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


Great Snapper Fishing This Month in Fort Lauderdale

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Nice pile of snappers on the cutting table after the trip.

Nice catch of vermillion snappers caught on our drift fishing trip out of Fort Lauderdale.

I haven’t done a fishing report in a while, but with the fishing as good as it is, I feel a fishing report is warranted.  Our snapper fishing off Fort Lauderdale over the past few weeks has been nothing short of amazing.  While the snapper fishing over the summer months was not as productive as in years past, the snapper fishing this year during October is well above expectations.  On our daytime drift fishing trips, we’re catching lots and lots of vermillion snappers, yelloweyes and some big mutton snappers mixed in.  This is in addition to the regular catches of porgies, groupers, grunts, jacks and all the bottom fish species.  An odd kingfish, tuna or cobia is also being caught on our daytime drift trips.  Being off-season here in Ft Lauderdale, with everyone going back to school and getting into the swing of work/school stuff, we haven’t had the huge numbers of people on the trips as we normally do in the spring and summer months.  This is a great thing for the drift boat trips because it gives you a lot more room to fish as well as a higher ratio of more fish per person aboard.  This is a great season to come out and try some drift fishing.  You’re almost guaranteed to get some nice snappers to bring home.

Nice vermillion snapper behind held up at the dock by the lucky angler who caught them.

Nice vermillion and yelloweye snapper caught by Andy on our drift fishing trip.

Night fishing is just plain ole’ awesome this month.  Snappers, snappers and more snappers are the catch on our night trips.  The snapper species we target at night are the yellowtail snapper and the mangrove snappers.  We do get a few of the bigger mutton snappers as well.  But the sheer numbers of the yellowtail and mangroves that we’re catching at night is just incredible.  This year has been better snapper fishing than I have seen in quite a few years.  I love to see the bite so good because we have slow fishing sometimes in Fort Lauderdale, where it’s tough to catch anything.  Fortunately for us, the bite has been really strong, so almost every trip is a good catch.  We’re having nights where 3 deckhands have to clean fish for over an hour after the trip because we caught so many.  Night anchor trips are also yielding a some sharks, cobia, bluefish and barracuda too.

Nice pile of yellowtail snappers on the dock after a night trip aboard the Catch My Drift.

Big pile of yellowtail snappers after a night anchor trip aboard the Catch My Drift this week.

Sportfishing boats are getting their fair share of fish out there.  Some good catches of mahi-mahi (a few really big ones), wahoo, tuna, kingfish and some of the big game fish around the wrecks.  It’s a mixed bag for the sportfishing boats this time of year, they can catch just about anything.  Mahi-mahi are funny in that they come through really strong for 2-3 days in a row, and then they disappear for a week or more where there are none to be found, and then they pop up again practically jumping in the boat.  It’s very hit or miss with the mahi-mahi or as I like to say, “Hero or Zero”.  Still, even on the days when the mahi-mahi are non-existent, the tunas, kingfish and other reef species are keeping us busy reeling in some nice fish.

John holding a pair of big snapper on his trip aboard the Catch My Drift

Nice snappers caught on the drift fishing trip out of Fort Lauderdale.

If the bite on the troll slows down, we usually switch over to deep dropping over the shipwrecks to try to hook into a big amberjack or grouper.  There are some big groupers still lurking around the wrecks and deep dropping is fast paced fishing.  You drop down, and either get a bite in the first 2-3 minutes or you reel them in and try to hit another wreck.  It usually only takes a couple shipwrecks before you find a wreck that is holding some fish.  Fish move from wreck to wreck every day so you have to experiment a little with some trial and error to find where they are biting that day.  And if the big game fish aren’t biting on the wrecks, we can always drop some multiple-hook chicken rigs to load up on the vermillion and yelloweye snappers.  It’s a buffet out there these days.

Ryan holding a big mahi-mahi caught on our sportfishing charter.

Nice bull dolphin caught on our sportfishing charter out of Fort Lauderdale.

The secret to fishing in Fort Lauderdale in October is to stay versatile.  You need to switch from technique to technique until you find what’s working that day.  That’s one big reason the afternoon is often the better trip time.  We have all that trial and error from the morning figured out so we can go right to what was working for us the best immediately when we go back out for the afternoon run.  The mullet run is just getting started which rejuvenates the reefs with lots of available food (baitfish) and get the big game fish such as sailfish, sharks, tarpon and barracudas, snapping all over the reefs.  Good luck to everyone fishing in these coming weeks.  I’ll sea ya on the water!

Capt. Andy Roydhouse
754-214-7863 cell

Andrew holding a 30 pound wahoo just caught trolling at sea.

