7 Ways Boating Boosts Your Health

7 Ways Boating Boosts Your Health

Do you dream of escaping the daily grind and getting on the ocean for a relaxing adventure? Well, there’s good news! Boating isn’t just about enjoying the beautiful scenery and collecting ‘fish tales’; it’s a fantastic way to boost your overall health and well-being. We’ve got you covered on the perfect day of action! Read on to know why booking a day of adventure isn’t just fun – it’s a mental necessity! 🙂 

From reducing stress to reconnecting with nature and boosting vitamin D to bonding with friends, discover the many health benefits of boating.

Boating is nearly a $60 billion dollar industry in America with almost 12 million registered boaters in the country! So clearly, lots of people from coast to coast enjoy boating all year long. And there are a variety of reasons why boating is so great! From logistical and essential transportation to helping us forge long-lasting memories with family and friends, and fun summertime recreation to the many health benefits of boating, there’s something magical and momentous about being out on the water.

That’s right, while your mind may immediately go to boating and family time when you see a lake or river, there are both mental health benefits of boating and physical health benefits of boating too! It’s true! Because of the physicality involved in boating and the reality of boating and stress relief, boating can boost your mental and physical health in ways that you might not expect. This means there are even more reasons for you to dedicate quality time to being on the water whenever you get the chance! Check out these 7 health benefits of boating.

1. Decrease Stress

Work, school, laundry, grocery shopping, scooping the cat litter, and other everyday responsibilities can load a lot of stress onto your mind. While the idea of “getting away from it” can be a cliche, the mental health benefits of boating are very real! Being on a boat or fishing from a kayak can decrease your stress level and reduce tension in your mind and body.

2. Reduce Anxiety

The health benefits of boating become clear even if you only have an hour to spend on the water in a canoe or kayak. Boating can reduce anxiety and have positive benefits for your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and so much more.


3. Boost Vitamin D

Of course, you can’t experience a boost in vitamin D simply by being on a boat but when you push out from the dock on a sunny day, your body starts to synthesize vitamin D and that can help to strengthen bones and increase your ability to absorb phosphorus and calcium, two important minerals! That said, don’t forget to lather up before you go boating and reapply a high-SPF sunscreen to stay safe from the sun all day long!

4. Boating and Social Interaction

Having people you love and care about around you is a great way to improve your mental health and wellbeing. This is true on land and on a boat. We now have a better grasp of how devastating and dangerous loneliness can be for a human being, including leading to depression and heart disease, so it is important that boating and social interaction go hand in hand. You can focus on boating and family time during a vacation with your kids or rent a pontoon and invite your best friends and co-workers to enjoy a day on the water with food, beverages, good music, and a lot of water toys for swimming around the boat. You’ll feel a deeper connection to people, laugh and smile, and in the process, the loneliness you may suffer from time to time will sink to the bottom of the proverbial ocean!

5. Physical Activity

Whether you’re just learning how to kayak and are calmly working your way across a placid lake on a beautiful morning, or tying up a pontoon boat to a dock, boating and exercise are as intrinsically linked together as boating and fresh air! One of the physical health benefits of boating is the sheer muscle movement required to drive, dock, and maintain a boat, and paddle, canoe, and haul your personal watercraft into and out of the water. You’ll get a workout at the same time as enjoying nature and feeling the stress of your everyday life evaporate.


6. Experience Nature

Birds chirping, dragonflies swirling, and the leaves on the trees rustling in the breeze — one of the health benefits of boating is that boating and wellbeing are both being enjoyed simultaneously while you are on and around the water! Nature can help heal us and there’s no better way to enjoy nature than from the water on a boat!

7. Science Doesn’t Lie

Do you know that about 60% of the human body is made up of water? It’s true and water is also a part of our long history because our primordial ancestors crawled or swam out of oceans many millennia ago. Science is real and it has been observed that the mere sight and sound of water can deliver feelings of calm and relaxation, further proving the health benefits of boating today. So what are you waiting for? Make a plan to go boating!

Before you head out on the water, make sure you read up on boating safety to ensure that you and the ones you love are safe.

Unleash your inner fishing champion and plan your perfect Marathon fishing charter trip! Call today at 305.610.4778 and visit our Facebook here.

A Florida Keys Marlin Story

Out in the Florida Straits, fishing in the deep blue sea, is my favorite place to be. From being a charter boat captain, I’ve found you can never predict anything. Just be glad the weather’s mild most of the year…

This latest adventure involves three friends and story similar to the Old Man and The Sea.

About two months before this trip, my Friend Paul and his lovely wife Alice called me up and booked an offshore trip with the intentions of targeting a blue marlin and some mahi mahi. During his phone call he told me about this amazing dredge that one of his acquaintances had, which he wanted to try out. Of course, I told him to bring it, as Marathon has marlin even if most people don’t fish for them.

Fishing for marlin is very involved with dredges, teasers and numerous baits in the water. This can be very boring most of the time because it requires ignoring the mahi mahi and tuna, and it involves lots of trolling. The process of looking for particular conditions and certain bird behavior can be very taxing. So, after hanging up the phone, I pulled up my calendar and crossed out the day he wanted and caught myself daydreaming a bit, and I was dreaming of the perfect marlin trip.

As my season went on, I forgot all about this special charter I had booked months in advance. The night before, I got a phone call from Paul. He said he was in town and ready for the marlin trip in the morning. This occurred during our peak season here in the Keys, and I was very busy and had forgotten that their trip was specifically for marlin. While talking to Paul, I pulled up my calendar on my phone and saw that this trip was indeed to target marlin. I got goosebumps with the excitement of the possibility of catching one.

