From the spectacular Independence Day fireworks display in the sky over Sombrero Beach to the frenzy under the water during lobster mini season, July is an active month here in Marathon.
Reef and wrecks
On the reef and wrecks, there’s tons of fishing action for all the snapper varieties plus the occasional grouper.
The mangrove snapper are making their way from the bay and gulf areas out to the reef edge to spawn. And, while they’re there, they eat. A lot.
Catch the mangroves near the bottom by using small live baits, such as pinfish and ballyhoo, fished on a 3/8- to ½-ounce jighead. If they are in your slick, use chunked-up pinfish or ballyhoo on Owner SSW 2/0 hooks with Seaguar 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders.
The yellowtail snapper bite is still pretty good, with the 60- to 90-foot depths typically working best.
Here, you should use small cut baits, such as ballyhoo pieces and bonita bellies, fished on Owner Mutu Light #4 hooks with Seaguar 15-pound fluoro.
Mutton snapper are spawning on the wrecks in 100-250 feet of water. Live ballyhoo is by far the superior bait for them, but pinfish and pilchards are also excellent. We use Owner AKI 4/0 hooks with Seaguar 40-pound fluoro leaders that are 15 feet long.
A great place to start looking for the muttons are the artificial reefs marked on any chart available at the local tackle shop. These areas also hold jack crevalle, amberjack and the occasional grouper.
Successful summertime snapper fishing requires ample amounts of chum. We like to enhance our store-bought blocks of chum with products from Aquatic Nutrition Sportfishing Chum. For the mangroves and muttons, we use Chum Drop. And, for the yellowtails, we find their Yellowtail Up product makes a huge difference. Ask your local bait shop for Aquatic Nutrition products or order them online.
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 all your summertime fishing, 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 27 and 28 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.
Better than 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 and tiger also making an appearance.
Most of the blacktip sharks average three to four feet in length and are great sport on light tackle. The lemon sharks are in the four- to seven-foot range and put up quite a fight when matched with spinning gear. Catch-and-release shark fishing in waters as shallow as four to five feet, with sharks swarming around the boat, makes for awesome summer fun fishing.