Play the Big Game this Fall with Finest Kind Charters
The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most popular sports fishing grounds for Big Game, Blue Water Species. During the fall season, changing temperatures push bait fish into regions accessible for Destin charter boats to have the best opportunity for reaching the same fish that have inspired fishermen, writers, historians, scientists, and artists for centuries. Novice and expert fishermen are offered the chance to experience the deep sea fishing trip of a lifetime while catching big game like Wahoo, Bull Dolphins, Yellowfin Tuna, Sailfish, White Marlin, and Blue Marlin, as they are abundant in the northeastern area of the Gulf of Mexico during autumn months.
Big game fishing should not be confused with half day and 3/4 day bottom fishing trips. You want to have plenty of time to engage with big game, once you gain ground with them. This means longer trips, expert charter captains, and flexibility for the conditions of the sea. To grasp the chance of catching one of these marvelous creatures, you must understand their habits and habitats. Customized charters that position anglers within the area favored by big game species usually run between 36 to 72 hours, depending on the season of migration, the temperature of the water, the phases of the moon, and the preferences of the species.
Learning more about the fish that you long to catch may help you to communicate your desires with the captain to create a custom charter designed specifically for your enjoyment. Experienced captains, like Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind, know these species well, and consider the variations in daily conditions to put you on the fish. With over 20 years of experience, Captain Mikel has encountered large numbers of big game species. He uses wisdom and expertise to determine the best location, time, and gear to provide his guests with the ultimate big game fishing experience in the Gulf of Mexico! No two charters will be the same, as a good captain must allow conditional flexibility for each day.
Where the Wild Things Are
Destin’s location puts anglers at a great advantage to reach the depths needed for large game fish during their seasons of migration within the area! Deep water, big game! As you can see in the map of the Gulf of Mexico’s seafloor, there seems to be a gradual slope up to a certain point where the bottom seems to drop off. Popular fishing spots for big game species around the drop off include the Edge, the Spur, the Nipple, Desoto Canyon, and the rigs. These points are reached easily by traveling about 30-40 miles SSW from the East Pass. However, to get further out, follow the fish, and allow for the day’s conditions to compliment deep sea fishing, a recommended trip for big game is always overnight.
Each line on this depth map of the Gulf of Mexico represents measurements in meters. Coming from Destin, you see a range of lines beginning at 5 meters, then 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and all of the sudden, a crazy swarm of lines that represents the 100-500 meter drops in depth. Welcome to deep waters! You want to make sure that you have access to deep waters at first light and sunset. Depending on the moon phase, fish may be biting all night. A 3/4 day trip is enough to get you out into deep water, but if big game fish were feeding all night, you’ll have less of a chance to hook them up! The best trips that allow you the time to hit the spot and have the opportunity to practice a variety of methods at different times during the morning, afternoon, evening, and throughout the night. The recommended charter for big game species in the northeastern territory of the Gulf of Mexico is from 36 hours to about 72 hours.
Wahoo are reportedly one of the fastest moving pelagic species in the gulf, hitting speeds of over 50 mph! A close relative to the makeral family, wahoo are large fish weighing between 35 and over 100 pounds, depending on the time of year and the age of the fish. Wahoo are unpredictable, which offers an exciting challenge for anglers seeking this species. Usually found as loners in adulthood, they are sometimes found in small schools of 2 to 6, or more in some cases. These sharp teethed zebras of the sea prey on reef and wreck dwellers. Wahoo have been known to strike when fishing for other species offshore when using trolling methods with live bait, rigs, and artificial lures. The violent shake of the head is characteristic for wahoo, and an experienced angler can tell his bite from other fish! Raved as one of the best seafood cuisines of the gulf, wahoo are sought after for their nutrient fresh quality and excellent flavor.
Appearance: Elongated body with a deep metallic or electric blue back, silvery sides, and typically have bright blue vertical tiger stripes that run down the sides. The upper jaw is movable, and the teeth are razor sharp. Wahoo have been reported to grow as long as 8 ft and up to 183 lbs. The average size caught in the Gulf of Mexico is probably around 4 ft long and 50 lbs.
