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The April wind machine is cranking so the sea conditions have been a little sporty.  And that’s a HUGE understatement. Why is it so windy? For one it is April and it is always windy in the Florida Keys during the month of April.

Key Largo Charter Boat

Ernie was back this Month and he Brought his Good Karma

Scott with his first Atlantic Sailfish. We caught him on a WildWilly Black and Red Glow Seawitch Rigged over a dead ballyhoo. We released him unharmed.Fish Migrations- Where are the April Dolphin and Tuna? 

The late season cold fronts are still pushing through, so we are seeing more west wind events than we usually do in April.  This may have something to do with migrations be “off” this spring.  We have an “El Nino” to thank for that. I had reported in February that we were gong to see an early arrival of fish, but then Mother Nature stepped in. On February 14th NOAA issued this El Nino Advisory

NOAA Forecast Update on April 11th: A weak El Nino is likely to continue through the Northern Hemisphere summer 2019 (65% chance) and possibly fall (50-55% chance).

Key Largo Mutton Snappers

Spring Break Forever

During an El Nino event, the Mahi and Tuna tend to get pushed further offshore with a west wind making them tough to get to on sporty days. We are seeing stronger cool fronts in late April associated with the El Nino event.

We were on track for an early arrival of Mahi.  We anticipated our yearly migration of Blackfin Tuna that typically provide action for clients during the months of March and April, but so far both they have not shown up in great numbers yet.  These fish could arrive any day.   Some clients actually gave me an ear full about the fish not being here this year like last year.  My response, “Did you call them and tell them you were coming?”  Seriously.  I would like to think I am that smart to know everything- but I am not.  People seem to forget “It’s fishing!”

Back Country Fishing and Why I No Longer Offer this Type of Fishing Charter

I am getting a lot of questions about why I now longer charter in the backcountry so here is the answer to that question…..

First let me say- I spent thousands of dollars on an amazing boat to offer a charter in the back when it was windy- point blank it didn’t work.  Many of you have fished with me when I was licensed to fish Everglades National Park and the majority of you were unhappy.  I actually lost repeat clients by forcing them into the back one winter- it was rough.  They didn’t want to do it.  I learned.  I even tried to only take bookings if they agreed to switch- also not a good experience.  So finally after Hurricane Irma I decided to discontinue offering backcountry trips as 90% of my clients were unhappy with trout, very few redfish (should not really even mention redfish) and shark fishing.  And to top it off- the very long boat ride back to the park…..  Clients constantly asking- “Are we there yet?”   Truth.

Clients that book with me want to catch Pelagics, Snappers and Groupers and clients were not happy with the backcountry.  Further to be honest I was not passionate about fishing in the back either.  I was extremely happy when I sold my backcountry boat in February.  I loved that boat, but Melinda and I were were only using it for sunset cruising and to run the engine.  Not a good use of time or money.  It literally just sat  in the barn at Tavernier Creek not being used so we decided to sell it. The Good Karma specializes in reef, wreck  and offshore fishing (Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada)  My fish specialties (my niche) are snappers, groupers, wahoo, dolphin and tuna.  Any business person should understand this and I hope this sheds some light.

So I no longer offer back country trips and believe me I am the last guide you want to take you tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys as I have no clue about that fish and am not passionate about targeting them so I do not offer tarpon or backcountry charters. Book with someone who loves it!  You will have a far much better charter than trying to force me to do it.

In general- I have been working very hard to accommodate the people that have booked trips with me in April when the wind machine is cranking.  SAFETY IS A PRIORITY.  If I am not able to take them due to weather I provide a recommendation for a Key Largo backcountry charter guide.

Late April and Early May Fishing Forecast

I am very much looking forward to seeing my regular clients that book with me in month of April, May and new clients.  Let me pull out my “crystal ball” and see what I can foresee for you guys….

Scott Always Brings a Good Attitude and Appreciates the Grind! Nice job Scott!


Yellowtail Snapper (when the conditions are optimal) is an option.  However I would recommend hunting for Mutton Snappers as the meat quality is outstanding with more yield than Yellowtails. I have been putting clients on nice size, memorable Mutton Snappers. Some days are easier than others. The Amberjacks are chewing for those that feel strong and brave.

Golden Tilefish Deep Drop Fishing with Alfredo. We got one! This is a specialized  full day charter that requires the use of the Shimano Beast Master 9000 Electric Reel. You have to be “in it to win it” when you target the Golden Tile fish off Islamorada We are fishing in depths of 800 ft or more.

The Key Largo charter boats and the few Captains from Islamorada charter boat fleet fished the Bibb and Duane Wreck last week off Key Largo. This particular area offers some of the best wahoo fishing in the Upper Keys during March and April.  The guys had good wahoo fishing when it seas were kicked up to 5-7ft prior to last front system that moved through the Upper Keys. The bite lasted for a couple days prior to the frontal system then shut off. Double digit wahoo days.  Mostly smaller wahoo in 10-20 lb. range, these smaller wahoo are the absolute best to eat!  I tell my clients that any wahoo is a good wahoo in my book!

Key Largo Sailfish Charters

We had a few Sailfish Around Last Week. Scott released his first Atlantic Salifish! Congratulations Scott!

As far as the Mahi, Tuna and Sailfish go…. You gotta put in a little time.  Believe me I want to get them just as bad as you do. We have not seen the healthy size heavy lifters or gaffers size dolphin in good numbers yet, but they will be here any day.  Just gotta keep them honest, meaning we have to spend a few hours of your charter fishing for them.  Contrary to how some clients think- they don’t jump in the boat. To find bigger fish you have to put in the time and enjoy the hunt, that’s how works. I see the IG posts and honestly a lot of small fish that should be thrown back.  So until I start seeing good numbers of Mahi pushing through I suggest only spending a couple hours looking for them not the whole trip and be flexible to fish for what is biting.  Guys are catching a handful of Mahi on each trip (3-4 fish) but they are tiny. The Yellowtail and Mutton Snappers were catching are bigger than these Mahi right now.

Stein from Denmark fishing with Dr. Bill. Stein had Mutton “Mojo” Good fisherman!

Grouper season opens on May 1st!  This year I will be getting back to Black Grouper fishing, but we can also add the Red Grouper to the mix this year.

Islamorada Grouper Fishing, how to catch big Groupers in Florida Keys

Islamorada Red Grouper Fishing 2018 with Capt. Ryan

That is all I got this week. Waiting for the wind machine to come down so we can get back to fishing beyond the reef. I am ready!!!

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Remember anytime your fishing “It’s All Good.”

Capt. Ryan
Good Karma Sportfishing