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This week’s fishing report has some new target species. Not only are the yellowtail, mangrove, and mutton snapper on the reef, but we now have huge schools of permit on the wrecks out front! Any of the wrecks ranging in depth from 80 to 130 feet of water have been loaded with trophy size permit. Permit fishing is relatively simple once you find the fish and get the tide right. You want a slow moving current over the wreck to be able to present your bait to the fish in a natural manner. Close to slack tide is my favorite time to fish the wrecks for permit. Often on the slack tide you can see these wonderful fish swimming tight circles around the structure.

The best bait for permit is live crabs. Use small, silver dollar sized crabs for them, not the larger tarpon style crabs. Many people say they like the female crabs better but I find the male crabs to be a more productive bait than the lighter colored females. The color of the crab will help you determine the gender. You want to fish the live crabs on small jig heads ranging in size from ¼ to ⅔. Simply cast the crab at the school and let the current take the bait, similar to yellowtail fishing. When the line starts running out, just close the bail and start cranking because he’s on! The permit have been ranging from 12-30lbs so braided line is best for these fish. It also allows the bait to drop much faster with the thinner diameter line.

“Close to slack tide is my favorite time to fish the wrecks for permit.”

The next part of my fishing report is offshore dolphin fishing. Dolphin are finally starting to show up in numbers worth targeting. Start looking for your fish at 600ft (12 miles give or take) but they can be out as far as 1000ft (18-25 miles) depending on the day. These fish have been caught trolling lures as well as ballyhoo. I personally troll lures until I find the fish then switch to the rigged ballyhoo. The lures can be trolled much faster than ballyhoo which will allow you to cover more ground. Once you locate the fish you can switch baits to ballyhoo if needed. Many days I get all the fish I want on lures! But keep some ballyhoo chunks handy in case the school comes up to the boat. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a few live baits handy for any large bulls that you might see. Pitching live baits to large dolphin is a blast! If you’re looking for someone to take you out on a charter keep me in mind. I’ve been doing this out of Marathon, Florida for 8 years now and can put you on the fish you’re looking for. Until next week, keep the lines tight and the fish box full!

Capt. Doug Kelley

Captain Doug Kelley runs Captain Doug Kelley Florida Keys Fishing Charters. For your next big Florida Keys Fishing adventure, you can visit their website or check them out on Facebook.