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The Winter Fishing Season Is Upon Us

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The winter fishing season in Fort Lauderdale is the time of year when the big boys are caught. It’s not a season for the best action, but we do catch some of the biggest fish we will catch all year long here in south Florida. December and January are perhaps the best 2 months of the year for catching sailfish, our most sought after gamefish. People come from around the world during these 2 months to try their luck at landing this most amazing and beautiful billfish. Our sailfish average around 7ft in length and they put up one of the most awesome aerial displays of jumping out of any fish in the ocean. Sailfish are sometimes called the ballerina of the sea. And what’s best about fishing for sailfish in Fort Lauderdale is, we catch them only a mile offshore.

That’s pretty amazing, catching this huge gamefish only a mile offshore. Most places in the world, you have to trek 20-30 miles offshore to even have a shot at this elusive species. But in south Florida, the continental shelf drops off super close to shore. One mile offshore, we’re in 100ft of water. Two miles offshore, we’re in 600ft of water. And the Gulfstream current, the warm water current pushing water with epic force at 3-4 knots to the north, hugs along this drop-off coming closer to the eastern seaboard closer than anywhere else. We call the waters between a mile a mile and half, “Sailfish Alley”. It’s the best place to go set your baits in hopes of hooking into that trophy sailfish.

Sailfish Alley is a pretty narrow column of water. It’s only a few football fields wide and it’s the area where 90% of the sailfish migrate through. The depths of Sailfish Alley are 100-180ft deep, just outside the reef and the inside edge of the Gulfstream. This area is laden with baitfish such as goggle eyes, threadfin herring, sardines, bonitos, blue runners, speedo mackeral and cigar minnows, among others. This plethora of available food is why sailfish and other large gamefish, patrol these waters for their next meal. My favorite technique of fishing to do this time of year is to go out to Sailfish Alley and do a technique called kite fishing. Kite fishing is an awesome technique of fishing where we fly kites and dangle live baits from the kites with the baits suspended right on the surface of the water. The baits struggle to keep their heads below water, creating ‘fish-in-distress’ signals and broadcasting them out to the predators on the reef. I won’t get too much into the kite fishing technique as I have covered this technique extensively in some of my fishing articles, but it is a great way to target large, surface feeding gamefish in the winter months off Fort Lauderdale.

Sailfish are not the only species patrolling this area for their next feast. This is prime zone for all the pelagic species. In this same area, we also catch mahi-mahi, blackfin tuna, wahoo, bonito, kingfish and more. These species bite strong in some of the conditions we get in the winter months, such as the cold, changing winds and other variables. Sailfish for one, bite extremely well on windy days and during cold fronts. They go crazy on cold weather days. Wahoo bite strong around the tide change and especially well on the new and full moons. Mahi-mahi bite best when we get a strong East wind for a few days in a row. Tunas bite really good in the early, early mornings or the late, late afternoons. They like the low-light of sunrise and sunset. Our biggest advantage over other boats in our area is our experience in fishing Fort Lauderdale, day in and day out for over 40 years.

For the next month and half, the big game fish are moving through. This time of year offers the best chances at catching your desired big game species. As my dad always told me, you gotta make your hay while the sun is shining. In other words, best to go sailfish fishing when the conditions are optimal and the sailfish are biting. Good luck to everyone fishing in the near future. I’m excited to see the big game fish we catch over the next month and a half. I’ll sea ya on the water!

Capt. Andy Roydhouse


They’re Here! Dolphin Run Is Happening in Ft Lauderdale

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Nice dolphin just caught off Fort Lauderdale

Beauty of a dolphin caught sportfishing in Fort Lauderdale

It happens every year.  Whenever we get a strong easterly wind in March, the dolphin fishing action heats up in Fort Lauderdale.  Dolphin come right in on the reef to do their annual spawn.  These dolphin, normally an offshore fish, are being caught inshore of 300ft of water, just outside the reef.  While there are some schoolies mixed in, many of the dolphin we’re catching right now are nice size ones, 10-20 pounders.  This is the all-around best time of year for dolphin fishing.  It usually lasts anywhere from a couple weeks to a month and a half, depending on how long we get the strong winds out of the east.

Nice dolphin just boated

Nice dolphin just boated on a Fort Lauderdale fishing trip

Dolphin fishing is awesome but they aren’t the only fish in the sea.  This is also a great time for sailfish fishing, pretty much the same waters where we’re catching the dolphin.  Sailfish feed on the same baitfish and swim in the same water column as dolphin do, so we catch both species doing the same fishing techniques.  Kite fishing and trolling are the best fishing techniques to target these surface feeding gamefish.  This week, the sailfishing has been going off, especially in the afternoons.

