Great Action Fishing the Fort Lauderdale Reefs

Big black grouper caught drift fishing on the reef

Steve with a monster black grouper caught drift fishing on the Catch My Drift

There’s a multitude of fish showing up on the Fort Lauderdale reefs.  First off, on our drift fishing trips, we’re catching a lot of mangrove and yellowtail snappers.  An occasional big grouper might be caught on one of our drift trips too.  Mainly, we’re bottom fishing on that trip, but if an angler prefers a top-water rig, you have the possibility of kingfish, bonitos, blackfin tunas and mahi-mahi.  All are possible catches this month fishing the water over the 100-120′ reef.

Happy fisherman posing with a snowy grouper

Nice snowy grouper caught bottom fishing off the Fort Lauderdale coast

On our sportfishing charters, the stakes go up.  Trolling allows us to cover 10X the territory that we can cover drifting in the same time period.  We can troll deep lines and surface lines simultaneously, cover all the different water columns on the reef.  Trolling the reefs this month yields bonitos and kingfish, sometimes more bonitos than you even care to catch!  Also you have the chance at an oddball blackfin tuna, barracuda or wahoo!  Even a sailfish or two gets caught on the troll this season.

Nice wahoo just caught and all lit up.

Nice wahoo caught on a sportfishing charter with Fishing Headquarters.

Mahi-mahi mainly stay further offshore this time of year.  Once in a while they may come in on the reefs, but they mainly stay 5-10 miles offshore.  There’s too many predators on the reefs this month.  Going out for mahi-mahi is a gamble.  We get them sometimes, but not all the time.  And it requires a big investment in time, usually a 6 hour is the least we go that far offshore on as it leaves nothing to fall back on if we don’t find them out there.  But that’s fishing… And it makes it all the more exciting when we do find a school of them and we can crush ’em, fill the whole fish box in minutes.  The dolphin are out there to be found, you just have to go looking and cover A LOT of ground.  Mostly schoolies this time of year but they’re grouped together in schools so you can catch a good amount of them.  Sometimes a big one will be out there, a loner maybe with a cow or two with him.  Dolphin fishing can be hours and hours of boredom, interrupted by a few moments of chaos and panic.

Good action on the reef.  Wahoo and bonito.

Nice wahoo and bonito caught trolling the reef.

Wrecks deserve an honorable mention too as they are holding some big fish this month.  Amberjacks are still biting on the deep wrecks.  It’s a worthwhile endeavor to save 1/2 hour at the end of the trip to cherry pick a couple shipwrecks to make a quick drop on with a live bait… to see if anyone is home. Once in a while, a huge warsaw grouper might be caught.  These monsters of the deep aren’t caught often, but I sure get excited when one of them pops up to the surface.  Coming up from so deep, the gases expand inside their belly cavity and it blows the stomach up with air.  That’s what’s poking out of the warsaw’s mouth in the picture below.  These monsters of the deep are fun to catch as they fight extremely hard (until they get near the surface).

Big warsaw on the deck with his belly sticking out of his mouth.

Huge warsaw on the deck with Capt. Rod lying beside him.  That’s his belly sticking out of his mouth.

There’s a lot biting off the Fort Lauderdale coast this month, especially on the reef.  While some days are slow days and some days are great days, the majority of fishing trips this month should be action packed with some great fish stories.  Good luck everyone.  I’ll sea ya on the water.

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