As the rest of the country hopes to leave winter’s cold behind during April, we anticipate a big warm up to the fishing here in Marathon, as many fisheries spring to life once again.
Let’s start offshore. April heralds the beginning of the dolphin (mahi-mahi) run in Marathon. Historically, we catch some of our largest fish of the year this month, and will often come upon slammers 25 pounds and greater within easy range.
While you’re on the hunt for dolphin, don’t discount the blackfin tuna bite at the humps. This fishery provides good sport and great eating, with copious amounts of larger fish in the 15- to 20-pound class showing this month. Trolling and pitching live baits attract the attention of the larger fish.
Another prime player in the offshore scene is the sailfish. They are on the move in big numbers through the Florida Straits toward their annual spawning grounds at the Yucatan Peninsula and are in search of an easy meal along the way.
Fishing for sails on the reef is typically excellent in April. When conditions are right, it’s quite possible to see upwards of 70 fish in an outing, with double-digit catches the norm.
On the reef and wrecks, mutton and yellowtail snapper begin to chew in earnest in preparation for their upcoming spawn in May and June. And, large mangrove snapper – fish over three and four pounds – arrive on the reef in ever increasing numbers to spice the catches.
The Atlantic wrecks, including the Seven Mile Bridge rubble and the Thunderbolt, will see the annual congregation of permit during April. Fish up to 30 pounds and more will be anxious to gobble up your crab offerings. Most of the time, they can be seen from the surface shining in the sunlight. The Gulf wrecks hold permit also along with abundant, good-size cobia, which begin their northward trek.
Mark your calendar as we’re now less than a month away from the opening of grouper season on May 1. If it’s anything like past years, the grouper will be off the chain and on the hook.
The annual tarpon run at the bridges begins this month as well. Schools of the silver king thicken from Long Key Bridge, through Seven Mile Bridge and on to Bahia Honda Bridge.
Each year, anglers from around the globe swarm to Marathon to get in on this exciting catch-and-release fishery, and there are multiple tournaments to join if you’re so inclined.
SeaSquared’s shallow-water shark fishing, as seen on George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing, comes into its own in April. Blacktips, bulls and lemons typically take our baits this time of year. We may even hook into a bonus tarpon.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, expect to find cobia, loads of permit and large mangrove snapper on the wrecks and hard bottom areas anywhere from 15 to 50 miles out.SeaSquared Charters Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305
Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Porky’s Bayside Restaurant and Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 305.743.5305, http://SeaSquaredCharters.com. For daily fishing reports with pictures, please click over to http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.