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Key West Offshore Fishing Forecast February 2012


Hi, this is Capt. Chuck Butler with Charter SeaClusion, operating out of Key West Oceanside Marina, where we offer a variety of different fishing charters aboard my forty-six foot Bertram sportfish “SeaClusion”.

Not to complain about beautiful warm weather, but Winter took a little longer this year to get to Key West. Reef water temperatures have stayed in the mid to high seventies late into January. The problem with all this warm water is the bait did not make its way to the reef. Until the shallow near shore waters cooled off bait on the reef has been non-existent. Finally Ballyhoo and pilchards are getting to the reef and attracting the King, Cero and Spanish Mackerel . Sailfish that usually are on the reef in early January got started a little late and I would expect good action with small Sailfish on the reef in February.

Fishing at the end of the bar should be hot and getting there early for a good spot may be the difference. Anchor up and watch as Pilchards are chummed from twenty boats and guess what , the fishing turns on, catching Yellowtail and Mutton snapper off the bottom and Kings, Tuna, Wahoo and Sails on top. I would not be surprised if a few sharks and Barracudas show up and want in on the action too. If that is too crazy for you Western Dry Rocks or Cosgrove Hump will work very well with fewer crowds. Generally the further West you can afford to fish this time of year the better it will be.

The King Mackerel bite will be the hottest with huge schools migrating through the Keys this time of year . This action will be hot until the net boat season opens and then the bite goes down big time. Because the limit on Kings of two per person can be caught quickly when jigging or trolling in a school you can limit out on generally small fish quickly. I find them better and bigger when bottom fishing with a live drift bait or on a kite . They love big Blue Runners and there is nothing like a big King to light up a reel when they first hook up. Smoked Kingfish makes the best fish dip in my opinion.

Snapper are always good here, but the wind and current dictates when you can fish for them . The Muttons are very good over the next few months , especially on deeper rocks and wrecks. Most wrecks are well known and the Muttons aren’t as numerous. A few rocks in near 200 feet of water will hold an amazing number of fish. Further west applies to Mutton as well and the shelf in 210 – 215 feet off the Marquesas and West is very productive.

The better catches will come with live bait. If you are looking for a banner day spend the time to catch the baits you will need. Get out to your favorite spots and enjoy great fishing and our wonderful winter weather, don’t forget the sunscreen.

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