As we caught up with our lives, he reminded me about his friend’s dredge he wanted to try while we were out there. He also told me they were supposed to try it the week before, during the Viking Shootout (which is a tournament held by Viking Yachts). They never got around to using it, and they very much wanted to try it out. Of course, I told him, since I don’t own one myself, I would love to check it out. I usually use top water squid teasers, but I thought that the dredge might be better – or at least look sexy in the water (as 80% of the tackle you see in the tackle store is to catch the fisherman, not the fish).

The next morning came quickly, a slight glow peering out from the darkness east on the horizon as I drove up to the dock. I opened the tailgate of my truck and started to unload my rods and marlin gear from the truck bed. I started to get goosebumps again, and I guess this happens every time I get the chance to go marlin fishing. They are the top gamefish in the world, bar none. Their sheer strength and agility alone make them without equal in any ocean.

It was about 7:00 when I finally got all the gear loaded on the boat, and iced down both Fridgid Ridgid coolers. In the live well I was thawing horse ballyhoo which were to be rigged on some knuckleheads and Islanders on 200 pound leaders. The main colors I use are black, black/purple, dark blue, chartreuse and pink. Fish will eat anything, but I really like those colors as I am a little bit of a naturalist. Most of the bait that would naturally be offered here would be flying fish, tuna, dolphin, and squid.

Once I got most of my rigs laid in my bait cooler, Paul and Alice drove up nice and early, as I am sure they were just as excited as I was. After greeting them, I helped them load their gear onboard and it was at this time Paul showed me this dredge he wanted to pull today. What a beauty it was. It had retractable arms and looked to have about 60 individual pink rubber squids. He showed me the adjustable weights for running it at different speeds. When fishing with all artificial baits, you will run the boat much faster than if you use natural baits, so having an integrated weight system is a great option.

I started the engines, tossed the lines and we were off. The anticipation was getting the best of me, or maybe it was the quad-shot of espresso from Curly’s Coffee Shop, but all I know was that my whole body was vibrating. We rounded the corner of our marina’s unmarked channel and made for the sea as I pushed the throttles to 4500 RPMs to get up to cruising speed at 31 kts.

We all looked at each other with excitement and I chimed in and laid out my plan of attack. Since I’d been out on the water every day, I’d been seeing free-jumping marlin just on the inside edge of the wall (which is the continental shelf). I proclaimed that we should start there. Putting the blinders on, we passed a few sets of birds that I was sure had dolphin under them, but kept the course true and headed straight to the area where I had seen many marlin all week.

After about a thirty-five minute run on calm majestic blue water I looked down and saw that we were close, so I powered down the engines and proceeded to lay out the outriggers while leaving the course to the auto pilot. I proceeded to pull out four rigged baits and started systematically setting up our spread.

After all the baits were in position, the amazing dredge was unfolded and placed into the water, and just as I suspected, it was sexy! I mean it looked amazing just out of the prop wash on the port side with our first bait on the port flat line right behind it. This dredge was truly a one of a kind. I think it only took twenty minutes – and fish on!

The fish was big, pulling drag steadily away from the boat, as we waited for it to breach. To our surprise, it didn’t breach but kept dumping the line at an impressive rate. Alice and I frantically pulled lines in and finally got the dredge out and threw it in the back trough so it was out of the way. Looking at Paul’s reel, I notice that the backing was starting to show. I quickly started to tack over to his fish.

At this point, the mystery fish (which I was thinking since it hadn’t surfaced it might be a big yellowfin tuna) started to slow down, and Paul was able to gain back a hundred yards of line. Thirty minutes into the battle I was able to get pretty close and we finally saw something. It was dark and big, as it was still sixty to seventy feet down.

Paul, with beads of sweat dripping off of him as if he just got splashed, was doing a phenomenal job putting solid pressure of the fish and it was at this time the fish took off as if it weren’t even attached to a fifty pound outfit and a weary Paul. All that line we just gained back was gone and then some, as now the fish was in high gear dumping us.

At that moment my heart jumped as I watched the splice from the backing fly through the guides at warp speed. It was at this moment that we were finally able to identify the fish as it leapt from the cobalt blue ocean. “It’s a blue marlin!”, I yelled, my heart still pounding. I slammed the engines in gear to chase him down. The marlin jumped several times, lurching away from us. Every time I got close to him he would jump and run, greyhounding away from us – he truly was a superstar.

After about an hour and a half, we subdued him long enough to get a few pictures and some video (which somehow got erased). While holding the leader, the 200 pound test finally gave way, and the fish we been battling swam off unharmed, but I think we may have hurt his pride. We all sat there and watched him swim down into the deep, dark blue. What an experience, Paul’s first blue marlin, on the day we went specifically for them. As one of my role models growing up used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together”.

The Ultimate Guide to Deep Drop Fishing in the Florida Keys

Fishing Where the Sun Don’t Shine: Equipment, Rigs, & Species.

The fastest growing fishing industry has been the deep dropping with electric reels. In the past ten years this fishery has absolutely exploded. Reel manufactures have been busy to keep up with each other as new functions and new design breakthroughs, let anglers reach new depths of the ocean with ease.

