The town of Marathon got its name from Henry Flagler’s railroad workers who considered it a long race to complete their epic construction project. During May every year, anglers delight in a fishing marathon in Middle Keys waters.
Pre-dawn and late evening hours are devoted to the pursuit of the silver king at the Seven Mile and Bahia Honda Bridges.
This time of year, the tarpon are feasting on the masses of mullet present in our area. They average 80 to 100 pounds, but we also encounter some real monsters upwards of 150 pounds migrating through.
However, anglers beware, as there are very large hammerhead sharks interested in a tarpon dinner. It is quite common to fight a tarpon for an hour and get it to the boat, only to watch a hungry shark snatch it from you.
Rather than scorn the sharks, why not have sport with them?
Catch-and-release shark fishing on light tackle in the shallow waters of FloridaBay is great sport for anglers of all ages and abilities.
We primarily target lemon, blacktip and bull sharks, typically ranging in length from three to eight feet. On occasion, however, we encounter tiger and hammerhead sharks, which can attain lengths of fifteen feet and more.
Regardless of size, all are capable of providing you quite a memorable thrill.
Early morning is the best time to target dolphin.
The dolphin run heats up during May with lots of gaffers, slammers and schoolies hitting the decks. These fish are most aggressive early on, so it’s best to start your day of fishing offshore searching for weed lines, debris and birds working the surface.
We are at the tail end of the sailfish migration to theGulf of Mexico, so you may experience the thrill of catching and releasing one of these acrobatic billfish while you’re looking for dolphin.
Fish all day on the wrecks, reef and in the Bay for a wide variety of fish.
The offshore wrecks offer up an excellent bite for amberjack and very large mutton snapper this time of year. The muttons are spawning, and you can expect them to exceed 20 pounds with regularity.
The long-awaited opening of grouper season is May 1
If it’s half as good as last year, you can look forward to a bounty of black, gag and red grouper coming back to the dock with you.
Mixed with the grouper are yellowtail snapper, which are beginning their annual spawn. We see the largest ‘tails of the year during May and June.
The reef also holds plenty of mutton and large mangrove snapper, all ready for the taking. All of this action takes place just four to five miles from shore.
There are still good numbers of mangrove snapper in the Bay, but the real excitement takes place on the wrecks 20 to 30 miles and beyond where the permit are migrating.
The permit average from 15 to 30 pounds. They are typically found around some form of structure, and the schools can number in the hundreds.
This phenomenon also occurs in the Atlantic on the higher profile artificial reefs such as the Thunderbolt and theSeven Mile Bridge rubble. Live blue crabs will do the trick.
As you can see, May is the month of opportunity in Marathon. So, gear up and get in the race!
Until next time … tight lines!
Capt. Chris Johnson, SeaSquared Charters, 7 Mile Marina, Marathon Florida Keys, 305-743-5305
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