It was a beautiful Florida Keys dawn as we headed out from Tavernier Creek Marina with high hopes of trolling up some tasty table fare for the friends that were coming to visit us later on in the week. Tavernier is one of the Keys that lies just a few miles North of Islamorada, and South of Key Largo, it is also centrally located for divers and fisherman who play on the reefs in this area, but want the ability to go either to the north or south to enjoy the reefs and wrecks that are abundant here. Having rigged the trolling rods the night before, we were all set and ready go once we reached the fishing grounds.
Today we decided to take advantage of the calm seas and run out to one of the several offshore humps that can be found in this area. Most are found about 20 miles offshore in between 900 and 1200 feet of water. These sea mounts create upwellings that cause fish to congregate in a relatively small area to take advantage of the ocean’s version of an all you can eat buffet. The larger predators feast on the baitfish that are trapped in the upwelling. The Islamorada hump can be a very crowded place, especially on weekends and bait fishing is usually the preferred method of angling here, but great results can also be had trolling along the lines of weeds and flotsam that can be found along the way. The Islamorada hump comes to within about 280 feet of the surface and produces a ripple effect that many newcomers believe, at first is fish breaking the surface.
About a mile from the hump we noticed a nice weed line and decided to keep a bit away from the crowd and see what we could pick-up. After rigging some store bought ballyhoo and placing green and yellow skirts on the left rod and black and purple on the right, with a dark colored jet head down the middle we were off in pursuit of dinner. It wasn’t long before we started picking up some small dolphin in the 5-10 pound range. We were trolling briskly, about 9 mph, when the center rod started screaming, FAST! We brought the other two rods in just in time as the fish had almost spooled us. We then began chasing the fish and by the speed of the fish we were certain we had hooked a decent Wahoo. For the next 20-30 minutes it was a game of us gaining line and him taking back out, but eventually, this magnificent fish tired and was brought to the boat and gaffed.
This seemed to be our cue to start heading home, with some great fish in the box and a grill waiting to be used. A great lesson to be learned is that even if you can’t fish directly on a spot due to the crowds, there are always alternatives. The may not be the primo spot you were looking for, but as long as you are out there and trying, you have a much better chance of catching something than by sitting on your couch dreaming about it.
Key Largo Hump GPS: 25-00.661′ N; 80-16.8’WIslamorada Hump GPS: 24-48.175′ N; 80-26.674′
409 Hump GPS: 24-35.5′ N; 80-35.5′ W