According to Captain Chris Johnson, who is part of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in gulf/bay, offshore, reef/wreck, tarpon and shark fishing out of the 7 Mile Marina in Marathon, sailfish are appearing on the reef in increasing numbers. Whilst the most exciting event of the year for most people in Marathon will almost certainly be the forthcoming Christmas light boat parade, which promises elaborate light displays and carnival cruises, the city’s many offshore fishermen will no doubt class plucking a sailfish out of the sea and landing it in their boat as their own personal highlight if they are lucky enough to do so.
These impressive specimens can grow up to three metres in length and weight up to ninety kilograms, making them a catch that is well worth having. Their meat is relatively tough and consequently isn’t widely eaten but they are highly valued as game fish, partly due to the challenge that they pose because they often fight vigorously when they are hooked, diving and leaping repeatedly out of the water in a desperate attempt to free themselves and get away. This means that they can take hours to land and provide worthy adversaries for fishermen. Captain Johnson says that these fish are being caught by people live-baiting off the deeper reef edge and advises those seeking to catch them to use pilchards, goggle eyes, ballyhoo or small blue runners as bait.
Mutton Snappers in Abundance
Johnson also points out that sailfish are not the only fish that is present in abundance at the moment because mutton snappers are currently gorging on the large amount of sardines that have been gathering together on the artificial reefs and wrecks. These fish can grow to just under a metre in length and weigh in at fifteen and a half kilos, making them another exciting species to go after. They can also live to up to forty years, which is testament to their skill at avoiding being caught and adds an extra level of challenge to outwitting them. Suffice to say, they don’t get to be that age by being hooked easily.
Keeper Groupers on the Increase
As if the large numbers of sailfish and mutton snappers wasn’t enough, Spanish mackerel are apparently on the increase as well. These fish can grow to up to two and a half metres in length and weigh upwards of forty kilograms. The KeysNet news site predicts that their numbers will continue to swell each time the fall cool fronts sweep through and spur the fish on to feed aggressively. It recommends using live pilchards and shrimp as the bait of choice to gain the optimum chance of catching this species.
Reef Alive with Yellowtail
Captain Johnson also says that all areas of the reef are currently teeming with yellowtail. He advises that larger specimens of these species are biting at anywhere between seventy and ninety feet and medium-sized yellowtails can be found between thirty-five and sixty foot down. He says that there are large numbers of almaco jack, amberjack and large yellow jacks present and advises using either sardines, pilchards, pinfish or ballyhoo as live bait in order to stand a chance of capturing them. These species are also relatively large, with the yellow jack reaching fourteen kilograms, the amberjack weighing in at up to eighteen kilograms and the almaco jack being known to reach a whopping sixty kilograms, meaning that each of these types of fish are well worth going after.
The increase in several species of fish in the seas around Marathon presents an opportunity for budding fishermen to take to the waters and see what they can catch. Last week a couple visiting from Kannapolis, North Carolina, fished for two days and caught grouper, snapper, cero mackerel and sailfish. A group from Lancaster, Philadelphia, caught so many snappers, groupers and cero mackerel that they had to have their fish packaged and shipped home for them. With abundant supplies of so many large types of fish now present in the area, landing something impressive is easier than it usually would be, meaning that it is a good time to take to the waters in search of the perfect catch.