Marathon trip; small boat options?

The family and I are heading to Marathon Saturday and staying for a week. Just wondering what my options are in a 17' Key West Sportsman.

Are there fishable patch reefs near shore? 1-5 miles? I'm going West Marine this week to buy a larger anchor and 150' of anchor line.

Ive heard navigating the gulf side (and the Keys in general) can be a little sketchy for first timers due to numerous bars and shoals, so I planned on buying a Top Spot map of the area and just taking it real slow the first day or so. Do these maps show the no-fishing areas as well?

I have a depth finder, no GPS, but Ive heard you can visually see the (brown) patch reefs?

Ive read a ton of info about fishing 7 mile bridge too and given the size of my boat, we'll probably do most of our fishing there. Anchoring up-current and drifting back using chum bags with shrimp-tipped jig heads.

We would like to do a little snorkeling too though, but again Im really not sure where to go and with the small boat I'd like to stay relatively close to shore. Im not apposed to snorkeling on the gulf side if there are options there too.

Im a 42 year old Florida native, fished Florida waters all my life and I've never been down to the Keys. Im super excited, but a little nervous too. Navigating unfamiliar waters is always a little uneasy and Ive heard the wind and tidal currents can change pretty quickly there leaving smaller boats in a tight spot.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


  • B2TBB2TB Posts: 59 Greenhorn
    You shouldn't have any problem in a 17ft boat with reasonable seas. You can find Patch reefs 2-3 miles out. A Top Sot map will help. Navigating both Oceanside and gulfside is tricky without a GPS/Chartplotter although depth finder will help. Pay attention to the tide tables so you don't find yourself in shallow areas at low tide or at the bridges when the tides are roaring.

    You can easily get to and snorkel at the Sombrero Lighthouse, the most popular spot in Marathon, or at Coffins Patch, both ocean side.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 10,700 AG
    I'll be there 8/6-9 as well in my 1720 but it's a DC. We've got a depth finder/gps. I think there are more than enough fish to be caught in that area without running into unsafe waters.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • Garza BlancaGarza Blanca Posts: 89 Greenhorn
    Navionics app on your phone will help.
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