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Marathon/Islamorada early March

So for the first weekend in March I will be spending a week in Layton or Long Key, which is right in the middle of Islamorada and Marathon, for spring break. This will be my first trip where I am alone and total captain of my own boat. And my friends have somehow put this idea in their head that since I am an avid fisherman and have seen pictures of me with fish regularly, that I am gonna be able to put them on fish. Having said that, I know you can never expect to catch fish, hence the saying "thats why its called fishing not catching". I also know that if you wanna be successful fishing somewhere you aren't very familiar with, than theres no pride lost in asking for help or advice from those who know more than you. So, 1. I'd love to be the hero and look bad *** by putting my friends, guys AND girls, on some nice fish so we save money on food and get some nice pictures. 2. This is the first time my dad is letting me take the boat for an extended period of time and anywhere other than out of the Cape where its stored. So this reason goes without saying. 3. I'm a fisherman and want to catch some fish. With that being said I have a 24ft Avenger with a fold up tower and all the rods and gear. Assuming Mother Nature gives us a few days that are at least manageable I would like to get out and troll for Dolphin, tuna, and whatever else wants to bite and maybe do some jig drops for AJs. I am used to fishing Cape Canaveral and Ponce Inlet so I have no problem making a run out there for the fish if I have too; it is technically a bay boat but it has a 72 gallon tank and we treat it like its bigger than it is so 2-3 or a spaced 3-4 will work. My first question is since I'm right in the middle should I go to the Marathon Humps or Islamorada or should I stay closer to shore and look for birds/weeds/slicks. I have fished the both humps before in years pasts with my dad friends and we just trolled hoos over them and picked up some dolphin. So if you have any advice on which hump should be more productive or if the fish are just closer in. Also any advice on how to fish them; like naked or skirted hoos, or lures and if so what size and/or type. I know live baiting is a good way but the only live baiting I've done is slow troll for kings with stinger rigs or bottom fishing, so I plan on sticking to what I know and trolling. I typically troll for dolphin between 7-10mph and usually run 2 rods on riggers, 2 flat line, 1 way back, and like a diving plug or mirador just behind prop wash between flat lines and boat. I'm not sure how experienced my crew will be so I'd like to keep it simple. Also was wondering if the mangos or yellow tail are on the reef and maybe what depth they've been at.

That was a lot so I'm sorry about that. But like I said I just haven't been down here in awhile and definitely never alone. So I really appreciate any help or advice anyone can provide.


  • sk018sk018 Posts: 2,958 Captain
    You got it down.
    Dolphin just look for birds, floatsam, color change etc. Troll a ballyhoo naked or skirted and some lures. Always keep a small dark feather wayyyyy back fro tuna.
    Also, always have a rod rigged for a live bait or dead whole ballyhoo to cast at dolphin, I have a lot of luck casting under dolphin birds with bucktail jigs also.

    You can keep everyone busy on the reef edge with plenty of chum. You will catch yellowtails and bycatch will be mangos, triggers, rainbow runners, cero macks, and grouper on the bottom.

    Just cruise the edge where it drops from 70-90 feet and mark a ball of fish, anchor up current and start chumming. Light leaders and cut ballyhoo, bonita, etc. Drop live pin fish or chunk of bait down on a 3/8th oz jig head for the mangroves.
  • kmendoza521kmendoza521 Posts: 5 Greenhorn
    Does it matter which Hump? Marathon Hump(West Hump), 409 Hump, or Islamorada Hump? Islamorada is closer but I wanna go where the fish are. What depth is it worth the time to start stopping for birds or nice slicks/fishy looking water?
  • silverking3394silverking3394 Posts: 14 Greenhorn
    Both humps will have plenty of tuna, marathon humps usually has bigger tuna though.
  • ChannelTwoChannelTwo Posts: 48 Deckhand
    March is usually a slow time for dolphin. It is possible but not a given. Kings, sailfish, wahoo, cobia, tuna are more prevalent at that time of year.

    Not what you want to hear but your best bet would be to hire a captain for a day (on your boat) to show you the ropes and what is biting and where.

    Sprigger bank (bayside) is a good option if it is windy depending on the direction of the wind.
  • Andyman33Andyman33 Posts: 123 Deckhand
    what's the best technique for sprigger bank or other fishing in the bay on something like bamboo banks? we anchored up and first 5 minutes had a 5lb mangrove snapper on by just casting out and had used jigs and shrimp or cut bait or squid. by the time the chum line was doing anything all that was there were tiny nonkeeper mangroves or pinfish. do you cast past those? freelining seemed to attract nothing.
    what type of rig do you recommend on the banks out there?
  • Andyman33Andyman33 Posts: 123 Deckhand
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,702 Captain
    back country is VERY kold right now. hump- only go if you have LOTS of live pilch.
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