I have been writing fishing columns for many years, and this is the time of year we can stand the heat as well as the calm ocean and light winds.
There is nothing better after a long day or week at work than to come home in the afternoon, grab a friend or your wife, or a couple of your kids, jump in the boat and head for the inlet. Many friends call me at the store and say I have four hours to kill, what’s my best chance of running out from Hillsboro Inlet and catching a fish box of fresh fish. Depending on what we have heard all day in the morning and early evenings, I might just say run straight out to about 600-800 feet of water where you should find a current edge in that area. Look for diving birds and any weed line you might see. As we all know, we have had enough weeds in the ocean these past few months. In that case, there would be a lot of small dolphin 3-5 pounds, with some larger 15-25 pound fish mixed in.
Now, it all depends on how well equipped you are, but my choice is to have several light rods rigged with a 3/0 hook on a 30-40 pound leader 3-4 feet long. That way, you can cut and put a half of a squid on your hook and have it ready in case you see fish around the boat. That is perfect for what we call bailing school dolphin. You should also troll on the inside and outside of a weed line. At this time of year, you can find a school of 10-50, or 250, fish all traveling together in a school, and all hell breaks loose if you are properly prepared. You have 3-5 rods all pre-rigged with hook and leader, as we said before. Place a piece of squid, cut bait, or cast a 1 oz yellow feather out into the school.
It’s amazing how many thousands of dolphins have been caught just that way. Another thing is, as you are catching your fish, leave one in the water and it will help keep the school in and around the boat. After an hour or so, you can put your trolling tackle back out and troll a little more. As the sun starts to set, the fishing should get red hot just like it does in an early morning daylight bite.
For some reason, 10,000 people have asked when is the best time to fish, and #1 is always the daylight and sunset bites. This is always a major feeding time. Another thing to know is about tide changes. Full high tide and the start of the out-going tides, as well as the bottom of the tide cycle when it starts back in, is when fish seem to turn on and bite very good.
If you start to troll home or back to the Inlet, be aware that in the 150-foot depth on in you might see a sailfish jumping or flopping. It’s a great time to hook and catch one. Also, in this area, the afternoon bite is an excellent time to hook and land a nice 20-40 pound wahoo. When they hit your bait and run so fast, you will learn why we call them wahoo. They are a very fast swimming fish that go 30-50 miles per hour. We call them screamers, and they are very good to eat.
Just ask for advice and we will deliver. In the 50 or so years I have been catching, I was more like Tiger Woods because I like the idea of going “catching” fish. In the same way, Tiger plays golf to win, not to just hit golf balls.
Remember, 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. Surround yourself with good fishermen. The kids today are some of the best. And, if they are fishing they are not on their cell phones or their computers, and not out partying with their friends and getting into trouble. We have raised many world-class fishermen just teaching them these simple rules. As most people know, I started working in a fishing tackle store in Boca Raton at 11 years of age some 59 years ago, and have followed these rules for a very long time.
Tight lines and good catching.