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Marathon Golden and Grouper

This was a 3/4 day, with fellow captain Harlan Trammell scouting for new snowy and golden spots.

First we drifted a new area for blue line tiles.  The bite was slow but we picked up a couple nice sized BLTs.

Now off to some deeper water to look for Golden Tile and maybe a snowy. We hit several areas in the 700 – 1000’ range and found some good marks. Trying to get the tile first since you are only allowed one snowy per vessel. Drop the rig down 1000’ and start our first drift. It doesn’t take long and we are hooked up.  This is putting up a fight kinda like a grouper.  We steadily bring it up and get rewarded with a huge golden tile.

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Finding new spots takes a lot of time but the rewards are good.  With tiles in the box we move over to a grouper spot. Get the rig set up and drop it down. On the second drift we are hooked into a huge snowy. This guy is trashing the drag on a fairly new reel. After a hard fight from 900’ finally get this monster in the boat. Big snowy grouper.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon 1st Tile – June 25

This was a 3/4 day, scouting for new snowy spots and getting someone their first tile fish. Started at the dock by netting a bunch of mullet then out SW of the light. Got to 650’ and found a nice 5’ ledge we could drift on. Nothing there and we tried this in a couple different areas but no snowy today. Now time to find some blue line tiles. Stopped in a new spot that looked good on the plotter. Did not take 10 min and Todd gets his first tile.

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We repeat on a couple other spots and put 4 tiles in the box. Stop there because if we have enough time we are going to try the reef for grouper. Weeds were scattered and sparse but on the way in we find a weed line at 550 with a few birds working. Put out a jet head and a ballyhoo and trolled for a couple miles. Only stopped because of the birds but we got nothing. This did not leave much time for bottom fishing but we made a quick stop and got rocked up 3 times. No grouper be he got his first tile fish.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon Tile – June 24

Back from my other office, get in Sunday afternoon and got a couple hours to look for new deep drop spots.  Get fuel and ice and head out with a 2-3 hour window. Mainly looking for snowy, tile spots but I did bring one spinning outfit. Pass a lot of weeds out to 650 and one patch looks fishy. Throw out a triple D to see if anyone is home.  Doesn’t take 2 minutes a I got a mahi on, it spits the hook but comes back and hooks up.  Get this insurance dinner in the box and off to the deep spots. First area I do a couple drifts with a solid hook up and it feels like a nice grouper but it gets off half way up.

Onto another area and the first pass bottom is looking good. After a 10 min drift I put a tile in the box. Make 3 more drifts, mark some good spots and get my limit of 3 tiles. Was a quick grocery trip but got some good eats.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon Grouper, Tile and Mahi – June 12

Had some first timers down to the keys with no experience fishing. First day got a slow start and the storms forced us back to the dock. Plotter not working, won’t communicate with GPS??

Rigged up my old 740 as a temporary fix. We got back out for a quick stop on sombrero reef. Zach is the first one in and a huge goliath, 300-400 lbs is waiting under the boat. I don’t think he touched the steps as he flew back into the boat. After some reassurance they all got in and watched this huge grouper hang out under the boat. Made another attempt on the reef but not much action. Casey did catch a good sized rock hind and he loves to catch his dinner.

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Tuesday looks much better and they want to try it all. Reef fishing, snorkeling, and offshore. Start on the reef with good current but not much action. Zach gets a big trunk fish to practice his angling skills.

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We work a couple areas but the bite is slow. Get set up on last spot before snorkeling, couple on chicken rigs and Casey on bottom rod. I am helping on the bow and hear “get the net”. Casey has quietly brought up a nice 29” black grouper to the surface. This is the first one he landed without any help.

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After a good time at Sombrero reef we head offshore looking for Mahi on the way to deep drop. Tons of weeds and no birds so we go straight to a tile spot. First location no luck, move 3-4 miles and try again. Get a big bite on the second drift and it is fighting most of the way up. First BLT in the box.

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Drop again and this time I put a ballyhoo on the flat line. In no time the spinner goes off and we have a Mahi on. Zach has a little trouble with the reel but we get him boat side with friends following. This is where it gets crazy, I throw some cut bait and get the pitch rods ready. We pick off a couple keepers and release the shorts. Had one bigger one get cut-off on the deep line. After that nonstop action we do a couple more drifts and end up with 4 tiles. A lot packed into one day but they had fun and experienced what is great about the Keys.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon Snowy and Mahi 5-23

Slight break in the weather provided an opportunity to take a couple guys out for their first deep drop and search for some Mahi. Stopped on the reef to try for some grouper and muttons first. Put some live bait on the bottom and used a chicken rig to get more bait and see what else was down there. The bite was very slow, couple grunts, small yellowtail, beak-offs and a shark.

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With no action and slack tide coming we pulled anchor and headed south. On the way out to the deep drop spots we were hunting for Mahi. Seas still rough and weed lines were not getting very organized. We did find birds in some scattered weeds from 450 – 650’.  Worked 6 different areas and picked up 11 mahi one at a time. We never came across a school to pitch too.

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With several dinners in the box we turned to the bottom spot in about 650’. Had five pounds of lead but that was not enough. Had a very hard time holding the bottom but the brief time it did we got hooked up. At first I thought we snagged something but then it came free and was fighting. The electric reel overheated and tripped the breaker twice. Todd had to hand crank it and it was definitely not a tile fish. We are hoping for a big snowy.