Nice wahoo caught trolling on our sportfishing trip

Summertime Fishing in Fort Lauderdale

By | Drift Fishing Reports, Offshore Reports, Sportfishing Charter Report | No Comments
3 people at the dock after the trip holding up some big mahi-mahi.

Nice Mahi-Mahi catch on our deep sea fishing charter.

I love fishing the summer months in Fort Lauderdale.  The action is off-the-scale.  Tons of action on the reef catching bonitos, kingfish, blackfin tunas, barracuda, wahoo and more.  The seas are generally super calm which makes for very comfortable fishing conditions.  The only drawback to summer is the heat.  Fortunately, all our boats have an inside, air-conditioned cabin so that you can escape the heat for a few minutes and recharge in the cool cabin.  With the beautiful weather, we’ve been fishing every day on 3 trips daily.  Our morning trips are doing pretty good, but our afternoon and night trips are slamming the fish.  The better afternoon bite may be due to the passing showers that usually pop up around 2-3pm.  When the storms come through, the barometer drops and the fish seem to turn on strong.  Fish really like the low pressure just before the storm hits.  Anyway, the afternoon bite has been really good.

2 guys holding up a big wahoo at the dock in Fort Lauderdale.

Nice wahoo caught on our sportfish charter in Fort Lauderdale.

Night fishing is quite good this time of year too.  Snappers of all species are biting on our night anchor and chum trips.  We’ve been catching yellowtail snappers, mangrove snappers and some mutton snappers as well as some groupers too.  Snappers spawn during the summer months, when the water is warm and the tides are moderate.  They amass in large numbers of fish to spawn and when they are spawning, they become very aggressive feeders.  This behavior usually lasts from June through September so we have quite a bit of time left of the really good night snapper fishing trips.

Father and son holding a big grouper and nice snapper that were just caught fishing in Fort Lauderdale.

Nice snapper and grouper caught on our night anchor fishing trip.

Daytime fishing has been hot too, and I don’t just mean the weather.  On our sportfishing charters, trolling is red hot for kingfish, blackfin tuna, bonitos, barracuda, wahoo, mahi-mahi and even a rare sailfish.  With the fish as bunched up as they are on the reef, trolling is the most effective way to catch a lot of fish, and good variety too.  You can literally catch just about anything trolling the Ft Lauderdale reefs.  The biggest fish biting these days is wahoo.  There are a lot more bonitos and kingfish around the reefs, and they are very aggressive feeders, so we catch a majority of them.  But every once in a while, when you least expect it, a wahoo jumps on the line.  You’ll know that this is happening when the reel starts sceaming drag off and the captains starts jumping up and down screaming, “wahoo, wahoo!!”.  Haha, it’s a lot of fun when that happens.

Father and son with a big mutton snapper caught fishing Fort Lauderdale

Nice mutton snapper caught on our deep sea fishing trip in Fort Lauderdale

In the summer, many of the fish go deep, to get down to the lower, cooler water columns.  We use planers to get the baits down to those depths where the fish are. The planer baits get most of the action when we’re trolling.  These deep baits get all the bonitos, kingfish and wahoo that we catch.  The other baits we pull are surface lures.  While these baits don’t get the same level of action as our deep baits get, they sometimes get the mahi-mahi or the sailfish or the big tuna of the day.  Even though it is warmer water near the surface, predator fish know that the small baitfish try to escape their fate by getting up to the surface of the water to create commotion and confuse the predator.  Sailfish and mahi excel at catching these escaping fish on the surface, so more often than not, when the surface line gets a bite, it’s going to be one of these really sought after fish.  You never know what’s going to bite out there.

Girl at the dock holding up a wahoo she caught during her Ft Lauderdale fishing charter.

Nice wahoo caught by this fisher gal on our sport fishing charter in Ft Lauderdale

On our drift fishing trips, pretty slammer action as well.  Morning fishing has been decent but not great.  Action on snappers is decent and sometimes there are some big king mackerels that bite in the mornings early.  We’ve been catching a lot more in the afternoons.  For some reason, and maybe its just because the fish are sleeping in, the afternoon fishing has been excellent and far and away the best trip of the day.  Snapper and grouper action in the afternoon has been far superior and although not as many kingfish bite late in the day as in the early mornings, there are still a few kings to be found later in the day.  The largest of the snappers that we catch consistently, mutton snappers, are biting extraordinarily good in the afternoons.  I’ve been seeing some 10-20 pounders caught lately and good numbers too.  It’s been one helluva summer for mutton snappers this year.

Capt. Andy Roydhouse
754-214-7863 cell


Family at the dock in front of the boat holding their catch of a bunch of fish.

Nice catch by this family while fishing on our drift boat fishing trip.