February Action on Wahoo, Tuna and Sailfish

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Rod and Linda holding a wahoo just caught.

Huge wahoo caught on a sportfishing charter. Great catch Linda!

February is here and that means the wahoo bite is on.  February is a top month for wahoo fishing in Fort Lauderdale.  We catch wahoo in one of 2 ways, either by trolling or dragging live baits around.  Trolling is the best technique.  First off, wahoos love a fast moving bait and trolling allows us to pull lures around at a good clip.  It also allows us to cover a lot of ground with the baits.  Wahoo love deep running lures.  We always pull a few baits around on planers, which pull the baits deep, down to the lower water columns.  When the planer bait goes down hard and starts taking drag super fast, we know it’s a wahoo.  A lot of wahoos get off the line, either by cutting through the monofilament or wire leader with their razor sharp teeth, or by shaking the hooks next to the boat.  Wahoo are masters at shaking the hooks right next to the boat.  Throughout the fight, the wear a larger and larger hole in their mouth where the hooks are.  When they get close to the boat, they shake their head from side to side vigorously.  If even a tiny amount of slack occurs between the rod tip and the hook set, the hooks can easily shake out.  Wahoo are the Houdini of getting loose right next to the boat.  Needless to say, wahoo are a true gamefish in both size, speed, strength and the sheer challenge it is to catch them.

Guy holding a wahoo with the sunset in the background.

Another huge wahoo caught by this lucky angler trolling in Fort Lauderdale.

February is tuna month.  Tunas congregate on the reefs in February is big numbers.  They school up in humongous schools, sometimes the size of a football field.  When they are feeding on a school of baitfish, they emerge on the top of the water and ‘bust’ the schooled up baits on the surface.  These busting tunas corral up a bunch of baitfish into a huge school and drive them up to the surface.  From there, it’s a feeding frenzy where they eat the corralled up baitfish until there isn’t a single one left.  It’s a dog eat dog world in the ocean.  We can see these tunas from a long way off on a calm day.  The ocean looks smooth and flat except for a football field size commotion where the tunas are busting.  You can see it a mile away.  When we see these tunas, we like to troll the outskirts of the school in circles.  Tunas shy off as the boat encroaches on them, so its best to get close but not drive right over the school, which will drive them down.  We usually catch them on small, light surface baits like dusters or small natural feathers.  This time of year, blackfin tunas are our main catch.  Once in a blue moon, we’ll catch a yellowfin. Yellowfin are extremely rare in Ft Lauderdale.  Blackfin tunas can reach sizes of 40 pounds although most of them are 5-8 pounders, the size of a football.  This is a great month to catch lots of blackfin tunas so bring the wasabi!

Brett holding an iridescent colored yellowfin tuna.

Capt Brett with a rare yellowfin tuna caught on our sportfishing charter.

Sailfish is the other main attraction here in Fort Lauderdale this month.  This is the last good month of sailfishing in south Florida  until next Fall.  While sailfish are here year round and can always be caught, the concentrated numbers of them bite best in the Fall and Winter months.  March is generally when sailfishing starts slowing down.  But February is a GREAT month to catch sailfish, in fact, it’s one of the best months of the year.  The cooler temperatures of February get the sailfish really lit up and aggressive.  The stronger easterly winds of February also help the sailfish action and allows us to do a lot more kite fishing.  Kite fishing allows us to go out and present live baits right on the surface of the water and keep them right on the current edge.  This is a very effective technique to catch sailfish and although they are never guaranteed, you won’t find better conditions for sailfishing any month of the year.  Sailfish are the most sought after gamefish in the entire world and anglers come from all around the world to catch these magnificent billfish.  The most awesome thing about sailfish other than their colors and beauty, is the spectacular aerial display they put on during their fight.  They jump out of the water like no other fish and take sudden fast runs throughout the battle.  If you’ve never caught a sailfish before, it’s a rush like no other.

Sailfish being held by a fishing family.

Big sailfish caught on our sport fishing charter.

Many other species bite well in February but these top… wahoo, tuna and sailfish are what makes February famous for one of the best months of the year to go fishing in Fort Lauderdale.  Some of the other fish that are possible this month are amberjacks and groupers around the wrecks, mahi-mahi are sometimes biting, kingfish and barracudas on the reef and lastly, huge sharks begin making their run down out coastline this month.  The shark migration that begins in February and end in late June is truly epic, but is the topic for future fishing report.  Good luck to everyone fishing this month.  Tight Lines and Let’s Go Fishing!

