Springtime Wreck Fishing in the Florida Keys
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, no it’s not Christmas, it’s springtime in the Florida Keys! Florida Keys springtime fishing offers a wide variety of species to be caught, along with an equally diverse set of fishing conditions. This time of year we aren’t typically fishing as far from land as we do later on in the year. When it comes to fishing in the Spring, less travel time means longer fishing time!
While Yellowtail Snapper are delicious to eat and can still be found on the Reef in the springtime, many of our customers request access to bigger fish for a more challenging fight. This often means taking them to the Wrecks in deeper water.
Reef or Wreck fishing is a great option for someone who wants to go fishing but is wary of going so far offshore that they can not see land or buildings. What can you expect when you fish the Florida Keys wrecks? When wreck fishing your vessel will be off the anchor and in constant motion. The Captain will determine where to position the boat to have enough time to get baits to the bottom before slowly drifting near or over the sunken structure. Once a fish is caught or the vessel has drifted too far from the structure the lines are brought in and the process is repeated.
What We Catch On Wrecks
Year-round you can expect to mainly target Mutton Snapper and Amberjack as discussed in our Wintertime wreck fishing article. A wide variety of large Grouper, Jacks, and Sharks are also possibilities when fishing on the wrecks. In the Springtime all of these species can still be caught on the wrecks, with the addition of several more, namely, Permit, African Pompano, and the occasional Cobia.
Permit is primarily caught in March, April, or May on the wrecks. Why is that? Well, Permit spawn on the wrecks during this time, which makes them more active and easier to find.
In our larger vessels such as Main One, Main Attraction, and Main Attraction II, the tall towers help our Captains spot schools of Permit as they move in groups we refer to as the yellow cloud due to their yellowish golden hue in the water.
When the yellow cloud has been located and pointed out, all you need to do is cast a live crab at them and hold on tight. Like most members of the jack family, Permit are extremely strong for their size and tug hard and are lots of fun to fight.
We catch, photo, and release Permit, as we consider them a sportfish and do not want to interfere with their spawning which could negatively affect inshore anglers and flats guides’ ability to catch them throughout the year.
We use jighead hooks, any color, with a live crab attached. Permit have rubbery lips along with strong crushers in their throat, which is why crabs are a tasty treat for them.
Another member of the Jack family is the African pompano. The African Pompano when young can be found in shallow water and is often confused with the Florida Pompano which is also a member of the jack family. As African Pompano mature the difference between them and Florida Pompano becomes quite obvious. African Pompano get much larger and as this happens they move out to structure in deeper waters such as wrecks.
African Pompano are a Springtime gift on the wrecks typically caught in late February, and throughout March and April. They are beautiful to look at with their shiny silver skin and wonderful to eat. They are also fun and challenging to fight. They are the perfect wreck fish to target when the time is right. When targeting large African Pompano on wrecks we use an 8-ounce lead, a 25-foot long 40lb fluorocarbon leader, and a circle hook with a live pilchard, pinfish, or ballyhoo. The long leader allows the bait to swim naturally and drift along the bottom nice and far away from the lead.
Many people love to target sharks because they are large, powerful, and look cool. Our wrecks hold lots of sharks, hoping for an easy meal. Usually, if the sharks are very aggressive and keep eating our quarry before the customer can get it to the boat we will move on to another wreck instead. But sometimes our customers want to catch a shark instead!
Sharks are VERY strong and they fight VERY hard. If you are up for the challenge let your Captain know! Just remember catching a Shark can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on how large the shark is. For this reason, you should make it clear how much of your fishing time you want to dedicate to catching a shark!
If you are planning to fight a shark we highly recommend you get plenty of rest the night before and bring some friends along to help take turns fighting the beast! Depending on the type of shark you catch, some can be kept, but others are required by law to release.
In the late spring, the Gulf stream can push in pretty close to land, creating a highway of warmer fast-moving water that pelagic fish tend to migrate in. In the event the current has pushed in too close to the wrecks, wreck fishing will not be possible, due to the strong flow of water. The ideal current for wreck fishing is under one knot for a nice steady drift.
What is good about this, however, is that it usually means Sailfish and other pelagic species come pouring through in great numbers allowing us to have awesome offshore catches within 5-10 miles from land! Most of Captain Marty Lewis’ record-breaking Sailfish days have occurred during this very type of event.
In conclusion, the Spring is a wonderful time to come fishing in the Florida Keys, and Wreck fishing is an excellent option to get on some big fish without having to go very far offshore. As with all saltwater fishing, you never know what you are going to catch until you get out there, and that is half the fun!
If you are looking to have a springtime adventure with the Main Attraction crew pickup the phone and give us a ring at (305)-289-0071 or visit our contact page to get in touch with us.