Miami Fishing Reports

January 2024 Fishing Report

Published January 12th, 2024

Looking to get out on the water for a day of fishing in January? Here’s what you need to know. First, January isn't known for being a red-hot month for fishing off Miami but we're catching a mixed bag of quality fish.  Sailfish have begun to show up on the reef and we're catching them kite fishing with live bait. Winter is the best time to target sailfish on the reef, and we expect the fishing to improve over the next few months. We’re seeing a few sailfish each trip but have yet to have a day this year where we catch ten or more.  Those days are rapidly approaching though.  Sailfish are the number one species that we get requests for and typically plan on trying to catch them on each charter. This usually involves live bait fishing using kites. Goggle eyes are our preferred bait of choice with threadfin herring being the second. Gogs can be purchased prior to our charters if given advanced notice.  Most of the sailfish have been found in shallower depths recently, somewhere in the 80–120-foot range. Areas that have both blue water and north current have produced the best results.

In addition to sailfish, we’ve also been catching good numbers of mackerel. This includes king, cero, and Spanish mackerel. They make great table fare for grilling, frying and ceviche. We’ve catching them by live baiting and trolling between 50–150-foot depths.  Planer trolling is our preferred method of mackerel fishing as it allows us to cover more distance to find the areas that are holding mackerel. Areas with structure such as shipwrecks have been the most productive, and the mackerel have been holding midway down the water column.  Planer trolling allows us to get baits down 60-70 feet to target mackerel.  The best baits have been either a yellow or blue/white skirt rigged with a bonita strip. Often when we locate the schools we’ll switch over to live baiting because it presents the opportunity to catch other species like the sailfish and tuna as well.  

One surprise is that we’ve also been catching mahi mahi rather consistently lately. Although these are typically a summertime fish, they’ve been hanging around much later than usual, and much closer to shore than usual. Perhaps it’s due to the abundance of ballyhoo that we’re seeing on the reef.  It’s a pleasant surprise, and it’s been great to put some 20-pound mahi in the box in January! We’ve caught them both live baiting and trolling.

Bottom fishing isn’t something that we typically focus on in January. Grouper season has closed until the summer, and it’s typically to choppy to anchor on the reef. We have been catching grouper around the deeper wrecks, as well as sharks and some amberjack. The amberjacks are in the small to medium size, which are actually better to eat because the larger ones typically get lots of parasites. The grouper and amberjacks have been caught in the 200-300 foot range on live pinfish and blue runners. Sharks have become a nuisance and often snatch our bottom fish catches. When this starts happening, we’ve been putting down a bait for them and have had success catching big bull sharks.

Lately, the biggest challenge we’ve been facing is not the fishing itself but rather the weather. We’ve been experiencing lots of high wind days, and lots of rain. Although the conditions have been fishable, they don’t make for the most pleasurable experience on the water. Choppy seas often make for great fishing, so it’s a good to pack some sea sickness medicine and a rain jacket just in case… 

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