Break out your checkbook because new technology isn’t cheap, ranging from $1,000 to $4,700 for a reel was the norm. More than a decade has passed since the explosion of electric reel enthusiast’s and the price for the new and improved reels have finally started to come down. What was $1,000 is now $600 and what was $4,700 is now $3,500.

The pros and cons of the major reels we use will determine which ones we will buy. I will break down a few pros and cons and you determine which reel is the best for you.

Part I: Deep Drop Rods – Pros and Cons

Daiwa 1000

Price $600

Florida Keys deep drop fishing reel Daiwa 1000
Daiwa Tanacom 1000 Power Assist Reel

Pros Cons
 Light Weight  Poor Torque
 Safety Stop  Body is Plastic
 Medium Retrieval Speed  Dropping you have to pull back on the spool to Disengage
 Line Counter
 Line Capacity
 Line Guider


Recommended Use: This reel is great for deep dropping for bottom fish but not swords, but limited to 1200-1500 feet of water which covers most species of bottom fish but not all.

Daiwa 3000

Price $3,500

Deep Drop Fishing Rod tested in Florida Keys
Daiwa Marine Power MP 3000 Power Assist Reel

Pros Cons
Huge Line Capacity Slow Retrieval Rate
Tremendous Torque Heavy
Line Counter
Line Guider
Safety Stop
Aluminum Body


Recommended Use: This reel can be used for any deep water application but because it is so slow it takes forever to come up from really deep depths, it can be used and I like using it because of the line counter, and line guider, but since it is so slow your wasting time waiting for the rig to be retrieved.

Hooker Electric w/ Shimano Tiagra TI80WA Reel

Price $3,999

Pros Cons
Fast Line Retrieval Heavy
High Torque No Line Counter
Line Capacity No Line Guider
Aluminum Body No Safety Stop


Recommended Use: The Hooker comes in different sizes but depending on your application, the most common size is this one as it can be used for bottom fish and swordfish. It is very fast and has lots of torque for putting the screws to the fish especially in the Bahamas where sharks are very numerous. If you weren’t interested in sword fishing at all I would recommend their 30/0-50/0 reels. Now if you are a Penn guy I do believe the hooker can be rigged with Penn International as well with the Shimano Tiagra.

Kristal Fishing w/ Electric XL655 XF-Xtreme Reel

Price $3,450

Pros Cons
High Torque No Line Counter
High Retrieval Speed No Line Guider
Composite Body No Assist Handle
Tremendous Line Capacity Heavy


Recommended Use: Kristal reels are strictly deep dropping rigs with no handles, which if your electric reels stops for some reason you have no way of getting the line back on the reel effectively. They come in all sizes depending on your application. Most people get the largest or second to largest model so they can fish for whatever at any depth. The Kristal is the only reel out there that I am aware of that has a composite body and levers which is great on corrosion. Salt water is extremely caustic and in time eats all metals.

Dolphin Electreel w/New Shimano Tiagra 80WA

Price $3,170

Pros Cons
High Torque No Line Guider
Line Capacity No Line Counter
Aluminum Body Bulky, Heavy
Assist Handle

Conclusion: I hope this comparison will help you on your next purchase and these are only a few. There are many different sizes for electric reels and depending what you plan on doing with it will determine which size best suits your needs. The bigger the electric reel, the more expensive it is as in most reels. The biggest electric reels are mainly used for sword fishing as it is overkill on torque and line capacity for fishing waters less than 800 feet. The smaller reels will be fine for most deep dropping applications for snappers, groupers and tilefish.

Fishing where the sun doesn’t shine may not be for you, but catching fish only other people get to read about is part of the fun. The other part is eating them as almost all of these deep water species are fantastic table fare.

Part II: Deep Drop Species & The Rigs to Catch Them

Blue Line Tilefish

Blue lIne Tilefish caught deep dropping in Marathon FL
Two beautiful blueline tilefish reeled up from the deep waters off Marathon FL.

Blue Line Tilefish can be found near or on rock ledges or humps from Depths of 700-450 feet of water. I find that their favorite bait is squid, but they will eat just about any kind of fish. Their average sizes here in the Keys are 5-8 pounds with big ones up to 15 pounds are caught but infrequently. As far as food fair the smaller ones are by far better than the larger ones and they would be at the bottom of the chart from the best tasting to worst tasting deep drop fish. But by any means they still are better than yellowtail snapper, so they still are very good eating.

When fishing for them I will use small hooks usually 5/0 super mutu because of their small mouth. Even though these fish tend to be small they fight pretty good all the way to the surface, and if you lay your rig down and utilize all the hooks on your rig you may get a full stringer or at least three and then the fight is on! When using hand cranks or electric reels deep dropping is fun and you can fill the cooler with great eating fish.

Blue Line Tilefish are considered a grouper when consulting the FWC which lets you take three per angler as long as you still have three open grouper slots in your take still left open. If you had caught a snowy or yellow edge grouper then you would only be able to keep two. Remember that they are considered in your aggregate grouper take.

Golden Tilefish

golden tilefish caught deep dropping off Marathon FL Keys
Always a unique catch – a golden tilefish from a Marathon deep dropping charter.

Golden Tilefish are found from 1300-450 feet of water and are located on muddy bottom. They mainly eat squid but will eat other fish, yet squid should be the bait you use to have good success. Unlike most of the deep drop fish, Golden Tilefish are primarily are found on muddy bottoms as it becomes night they burrow into the mud for protection while they sleep. Golden Tilefish are beautiful fish with gold and blue and as they get older they grow a soft horn like appendage on the top of their head which has such a vibrant golden color to it.

