the boat.. Its a bad neighborhood down there The Tax Man is REAL!
- Please try and anchor in the sand and let the current drop you back over your targeted reef. This will help preserve our delicate corals.
- Lastly, Chum boxes are NOT bio degradable, please dispose of them at your dock upon your return.
Reef fishing charters are located all over the Florida Keys. Knowing the good ones is the hard part for a new visitor. Ask locals like Island Genn about who to go with. Or… Check out my web site and give me a call