Nice sailfish jumping next to the boat

One of 2 sailfish caught today on the Mary B III

Wahoo, tuna and kingfish are also biting pretty good on the reef.  This time of year, just about everything is biting.  Trolling is especially good this season because the boat is moving and you can cover a lot of territory.

Nice kingfish caught in the late afternoon

Nice kingfish caught in the late afternoon off the coast of Ft Lauderdale

Wreck fishing is also great this time of year because of the amberjacks.  Big amberjacks stack up around the shipwrecks in 200-300ft of water.  The wrecks are a great source of food with the numerous schools of baitfish that also make these shipwrecks their home.  Amberjacks are tremendous fighters.  They are extremely fun to catch as they put up one helluva fight.  Groupers are around the wrecks too, but unfortunately, if you catch one, you have to throw it back.  Groupers are out of season until May 1.  Fortunately with all the dolphin action, sailfish around and amberjacks around the wrecks, there’s plenty of fish to keep an angler busy.  Good luck to everyone fishing this week.

Nice tuna fish caught trolling

Nice tuna caught trolling in 200ft of water in Ft Lauderdale

Sailfish and Wahoo fishing action is heating up in Fort Lauderdale

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wahoo and tunas

Wahoos and Tunas are biting great on the Fort Lauderdale reef

The wahoo and sailfish bite is on fire off the coast of Fort Lauderdale this week.  Wahoos are biting right on the reef in as shallow as 80 feet of water.  Sailfish too are making a strong surge in their numbers, with our boats averaging 2-3 per day.  This is to be expected in February.  As the fronts move through and the barometer drops, the fishing action heats up.  Wahoo are biting best on the troll and are slamming the deep baits.  Wire leaders are a must as those razor sharp teeth will cut through anything not made of steel.  We’re also catching a few wahoo live baiting, either out of the kites or slow trolling live baits from of the outriggers.  The numbers of wahoo we’re catching on our sportfishing charters this year is extraordinary.

Sailfish catch and release

Nice sailfish caught and released on our sportfishing charter

Sailfish action remains strong through the depths of 90-150ft of water, also known as “Sailfish Alley”.  Kite fishing is the most effective method to catch sailfish and they are eating goggle eyes, pilchards and mullet baits the best.  Trolling can also be effective for sailfish, as you cover much more water when trolling, but kite fishing is still the best.  The cooler weather coming this week should get them even more stirred up.  February is traditionally the last really good month on sailfish here in Fort Lauderdale and it looks like February is going to finish off an already great season with a bang.

Nice wahoo

Nice wahoo caught trolling in Ft Lauderdale on a charter

Tunas, kingfish and mahi-mahi are also patrolling the reef and add a little variety to our catches these days.  Look forward to some awesome mahi-mahi fishing towards the end of the month and into March.  Last year was outstanding mahi-mahi fishing as the mahi-mahi came into 100-300ft of water during any easterly wind.  Tunas are mostly small, but they school up and we catch a lot of them when we find a school.  Sometimes bigger tunas are mixed in with the small tunas and will make a fatal mistake of taking our baits.  They all taste good!


Nice amberjack just caught deep dropping on a shipwreck

Wreck fishing for amberjacks is also starting to get good.  During the spring months, the amberjacks school up in the wrecks so thick that you can hardly get a bait down to the bottom.  They are already starting to make their presence known and are getting more and more aggressive when fishing around our local wrecks.  Groupers, out of season now, are also biting good.  Fun to catch and it hurt to have to throw back such a tasty fish.  I’ve been seeing more and more groupers since the grouper season took effect so the regulations they are making are working.  We’re stocking up for the rest of the year, so book your grouper charters now (anytime after May 1).

Nice red grouper just caught fishing over a shipwreck

Nice red grouper caught by these ladies fishing atop a wreck

Shark fishing season is also getting underway.  February is the start of our shark fishing season where thousands upon thousands of hammerhead sharks make their migration down our coastline.  This is our Big Game fishing season here in Fort Lauderdale and we’re beginning to catch our first few of the year now.  Shark season lasts well into June and sometimes through as late as August.  March through May are the peak months.  Good luck to everyone fishing out there over the next couple weeks.  You have plenty of fish to keep yourself busy with reeling in!

Big spinner shark next to the boat

Nice spinner shark right next to the boat on a shark fishing charter