Live Marathon Bait

Headed to Marathon over the new year for the first time. Is there anyone near Key Colony that sells live bait like sardines goggs blue runners? We will only be there for three days and would rather purchase the bait over spending hours catching it. But just in case, what would be the easiest bait to catch for sails at this time and what is the method. I,ve tried chumming up bally hoo in the spring time on the reef with no luck, not sure if they will be more plentiful during this season than the spring. I have also casted on pilchards before but never out of marathon, any advice there would be greatly appreciated there as well. :huhThanks in advace
PS any good tackle shops near key colony?


  • sk018sk018 Posts: 2,670 Captain
    Whats a live marathon? How do you rig it?
  • sk018sk018 Posts: 2,670 Captain
    Just kidding...You are in macon?? I went to Mercer. Anyways- Try chumming your bait on the reef at night pilchards should be thick. As far as ballyhoo, I am not sure, i only fish the keys in June and they almost always show in the chum line on the backs of the reefs.
  • TeamTekeTeamTeke Posts: 928 Officer
    No sardines, gogs, blue runners or pilchards for sale generally here. By chance you may get an occasional person to sell you some or one of the bait houses may have a few blue runners occasionally.

    Sails have been keying in on live ballyhoo as of late. Currently, there seems to be lots of ballyhoo around on the shallow patch reefs in the 20' range. I had some in the chum line last Saturday even in 44'.

    If you get up early you may find some pilchards on the shallow ocean front flats. Some days yes...some days no. Cold fronts and wind direction will affect the pilchards.
    Happiness is the journey, not the destination.
  • keylargo359keylargo359 Posts: 1,245 Officer
    There are threads posted in the Keys "sticky" section they are a list of people that sell bait in the keys. The sticky section is at the top of the key Page
    The worst day of fishing is still better than the best day of work:\
  • jbnportjbnport Posts: 12 Greenhorn
    Depending on what side of Key Colony you're staying you will pass a place. It's on the west side of vaca cut, oceanside. You can see the gas pumps as you come out from Key Colony if you're on the west side. If you come out the pass the charter boats use, you will have to run around the island and head towards the vaca bridge. It's on the left just before the bridge. I don't know if they sell ballyhoo but they've got several tanks and I've bought pinfish there before. If you are ok with pinfish, go to Big Time Tackle and buy a pinfish trap. It will pay for itself in no time vs. buying bait.
  • hodgie2411hodgie2411 Posts: 244 Officer
    The place on the west side of Vaca Cut before the bridge is Capt. Hooks they will sometimes carry pilchards but mostly pinfish and shrimp. Check out the shallows on the Eastside of Vaca cut up in the grass for Pilchards if they are around they are thick in that area. Ballyhoo have been hanging around Washer Woman shoal. You can chum them up really quick.
    In the past Ed Hoffman was the guy to contact for live bait but I am not sure if he is still in business, anyway his number is 305 522 0251. Again I am not sure if he is still doing it.
    The other option is to talk to some of the guys at Hawks Cay they will more than likely have the 411 on bait.
  • Trey.hollandTrey.holland Posts: 30 Deckhand
    I have heard about the pilchards and that seems like the way to go but when goin after them, we used to search for them by eyesight up off of the georgia coast but i keep seeing people say to chum them up. What is the best way to go about this? I have seen the people say chum them up with an oat mill mix what is that? Or am I reading this wrong. should i just use a regular bag of chum. With the water beeing much clearer in the keys than off GA I would think sighting them would be easier than trying to chum them up. We would see tons of them hiting the top of the water and just cast a net right on top of then one time and have a Tun of bait. I think thats what is going on here but I am getting mixed opinions
  • TeamTekeTeamTeke Posts: 928 Officer
    Look for the pelicans diving, but you must get out very early. In the deeper channels on the flats, especially when the tide is low you can chum them up and sabiki them. You may get one good throw of the net after doing the sabiki thing. I suggest using the double grind Bionic chum for making bait with a small mesh bag. Actually now there have been lots of pilchards out early in the morning and you can net them by looking for the moving schools or casting your net over where a pelican has just dove.

    Bait comes and goes here and it cannot always be guaranteed.
    Happiness is the journey, not the destination.

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