As the Blue Line Tilefish the Golden Tilefish are categorized in the grouper aggregate but you are only allowed to harvest one fish per harvester, for instance you could have one Golden Tilefish and two Blue Line Tilefish or one Golden, one Blue Line, and one Snowy. There is no boat limit on Golden’s so you can have one golden per person on the boat.

I generally will use small to medium hooks for Golden’s, 5/0-10/0 circle hooks, and I do prefer the super mutu. Like the Blue Lines, the Goldens do not come off of the bottom to eat so if you lay the rig down on the bottom you are more likely to get multiple hook ups on one drop.

Snowy Groupers

snowy grouper caught deep dropping in Marathon FL Keys
Nice sized snowy grouper pulled up from the depths while deep drop fishing in Marathon, Florida Keys.

Snowy Groupers are found from 1100-450 feet of water near or on rock, ledges, holes or humps. I prefer to use large circle hooks 14/0-16/0 Mustad old school circle hooks. I use very large baits, such as whole Tinker Mackerel, slabs of Bonita or Skipjack, giant Squid and even fillet of Dolphin fish when the bait is hard to get. Usually Dolphin is already in the box as when I go deep dropping, as we find them on the way to the grounds, but I always bring some sort of bait just in case. Snowy Grouper are a prized catch down here in the Keys because it is so good to eat, one of the best eating fish in the ocean as far as I’m concerned.

Of course Snowy grouper is in the grouper aggregate category and you are only allowed to harvest one per vessel in Federal waters but in State waters you are allowed one per harvester in conjunction with your grouper aggregate. State waters end three miles from any point of land so you’re only going to catch them in Federal waters, but sometimes in Miami to West Palm Beach the deep water is close in where you could catch a snowy in State waters.

A big problem we have sometimes is we catch two Snowy Groupers on the same rig and because we are always in Federal waters we are required to throw back a doomed grouper instead of keeping a second Snowy. It’s the law and we have to follow it even though it’s wasteful. So, on my snowy rigs I usually only have two to three hooks instead of four or five and as soon as I feel the fish is hooked I bring up the rig so not to catch a second accidentally.

Yellow Edge Grouper

yellow edge grouper caught deep dropping and some dolphin
It was a Haul of a Day. Some nice yellow edge grouper to round out the dolphin feast.

Yellow Edge Grouper are found on or near rock Ledges, holes or humps. Yellow Edge grouper are very similar to the Snowy Grouper except they have yellow edges on their fins. As with the Snowy Grouper, Yellow Edges eat the same bait and I use the same set up for the two fish. Yellow Edge Grouper are mainly found in water depths from 600 feet to 900 feet.

When you catch a Yellow Edge Grouper you will catch more there, unlike the Snowys the Yellow Edge Grouper tend to school up a bit. I still like to use big baits and big hooks as these fish have enormous mouths, and sometimes of the year we get these really small Blackfin Tuna about a pound or two and I will use the whole fish for bait, I just split the tail so the bait swims instead of spinning.

Yellow Edge group taste the same as Snowys, if you were to do a taste test no one would be able to determine which fish was what. For such a similar fish you would think that the regulations would be same, but Yellow Edge Grouper have a one fish per harvester in conjunction with the three fish grouper aggregate limit.


wreckfish caught deep dropping in Florida Keys
Nobody said fish had to be pretty. This big guy is a wreckfish hooked while deep dropping in over two thousand feet of water in the Florida Keys.

Wreckfish are found from 1100-2600 feet of water on rock ledges, holes, and humps. When fishing for Wreckfish, I use 16/0 circle hooks and huge baits as these fish get big, averagely they weigh in at 60 pounds but can reach a few hundred pounds. When using such large baits you will need to increase you weight size and because of the depth the weight size should be ten to fifteen pounds. And again, because of strict regulations I only drop two to three hooks because this fish you are only allowed to keep one per vessel and it is only open for three months out of the year.

The Wreckfish is categorized in the grouper aggregate even though it’s not a grouper, it’s a member of the sea bass family. I have caught many in the past but in the past few years during the time of year we are allowed to catch them now I haven’t been very successful. Their food fair is ok, but really tough, I like to over cook them on the grill and then dip in drawn butter and it resembles lobster.

Queen Snapper

queen snapper caught deep dropping in Florida Keys
Ain’t she a beauty! The queen snapper is one of the most beautiful bright colored fish in the sea. And tasty, to boot.

Queen Snapper are found on or near rock ledges, holes and humps. This fish is highly prized for its meat and how beautiful they are. I tend to use big hooks for these not because of the size of their mouth, but because their mouths are soft and hooks tear out easily, so by using larger hooks I’m able to get a deeper bite with the hook to help ensure getting this tasty fish to the boat.

Queen snapper will eat any type of bait, most people use squid, but I like to have an assortment of different types of bait on the same rig with four to five hooks, as queen snapper are like most snappers, great at getting the bait off the hook without getting hooked.

The Queen Snapper is probably the best eating fish we have here in South Florida and they are quite numerous during the fall and winter months, as we get into the spring all of these fish leave and go somewhere, probably Mexico as that is the only place I have seen queen snapper of this quality like my long time fishing buddy Andy Payne is holding up in this photo of a twenty five pound specimen.

Currently we are allowed ten fish per angler but we never reach our limit as the time it takes to get down to the bottom and hook and bring back one to two fish at a time there just isn’t enough time in the day to get your limit. When these fish are in our area they are also followed by large sharks, so beating the sharks and trying not to pull them off the hook a lot of times we don’t get one every drift.

