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Marathon Mahi – April 1, 2018

On this Easter trip we set out to target Mahi.  Pointed the World Cat south looking for weeds or debris.  Big temp break at about 400 and scattered weeds.  Stopped by a couple a floaters with only jacks and a small triple tail that did not want to eat. Finally came upon a nice weed line at 690 and we set up the spread going west.  Put out a couple jet heads and a couple skirted hoos. Trolled for a while before first knock down which was 19 inches. Saw some peanut schoolies so we trolled back and forth in this area for a while. Make the turn back west and the right long pops the clip but spits the bait. Todd grabs to rod to check the bait and then it gets slammed again.

Big dolphin jumps so we clear the lines. This one puts up a hard fight and does not want to come to the boat.

Finally get it boat side for a gaff shot and in it comes.

After some high fives we set up the spread again still working circles around this 1 mile area.

We were able to pick up two more keepers.

It was a wonderful Easter day trip.

With the Target Acquired

Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Spring Break 2018

Spring break fishing. Got a good weather day on Saturday so it was off to the humps and then look for dolphin on the way back. Had two teenage boys on this trip that really like tuna and one of them had never been offshore before. The ride out was pretty smooth and we made good time. We see birds as we approached from the west about I mile off. Get out a spread of 4-5 rods and it does not take long and the first tuna is in the boat.

We make several passes with double, triple and one quad hook up. Nothing very big and the boys thought this was too easy when cranking them in while the rod was in the holder.

With fish in the box we switched to a couple spinning rods and all the sudden the fish put up a bigger fight. Lots of action and only one lost to the sharks.

We also saw a big sailfish free jumping not far from the boat. With plenty of tuna to clean we headed north looking for weed line on way back in. Tried one ragged line but no takers and the boys were getting a little sea sick so we took the beautiful ride back over the reef and back home.

All you cared to clean.

 

Great day of fishing in Marathon

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March

March which had a lot of wind blowing when we were trying to get out. Also was limited on fishing time because of traveling back forth with my other business.  Finally got my folks down and it blew hard while they were here. Even with rough seas we did make it out a couple of times. Once back in the bay towards contents where we caught some nice snappers. Had to go a long ways west to get into clean water. Tried offshore but just to ruff. Did troll just past the reef and picked up a skippy.

Reef fishing picked up normal snappers, porgies and a King fish.

Fishing was tuff but the sunset cruises were nice.

Back this week for some spring break fishing. Groupers about 1 month away

Great day of fishing in Marathon

www.AOKCharters.com

 

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Feb 5th – Marathon Hump

Got a great weather window and just in time to head to the Marathon Hump. Three of us load up and go looking for pilchards. They were very scattered, but we got enough to fish with on the hump and reef. Cleaned up the mess and headed south. It was a nice boat ride and there was several already there as it was a flat calm day. We started with the troll and with-in about 15-20 min the drag is screaming. Ron jumps on the reel as we leave it in the rod holder to help us get it in the boat before the sharks get it. This one was giving the first-time saltwater angler all he wanted. We were yelling to get it in before the sharks showed up but it was putting up a tough battle. He even had two hands on the crank until we put it in low gear. He is cranking and gaining so we put back in high. Ready with the gaff at boat side and first BFT is a nice 24lber.

That work out well so we put the spread out again. It took a couple circuits around the hump but we get another knock down. Drag starts off screaming but then is coming in a little easier than the last one. Still a good fight for the first timer. We are thinking smaller BFT or skippy but as he is cranking it towards the boat as fast as he can we see that it is a wahoo. We have gaff in hand but the fish was still green and as he stopped cranking the fish went crazy right at the boat. We tried to gaff but on the second jump it spit the tuna lure. Kinda in shock, we stood there looking in the water as our rookie is not aware of how big of loss that was.

Regroup, put the spread back out and make some more circuits. This was a strange day, no birds, no bait busting, not even the guys chumming with live pilchards seemed to be hooking up. We finally get another knock down after a couple of laps and we put the rookie back on the rod. This one puts up a good fight but we have no problems getting the skippy in the boat. We now have been trolling for 2 hours with little action and with the sun getting higher we switch to drifting. Start out with a couple livies down 200 – 350 feet and also drop a couple of jigs as we cruise at 3 knts. Make several drifts with only one solid bite up and it pulled the hook right at the boat. We only saw one small BFT caught by other boats as we drifted. The best part was seeing, an aircraft carrier come by the hump. Planes taking off and landing it was sick.

