Questions from a Northerner...please be gentle!

My wife and two kids (5 and 9) will be in Marathon the last week of March. I've rented a 22 foot Whaler for the week, and have some saltwater gear already. Here are my questions, (I've read about 30 pages of this forum so far, but specific questions remain) We are taking a guide along for one day on our boat, so hopefully we'll get the aid we need there. I'm an experienced fresh water fisherman, mainly bass, walleye, and steelhead.

1. What fish, that we are likely to catch, are best for sashimi? What fish would you not eat raw? Other than large barracuda are there other reef fish to avoid eating altogether?

2. If you had a week in March in a 22 foot Whaler, what rod and reel combo would you absolutely have with you?

3. We're on an interior bay next to Key Colony Beach... what, if anything, are we likely to catch at night off of the dock?

4. Can I get the help I need on terminal tackle at Bass Pro in Islamorada, or am I better off hitting a local bait & tackle in Marathon?

Thanks,

Ozpa

Replies

  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    The guide was the best thing you have done so far. You only have about 8 hours with him, so make the best of it. Ask him to show you how to rig for pinfish, where and how to catch them. Then ask him to show you the etiquette as it applies to tarpon fishing at the bridges; how and where to anchor your boat. If you have one of those Norwegian floats at home (an 18 inch will do), try to bring it, if you are driving down. Then you can rig for a breakaway anchor system, which you will need if you hook a tarpon.

    Further offshore, in Hawk's Channel, there are patch reefs where snapper and other bottom fish might be found. Your guide will show you how to chum for them, bait to use, etc. These are good table fare, but I don't know if I would use them in sashimi/sushi. Ceviche would be OK....I think that lime juice kills a lot of unwanted critters.

    Even further offshore, you can troll for dolphin (mahi) sailfish, blackfin tuna (THERE's your sashimi!) barracuda, and probably a stray kingfish. The dolphin are excellent eating and also make good sashimi.

    There are so many possibilities down there, it's hard to delve into all of it. You may want the guide for 2 days, if he does a good job for you on the first day.

    Spinning rods work best for shallow fishing, but kids might do better with conventional, unless they have already been tutored in spinning. I use 12-15 lb. mono for inshore and good still rods. You want the heaviest stuff you have in your arsenal at home. I was a Keys guide for 16 years and I have never seen a fresh water angler who came down the first time and was over-gunned for the fish here. First timers should use at least 20 lb. for tarpon and that will work for trolling too, although 30 lb. is much more forgiving. As a light tackle guide, 20 was the heaviest I carried on my boat.

    Good luck
    .......Rick
  • ShallowSaltShallowSalt Posts: 195 Officer
    If you are planning to try and get offshore, I would say blackfin/skipjack tuna are definitely in the realm of possibility. That's like the definition of sashimi there. Closer to the reef/on the reef, cero mackerel are likely and can open a sushi bar. I'd have a medium-heavy action rod with a 4000 series reel with 30lb braid on it. Pitch to things like cobia, sailfish, small sharks, tarpon. I'm not sure about your particular dock, but a lot of times mangroves, small tarpon, and snook like docklights. BPS should be able to help you, but check out local shops at well. If you go down to Big Pine, Reef Light and Jig's is usually on top of what's happening, I'm not sure about any specific Marathon shops.

    Also, like Permit Rat said while I was writing my post up... good on you for hiring a guide. Pay close attention, ask lots of questions. Circle hooks make a lot of things easier in my opinion, so make sure you ask what he/she prefers, when, and why, especially on the reef fishing aspect.
  • cprcpr Posts: 9,302 Admiral
    Local shops have what you need, IMO better then BPS. Check out Kmart

    inshore 15-20# leader is all you needs for everything but Tarpon. Around the docks anything is possible, small snapper, jacks, even a stray grouper.

    Watch the winds

    Prepare things to do with the kids for days you can't go out, Robbie's, Dolphin research, a Trip to Key Weird (maybe)

    Your guide should be able to tell you a lot about fishing. If you are in the gulf ask about tips the atlantic side and vice versa.
    "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." F. Scott Fitzgerald

    "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr
  • razorreilly09razorreilly09 Posts: 8,401 Officer
    Big sharks and/or tarpon at night off the docks. Be ready to be spooked or chase it down in the boat. Have fun!
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    For the kids I would plan on lots of chum and lots of shrimp (circle hooks) to keep them busy catching snappers, hogfish, triggers , mackeral , porgies & grunts. You probably already have the tackle that will handle that. For sashimi The Tunas Not Bonito and Cero Mackeral Not Spanish (MY Opinion)

    For tackle keep it local , if you have a bad weather day and can't get on the water head south to Mile Marker 22.5 Cudjoe Sales on the Ocean side of the highway . They probably have the most (over all) tackle at good prices.

    Please note with any fishing gear, THIS IS NOT FRESH WATER ! It is probably the saltiest around. Make sure to tighten your drags and rinse very well. Then loosen your drag and let dry. A little salt away won't hurt either. I used to live in the Ocala area and fished the Gulf and never had such a corrosion problem this water is much saltier.

    One more tip get real familiar with the regulations they are very difficult here. You have State Regs, Gulf Regs, and Atlantic Regs. It also might be a good idea to but a fish ID book as well. IF YOU DON'T KNOW LET IT GO !