Unlike the deep water groupers and tilefish, queen snapper migrate long distances, because when they leave the Keys they are nowhere to be found in South Florida, except for a couple here and there. The majority of them leave our vicinity and are out of reach of us Keys fisherman.


escolar caught deep dropping in Marathon, FL Keys
An oldie but goodie. Capt. Dave Schugar of Sweet E’Nuf Charters with an Escolar reeled up from the deep waters of the Florida Keys.

Escolar can be found in 1300-2600 feet of water on rock and sandy bottoms. Escolar have many different species among their family, this one in the photo is an Escolar Roudi and is found very deep where mainly their only food are Anglerfish, Scaled Dragonfish, squid and many other deep water species most people have never heard about unless you watch the Discovery channel.

When fishing that deep I like to use squid and barracuda. I love squid for dropping because that is the natural forage fish these deep water species are accustomed to eating, and I like barracuda because of its tough skin, it is really hard for the fish to get it off the hook and also because it’s so stinky.

I generally use large hooks when dropping that deep as most of the fish even when they are small have big mouths. I will use 14/0-16/0 hooks with four to five hooks on my rig fishing this deep.

Escolar is quite common fish to find in a sushi restaurant otherwise you will almost never see it on the menu. It is a very oily fish and not great to cook. Some people will have a different opinion but that’s why there are so many fish to choose from.

Usually you don’t target Escolar, but instead it’s an accidental catch while fishing for other deep water species in the Florida Keys. When fishing ledges and humps, lots of different deep water species congregate there for many reasons, one being food, and others like the cover.

Yellow eye and Blackfin Snapper

yellow eye caught deep dropping off Marathon FL Keys
No telling where this Yellow Eye got his name…

Yellow eye and Blackfin Snapper can be found from 400-1000 feet of water on rocky walls and humps. Generally found off of Key West and the Bahamas this fish is greatly sought after as its soft snapper fillets are highly prized by anglers.

These fish gather in huge schools so one you found them you should load up. I generally use smaller hooks such as 5/0-8/0 super mutu circle hooks with 5-10 hooks on the rigs. These fish a have a distinctive yellow eye and the Black fin Snapper will have black on its body around the pectoral fin.

They are regulated by the 10 snapper aggregate limit. As of now there is no closed season. The best bait is barracuda because they are masters of getting the bait off your hooks, it’s absolutely amazing how efficiently they strip your bait off the hooks without getting hooked.

Barrel Fish

barrel fish caught deep dropping in Matrathon FL Keys
Barrelfish AKA Chicken O’ The Sea. Tasty deep dropping catch.

Barrel fish can be found from 700-1200 feet of water on ledges and humps. This is one of my favorite fish in the ocean. I call it chicken of the sea, because of its mild flavor and its unique texture. You can make nuggets out of it and fry like chicken and people who normally wouldn’t eat fish will enjoy it as long as you didn’t tell them it was fish. It has the texture of chicken and I just love it.

I catch them on mainly squid but they will eat cut fish. I use big hooks because like the Queen Snapper they have soft mouths and they fight hard so they tear of the hook fairly easy. Barrel Fish have an unusually thick slime coat, as you hold them for a photo it isn’t uncommon for the slime to actually goop off and hit the deck. Make sure you clean it off as it will become a slip hazard if left on the deck. Currently there are no regulations on them and they are quite plentiful if you can find them.

Misty Grouper

misty grouper caught deep drop fishing in marathon fl keys
This guy is a beast. Misty grouper, not top choice for eating but a great catch while deep drop fishing.

Misty Grouper are found from 700-2000 feet of water on just about all structures. This grouper are primarily found in the Bahamas but occasionally I have caught a few here in the States. They are usually very deep and are found where the Silk Snapper are as that is their natural forage food.

I use big hooks and big baits for them and currently the regulations is one per harvester with conjunction with your grouper aggregate limit. They aren’t the best eating but not bad, definitely good for frying as they too tend to have very firm texture.

From the Photo my friend and Captain Blain Lemn accompanied my group to the Bahamas where we caught this fish. Misty Grouper are easily identified by its large striped pattern.

Black Belly Rosefish

black belly rosefish caught deep drop fishing in FL Keys
No words to describe…

Black Belly Rosefish can be found from 600-1500 feet of water on every bottom type. These small fish are all over the place on the bottom and are quite tasty, very similar to Hogfish. They eat just about anything you put down there and there are no regulations for them either.

They look a lot like a small grouper but they are actually related to the Scorpion Fish. Not toxic or poisonous this fish is usually a bycatch when fishing for other species. It gets its name from the lining of the stomach cavity which is a shiny jet black. It is not uncommon to come up with a full stringer of these while fishing the deep water. They don’t fight very hard and a lot of times you don’t even know they are on the line.


swordfish caught daytime swordfishing in fl keys
Imagine reeling for an hour per every 100 pounds of this swordfish. Have you thanked your electric reel today?

Swordfish can be found on ledges and humps from 1100-2600 feet of water. This is one of the greatest pelagic species that live in the ocean. It isn’t uncommon to catch one over 400 pounds. They will eat a variety of baits either on the bottom in the daytime or on the surface at night. Swordfishing in the daytime we fish on the bottom because that’s where their food is and they constantly eat 24 hours a day.