With nobody interested in our pilchards at the humps we decide to hit the reef and see what kind of species are hungry.  Get to 120’ and drift over the Thunderbolt a couple times. Very slow there, so we anchor up on a nice drop off. I have caught some sharks and goliath groupers on this spot. Want to send the rookie back with a big fish story. Set out a freeline livie, live bait on the bottom, chicken rig and even some dead sardines on the bottom. Chummed with live pilchards, chum and dead sardines. We worked this area hard, but the bite was slow. He did manage to catch: several small YTs, 2 rock hinds, grunts, and a small grouper. Nothing huge but it was a nice variety of fish. Weather was beautiful, seas were calm, and it was a great day on the water.

Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Feb 2nd Ceros

Finally back out after some other work and a lot of windy days. Pushed off with neighbor’s son and went on the search for some pilchards. Worked hard at it for over an hour and got the live well stocked up mostly with small ones. It was still 2-4 on the reef but we found a good spot in about 94’ and just coming off high tide. This looked to be a good set up, falling tide and NE wind. We got the anchor hooked up, starting setting rigs up and put the chum out but it was not moving. The current was heading inshore against the tide, not the ideal yellowtail set up. Decided to make the most of it since we had bait in the livewell. We got a freeline out and dropped to the bottom while waiting for the slick to set up. Picked up a few small YTs, and porgies. Started drifting small live pilchards and it was not long before we got a runner and the first Cero comes over the rail.  Tried putting live ones on the bottom for bigger snappers and got bit off on the way down. Switched one to a small trace of wire and the bite slowed. We keep working two with fluoro leaders and put the wire on the freelined bait. Fished thru a few bite offs and got a couple corner hooked that went in the box. Finally get the drag screaming on the freeline rod. This is the biggest cero yet and worked it to the boat and in the box.

Only out for a few hours but we got some great eats in the box.

Great afternoon fishing in Marathon

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Dec 23 – Jan 4th Groupers, Sail and more

Going to combine several trips into one report. Had some computer problems and a lot of traveling so these are a little delayed.

First pic is from December 23rd , seas were rough so we took some live bait and chum to the reef.

Water was dirty and the bite was slow. Caught a few reef fish; yellowtail, small groupers and grunts. Put out a live bait on the freeline. Action was slow but steady on the smaller stuff.  Finally got the line screaming of the live bait. After a nice battle we bring a good size Cero to the boat.  Circle hook did its job in the corner of it’s mouth and we have a tasty cero for dinner.

Next pic is from December 24th tip to the Marathon Hump.

Got a nice forecast for Christmas Eve, so took wife and son to the humps. Casey loves tuna and it makes it even better when he catches his own dinner. Loaded up the World Cat and made our way out the creek. Seas were calm and we made the 27 mile trip in no time. We got our usual baits out and it did not take long before we had the first one on. We started out with a 6500 spinning and a small penn conventional. We put a few footballs in the box but were losing the bigger ones. Put the spinner up and troll with a 16 and 30 penn. We put a few more in the box but still losing the bigger ones to sharks. Next set up is with a 50 wide to try and wench the fish in before the sharks get them. Made several more passes and never got the real big ones.  In two hours had plenty for the entire crew and neighbors.

Next 4 pics are from Christmas Day fishing in 90’ on reef edge.

Family time in the morning then a beautiful Christmas afternoon on the water.
Picked up some pilchards on the way out to set up for grouper and others. Went to one of my spots for grouper in about 85-95’ and dropped the anchor. The sounder looked good so we drop baits to the bottom and I send a live bait out on the freeline.­­­ Wife brings up some porgies on the chicken rig. I get hit hard on bottom rod and it felt like a good one. I keep the pressure on and finally got his head turned and coming to the surface. Up pops a nice grouper and now we got some great eats in the box. I set up another live one to send to the bottom. Just as I get the bait down my wife notices a fish jumping behind the boat. I catch it out of the corner of my eye and grab the 6500 spinner with the freelined bait on it. Line is still slack but the fish rolls off to the right. I start winding in the slack and at the same time the line goes tight – fish on. Still not sure what it was but I thought maybe a kingfish as the drag is screaming and line is leaving the spool. I tighten up the drag as I try to slow the fish down and start to gain some line back after the first run. Fish never jumps but keeps pulling drag and works me around the boat. Finally identify it as a sailfish as it goes around the bow and near the anchor line. Never got any tailwalking but some bill slashing as it got closer to the boat. This was a good size sail and as I got it next to boat while trying to decide what type of picture to take it pulled the hook.  Well that was a lot more fun that a cero or king. With a grouper and porgies in the box and a sailfish release I get out the slow pitch rod to try something different. I work it a few times and catch a 15” mutton that is sent free. Some great weather and a fun day on the reef.

