Aaah, September. Some call it the most wonderful time of the year.
The kids are back to school, which means our tourist base swings to a distinctly older demographic. A hush comes over resorts, restaurants and attractions throughout Marathon.
And, while there’s slightly less pressure on our fisheries, the fishing is still action-packed. It’s a great time of year to load up your freezer with treats fresh from the waters of the Florida Keys!
We see some of our hottest temps of the year during September, so why not get in the water and do some lobstering! It’s a heck of a lot more fun to catch the spiny lobsters (we call them bugs) yourself than to buy them.
The lobster grounds are less congested, which gives you a greater chance at success. With this decrease in recreational competition, there’s very little pressure on the fishery other than from the commercial lobstermen, resulting in plenty of lobsters to go around!
The bugs are on the move this time of year in the six- to ten-foot depths in Florida Bay, making them easily accessible for even novices. It takes some practice and patience to perfect the art of tickling them out of their holes, but it’s a lot of fun and the rewards are tasty indeed!
Speaking of their holes, there’s a sea of them out there, but finding them is not as easy a task as you might imagine. If you really want to make the most of your lobstering time, I highly recommend hiring a professional charter operation that offers lobster trips. They know where the bugs are hiding and will coach you for successful catching.
Another bayside fishery that’s action-packed is catch-and-release shark fishing. Lemons are the primary species this time of year, but we also see the occasional bull and blacktip. These sharks range from five to seven feet in length, with a few monsters over 200 pounds taking our baits.
We shark fish in very calm, shallow waters in Florida Bay, using light spin tackle. This fishing is an excellent choice for anyone prone to seasickness, but still offers the challenge of big-game Sportfishing closer to shore and easier on your budget.
The cooler mornings are a great time to head to the Atlantic side of the islands, where the reef bite for mangrove and yellowtail snappers remains excellent throughout the month. Lots of chum and baits such as shrimp, pieces of ballyhoo or small live pinfish all work well for these delicious snappers.
The wrecks and artificial reefs hold mutton snapper, with regular size pinfish the bait of choice here. In these same areas, you’ll also find amberjack and loads of large jack crevalle, which are tons of fun on light tackle.
This time of year, we expect only a scattering of dolphin offshore. But, as the waters cool to the north of us, they will begin to make their way to the Keys. If you’re determined to fish the blue water, there’s abundant blackfin tuna at the humps. What they lack in size, they make up for in number.
Whether you fish on top of the water or underneath, we hope you have a great September in Marathon!
SeaSquared Charters Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305
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, https://seasquaredcharters.com and http://Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.