I use large J hooks with the bait sown on to ensure that they don’t knock the bait off as they feed. When Swordfish feed, they use their bill to kill or injure their prey before eating it. They swing their bill smacking the bait many times to subdue it. And for this reason we find by sowing the bait on it will still be on the hook after the Swordfish swats at it.

These fish once hooked take about an hour for every hundred pounds that they weigh to reel in. They have very soft mouths and we lose lots of fish from hooks tearing out. They are so powerful and can swim up to the surface from 2000 feet of water in a matter of minutes, which is a marvel because of the pressure change would kill most fish. Their meat is very sought after and one small fish can yield 50 pounds of meat, so just imagine a 300-600 pound fish yielding.

2015 Fish With a Hero Event in Marathon

Fish With a Hero Boat
The American Flag Flies High for the Veterans

This year was the second in a row for the Fish With a Hero event led by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. The Florida Keys community of Marathon welcomed veterans from Tennessee and North Alabama for a week of fishing and fun from September 21-25.

Veteran, local resident, angler, and PHWFF supporter Larry Kendzior succeeded in raising the funds needed to bring the 33 veterans and 9 volunteers to Marathon. Middle Tennessee Electric Co-Op generously gave a grant that paid for the transportation. For many of the veterans visiting Marathon, a deep sea fishing charter was a new experience, which made the event special for everyone involved, anglers and captains alike.

vets going fishing at the dock in marathon
Vets and charter captains at the dock getting ready to go fishing.

Twenty fishing charter captains and crew donated their boats for two days of fishing with the veterans. Local restaurants donated food and Pigeon Key Foundation donated lodging. For many of the veterans, the 18 hour bus trip to the Keys can be a difficult journey, as some have severe physical handicaps or PTSD. Just like the fishing, organizers try to ensure that the trip is therapeutic, with veterans joining together with others, eating brown bag dinners, and meeting their “bus buddies.”

The Fish With a Hero event organizers describe the veterans’ trip as “sharing part of your life with someone who has been there and really understands your feelings. To be able to open up and talk about the dark side, relieves and relaxes veterans who have PTSD.”

After a day of travel, the veterans were greeted by the antique military vehicle group the “Monroe Marauders” on the second day of their trip. They were escorted to the Coast Guard station in Marathon, where they met the Commander and set off on a tour of the facility. Then, ferries carried the men from the Coast Guard dock to Pigeon Key.

vets in Marathon at Coast Guard station
Vets at the Coast Guard station in Marathon with gifts from local kids.

The Pigeon Key crew welcomed the veterans to their accommodations with sun-protective long sleeve shirts and sunscreen. After dinner and a meeting, veterans crowded the dock to throw the first lines of the trip in the water before heading off to bed for the day.

The third day of the trip was the first full day of fishing, and local charter captains arrived to gather the veterans for a day of on-the-water fun. In spite of pain felt by some of the veterans after a long day of travel the day before, spirits were high, complaints were non-existent, and everybody helped each other aboard the boats to soak up the day ahead.

wahoo caught by the veterans at fish with a hero event
A nice pair of wahoo.

Day 1 of fishing and Day 2 resulted in lots of big catch for dinner and even more memories. Anglers said that the fish and stories got bigger and better from the first day to the next. The men caught over 200 pounds of fish to bring home and enjoy, with the volunteer charter captains filleting and packing it on ice for travel. The veterans rounded out the trip with an evening meal of fish, lobster, and steaks, and of course, sunset and great company.

mahi caught by vets in Marathon FL Keys
A bunch of mahi caught during the vets’ offshore fishing trip in Marathon.

One volunteer described the experience like this: “What I noticed most…was the change in attitude by most who attended. They were more outgoing, not holding so much inside…As for me, I realized from talking with them, it is not easy to start your life over after war…we can share a part of our lives so that our veterans might go on with theirs knowing someone cares.”

Anyone who wants to contribute to the Fish With a Hero Event in 2016 has several options, one of which is volunteering. The website also has sponsorship and donation options. This year’s successful fundraising auctions included a Rohlmann/Apte Tarpon Sketch and a Ritter Guitar.

I had a great time this year as always when spending time fishing with veterans and I’m looking forward to next year!

~ Capt. Dave Schugar

Watch the Fish With a Hero 2014 Video

Marathon Fishing Report: Fall Fishing Bonanza

Fishing the Florida Keys for as many years as I have, my customers and friends all share the same curiosity with one simple question: “What is the best time of the year to fish in the Keys?” Now depending who they were I would answer them with a bit of humor. My friends most of the time are always following me on Facebook and seeing what I have been catching, but they know that I don’t always post stuff up on Facebook. This still keeps them guessing “what is the best time of the year to fish.”

When choosing the time of the year to call the best you have to think of what species they are after as fish come and go with the seasons and some are here year round but better during certain seasons. The best way to find out is to either call me or check my fish calendar or check out my E-Book. Let me clarify the answer everyone that everyone is looking for. The fall is the best time because we can catch a little bit of everything, sails, dolphin, marlins, cobia, big bottom dwellers, snappers, you name it is here in the fall.

…when they show up you will be glad you have the gear on the boat when you see a beautiful color change or rip just off the reef.

Marathon Fall Fishing Gets Closer Inshore and Favors Fish Other Than Dolphin

In the fall my offshore & deep sea charters in Marathon catch a range of sailfish, dolphin, wahoo, and tuna – a transition away from the loads of dolphin and tuna caught during the summer charters. There won’t be as many dolphin as the summer time, but in the fall there will be tuna, wahoo, kingfish, cobia to pick up the slack. As for the distance in the summertime which is vast ranging from 10-40 miles offshore, the fall time fishing is best along the outer parts of the reef and not exceeding 10 miles from shore in most cases.