Video Source: Nuclieyeone YouTube
Bull Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi)
One of the most desired fish in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bull Dolphin, also known as the Mahi Mahi, or the Dorado. This species is fast, habitual, and produces a savory meal. Living only about five years, the Bull Dolphin grows and reproduces rapidly. Mahi Mahi are typically caught using trolling methods. Most dolphin travel in schools, but the largest of this species can be found alone in deep waters. Dolphins are commonly found near floating debris and Sargassum weed lines, because they feed on squid, flying fish, and other sea creatures that hide in floating structures. Dolphins tend to migrate towards warm water greater than 68°F. The sun’s proximity above the Gulf of Mexico heats the water to the preference of Mahi Mahi. One of the amazing features of targeting the Bull Dolphin, is that you can expect other big game species close by! You will never see a dolphin in the same light that you will in the close encounter of fishing for the species. The vivid coloring of the Mahi-Mahi is electrifying with neon appearances as the fight unravels between fish and angler. Bull Dolphins jump high out of the water, and makes for an exciting experience unsurpassed by other fish hooked in the Gulf of Mexico.
Appearance: The Bull Dolphin is characterized by dark and bright blue to neon green colors along its back with yellow sides and splotches of green, gold and blue along its body. The forehead is high and flat, and the head of the male is usually much larger than that of the female, which is more sloped. The body of the dolphin tapers dramatically from the head to the tail. Mature Bull Dolphins can grow up to 80 pounds, but average catches range from 15 to 40 lbs.
Video Source: StokedOnFishing YouTube
In the Gulf of Mexico, Yellowfin Tuna are the kings of all related species of fish! Known for their physical beauty, strong swimming techniques, and exquisite flavor, the yellowfin tuna prefer waters of 68°F or higher, which makes the Gulf of Mexico a favorable location during autumn months, and even year round. Yellowfin tuna grow rapidly, reaching full maturity in about 4-6 years. Yellowfin swim in schools, and are usually accompanied by blackfin tuna and bull dolphins. Usually dwelling within 300 feet of the surface, yellowfin tuna are often found around floating debris and seaweed. The yellowfin is a visual predator that uses light from the sun or full moon to devour prey including a variety of smaller fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. They swim about 28 mph for long distances, but can reach speeds of up to 49 mph. Tuna thrive in offshore waters, and are made with the stamina to hunt and dwell in deep water conditions. Equipped with larger hearts, higher blood pressure, and more red muscle mass needed to move at higher speeds, yellowfin tuna are able to put up bigger fights compared to other saltwater game. The yellowfin tuna is a high in fat and contains pink to red meat, and is a favored fish meat by many Americans. The Gulf of Mexico is abundant with yellowfin, and using a variety of methods has proven successful for offshore anglers.
Appearance: Like most other tuna found in the gulf, yellowfins are football shaped missiles in the open water. Yellowfins have a deep metallic, blue back that fades into yellow and silver sides. The belly is often defined with vertical lines that extend throughout the body. The second dorsal and anal fins are long, crescent shaped, and yellow. Like other tuna, yellowfins have bullet shaped heads and bony plates that run between the second dorsal and anal fins. Yellowfins can grow over 200 lbs, but average catches range between 30 to 80 lbs.
Video Source: gulfhake1 YouTube
As the representative of Florida’s state saltwater fish, the sailfish is one of the most thrilling of the billfish species. Moving at speeds up to 68 mph, the sailfish puts up a good fight when hooked to a line jumping out of, and diving into the water to throw the hook. The sailfish grow rapidly, reaching lengths of 4-5 ft in one year. Sailfish are typically found offshore in deeper waters, usually around the 100-fathom curve. Following their prey, sailfish are commonly found on the same grounds as tuna, mackerel, squid, and bait fish. They use their sails to herd schools of bait into balls for feasting. Sailfish are targeted by sports fishermen for their brilliant techniques and beauty, but they are not desired by most anglers for their taste, as the meat is relatively tough. If cooking one of these species, try smoking the meat for the best chance at a tasty meal. Sailfish are abundant in the gulf, and usually prefer warmer water above 70 degrees.Sailfish have an average life span of 4 years.
Appearance:The coloration of the sailfish varies depending upon the level of excitement of the fish. The top of the body and fins are dark blue, and the sides are silvery white with brown spots and vertical bars with light blue dots. Fins are usually blackish blue, and the belly is white. Sailfish are distinguished from other billfish by their sail, in which the first dorsal fin is squared at the front, reaches a high at mid-point that is larger than the depth of the body, and has black spots. The upper jaw is elongated into a bill that forms a spear, which is circular in the cross-section. The upper jaw is about twice the length of the lower jaw. The sailfish can grow up to 11 ft long and 125 lbs, with an average catch being 4-6 ft and 30 to 50 lbs.
