The beginning of spring is near, as the sailfish pour through Marathon on their way to their spawning grounds somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Many anglers and charter boat captains are about to embark on the best sail fishing of the season as March nearly approaches, the baits dangling from kites or slow trolled from our riggers and sailfish flags will be flying. March has historically been Marathons best month for sailfish, as they pour down the reef’s edge, there will be pods of fish crashing bait as they make their trip around the coastline of the Keys. While fishing for the sails you will encounter many different other species as well, kingfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna will also be some prize catches as you troll the edge of the reef.
During this run of sailfish, run-n-gun fishing will be highly effective. Find the bait showers and you will find the fish. Running in areas which are rich in bait is essential, so look for the bait and chase down the birds, as they will show you where the feeding sailfish are balling up the bait. Don’t restrict this style of fishing in the deep water; many times sailfish will cruise in the shallows where bait is more abundant. This method can be expensive, but it will be the most productive under the right conditions. Many of us soak baits in certain areas outside the reef. We generally look for the outcroppings of the reef that tend to cause eddies which in turn hold bait. Once I found a good area I will just hold the boat in that area, because with baits in the water you really can’t cover much ground, so I post up where I think the fish will pass through and wait. Sometimes when it’s slow, I will move in or out depending where there might be a color change or a trickle line of weeds. I am always thinking conditions, depth, and history. Well what I mean is first I look for conditions, like weeds, color change, birds, or bait busting. IF then no bites, I will remember where they were the past week and try in that area or depth. The more you fish the more you will see patterns which the fish exhibit, and the more you will catch.
Along with the great sail fishing we will have in March, our bottom fishing will be outstanding, large yellowtails, mutton snappers, American red snapper and of course groupers. We also get some other fish such as African pompano, yellow jacks, amberjacks, and cobia. I recommend that you buy a Squeak’s Pinfish Trap, it’s the best, you can get them from him direct if you call me or go to Big Time Bait and Tackle I know they have them there. Put out the trap the day before you are going fishing and you will have more pinfish than you will know what to do with. Pinfish are an essential bait here in marathon, it what we catch most of our mangrove snappers, muttons and jacks on. Pinfish are a very versatile bait; they can be used for dolphin or cobia which might be cruising on the surface this time of the year. They can be cut into small pieces and used for yellowtail or if they are small enough a large yellowtail will enjoy them on a small jig.
Charter fishing has been my life for the last decade, knowing I am not going to be rich, I am rich, the faces of the kids after they catch a fish is absolutely priceless, this profession which I embarked on 10 years ago has brought me together with some really great people, lots of my clients have become great friends. Over the years my clients have invited to their home to experience some of the fishing they have where they are from, and now I know why they love coming down here, most of the fish they catch are the size of our bait. Fishing is fishing, as long as you’re with good friends it really doesn’t matter what you catch. I enjoyed catching small rainbow trout on fly up in the mountains, to catching bass and crappie in a pond, as long as you’re with good friends good times are going to be had. So when you go fishing, remember this, bring a friend and have a blast.