Yellowtail Snapper – Key West Fishing
Key West Fishing – Yellowtail Snapper When you ask any local in Key West, Yellowtail Snapper is the number one favorite fish to eat. This is because Yellowtail has a mild white flesh and is easily prepared in almost any recipe. Another reason is they can be caught year round and are very abundant. Yellowtails are a major commercial fishery and the fish where the commercial boats work are almost like domesticated livestock. The commercial boats put so much chum in the water, that the schools of fish actually thrive on the “feed”. Needless to say when you fish one of these areas you better bring a lot of chum or the fish go to a bigger chum line. The larger fish tend to live in deeper water off the edge of the reef . Often because of the current chum really does not work as well as it does on the surface , because it washes along the surface instead of drawing the fish up from the deep. In these situations we use a mixture of chum, sand and oats to make chum balls that sink and then disperse at deeper levels of the water column. There are many different ways of catching yellowtail, when I first started fishing in Key West. I hired a mate, who had fished on a lot of commercial boats, he was not particularly comfortable using a rod and reel when fishing for yellowtail. He had always used what is called a Yo-Yo, as the name seems is a spool with line and hook. Using cut bait, you would play out line until you feel the bite and then you would haul in the fish by hand pulling the line into the boat. I had purchased several thousand dollars worth of rods and reels, particularly spinning outfits for fishing for snapper. We would set up spinning rods and bait them with cut bait and start fishing. After everything got going good my mate would pull out his yo-yo and start fishing. After he'd caught four or five fish the charter would always want to try the yo-yo. I remember thinking, of all the thousands of dollars I could have saved by buying fifty cent yo-yos. Live bait, especially small pilchards work very well for catching yellowtail after they've been chummed up and really help in catching the larger fish. Another interesting method is trolling with fairly heavy jigs and strip bait. You put the bait in the outriggers and make hard turns at very slow speeds, this allows the bait on the side of the boat you turn towards to sink down to the school of fish. When you turn back you hook the fish and send your other outrigger bait down to the school. The most consistent method for catching yellowtail snapper is to anchor up, put chum in the water and drift cut baits in the current. After talking about how plentiful and available Yellowtail are you probably wonder why we don't fish for them all the time. The currents and winds are very fickle and there is nothing more difficult than trying to fish in a current that is running up the anchor line or is not running at all. Also Yellowtail are sight feeders, meaning if the water is too clear they can see the hook and line. When this happens, they become very wary and consequently the bite will be slow. When the water is very dirty they cannot see the bait, and that does not produce a very good bite either. So the next time you are in Key West give us a call, and if the winds and tides are playing nice we will go catch a bunch of Yellowtail Snapper.