Offshore, inshore, bay … the fish are jumpin’ in Marathon.
There were tons of schoolie dolphin offshore of Marathon during June, with enough large fish to keep it interesting. The fish were being caught just about anywhere from the reef out to 30-plus miles, while journeys as far as 40-plus miles were required for heavier specimens.
I don’t recommend novice boaters traveling so far. You’re better off going with a professional charter boat operation that is fully equipped with safety gear and is more accustomed to fishing in the depths.
If you’re offshore and find a floater or a substantial weed line, you may stumble upon a wahoo. Trolling diving plugs or wire-rigged ballyhoo on a planer should serve you well for these tiger-striped speed demons.
Snapper and Grouper
Fishing for snapper and grouper on the reef has been consistent for a couple of months and shows no signs of slowing down. The snapper are ready to spawn and will feed aggressively. The grouper are dining on the snapper and will be attracted to your offerings as well.
The yellowtail snapper range from just keeper size to as big as 25 and 26 inches. Provide them with lots of chum and they will respond aggressively, eating just about anything delivered to them.
If you think you may have mangrove or mutton snapper in your slick, tempt them with slightly heavier tackle, such as 15-pound test, 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders and a #1 to 2/0 live bait hook. Drift a larger chunk of ballyhoo or sardine back in your slick as you would for the yellowtails.
A 2- to 3-inch pinfish on a ¼ to 3/8 ounce jig head presented back or near the bottom in within your chum will often entice these larger snapper to bite.
Feeding on the smaller snapper are red, black and gag grouper. Large live baits, such as grunts, small blue runners and larger pinfish, will tempt them. Fish the baits on 30- to 40-pound tackle with a 6/0 live bait hook with a 40- to 80-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Shallow water shark fishing on the bay grass flats and inshore wrecks has been excellent for both lemons and blacktips, with the occasional bull also taking a bait.
Most of the blacktip sharks average 3 to 4 feet in length and are great sport on light tackle. The lemon sharks are in the 4- to 7-foot range and put up quite a fight when matched with spinning gear. Catch-and-release shark fishing in waters as shallow as 4 or 5 feet, with sharks swarming around the boat, makes for awesome summer fun fishing.
For pictures, videos and more information about the fun and excitement of shallow water angling for sharks, please visit Marathon Shark Fishing.
Lobster Mini Season
The two-day Sport Lobster Season (known locally as lobster mini season) is July 25 and 26 this year. We encourage all to join us for great fun with tasty rewards.
At the same time, we ask you to exercise caution, as our waters will be congested with boats and snorkelers, and please adhere to the regulations. Here is a link for complete information: http://myfwc.com/docs/RulesRegulations/Lobster_Brochure.pdf.
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of the 7 Mile Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 305.743.5305, SeaSquared@bellsouth.net and www.SeaSquared-Charters.com.