Trolling live bait, dead bait or artificial, the fall is a great time to fish in the Keys, especially Marathon because of where we are located we can either fish Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico or the Florida Straits/Atlantic Ocean. Technically it’s not the Atlantic, but just easier for most people to relate. Now we don’t do much trolling in the Bay because of the grass but drifting or anchoring using live bait, jigs, and lures is very productive. The offshore and reef fishing in the Florida Keys is done primarily the same way just in deeper water where similar applications designed for deeper structures are used.

You may want to get a copy of Sport Fishing Magazine where my deep water bottom application is featured alongside other great bottom fishing captains.

The fall is the best time because we can catch a little bit of everything, sails, dolphin, marlins, cobia, big bottom dwellers, snappers, you name it is here in the fall.

The Sailfish Are Starting to Show & Yellowtail Are Moving to the Reef’s Topside

The fall fishing has been great so far with big catches of dolphin and tuna. The sailfish are just starting to show themselves but wahoo fishing still slow for the meantime. Yellowtail snapper are numerous and the yellow brick road has been paved with decent sized fish in 80-50 feet of water. As we get into the cooler months the yellowtail will leave the deep water, not completely, but the majority and will begin their fall feeding on the topside of the reef.

In the cooler months the use of oats isn’t a necessity but I can help some days. When using oats in the shallower water a constant scatter may ruin your fishing. The main contributor to this is as the water cools off the fish tend to slow down and don’t have voracious appetites and too much food will cause them to fill up. I find keeping them hungry, the bite will last longer, but it’s a fine line between too much and too little. I have found many times I have fed them too much and the only other recourse is to move to another spot.

Here’s What’s Up With Wahoo

As wahoo season quickly nears many people are not prepared for them. Go get your planners, drails, or downriggers ready because when they show up you will be glad you have the gear on the boat when you see a beautiful color change or rip just off the reef. It’s some of the easiest fishing to do and doesn’t cost a lot to do.

High speed or just a normal troll, wahoo can be triggered to strike strips, ballyhoo, mullet and lures. You don’t have to have live bait; these other baits work well too. The key to wahoo fishing when trolling is to cover ground with baits just under the surface. It’s a misnomer that you have to have a bait way down to catch wahoo. As long as you have a good bait swimming under the surface and not skipping your chances of getting a wahoo strike will go up. If you put your bait down too far you will be catching lots of kingfish and that’s fun and all, but if you’re playing around with kingfish you’re not catching wahoo.

Now don’t get me wrong you can still catch wahoo 40-60 feet down, but most of your strikes will be kingfish. I like to use a two hook ballyhoo on a short piece of wire with some sort of dark or bright head or skirt in front. I think color can make the difference, but the color is what catches the fisherman.

Yellowtails On The Rise


This week we have fished all over the place but the greatest fun we had was with the great yellowtail snapper bite. Durning this time of year the yellowtails will mostly be on the reef anywhere between 100′ to 25′ feet of water but lately 40′ of water has been the hot zone.  The size have been great, I haven’t had to measure a fish all month.  We are not getting the great big ones, but most fish measuring 16″-18″ which is a great size for how many we have been catching. The choice of bait has been red meat, mainly Bonita or Jack creavalle. Some days we use 1/16 oz. jigs and some days no weight at all, but what ever you use one day it may not be what you use the following day, that’s fishing. Adapt to the conditions is the key to success. If the bite slows down or stops, start changing bait size or type.  If that doesn’t help lengthen leader or use lighter florocarbon.

Winter Fishing in the Florida Keys


As a second generation fisherman, I have been fishing in Marathon Florida since I was a kid. I have learned that from reef fishing to offshore fishing, winter is always a great time to get out on the water! There is a plethora of fish species to catch and just as many ways to catch them. My favorite species has always been the king fish because they are plentiful and fun to catch.

This week, we braved the high winds and cold to get out in the keys and we were rewarded with a great bite! Yellowtails filled our boxes, we also caught a few mutton snappers, and topped off our fishing trip with cero mackerel and king fish. The fish we’ve been catching haven’t been huge but they have been very plentiful, keeping my anglers so busy that they hadn’t even had the chance to eat their lunch on most days.

TunaHeading offshore, the dolphin and wahoo have been a hit-or-miss, but deep dropping for snappers, Tilefish, and snowy grouper have been very successful. Tuna fishing is red hot when we can get out to the hump but this time of the year you really have to pick your day.

Sail fishing this week has picked up with the constant bombardment of cold fronts. The north wind drives them nuts! For the best results, live baiting either with pilchards, gogs, or ballyhoo is the way to go.

This winter, get out of the cold, come down to Marathon Florida and let Sweet E’nuf Charters show you our little piece of paradise in the heart of the Florida Keys!

Great Time For Fishing in Marathon, Florida!


Charters are picking up as people are taking advantage of the off-season hotel cost reductions in Marathon, Florida. I took a new client, Eric, out bottom fishing and boy did he get what he wanted; a sore arm! Eric caught four slob muttons, cobia and dolphin.

There was a great mutton bite here in Marathon! Fishing wrecks and live bottom with live or fresh dead bait has been key, and either pinfish, ballyhoo, or cigar minnows have been the bait of choice. I have had a good west current but water clarity has been less than desirable on these trips.

