A Solid Start to 2014

fishing charters for kids in Miami, FL

The last sailfish of 2013, Caught Dec. 31, 2013

The 2014 fishing season in Miami, FL  is off to a solid start. While we’ve had our share of good days, bad days, very good days…and very bad days – overall we’ve managed more than a dozen productive trips since January 1st. The past month has brought anything but typical fishing conditions in Miami, FL – unusual weather patterns delivered a mix of unseasonably warm weather (typically not great for sail fishing) with dominant west winds (typically bad for all fishing in Florida) followed by short lived cold fronts. We’ve experienced everything from 4 to 6 feet seas (with larger waves mixed in) from the south east (talk about sloppy conditions) to days where even helium balloons couldn’t get the kite’s in the air to permit live bait fishing on the edge.

Speaking of live bait – talk about hit or miss! We’ve had days where we could hardly catch cigar minnows in between pinfish bites to days where we couldn’t stuff any more threadfin herring into our live wells. But that hasn’t stopped the general daily assault on the bug light off Key Biscayne.

Catching live bait at bug light off Key BiscayneWe’ve been fishing a mix of cigar minnows, pilchards (when we’re lucky enough to find them), goggle eyes, threadfin herring, and blue runners the past few weeks – never taking a bait for granted. When we can get the kite’s in the air, threadfin herring have been the ticket for sailfish.

Marcus  Griffin catching a sailfish in Miami, FLsailfish release

Miami Sailfishing in the wintertime

This time of year, we deploy live baits throughout the entire water column during our fishing charters.  We typically fly six live baits (when the wind allows), drift one or two midwater lines, and a bottom bait. Drift fishing has produced anything from mutton snappers to bonitas with a decent number of red groupers mixed in (although it’s closed season for grouper fishing right now).

Crab Stuffed Mutton Snapper

25″ Crab Stuffed Mutton Snapper

The reef lines south of Fowey Rocks have been more productive, lately, than fishing off Miami Beach or Key Biscayne, but we’ve been dedicating some time to fishing ship wrecks as well. Although amberjacks and almaco’s are in the area, they certainly aren’t thick. We’ve hooked a few nice fish vertical jigging as well as live baiting, but nothing particularly amazing just yet.  I’ve seen scattered reports that African Pompano’s are still in the area, but we haven’t had any luck bringing one in the boat for a photo just yet. When the current is moving north and the wind is steady enough for kite fishing, we’ve been landing the usual mix of bonitas, kingfish, and cero mackerel.

Tabitha's Bonita

Tabitha with her first Miami Bonita

Capt. Todd Malicoat releasing a sailfish

Capt. Todd Malicoat releasing a sailfish

Earlier in the month, I had the privilege of riding along for an epic wahoo fishing expedition. The weather can get rough in the open ocean during the month of January, but wintertime is notorious for bringing in some of the biggest wahoo of the year. Having the right lures and the right gear makes all the difference. We’ve fished a variety of lures through the years, but we’re starting to cherry pick some of our favorite colors.

high speed trolling wahoo lures

So many choices, so little time

For those dedicated anglers who can make the journey and handle a challenging seaway, high speed trolling in the wintertime can produce some of the biggest, baddest fish you’ve ever seen!

Capt Charlie Ellis in rough seas

Bahama sunrise

Capt. Nick Stanczyk and Capt. Charlie Ellis with a big wahoocapt charlie ellis cranking on a wahoo

capt charlie ellis with a big bahama wahooCapt. Nick Stanczyk with a big wahooCapt. Charlie Ellis with a giant wahooIf only fishing could always be that good! It’s a humbling experience to have an epic, amazing fishing trip one day and then a slow, miserable, practically fishless day just 24 hours later.

Fishing in Miami can often be a lesson in humility and we do our best to take each day in stride.  We’ve had the pleasure of fishing with some really cool people the past few weeks who joined us to escape the frigid cold which is blasting the North East. Even if the fish aren’t cooperating as much as we’d like them to, we do the best to make each day on the water a memorable experience.

Trophy Rack with Scott, Nick, and Capt. Charlie

Good Friend’s Make Good Fishing Even Better

As we look forward to another year of charter fishing in Miami, FL, I have to give a big shout out to the people who keep us on the water. The Marauder would be out of commission if it wasn’t for the talented team at Virgin Marine Services. They are absolutely the most reliable and dedicated boat repair service in Miami as far as i’m concerned.

I also wanted to say thanks to the crew at Hopkins Carter for getting us set up with some new gear for 2014.  We’re excited to be fishing some new reels from Penn which will undoubtedly help bring some monsters in the boat over the next few weeks.

If you’re considering booking a fishing trip with us, be sure to check out our “What’s Biting” calendar first. February through March is typically prime time for sailfish, cobia, and kingfish, but it’s likely we’ll see a few blackfin tunas making an early arrival in our waters.  There’s been a few mahi mahi offshore as well, with a few scattered reports of some big bulls being caught. As weather patterns shift into a more consistent North East direction, the sailfish bite should definitely become more consistent.  The fish are definitely in the area, it’s just a matter of catching them when the current is strong and the wind is steady. The waves can get rough this time of year – so be prepared! – It’s not hard to avoid seasickness if you plan ahead.

Sunset on the way to the sword grounds

Sunset on the way to the sword grounds

With any luck, 2014 will be the best year yet for fishing in Miami, FL. We’ve invested in new electronics for the Marauder, an upgraded fuel delivery system, and several new rods/reels which should help keep us on the fish.

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Captain at Miami Fishing Charters LLC
Capt. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Bluefin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks. Capt. Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur.
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