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Marathon in late July

I know its a ways out but we need something to look forward to since its 5 degrees and we have 13" of snow here in Pa. We have rented a house on the gulf side right near airport for a week in late July-early August. We will also be renting a boat, probably around a 23'-25' for 3 adults and 3 kids(13-14 yrs old). Two of the boys have never be fished saltwater before and may not get another chance anytime soon. So i would really like to make this a trip they'll never forget.

First question is:
 Boat rental, Best deal, quality equipment, and also who to stay away from?

Are we better to run out of Vaca Cut or Seven Mile bridge?

Top of the list for the boys is catching dolphin. How far should we expect to run before starting to look for weediness, birds, etc? Any other tips?

Will trolling with skirted ballyhoo and a few naked ones be ok? (Wire or Mono leader)

Shark fishing, I would love to get the boys hooked up to a few big sharks. Where should we try and what should we use?

Are there still some resident tarpon around that we could try for?

The boys would also like to catch a few monster Cudas, Where could we find a few big ones? Troll, live bait, tube lures?

Would it be worth buying a pinfish trap to use while we are there? If so, since we will only need it for a week, where can we purchase one for a decent price? Are you able to rent them?

I guess the last thing(for now) is any other helpful tips or what am i missing?


Thank you in advance for any information, I really appreciate it!


Replies

  • UK AnglerUK Angler Posts: 278 Deckhand

    Crikey, Lot’s of questions there- I’ve been visiting the keys for the last few years and have picked some bits up as a visiting angler.

     

    Boat rental, Best deal, quality equipment, and also who to stay away from?

    Essentially you get what you pay for. There are some real cheap operators and some expensive ones. If you only want something for near shore, the budget ones may fit your bill. Personally I would spend the money and get one from the likes of Pro grear. I’m using them for the first time this year so I can’t swear by them- However, you look at the quality of boats/ electronics/ engines etc and their reputation and the extra money seems like a fair investment if you are running out to the blue water. Engines dying and the radio not working seems a huge risk when you are a few miles out.

     

    Are we better to run out of Vaca Cut or Seven Mile bridge?

    It doesn’t make any difference- they both lead to the same places. The key is to not be too far back into a no wake zone- or else the slow run out to the main channel can take 30 minutes.

     

    Shark fishing, I would love to get the boys hooked up to a few big sharks. Where should we try and what should we use?

    They’re everywhere- Deadbaits on the bottom will soon be hoovered up…typically by a fat nurse shark. Live baits in and around channels will score. Hang fish carcasses off the side of the boat.

     

    Are there still some resident tarpon around that we could try for?

    Yes- Bigger ones will have departed but smaller ones can be caught around mangroves in the back country. Get a guide if they are on your definite 'to-do's as they aren't easy.

    The boys would also like to catch a few monster Cudas, Where could we find a few big ones? Troll, live bait, tube lures?

    Front or back- they’re around. As soon as you get a chum slick going- they will turn up. Around the main bridges they have been hammered- so they can be suspicious and a bit tackle shy.

     

    Would it be worth buying a pinfish trap to use while we are there? If so, since we will only need it for a week, where can we purchase one for a decent price? Are you able to rent them?

    We have used one the last few years- well worth it. Fresh bait and live bait is the key to your success. I’ll be selling one when I leave in May…but that probably doesn’t work for you.

     

    I guess the last thing (for now) is any other helpful tips or what am i missing?

    Location is everything. Fresh bait is a close second. Lures will catch nearly everything that swims.

     July will be warm so the fishing will be trickier.

    Make sure you’re anchor is set to break off safely else you’ll be hooked to a rock forever (Try and anchor in sand where you can).

    Top line for predators (Pin fish swim down so you’ll need a bobber to keep it up)

    Drift back for yellow tails

    Big baits on the bottom

     

    Have a plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D for every day. The weather will dictate what’s best and it changes OFTEN.

  • AOKRVsAOKRVs Posts: 2,030 Captain
    Also posted on THT - Hire Capt Harlan (Pinerwahoo)
    Best to book two days - With 3 adults and 3 kids it will be money well spent

    That is also lobster mini and deep drop season so book early.

    If weather permits dolphin are normally pretty easy that time of year.
    Find weeds and birds, troll just about anything
    Also have cut bait and pitch rods ready for the schoolies

    You can catch all the pinfish you need in 30-40 min (forget the trap)
    This will also be a good start for the kids
    Find 3-8' water with grass on bottom and chum

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  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 240 Deckhand
    If you want to troll for dolphin, try to get a rental boat that's equipped with outriggers. They spread your baits apart and provide a short drop back when a fish hits. Do you know how to rig ballyhoo? It's not hard, just make sure your baits swim, not spin. Blue skirts used to work well and a blue and white sea witch in front of a ballyhoo works well too. I would use wire leader while trolling because you never know when a wahoo will eat your bait. A 1/2 - 1 ounce white bucktail jig on a short wire or mono leader will work well for schoolie dolphin and small tuna also. If it's around a full moon when you come down the nigh mangrove snapper fishing will be very good on the patch reefs too. God luck and please give us a report on your trip.
  • piner_wahoopiner_wahoo Posts: 3,702 Captain
    boat rental= progear, tropical or underdog- book today or you will be boatless ((busiest time of yr in keys). dolphin,tuna, snowy's+tiles. sharks cudas tarpon=vaca cut. just don't bring any hurricanes w/u!
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