Sailfish and dolphin are cruising just outside of the reef and live bait has been the best choice to pursue them and entice them to bite. I would recommend either looking for fish or blind trolling as the best methods for these great predators. This is a great time of the year to fish because most of the fishing is within 8 miles from shore; so come on down, get out of the cold and come fishing in the sunny Florida Keys!


Exciting Times for Mutton Snapper!


This is an exciting time of the year. It usually brings me goosebumps for two reasons, one it’s getting colder and two the offshore fishing becomes concentrated along the reefs edge.  I will be targeting wahoo, sailfish, and dolphin from the troll and dropping down on the wrecks for muttons, groupers and amberjacks.  Kingfish and mackerel will also be prevalent on the reef as well. This week we smoked the muttons and I’m guessing it must have to do with the moon becoming full. I have always noticed the the week or two leading u to the full moon the snapper bite picks up.

I took out two captain friends for a fun day and mutton snapper was the target. The bite started slow but with a little patience we waited about a half hour for the first bite. We nailed a 10 pound mutton and missed another bite. In a few hours we had five muttons all pushing 10-12 pounds. We had a ball reeling in these beautiful and tasty fish. By the end of the trip we had nine muttons a handful of porgies and a fifteen pound blackfin tuna which I fought on twelve pound test for 20 minutes. All in all a wonderful day spent fishing with friends and enjoying an amazing day on the water. I couldn’t think of anything else I rather be doing.

If you want to get out on the reef and fish with me, Captain Dave Schugar, contact Sweet E’nuf Charters and schedule your fishing trip in the Florida Keys today!


After about two years we have been shut down from fishing in 240’ of water and deeper for snowy grouper, tilefish, queen snapper, and yellow edge grouper so that the Warsaw grouper could be protected.  But if they knew anything about the waters where we fish for these species I listed above, they would know that Warsaws don’t live where we catch these species.  Most of the Warsaw population lives inside of 500’ of water, whereas the listed species live in 600’ and deeper.  Kind of reckless if you ask me. And who paid the price? We did – the recreational fisherman and the commercial fisherman.  Not too many people deep drop anyways.  We lost our fishery for almost two years because an organization that had good intentions had no idea what they were talking about.  If we had to point the finger at someone, it would be the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the idiots in charge of shutting down fisheries employed by the NOAA.  Most recreational fisherman fish with conservation – we have been at it for over a hundred years!  It’s the recreational fisherman who donate for research and push for conservation through our own actions.   There are some that don’t know about conservation, but they are the newcomers. And as recreation fisherman go, we respect our fisheries and we fish with conservation so our children and their children can enjoy our resources.  My father taught me to respect our resources and one day I will teach my children to understand that we must manage our resources by ourselves, because we are the ones out there every weekend or even every day. We see the bio mass as it is, not as the researcher who may go out a couple times a month.  It’s our responsibility as fisherman to fish with conservation.

The ones who need to be watched more closely are the commercial fisherman, as they take way more poundage than us recreation fisherman.  I used to be one, and I know what’s on a commercial fisherman’s mind – MONEY!  It doesn’t matter at what cost, but commercial fisherman would take 100,000 pounds year if they could. Since I used to fish for yellowtail snapper I know that 30,000 lbs. -65,000 lbs. is what some good commercial yellowtail fisherman take in a 3 month season.  This is their spawn season, where the fish gather in huge numbers to repopulate the reef with their offspring.  It would hurt a lot of fisherman to have a closure this time of year. I have seen great numbers of fish taken from the area and the population stays up all year. Recreational fisherman couldn’t even catch that much fish combined with our 10 per person limit! So when the NOAA thinks of closing down a fishery they need to really look at the commercial fishing market before taking away from the recreational fisherman.

At first I hated the fact that they closed down grouper for their spawn from Jan 1st. to April 30th, but after the second year of the closure we charter boat captains have noticed a great increase of numbers of black, gag and red grouper which live on our reefs even after the two years.  For the first month of the grouper season which is May, I have only had 2 fish with roe out of 35 black grouper which I caught for my clients.  So the biologists got that one right even though at the beginning I was against it.  Now I am only one person, but our grouper population will only grow with this closure, shutting down harvest for a slower growing fish during its spawn makes sense, but it’s unfortunate that we can’t keep any during that time of the year. Keep in mind you can still catch them and release them unharmed!

The thought of any closure scared most of us charter captains. Once they close something it could take decades for us to ever get it back even when the population returns like the goliath grouper. The NOAA needs to really revisit this closure.  I am an avid diver I can sometimes count more goliaths than black groupers on our reefs.  On most dives I can cover 200 yards of reef and find more goliath grouper than black grouper and of course in other areas lots of black groupers and not many goliaths.  A tag system would work well, as we don’t always catch goliaths. That way we could harvest this great eating fish and money would be generated through a tag system to pay for the research so their populations can be counted and managed. And hopefully, one day the biologists would get a good idea of the population and be able to determine a proper size and or number for a daily limit.

In fishing with conservation we all win – the commercial fisherman and the recreational fisherman. Even the animal rights people who don’t want us to take any fish would  get to see the species they strive to protect on the dock and then packed up, frozen and taken to our client’s freezers.  Each time they open their freezer and pull out some fish they caught on their vacation, they are reminded of what a great time they had in Florida.  Have fun out there and only keep what you can use! Remember, help us to protect our resources with facts – not an ideology.