    Very good idea on the Guide. Hope you enjoy your stay

    Bill
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    Bass, Walleye & Steelhead = Michigan ????
  • BiohazzardBiohazzard Posts: 221 Officer
    If your in marathon and rented a 22 Whaler you rented from Adam.
    If your guide is the guy who runs his rental fleet when he is out of town(cant rember his name) you will be fine. He will put you on the fish and let you know what you need to know. As far as fish off of the dock... snapper off of a vacation rental dock in the keys are about as tuff to cath fish as there is.

    Get out to just inside the reef and chum for some yellow tail.they make the best Ceviche. Not sure your boat has lights though.
  • OzpaOzpa Posts: 34 Deckhand
    BD27 wrote: »
    Bass, Walleye & Steelhead = Michigan ????

    Northern Indiana...good call!
  • OzpaOzpa Posts: 34 Deckhand
    Biohazzard wrote: »
    If your in marathon and rented a 22 Whaler you rented from Adam.
    If your guide is the guy who runs his rental fleet when he is out of town(cant rember his name) you will be fine. He will put you on the fish and let you know what you need to know. As far as fish off of the dock... snapper off of a vacation rental dock in the keys are about as tuff to cath fish as there is.

    Get out to just inside the reef and chum for some yellow tail.they make the best Ceviche. Not sure your boat has lights though.

    It seems to be a small world...I've received a PM guessing correctly as well. Not sure there is a better deal to be found, but I'll find out either way in March.
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    Northern Indiana...good call!

    Do you have any of those 9 foot light spinning rods for steelhead ?
  • BD27BD27 Posts: 1,179 Officer
    Ozpa wrote: »
    Northern Indiana...good call!

    Do you have any of those long steelhead rods for the rivers ? I would bring them if you have them
  • OzpaOzpa Posts: 34 Deckhand
    Permit Rat wrote: »
    If you have one of those Norwegian floats at home (an 18 inch will do), try to bring it, if you are driving down. Then you can rig for a breakaway anchor system, which you will need if you hook a tarpon.


    Spinning rods work best for shallow fishing, but kids might do better with conventional, unless they have already been tutored in spinning. I use 12-15 lb. mono for inshore and good still rods. You want the heaviest stuff you have in your arsenal at home. I was a Keys guide for 16 years and I have never seen a fresh water angler who came down the first time and was over-gunned for the fish here. First timers should use at least 20 lb. for tarpon and that will work for trolling too, although 30 lb. is much more forgiving. As a light tackle guide, 20 was the heaviest I carried on my boat.

    Good luck

    Not sure what a Norwegian float is, but I hadn't planned on chasing tarpon...it'll be too slow for the kids. I want to keep the fishing fast and furious for them. I've got two 4000 class reels, and am borrowing a conventional saltwater which I haven't seen yet. I'm probably going to buy a combo down in the Keys once I've had my "lesson" to round out my set-up.
  • OzpaOzpa Posts: 34 Deckhand
    BD27 wrote: »
    Do you have any of those long steelhead rods for the rivers ? I would bring them if you have them

    No, I typically use my heaviest bait-caster and a medium heavy 7 ft. spinning rod.
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,371 Captain
    1.) anything depending on weather- march is GREAT fishing ,here. blackfin or rainbow runner on sashimi, no eat barracuda, ballyhoo, bermuda chubs.
    2.)a 10-20#spinning outfit (properly matched) should be perfect.
    3.)BIG mangroves hit right off the dock at nite. try live shrimp, no leader, no weight or even chicken or dead ballyhoo.
    4.)you may possibly get legit help w/ tackle @ bass pro if you find a local that works there. local marathon tackle shops are usually very happy to inform you of basic needs.

    if you are in the area, i would be very happy to help you out and get you on some fish!
    28' SEA VEE BRAND NEW 200 SUZUKI's- LIVE BAIT OFFSHORE WRECKS DEEP DROP REEFS BACKCOUNTRY
    CUSTOM CHARTERS u pick the boat- Capt.Harlan Trammell
    American Allegiance Charters -LOWER KEYS BACKCOUNTRY FISHING,LOBSTER dives, fish the 33' WORLDCAT w/ AOK+Allegiance!
    your boat or mine, my spots+my gear, your fish.
    305.394.7400
    BIG WAHOO
    checkout our new website- http://www.american-allegiance-charters.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Allegiance-Charters/708182519302079[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • OzpaOzpa Posts: 34 Deckhand
    -18 wind chill here right now...I'm ready to come fishing!
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,371 Captain
    80F here , FLAT CALM CRYSTAL-BLUE SKIES
    28' SEA VEE BRAND NEW 200 SUZUKI's- LIVE BAIT OFFSHORE WRECKS DEEP DROP REEFS BACKCOUNTRY
    CUSTOM CHARTERS u pick the boat- Capt.Harlan Trammell
    American Allegiance Charters -LOWER KEYS BACKCOUNTRY FISHING,LOBSTER dives, fish the 33' WORLDCAT w/ AOK+Allegiance!
    your boat or mine, my spots+my gear, your fish.
    305.394.7400
    BIG WAHOO
    checkout our new website- http://www.american-allegiance-charters.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Allegiance-Charters/708182519302079[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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