Video Source: NatGeoWild YouTube
Known for the grace and beauty of a ballet dancer, and the aggressive fight of a swordsman, the white marlin is a speedy hunter that has the ability to use its bill to stun other fast-moving pelagic species before moving in for the kill. However, research of white marlin diets indicate that speed, and not spear hunting, is the most often used weapon of choice for this species. Bony fish including dolphin, mackerel, flying fish, and bonito are the usual prey, much like that of yellowfin tuna and blue marlin. Therefore, the sighting of one of these species is often in the same territory as the other, since they tend to compete for the same foods. Commonly found near the surface of deep blue waters in areas where the currents push against the contour of the seafloor near canyons and drop-offs, white marlin are migratory creatures within the gulf and tend to spread out after spawning. They are typically found in water over 325 feet deep and prefer water temperatures above 71°F. White marlin can be found closer to shore, as they prey on bait fish similar to the methods used by sailfish. The white marlin is smaller than other billfish, but still makes for an amazing catch with tail-walking and leaping abilities. White marlins are known for tailing with only the dorsal lobe of the caudal fin visible above the surface. White marlins are usually caught and released after photos are taken with anglers in the Gulf of Mexico.
Appearance: With color changing according to the level of excitement, the white marlin is typically characterized by dark blue coloration on top, and a silvery white color on the sides and belly, and brown spots. The first dorsal fin is dark blue with black spots, which fade toward the back of the fin. The second dorsal fin and the pelvic fins are dark blue. The pectoral and caudal fins appear blackish brown with a possible white tip on the pectoral fins. The pectoral, first dorsal and first anal fins are usually rounded, rather than pointed. The first dorsal fin reaches a height larger than the depth of the white marlin body, and drastically drops to a low level for most of the body. The upper jaw forms a bill that is round at the cross section, and long and slender in comparison to other billfish. White marlin can reach up to 9 feet long and weigh 180 lbs, but the average caught is around 4-6 feet and weighs around 50-60 lbs.
Video Source: Brady Lybarger YouTube
The Man in the Blue Suit! The one that Ernest Hemingway often wrote about. The Blue marlin is considered the ultimate big game fish of the Gulf of Mexico. Another speedy carnivore reaching up to 60 mph, the blue marlin puts up a fight that could last for hours! Often found offshore in deep waters of 300 ft or more, the blue marlin prefers warm waters over 68°F, near the surface where it can prey on pelagic fish like bull dolphins, tuna, and mackerel. Blue marlins are often found swimming alone or in pairs. Females tend to be about four times larger than males, and can live up to 27 years, while males live for an average of 18 years of age. The Gulf of Mexico has an abundance of blue marlin, but encounters, as with all billfish species, is considered rare. With perfect conditions, a blue marlin is more typically found on trips targeting game fish that the species preys upon. Trolling methods are typically used for hooking up with this fish. Once hooked up with a blue marlin, you can expect a long fight with a strong pull, as these are one of the most athletic and largest game fish who use leaping, diving, and head-shaking to give you the most exciting deep-sea fishing experience of your life. Using light to feed proves that these creatures are visual hunters who use their bill to stun and slash prey before moving in for the kill. Blue marlin are often caught and released like the white marlin, but the meat of blue marlin is of more value for raw consumption in sushi.
Appearance: The dorsal fins and top of the blue marlin are cobalt blue with fading to light and dark brown with silvery white coloration on the belly and sides, with about 15 vertical rows of stripes draping the sides of the blue marlin. The upper jaw is elongated to form a spear with a relatively round cross-section. The dorsal pectoral, and anal fins are pointed. The first dorsal fin is high, and slopes drastically, running down the body. The second dorsal fin is small. The pelvic fins are slender with grooves to improve hydrodynamics. The blue marlin can reach up to 16 ft long and over 1,000 lbs. However, the average catch for blue marlins is about 200-450 lbs, with males rarely caught over 300 lbs.
Big game fishing for blue water species like Wahoo, Tuna, Dolphin, Sailfish, and Marlin in the Gulf of Mexico is best during the fall months of September through November, and possibly even into the beginning of December. The conditions vary by season, weather, moon phases, currents, and where the bait fish are moving. Call Captain Jason Mikel to see how the conditions are for Big Game Fall Fishing, or go ahead and Book Now! Always be sure to give yourself plenty of time on the water. This captain takes you where the fish are, but you want ensure enough flexibility for variable conditions, allowing your captain to make the best judgement within the given time! Scheduling 36-72 hours not only gets you to the deep blue, but it offers the opportunity needed to make this the ultimate deep sea fishing adventure, and a memory for the books!