Muttons and More!
Between battling a sinus infection and cleaning up after my Australian Shepherd puppy (he’s not house-broken yet), I haven’t gotten out on the water as much as I’ve liked to.
Fortunately, I was able to get out Sunday for a quick fish/snorkel trip- and I had the opportunity to go mutton snapper fishing for a couple of hours last night with Captain Jason Long of Best Bet Sportfishing.
On Sunday, Jeff Reilly and I headed out to fish a wreck and to see what species were looming below.
On the first drift Jeff hooked up with this monster AJ and I thought he was going to suffer a heat stroke from battling the hard-fighting fish on light tackle in the 90-degree heat (with absolutely zero breeze).
After a few more drops we decided it was way too hot to fish and we headed for the patch reefs to cool off and look for hog fish. The seas were glass calm and the visibility was amazing.
Jeff was able to shoot a few hog fish on the grass and we enjoyed the fillets at a tasty dinner that evening at Ty and Tara’s house where we took in yet another amazing sunset.
Tuesday, it was time to do a little first-hand research for the Florida Keys fishing report (which Captain Long and I do our best to write). The theme of this week’s report was “Escape the Heat,” so we headed out that evening to fish for mutton snapper under cooler temperatures.
Within minutes, Ann Nash and Kyle Witwer were hooked up with fish and shortly thereafter two big muttons were in the box.
One drift later and all four of us had hooked up and reeled in a quality pink each. Captain Long definitely knows where to find the fish and how to target them.
If you’re planning to fish for mutton snapper in the Florida Keys, here are few tips (that I have learned) that may also help you catch fish.
- Fish where the fish are (a bit obvious huh?)- If you search online you can find public gps numbers for wrecks throughout the Florida Keys that do hold mutton snapper. However, these wrecks get a ton of fishing pressure and they are often much less productive than the smaller wrecks that the good charter captains, like Jason Long, know of. My advice: if you’re looking to target mutton snapper on your own, try the numbers you find online and give it a shot. If you come up empty though, you may want to book a trip with one of the many excellent Florida Keys captains who can take you to the spots that no one else knows of!
- Use fluorocarbon- at least ten to fifteen feet. Muttons can be very finicky and line shy- you don’t want them seeing your leader.
- Hold the weight on the bottom and use enough lead to keep it down- try to keep the rod as still as possible and always keep the lead firmly on the bottom. Do not lift the rod up and down.
- Reel down on the fish, don’t set the hook- when you feel the fish take your bait, crank down hard and then lift the rod. Do not set the hook in an upward jerk motion- this will cause you to lose fish more often than not.
- Fish with live bait- live pilchards, pinfish and ballyhoo, to name a few, can all entice a hungry mutton snapper.