Next couple of pics are from December 26 on the reef.

Got out on the reef about 3pm with no live bait and little dead bait. Got anchored and set the chicken rig down to get some live bait. Crafty bait stealers at this spot made it difficult so I put a dead horse hoo on the bottom rod. My chicken rig has something big on and I am thinking a shark came and ate a grunt I hooked. I battle it to the surface and it turns out to be a 20” black grouper that I release back to the bottom. Continue to work at the live bait and finally pull up a couple grunts. Replace dead bait with a grunt and send it to the bottom. Next drop on the chicken rig I get another hard fighting fish and put a nice mango in the box. Just as I set up for another drop the bottom rod looks like it has a nervous fish so I grab the handle and get ready. As I give it a couple cranks to get it off the bottom at the same time it gets slammed. I reel fast and think that I got this one beat when all the sudden it is pulling drag. Up to max drag and cranking hard I get it turned and into the box goes a nice 29” grouper. When at the cleaning table I notice some naw-bite marks, I think a goliath tried to eat it. Next drop is with a new slow pitch rig to try out. Second drop – fish on and I get a mutton to add to the box. Not big but 17” is legal and good eating. With still some work to finish I head back in.

It has been a great few days and the grouper bite is hot.

 

Next pic is of a big mangrove snapper on the reef December 29th.

Had to replace the raw pump this am and crew arriving to work on dock. Got out midday and went on a search for more grouper spots. Going to make a couple last minute trips before the closure. Idled and drifted a couple areas before anchoring and finally set up on a good-looking spot. I pulled anchor 4 times trying to get on the location that I wanted. If was hard fishing with several bait stealers while trying to get some livies and the anchored boat was swaying back and forth over a 5’ ledge. This caused several rock ups and cut offs. Worked at it all afternoon got a couple short blacks and small YTs. Found some good areas on the sounder but never that big grouper. All of the work did pay off with a big mangrove that came in at 21”. Maybe tomorrow – tight lines

Next 2 pics from December 30th on the reef.

Two days left before grouper closure and I got another late start. Headed out around 11 am to catch the rising tide in the afternoon.  Anchored on the same general area just a little deeper. Only had to re-anchor twice to get on the right spot today. There was a hard-north wind blowing and current running east. Sounder was lit up but the catchin was slow. I worked thru a lot of small YTs and got a couple of porgies on the chicken rig bait rod. Dropped two bottom rods with live bait on. Both set ups were slow and got rocked up a couple times. Live bait produced another nice size mangrove 18’. With the wind howling, cloudy skies and a slow catch I was thinking about packing it in. I had just caught another good-sized grunt so down he went. This time after reaching the bottom the bait got nervous right away. I am at the reel when the rod doubles over and I crack as hard as I can and turn his head up. As slow as it has been I thought this might be a shark and half way up it kinda made a circle. I keep cranking and up pops a nice black. This one is 32” and it gets an ice bath. I work a couple of dead baits trying for a mutton but no luck. It is windy and cold so I fire up the cat and head north right into the breeze. A 36’ See Vee with trips wanted to race me back in but after about 1 mile he backed down. I think his passengers were crying uncle and I was drinking a soda and not spilling a drop.

Next few days were very windy with rough seas.

Made a couple short trips Dec 31 – Jan4th. Fishing was slow and we caught the usual small reef fishes plus a couple sharks. The weather was very windy and cold which made for some uncomfortable conditions. Not much picture worthy so until later this month here are a couple.

 

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Marathon Grouper 12/22

Had a repeat trip and he wanted to only target Groupers. He brought fresh speedos and we loaded up the World Cat with ice, bait and gear. Headed out NE to the spot we hit last time with good success. When we pulled up the sounder had good marks and we dropped the anchor.  The first two attempts the boat would not stop in right area.  A couple of times we had to reset before it even grabbed hold.  Finally, after 5 or 6 attempts we land in right spot.

