Today was a highly unusual day offshore here. Ft. Lauderdale fishing charter trips very seldom include big Bluefish (10 to 15 pounders) as a species we expect to encounter. About every 4 to 5 years we see schools of these Blues here, and only for a few days. Typically when we do get them here they are in tight slowly moving, almost milling, schools about 20 to 30 yards wide probably holding several thousand fish in water from 200 to 400 feet of depth. That’s a lot of fish and they are ready to eat anything you put in front of them. That’s the way they were biting today with two very notable exceptions.
The “school” was probably three miles long and swimming rapidly to the south. The bulk of these fish were spread out from 50 to 150 feet of water and that put them right on top of our reefs. Scattered Blues all the way out to 500 feet. The carnage was huge. They had Triggerfish pushed up from the bottom to the surface with 5 to 10 Blues attacking each one. Box Fish aka Cowfish were also at the surface with their tails bit off as that is the only place the Blues could get their teeth through their rock like bodies. These species typically lead a safe and happy life on the reefs with few predators. The Blues changed all that today. Blue Runners, Flying Fish and even Yellowtail snappers were chased all over the surface until being eaten.
With the Bluefish everywhere it shut down our typical Kingfish, Bonito, Tuna and Sailfish targets. A scattered few Mahi-Mahi and Wahoo were taken outside of the Blues in 550 or more feet of water. You could catch those 10 to 15 pound hard fighting blues one after another and that action was stellar.
We have a Lionfish problem here on our reefs. They are a essentially a Pacific Ocean fish that has recently gained a strong foothold on our Atlantic reefs, with few predators to keep them in check. With those tens of thousands of Bluefish eating everything in their path we can only hope those bite sized Lionfish took a huge hit like everything else.