Undoubtedly, the hottest ticket in town is Marathon's explosive tarpon fishing. Anglers continually marvel at the spectacular leaps, strong runs, and incredible endurance of the "silver king." The Seven Mile and Bahia Honda bridges are the sites of the heaviest tarpon fishing action. Tarpon fishing is the best way for a novice angler to catch a large fish.
Offshore fishing is excellent for trolling for such Gulfstream pelagic as sailfish, dolphin fish, and wahoo. Marathon provides anglers with an additional bonus, the Marathon West Hump. Rising from depths of 1,100 feet to a peak of 480 feet, this underwater platform is a veritable dinner table in the Gulfstream for gamefish, providing an excellent spot for anglers targeting blue and white marlin, Mako shark, blackfin tuna, amberjack and a host of other fish.
Reef fishing in Marathon provides anglers with great fishing for yellowtail, mangrove, and mutton snapper, along with grouper, mackerel, and the ever-present barracuda. With its beautiful coral reefs, Marathon also has numerous oceanside artificial reefs. Depths of these artificial reefs range from 25-200 feet, providing a wide variety of angling opportunities for both surface, mid-depth, and bottom dwelling species.
Marathon is quite different from its neighbors to the east (Key Largo and Islamorada) in that the gulfside is deeper and more open, thus creating an entirely different style of bay fishing. Literally hundreds of natural ledges, wrecks and artificial reefs (made up of old lobster traps, drums and other wreckage) are scattered throughout the bay anywhere from 5 to 15 miles north of Marathon. These spots provide fast-action fishing of mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. On a day when it's just too rough to fish offshore or on the reef, the bay works as an excellent alternative, as it's comfortable even in a stiff breeze. It's the perfect choice for family fun fishing.
Another exciting type of fishing, flats fishing, involves light-tackle, sight casting to such gamesters as bonefish, permit and even tarpon, as they cruise the shallows in search of a meal. Light spinning or fly casting tackle is used to target wary gamefish that require a quiet approach and delicate cast.
For those who like to get off the beaten path and enjoy a wilderness fishing/sightseeing adventure, there is backcountry fishing. Just northwest of Marathon lies Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge and to Marathon's northeast lies the expansive Everglades National Park. Trips into these areas are highlighted by beautiful scenery, plentiful bird life, and for the most part, superb fishing.
Regardless of the style of fishing you prefer it's wise to hire the services of a local licensed guide who knows the area and understands the movements and feeding habits of your quarry. There are many charter boats and captains available for private charter. Marathon is also home to a number of large party boats. Party boat fishing offers an angler a more economical means of enjoying a day of fishing. One party boat runs multi day, day trips to the Dry Tortugas. Seldom are reservations required.
Fishing from one of the bridges is the perfect place for the person who just wants to "wet a line". The bridges are a combination of fishing pier and artificial reef all rolled up into one package! Excellent fishing can be had from the Long Key Bridge, both the bridges at Toms Harbor, and the west end of the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
Whatever style of fishing you choose, remember to be sensitive to the environment. Leave no trash in the water, be careful not to hook seabirds, don't leave wads of discarded fishing line for sea life to become entangled in. Hope you catch 'em 'till your arms ache, and have a great time. After all, having fun is the whole reason you go fishing in the first place... right?
By Captain Buddy LaPointe, Pres. Marathon Guides Assoc.