To the south of Key West are Straits of Florida, a big stretch of ocean between the Keys and Cuba. The Gulf Stream flows in these straights and is home to some of the most sought after sportfish in the country.
Blue Water Fishing
Offshore fishing is mostly done in the “blue water”, which is the very clear, very blue gulf stream water. The Gulf Stream moves around based on tides and weather and it can be right on the reef or it could be 20 miles offshore.
It changes daily, and many of the pelagic fish that swim in it will move with it.
Pelagic is not just a tee-shirt brand, it’s a type of fish…a free-swimming fish that does not live on the bottom.
Offshore fishing can mean a long run to the fish and sometimes a lot of running around looking for them. This means it’s often better to do in the calm seas.
The primary fish targeted offshore is the Mahi-Mahi or dolphin. They are green-blue fish that can get very large and are good to eat. When they are smaller they swim in large schools and can be a lot of fun to catch on light tackle. The larger fish tend to be in pairs, small groups or by themselves.
Other fish that are caught offshore are wahoo, black fin tuna, bonito and triple tail. Marlin and mako sharks are also caught offshore but are pretty rare to catch.
What type of gear for offshore?
Most likely light conventional rods for trolling and spinning for the pitch baits.
What type of Baits?
A lot of offshore fishing is done by trolling. Various size and types of trolling rigs are trolled behind the boat at various speeds depending on what you are targeting.
At the same time you will see rods rigged with “pitch” baits. These can be either live or dead.
Often you will hook a fish on the troll and then other fish will follow it to the boat. This enables you to pitch a bait to the followers with one of the other rods in the boat.
Sometimes you will find floating debris offshore. If the debris is big enough and has been in the water long enough, it will be surrounded by bait. In addition to the bait there will be bigger fish orbiting the floating debris. Pitch baits will again come into play.
Sometimes high speed jigs will be used as well for targeting fishing deep under the float debris.
What can you expect offshore…
A lot of trolling and a lot of driving around. It’s pretty easy to wait for the bite but also most likely not as action-packed as fishing the reef.
There is the chance of hooking something really big out here, and spring to early summer when the mahi-mahi are running it will be action packed.