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Tavernier Report Offshore - LOTS of Snapper & Mahi! & A Square Grouper! 7/1 through 7/21

clarkefishingclarkefishing Pompano Beach, FLPosts: 9 Greenhorn
Hey guys. Longtime member but I'm not sure what happened to my old account here, can't remember it. Anyways, here we go.

My parents and their friends rent this house in Tavernier for the month of July. My job luckily allows a lot of time off and I was able to go down a bunch this year for a lot of fishing! I mainly go for snapper and mahi, and try to feed everyone while I'm down there. I have also upgraded from my 17' Key West to a 21' Sea Hunt center console. I'm in love with the boat. 

I have a spot near Crocker Reef in about 55-60 feet of water that is pretty good for yellowtail snapper. We headed to that area on 7/1. Current was non-existent, but the mangrove snapper swarmed the boat like I've never seen. The mangrove spawn is indeed in full effect. The depth finder was more lit up than a Christmas tree. We limited out that day, and went back to that same area about 4 more times. I also found a new spot around there in 40 feet that was almost better than my 55' spot. Every trip, and I mean every trip, we limited out on mangroves 13"-17", including a couple big ones around 19", with various yellowtails, grunts, and triggerfish mixed in. The girls and my mom had a blast fighting these fish on light tackle. We even caught a 26", yes, a 26", yellowtail on the bottom which ate half a ballyhoo which was meant for a potential grouper (a random 24" schoolie dolphin showed up, look at the size of it compared to the mahi). Lots of chum and fresh ballyhoo is the trick, along with long and light fluorocarbon leaders, small jigheads or even a bare hook depending on what is biting. Most true bottom rigs also resulted in quick bites and big snapper, but the bullsharks would often eat your catch before you could get them to the boat. The sharks are aggressive this year, moreso than I remember!


The mahi bite was fantastic earlier in the month. We made 4 trips total. Our first trip we got 9 mahi and 1 tuna. Second trip was about 11 mahi, and our third trip was 13 mahi, and the last trip sucked with only 1 keeper mahi. All the mahi were good size and gaffable, most being 23"-28". Fish were caught around 12 miles out, 17 miles out, 22-25 miles out, and one day only at 28 miles out but they were solid. Scattered weeds and diving birds were key, as it always seems. Trolled swimming and skirted ballyhoo, and small lures like the red and black Billy Baits, worked great. I rig my own ballyhoo and I found out my crimper went bad... My crimp pulled on an estimated 30-35# bull on my 100# leader. I've never, and I mean NEVER, have had a crimp or a rig of mine fail in the 10 years I've been rigging my own ballyhoo... I was pissed. But oh well, it's not like we needed the meat, it just sucks to pull the hook on a big fish. New crimper purchased, but that's a whole other discussion....

On our way in on the last day, about 10 miles out we found a "black buoy" floating. As we got closer we realized, that's no buoy! That's... WOW. Square grouper! After a few minutes of taking pictures we called in the Coast Guard. About 15-20 minutes later, the big boys showed up and took it away. Not sure what it was, but still cool to see one in person!

All in all, a great month and I can't wait to go back next year. Thanks for reading. If you have any more questions about fishing areas or rigs, feel free to ask and I'll give you some more details. Good luck if you're headed down there!

Bonus pictures from our trip:


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