The reports have slowed down as has the fishing business. August is, notoriously, the slowest month of the year both in business and in daytime fishing. The daytime fishing is sporadic at best with the sea temperature approaching the high 80's to 90 degrees. The Dolphin fishing has been slow with very few decent sized fish being seen. When finding the birds or "floaters" the fish underneath have been unusually small this season. Occasionally, we are rewarded with a nicer fish moving to the south. Persistent live bait fisherman have found an occasional Sailfish and a few Kingfish have been available as well.
My last few day trips have been of the half day type due to the heat and afternoon thunder-boomers. We have had some success with the Dolphin but the majority of the catch has been the Bonito. Considered a lowly member of the tuna family they are still a welcomed and worthy opponent on 20# tackle and more often, than not, fill the void. The very last day trip I did showed us catching 3 smaller Dolphin and 13 Bonito with the largest being about 18 lb.
The night fishing is another game altogether. The water temperatures drop about 3-5 degrees after the sun goes down and the ambient temperature gets comfortable. Even though these temperatures get cooler the ocean "heats up" with the incredibly strong Swordfish, showing up to feed on the "Darkside". The seas are usually calm in the summer months making the night trip for this fish an enjoyable outing. Surprisingly, they are back up in numbers and with every passing day we see better results. Here is an example of one of the most recent trips.
Jon Clement, one of my more frequent clients, made a detour from his work path in Tampa to come to Miami and fish once again for Xiphias gladius. He had caught a 110# fish with me 2 years before, almost to the day, to complete his offshore "super grand slam" (Sailfish, Blue Marlin, White Marlin & Swordfish) in 2004. He came alone and determined as he did before. We arrived at one of my drift sights at twilight and immediately checked out the drift and began setting out 4 lines. Drifting at approximately 2 knots everything seemed perfect. The first drift produced a slash and jerk from the tip rod. Jon jumped on the rod and got about 3 cranks and as he began to feel the weight of a fish, the hook pulled. No sweat, the night is still early. We continued the drift but it was was uneventful. We pulled the lines up and ran the 5 miles back to the head of the drift track and I mentioned that I had seen a place on my bathy map that I wanted to try in some deeper water. Jon, said "Let's give it a shot, I trust you." We had plenty of time for a good drift and set up again. The drift began to show what was evidently good bottom contours. About an hour into the drift with the moon reaching almost full overhead, we had the closest float rod make a couple of quick clicks on the reel. Jon, once again at the ready, put the rod in his belt and came tight on this fish and in 30 seconds it was over. Dejected, he looked at me with the "its' not my night" look. I told him that it was getting about time to quit but what the heck, let's do another drift. Although Jon had an important conference call to do in the morning he gave me the affirmative nod. We ran up to that drift point again and with precision we had the lines in the water in short order. 2:35 AM and we had drifted about a half mile when I noticed the 2nd long rod twitch. Jon saw it too! We hovered there for what seemed an hour (a minute) and nothing came of it. We hardly started to relax when the reel started screaming and the LED was moving rapidly just under the waters surface. We let this fish have the bait for some extra time to see if we could guarantee a good hook up. When Jon threw the reel up to strike, the hook bit in and the fish was off to the races. 1 hour into the battle Jon had the fish at the 200' mark in the line and they were in a stand off at that position, giving and taking line for the next hour. Knowing I would be overdue at the Marina and a worried wife was a sure bet, I asked him to put some drag heat on the fish. After missing the other 2 bites and a recommendation from his wife to not come home without some Sword meat, he declined to push the lever to full drag. Out of cell range, I radioed USCG and told them I was safe and fighting a good fish just in case my wife called in to report me overdue. They actually took my phone # and called my wife to set her at ease! Thanks again to the USCG for doing this seemingly small but very important favor for me! Twenty minutes later we had the fish tired and giving in as we reached the 100' mark and I had to keep Jon calm because he was starting to grow more weary, anxious, and impatient. 75' and I see the LED clearly, easy Jon! 50' and I begin to see the fish in the light given off by the Hydraglow and I ready 2 large straight gaffs. 2 hrs and 20 minutes, 3 bottles of water and sweating profusely, Jon is about to claim his prize. Easy, easy, don't overwork it, relax! BAM, a perfect head shot with the largest gaff! Pulling for all I'm worth, I couldn't get the fish over the gunnel so Jon grabbed the other hook and sunk it in the dorsal area and the Gladiator hit the deck with a thud! Jon, his body overdosed on adrenalin, began puking up the water and lunch for the next few minutes. High fives followed as we tied the fish in for the run to port. 7:30 AM but well worth it to see the smile on his face as we grunted to lift the fish onto the dock (dead low tide) and weigh it. Not quite as big as I hoped but a good one none the less at 70" long and 147.4 pound.
If you haven't added the Swordfish to your list of catches, South Florida is the place to give it a try. September and October are great months to test yourself.