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We crank it up in the rough seas and finally get the beast to the surface. Grabbed the net and got it in the boat. Hi fives and couple pics and a snowy on their first deep drop trip.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

 

www.AOKCharters.com

 

 

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Grouper – May 20

Traveling all morning but finally pulled into Marathon and got the boat loaded around 2pm for a quick run to the grouper grounds. Back for a few days and got someone who wants to target grouper.  It was a rough ride with 4-6’ seas on the reef.  Found a good ledge and dropped anchor. First rod sent a pilchard down, second rod got a mullet. It was not down there 2 minutes before it bent over. We won that battle and a 33” black goes in the box. Set up again with two rods on the bottom and got the bait rod into action.  After a couple break offs and bait not cooperating we pulled anchor and headed in.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Tuna and Tile May 7

Monday’s plan was to troll at the hump then back to the deep drop. Smooth ride out meant there would be a lot of boats out there. Approaching we see birds and get the spread out. Seeing many birds but no tunas jumping. Could be all the boats trolling at 20mph chasing the birds. Most were trolling, only a couple drifting and not much catching going on. After making several laps we finally have a double on. I am set a course to get away from everybody while we fight these two. The one is pulling hard and had my 30 wide is maxed out. Marty’s is coming easier which was good because it was on a small conventional. I had to put the Penn 30VSX in low gear to gain line. At first I though maybe a shark got it but the longer the fight went on with no cut off we became more optimistic that is was a big tuna.

Marty’s made a jump and spit the hook but it looked like a bonita. I am still cranking on mine but it felt like dead weight. As it gets closer to the boat we can see that it got tail wrapped and was coming backwards. Jumbo skippy goes in the box and we leave the crowd.

 

Only five miles to deep drop spots which means they are still in the gulfstream current.  Make a couple drifts with 8 lbs again and pull up a nice tile on the second one. Couple more difts and having a hard time holding bottom. Harlan (Piner Wahoo) from American Allegiance Charters was in the area and haled us on the radio. He was out doing the same thing but found an area with less current not far away.  We moved about a mile north and current was moving at only 1 knt. We worked this area for a while the catching was slow but we put two more tile fish in the box. With the freezer already full we had caught enough for a couple good meals. So it was time to take the beautiful ride over the reef and back to the dock.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon Tile and Margate May 6

Sundays plan was to stop on the reef before heading out to deep drop. Tried a couple of spots but found little to no current on the reef. Even the grunts were not cooperating. Caught a couple of trunkfish which is hard to do on 4/0 hooks. Did get a good sized margate that went on ice.

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Pulled anchor and pointed the nose towards the south. This time I brought more weight to try for tile or snowy. Current was still ripping so it was hard to keep 8 lbs bouncing on the bottom. Finally on the fourth drift I keep the weight down long enough to hook up. Up comes one of the best eating fish in the ocean – a nice sized Blue Line Tile. Bait was whole and cut squid. With dinner in the box the ride back in was over some gin clear water on the reef.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon Grouper May 5

Other work in the morning so I didn’t get out till noon. Plan was to hit the reef for grouper and look for mahi while running to deep drop spot.  Got to fist spot and not much activity and no current. Work it for a little bit trying to get some bait. It was dead, so onto the next spot. Get a good anchor placement on the first try and a little more action on the sounder. Caught a couple baits and now ready to drop for the grouper. First one got rocked up but the second one I was able to get his head turned.
Cranked this sucker up as fast as I can and up pops another black. Stay and try for muttons but all I catch are 14-16” size. With a grouper in the box it is time to head for the deep drop but I can’t get the anchor loose. Finally after messing with for 20 minutes it broke free. As I get out towards 600’ there was lots of weeds and lots of boats. Bull and Cow tournament is this weekend and most of the fleet was out there. I run a patch of weeds for 30-40 minutes and pick up two small keepers. Getting late so off to the deep drop just a couple miles away. Make 3 passes and can’t hold the bottom with the weight I had. The second drift I did get a good bite but did not stay on the hook. Next time I will bring a bigger weight.

They were not trophies but some good eating fish and 3 for 3 on groupers.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon

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Marathon Grouper – May 4th @ 2 for 2

Back out after a couple days at my other job. Only had a small window in the morning so I pointed the cat to a spot east of where I caught the last one. Got anchored up and only showing a few marks but I put down some bait anyway.  With only couple hours to fish I just brought some squid, 2 bottom rods and bait pole. First drop nets a small grunt and down it goes on the bottom rod. Had to take a phone call so I left the rod in the holder and it wasn’t long and it bent over. Hung up and started cranking but could not gain much. Never felt like it was in the rocks but won’t budge of the bottom, so I am thinking shark. After a hard battle that is what came up.

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Go back to working the bait rod for few small grunts so I can put two rigs down.  After putting a couple in the livewell I reset the first bottom rod. Set up the second rod and put it in the holder. As I turn to the first rod the bait looks nervous and almost as soon as I grab it bends over. This one is pulling hard but I get its head turned and I am winning the battle.  Crank it up as quick as I can and up  pops a nice black. Today was much easier took about 40 min and a 27” grouper on ice.

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Great day of fishing in Marathon