Capt. Andy Roydhouse

Mick holding a wahoo all lit up and iridescent.

Mick holding a humongous wahoo caught on our sportfishing charter in Fort Lauderdale


Very rare white marlin caught on our sportfish charter. Photo by Shazana Amanda Hardy.

Huge white marlin, EXTREMELY RARE, caught on our sportfishing charter (Photo by Shazana Amanda Hardy)

Fishing Improving in Fort Lauderdale on the Reef and Wrecks

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Guys holding their catch of a big almaco jack and huge red snapper (and a bonito) on the boat

Nice almaco jack and big red snapper caught on our sportfishing charter.

During the week after the Christmas holiday, every boat from Key West to Maine was out fishing.  This creates a lot of pressure on the fishing and the fishing inevitably gets slow following the Holiday week.  We’ve had a few really tough trips last week when not much was biting.  Finally we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  The rough weather over the past couple days has kept all the boats in from fishing (except for us!) and has allowed the fish to accumulate on the reefs again.  That little window of no boats out fishing has really lit up the fishing.  Not to mention that a whole new batch of fish are moving through our waters by now.  Don’t forget, fish are migratory; they’re always moving.    This week the sailfish started moving through in big numbers.  Also, mahi-mahi, tunas and kingfish began hiting again.  Action on the reef has improved immensely over how it was last week.

2 guys holding a big wahoo on the boat on a calm day at sea

Nice wahoo caught trolling on our sportfishing charter out of Ft Lauderdale.

The cold weather we had these past few days is the coldest air we’ve had all year.  Sailfish love the cold air, it gets them very frisky.  Over the course of this winter, we’ve caught a lot of sailfish.  But on our half day charters, we’re catching maybe 1 or 2 on a good trip.  During this cold front, with the temperatures hitting the mid 50s, we’ve had some trips where we’ve caught 4- 6 sailfish.  This is the sailfishing we look forward to all year long and the reason the cold fronts are so looked forward to.  Strong east winds, which actually make the ocean kind of rough, is also a good thing for the sailfish bite.  Kite fishing is a technique that requires a good stiff wind and combined with the cold snap we’re having, it really gets them going.

Bobby holding a nice dolphin freshly caught on our sportfish charter.

Nice dolphin caught trolling the Ft Lauderdale reef

Mahi-mahi and tuna love the strong winds too.  The rougher the better where dolphin are concerned.  Larger tunas actually prefer it calm, but the blackfin tunas which are the ones we catch here in Lauderdale, love choppy waters.  We catch them by dragging small jigs and natural feathers around the reef and offshore.  Tunas pile on an easy to suck down bait like that.  Dolphin are less picky and will eat just about anything they come across.  You just need to drag the bait past somewhere near them and they will inhale it.  I’ve seen dolphin trying to eat baits that are larger than their whole body.  Mahi-mahi dolphin are a funny fish.  Wahoo are a more unexpected fish to be caught this time of year, but they still bite.  We catch them here and there when trolling the reefs, most times when we aren’t expecting them.  A wahoo almost always hits the deep bait and hits with such ferocity that they are unmistakable.

Pretty girl holding a big mutton snapper she just caught on our fishing charter.

What a beauty! And a nice looking mutton snapper too! Good catch on our sportfish trip

With the slowdown of pelagic fish last week, we resorted to a lot of wreck fishing.  Wrecks are underwater oases for deepwater fish such as amberjacks, grouper, snapper, cobia, barracuda, sharks and more.  There is a lot of diversity of species around a shipwreck and fish often move from wreck to wreck following the baitfish as they move from wreck to wreck.  One day a wreck may be holding some monster fish and the next day, nothing.  When we go wreck fishing, we hop from wreck to wreck to wreck until we find where the fish are amassing.   This is the benefit of fishing the afternoon trip, as we have already done our experimenting during the morning charter.  This week we’ve had some excellent action deep dropping around the wrecks.

2 girls holding their huge kingfish at the dock for a photo. Probably a 65 pound kingfish!

