March, 2017 has been a transitional month for our offshore species. While the wahoo bite has been declining, we are still catching good numbers on both the South Drop and North Drop. In 2016 we continued to catch wahoo up through July so hopefully this spring and summer bite will be good for 2017 also. Most of the wahoo we have been catching have been in the 20 to 40 pound range. Nothing but blue marlin pull drag off a reel like a big wahoo.
The mahi mahi bite has been steadily improving. We are seeing much larger fish in 2017 than we did in 2016 with fish up to 50 pounds being caught and 30 pounders common. The smaller “schoolie” mahi have not arrived here in large numbers yet but April and May are historically the very best months for catching large numbers of smaller fish. We generally target the mahi trolling and then switch over to live bait once one or two are hooked. Mahi mahi are sometimes not the smartest tool in the shed as often the whole school of fish will surround the boat with their hooked buddies. What they lack in smarts does not detract from the amazing fight they put on once hooked or the beauty of the fish as they change colors before your eyes.
White and Blue marlin have started to make an appearance in March as we have caught both species in the last month. April 2016 I personally caught 15 marlin total. One 4 hour trip to the South drop last year provided two blue marlin, both of which were landed and released. Hopefully, spring 2017 will be as consistent with the marlin bite. Sailfish have been here in good numbers this winter and should continue to bite through May.
The tuna bite has been slow on the South Drop but has been picking up on the North Drop. The North Drop is a 20-mile run north of St Thomas and requires at least a 6-hour trip to fish there. Both blackfin tuna and yellowfin tuna bite on the North Drop will continue to improve. In past springs and summers, we have gone from school to school with hundreds of birds pointing out the huge schools of fish. We can expect this type of action to start up soon.
Reef fishing on the South Drop, located 8 miles South of St. Thomas and St John, is as good as ever. 20 plus species of fish are available here. Last night we caught two Nassau Grouper in the 20-pound range and a big Yellowfin Grouper close to 30 pounds. The Nassau Grouper is protected in the US Virgin Islands so I vented the swim bladder and released them. We kept yellowtail snapper for dinner as many of the large reef fish can have ciguatera toxin in their system. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciguatera Have no fear, we have never and will never give any fish to a guest that may have the toxin. The good news is there are a ton of fish on the reef and it is usually a sure bet to catch large jacks, barracudas, sharks, triggerfish, snapper, grouper, king mackerel, and many more.
I have been fishing inshore a lot recently and the action has been exceptional. The king mackerel bite has been very good trolling along with bonita and blackfin tuna. The king mackerel have been up to 40 pounds with 8 to 15 pounds common. Bottom fishing has been red hot for yellowtail snapper, small grouper, and jacks. Caribbean Reef and Bull Sharks have been common some reefs in deeper water near the Island. Inshore fishing generally provides great action, calmer seas and dinner.