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Yellow tail snapper on Key Largo area

Hi all!,

This is my first post here, since I now have a boat to fish here in Miami, I have a 26" cabin cruiser.

I want to go fishing yellow tail snappers, but I need some advice because is my first time. I need to know good spots to find them, and also about the fishing rod and reel to be used.

All the help would be appreciated! I'm a south american angler with no so much experience here!




  • Ilive2fishIlive2fish Posts: 331 Deckhand
    You will need to head out to the reef anywhere from 30 feet deep to 90 feet. Use your depth finder to find good bottom that has rock and coral, avoid the sandy or grassy areas. Anchor up current of the reef area to avoid damaging the coral with your anchor. You can tell the good spots on a sunny day by seeing dark spots surrounded by sand. The reason you anchor up current is to have the chum flow to the reef and get the yellow tails to move out and come near your boat. You will need two chum bags with the bigger holes and get a case (6 chum blocks in a case) of frozen chum. You will put out both bags with a chum block in each, you need to chum A LOT!!!! You will need light action spinning rods with 15 pound test line spooled onto the reels. Get or make your own leaders with 20 pound test flourocarbon line and small hooks (1/0 or so). The leaders should be at least 18 inches long. The bait of choice will be squid cut into small pieces or silver sides or ballyhoo cut into strips. Let the bait flow back with the chum making sure to LEAVE THE BAIL OPEN on your reel. Sometimes the fish will be way back, let it flow. If you don't get a bite and the reel is more than half empty, reel it in and check your bait. You know you have a fish on when the line starts coming off the reel fast. Tails have to be 12 inches to be legal but try and let those go as you will have little meat on them. Try for the bigger ones. If after a half hour you don't get any bites, pick up the anchor and move. I usually move 4 or 5 times a trip. It is a fun type of fishing and when you get the hang of it you will be successful. There many other things you can do to improve but this is a good starting point. I am a part time Key Largo resident and that is the fishing we do the most. The area near Molassess reef can be productive but from there up towards The Elbow is all good. Study your charts. Be aware of the no fishing zones marked by big yellow buoys. Never pull up where another boat is fishing as this is considered bad form and rude. Also, when navigating, stay well clear of boats that are anchored and fishing. Take special care to not navigate too close behind them as you will cross over their chum line and scare the fish away. Good luck and let us know how you did. We went out on Tuesday and my wife caught a 23 inch Mutton Snapper that weighed 5 pounds while yellow tailing on the surface.
  • NacNac Posts: 3 Greenhorn
    Wow!! What a great explanation! I'm going to follow this guidelines this saturday and then I will let you know.

    About the bait, which one is the best? And where I can get it on Florida City/Key Largo?

    Thanks a lot!

  • Ilive2fishIlive2fish Posts: 331 Deckhand
    You can buy bait in Florida City as you get off the Turnpike and before you get on the 18 mile stretch and in Key Largo you have Capt. Pete's and Capt. Bad on the right side of US 1 and Yellow Bait House on the left side as you are heading South. As far as which one is the best bait, you can have a million opinions on this forum. Some people prefer silver sides where others prefer cut bait like squid or ballyhoo. I prefer squid but have used the others. If you can, take different kinds of bait and experiment to see which one works best. Which ramp are you using and where do you expect to fish?
  • ncdeadncdead Posts: 545 Officer
    The beauty of fishing in the area that Ilive2fish described is the variety of fish you can catch, not just yellowtails.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 16,405 AG
    I used squid as well. But you can sabiki up whatever comes to the chum slick as well. I had a jig head and 3 small gold hooks at 12" intervals just sitting in a rod holder and they'd bite just the gold hook.

    Squid stayed on the hook better than anything else I used. Good luck!
    You can't pet a dead dog back to life 
  • Ilive2fishIlive2fish Posts: 331 Deckhand
    well, did you go out today? it was really rough in the morning.....we went to the Key West Air Show instead.....too rough for us....
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