Smoker kingfish caught on our deep sea fishing charter out of Fort Lauderdale

Snappers are biting excellent this month.  Vermillion snappers are caught deep dropping chicken rigs over rocky bottom.  Yellowtails and mangrove snappers are caught by drifting or anchor fishing over the mid-depth reefs.  Mutton snappers are also caught by this method or by fishing around wrecks.  Red snappers are caught by fishing live baits near to wrecks.  There are over 400 species of snappers in our waters but these are the main ones that we target.  All are fished for using different techniques and in different areas.  Our drift boat excels at catching the shallower water snappers… yellowtails, mangroves and muttons.  Our sportfishing charters excel at catching the vermillion or red snappers.  They are great eating fish and enjoyable to catch.  The smaller snappers group up into schools of fish and can be caught in generous numbers.

Lucky guy aboard the Catch My Drift caught this huge mangrove snapper on the night trip.

Guy holding a huge mangrove snapper caught on our night anchor trip

Groupers are another bottom fish which are a strong, challenging fish to catch.  Most of the shallower water groupers are out of season until May, which gives them a chance to spawn and revive the shallow water grouper population.  We’ve been catching some black groupers and red groupers that we have to throw back.  It sucks to throw them back but it helps keep the stock of fish managed so we don’t overfish them.  Deepwater groupers however are not out of season.  Our sportfishing boats are catching some very nice snowy groupers and sometimes the biggest of the big, warsaw groupers.  Warsaw groupers grow to humongous sizes.  They are caught anywhere from 200-500 ft of water and are the biggest grouper that can be caught and kept.  The only grouper which can get bigger than them is the Goliath grouper, which is protected year round.  Groupers are great eating fish and are challenging to catch because of their strength and their wit.  This week, we’ve caught a lot of nice sized groupers on our sportfishing charters.

Guy holding a nice looking snowy grouper just landed off the coast of Fort Lauderdale

Beautiful snowy grouper caught deep dropping over a shipwreck in 400ft of water

Amberjacks are mostly a springtime fish, caught in big numbers throughout March-June.  But they seem to be showing up early this year with some big ones caught over the past few weeks.  Amberjacks are pound-for-pound the strongest fish in the ocean. The amberjacks we catch in south Florida are considered the ultimate deepwater gamefish.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve pulled up some really big amberjacks.  Their closest cousin, the almaco jack, is another species that is biting steady now around the deep spots.  Both of these fish put up an extreme fight, even when caught on the heaviest of our tackle.  That’s why I so much love wreck fishing.  You never know what you’re going to catch and you can pull up just about anything off the bottom.

Nice amberjack being held up by the anglers heading back in from fishing in the Ft Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway

Nice amberjack caught by these guys during their Ft Lauderdale fishing vacation.

With the re accumulation of  pelagic fish on the reefs and the edge of the Gulfstream, coupled with the excellent wreck fishing, we’re getting into some good fishing action once again.  Look for shark fishing action to pick up in the weeks ahead as well as Swordfish.  Swordfishing is generally awesome throughout the month of January.  The rest of the month should be steadily improving fishing.  Don’t let the wind scare you.  Windy weather is super fishy and the windiest days are the best days to go (except for possible seasickness).  Where the fishing is concerned, activity on the top of the water (waves), creates activity below it.  Look for some great catches while we have the wind in our favor.  Let’s go fishing!

Capt. Andy Roydhouse

Nice catch of snowy groupers and amberjack by these 3 fishermen

These fellas had a nice catch on the bottom fishing our local shipwrecks

It’s a New Year With Lots of New Fish Biting on the Fort Lauderdale Edge

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Happy customers holding a few big wahoo and other fish at the end of their fishing trip

Awesome catch of 3 big wahoo, a nice grouper and snappers.

We had a great end to 2016 with some awesome catches on some large and exotic fish.  We caught some huge wahoos, which are biting better this year than I have seen in long while, big red snappers, which are exceedingly rare in Fort Lauderdale and we’ve caught some big tunas, kingfish and sailfish.  It was a great end to a great year.  And now in 2017, a whole new batch of fish are moving through.  Notably, we just had our very first cold front in Fort Lauderdale.  It lasted 2 days and temperatures hit the high 50’s!  Brrrrrrrrrr!  That’s cold for us south Florida folk who wear sandles all year long.  The cold weather did something to the fishing though.  It got the sailfish snapping!  We caught more sailfish in those 2 days than we had in the past 2 weeks.  Sailfish love the cold weather, it gets them all frisky.  This is the season for sailfish and without the cold weather, we were having a mediocre season on them.  When the cold weather hit, it was like a light switch that went off and they finally started biting in respectable numbers.  Glad to see them because so many anglers come from all around the world to catch these awesome gamefish.