Joe gets set up and drops a speedo down and I set up to bring some live bait in. He gets hammed but can’t stop the fish, first of many break offs. Joe gets hammered several more times, half by jew fish half by sharks. We can’t seem to win, so after taking a beating we move on to another spot.

This one looks good and anchor hits the right spot on the first time. Sounder lights up and Joe drops. It doesn’t take long and we a hooked up. Joe has got another tank on and gets rocked up. I am dropping for live bait and reeling them in. Every drop we are getting hammered. Joes next hook up he gets its head turned and success first black to the boat but 2” short. Next is my turn, not as big a fight but a nice size Rock Hind. Joe get nailed again and right into the rocks. We go back and forth, both sides of the boat are hot. Next my little accurate get slammed but I was able to wench it out of the rocks and put a nice 15lb black in the box. Joe then gets hooked up with a nice snapper. We battle threw the breaks off and end up with a Flag YT, nice mutton, huge schoolmaster, Rock Hind and Black. For ref the YT is 19”

Great day out of Marathon

 

 

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Dec 19 HST tuna

Left the dock at 2:30 for a quick stop on the reef and then some high speed trolling.

Went to a grouper spot and sounder had good marks so we dropped anchor. Threw out some chum and cut bait. Had several cut offs on the YT rig, switched to wire and no more bites. Soon after we got there the current stopped so we picked up and headed offshore. Set up 2 rods in 210’ and headed west towards 280.  Made the turn and 280 and when we got to 250 the left reel is screaming. This is basically a solo trip with 2 novice anglers so boat is on auto pilot as I get them set up to battle this fish. After the first run we start making headway while I am reeling in the other line. I get the gaff ready and start had lining the shock leader. Something does not feel right – this is coming in too easy.

Get it to the boat and I see why, it is a BFT no a wahoo. First time I have caught a tuna doing 16kts.

It was a short but nice day as it was there first tuna.

 

Another great day fishing in Marathon

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Dec 17th Reef

Sunday is the reef day and we started out by putting some pilchards in the livewell. Loaded with good looking bait we headed to some rocky grounds. Went to a couple spots and sounder was not showing much. Green water and no current was not helping to dial in a spot. We finally just set up on a nice ledge with a few marks and started chuming. Picked up a few short groupers and one keeper. We never had school of yellowtails show up but we picked at what we could including a couple of nice Ceros. With the bottom not cooperating we went out to the color change and tried drifting in the clean water. Freelined live pilchards and dropped one to the bottom. Drifted in two depths but didn’t get a strike. Plan C, we slow trolled the reef for kin  gs, cero or grouper while watching for new marks. Came across a good looking spot and dropped anchor again. This time we marked a lot of fish, so out goes the chum. Chubs and spade fish no yellowtail. Worked the area for a while and got small YT, small grouper and grunts. Ran out of time for plan D, so back to the dock.

 

Another great day of fishing in Marathon

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Dec 16th – Offshore

Had Saturday and Sunday scheduled with 2 great guys. Plan was one day offshore and one day on the reef.  Seas were a little rough but the World Cat can handle the nasty conditions. Saturday was the better of the two for going to the humps and when we arrived we had the place to ourselves. With the stream being south of us it set up a west current but the fish were still there. We trolled and jigged up several BFT and the bigger ones got taken by the tax man. We tried skipping them on the surface with a 50 wide to keep them away from the sharks. That would work unless you let up and then the sharks would bust the BFT on the surface like a bass plug. With plenty to eat and a couple of long battles with sharks it was time to hit the late afternoon troll.

Headed in to 240 and set up the troll looking for wahoo.  We trolled for miles and no hits on our spread of yo zuri bonita, big islander with fresh ballyhoo and a feather for BFT. We had pretty good water with occasional bay grass. We trolled 200 – 300 with little action. Finally the left rig goes off. Short burst but not the streaming reel of a wahoo bite. Todd grabs the rod and pulls in a nice Mahi. Put the spread back out and try a little closer in but the water gets dirty.

With the sun going down and lots of fish to clean I point the nose of the cat toward Sister Creek and head in.

Another great day of fishing in Marathon