Marathon Florida Keys Fishing Report July 2014

July is an active month here in Marathon from the Independence Day celebrations straight through to lobster mini season, with plenty of fishing in between.


Mangrove action, day and night.


The mangroves have made their way from the bay and gulf areas out to the reef edge to spawn.  And, while they’re there, they eat.  A lot.  The mangroves can be caught during the daytime near the bottom on small, live baits or even larger chunks while you’re yellowtailing.


Nighttime is the right time. 


They lose their cautious nature in the dark, and you can get away with larger tackle than what’s required in the daytime.  We quite often use 20-pound spinning gear with 30-pound fluoro leaders and 2/0 to 4/0 hooks.


As for bait, pilchards are your best bet.  Most times, they will come up in your slick at dusk.  Throw a cast net on them and you’re all set.  Live or dead – it doesn’t matter.  But, always bring along a supply of other baits, such as pinfish or frozen ballyhoo cut into chunks.


The majority of the mangrove snapper will average anywhere from three to five pounds, with enough in the eight- to ten-pound class to really make it interesting.


When night mangrove fishing, you want to make sure you are in complete darkness with the exception of your anchor light.  Be cautious and observant as you won’t be alone out on the reef.  This is a very popular fishery, and there will be plenty of other boats in the area.


Plenty to do in the daytime.


The yellowtail snapper bite is still pretty good, with the 60- to 90-foot depths typically working best.


Offshore, there’s still plenty of dolphin around.  Just be sure to have your measuring stick handy as they tend to be on the short end this time of the year.  Remember, dolphin need to measure 20 inches to the fork of the tail in order to be keepers.


For either of these fisheries, early morning or late evening is more productive than the middle of the day.


Lobster season is upon us.


Midday should be reserved for exploring the reef with your snorkel and fins, lobstering during mini season, discovering the area watering holes or napping.


The two-day Sport Lobster Season (known locally as lobster mini season) is July 30 and 31this 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.


Shark week is just about here too.


But, you don’t have to settle for watching sharks on TV.


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


Click here for detailed daily fishing reports with pictures.

July 1 2014
Capt. Chris Johnson
SeaSquared Charters
Marathon Florida Keys



Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, sailfish, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, shark and tarpon fishing.  He and his wife, Christy, own and operate SeaSquared Charters out of Porky’s Bayside Restaurant and Marina in Marathon.  You can reach them at 305-743-5305, and  


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