Anglers holding their catch of mahi, kingfish, tuna and grouper on the back of the Catch My Drift

Nice mixed bag of fish caught on our drift fishing trip aboard the Catch My Drift

Wahoo are another gamefish that is biting extremely well.  One of the fastest fish in the ocean and my personal favorite fish to eat, wahoo are an exciting gamefish that bites voraciously in the winter months.  This year, with the super moons we’re having, wahoo are biting like crazy.  We had some awesome days of wahoo fishing over the past few weeks and they are still biting strong.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen such good wahoo fishing in south Florida.  You usually have to go to Bimini in the Bahamas or even San Salvador to catch wahoos like we have this month.  Some of the wahoos reached 60+ pounds.  Wahoo are crafty fish as they shy away from wire leaders and their razor sharp teeth can cut through monofilament like a knife through butter.  We have to be equally crafty when catching them by not applying too much drag on the initial hookup, keeping control of their head during the fight and not letting them shake the hooks when close to the boat.  With good coordination from the captain and mate, we can successfully land most of the wahoo we hook.

Happy anglers holding a couple huge red snappers and a big grouper

Awesome catch of some giant red snappers and grouper on our sportfishing charter

Tunas, kingfish, bonitos and barracuda are also biting all over the reefs.  This is a great time of year for trolling the reefs as there is a bevy of different species to provide good action for our charters.  Trolling the reefs is the best fishing method to catch lots of fish and lots of variety.  You can literally catch anything while trolling the Ft Lauderdale reefs, from sailfish and the rare marlin to king, Spanish and cero mackerels.  You never know what you might pull in when dragging lures and rigged baits over our expansive reef system.  Sometimes bottom fish come up from the bottom to grab our deeper pulling, planer baits.  When our charters tell us to keep them on the fish or to just catch as many fish as we can, trolling is the best method to employ.  January is the month for big kingfish, one of the largest of the mackerels.   Kingfish average 4-8 pounds but can sometimes reach weights of 40+ pounds.  We call these monster kingfish, ‘smoker’ kings because when they hit, they ‘smoke’ the reels by pulling drag off the rods so quickly.  And also because they taste great when you cook them using a smoker (greatest fish dip of all time).

Father/Daughter holding a huge wahoo they just caught.

Humongous wahoo caught by this father/daughter fishing team during our sportfishing charter

Bottom fishing starts getting really good this month.  While groupers unfortunately go out of season on January 1, this is the start of our awesome bottom fishing time of year.   The closure of groupers used to irk me, but it really has made a big impact on our grouper fishery.  Only a few years after we started the 4 month per year grouper closure, we now catch more groupers than ever.  Snappers are making a huge comeback too.  We caught some monster red snappers this month, a species of snapper that we normally don’t catch here in Fort Lauderdale.  Normally red snappers are caught a good deal north of us, up in St Augustine and north.  Or they are also caught in the southern Keys and all throughout the Gulf of Mexico.  This year, we caught a nice mess of them right here in south Florida… awesome to see.  Deep dropping over the shipwrecks this month is also excellent for big amberjacks, almaco jacks, warsaw grouper, sharks and sometimes cobia.  You can catch any of the deep dwelling species around these shipwrecks, an underwater oasis of fish.  Over the next couple months the bottom fishing gets better and better, usually peaking in March or April.  This is the month when all the deep dwellers begin to show up.

Couple people holding a big amberjack on their charter

Big amberjack caught deep dropping over a shipwreck.

We’re having a great start to the new year with a full new batch of fish coming through.  Our drift fishing trips are catching loads of action and our sportfishing charters are pulling in some of the biggest fish we’ll catch all year.  This is a great time of year to come out on a deep sea fishing trip in Fort Lauderdale.  If you’re looking for some good action or to pull up a sea monster, this is a great season.  To all those anglers fishing with us over the next few weeks good luck.  If you haven’t had a chance to come fishing with us, give us a call and Let’s Go Fishing!

Capt. Paul Roydhouse

Matt holding a nice blackfin tuna just caught trolling.

Nice blackfin tuna caught on our sportfishing charter.