Middle Keys Fishing

Limit of black grouper and a nice mutton for Lenny and his buddies aboard the SeaSquared with Capt. Jason Bell.

By Capt. Chris Johnson

The waters off Marathon offer abundant opportunities for a wide spectrum of species during June.
On the reef, it’s all about the snapper fishing, with yellowtails and mangroves providing most of the action. Large amounts of chum will keep the fish interested. We supplement our frozen block chum with a mixture of oats and YellowtailUp from Aquatic Nutrition. Any cut baits, such as ballyhoo or bonita belly, work well.

The most productive depths typically are 50 to 80 feet of water. The yellowtails eat cut baits or shrimp, while the mangroves take chunk baits or small live baits such as ballyhoo or pinfish.

SS Tom O’Riordan with a nice black grouper caught with Capt. Jason Bell and SeaSquared Charters.

Wreck fishing for mutton snapper is usually very good during June, with all depths from 100 to 250 feet worth investigating. There are lots of larger fish in the 12- to 18-pound range, plus we often find our heftiest muttons of the year at 20 pounds and greater.

Live baits, including pinfish and ballyhoo, work best for the muttons, although a butterflied ballyhoo will sometimes outproduce a live bait, so it’s always worth a try.

And, there are still plenty of amberjacks, almaco jacks and we usually see some African pompano during June as well.

SS The Earp group caught their limit of black groupers, a nice mutton, and a dozen yellowtails with Capt. Jason Bell and SeaSquared Charters.

As for wide-open fishing, this is the time of the year we see the peak of the dolphin (mahi-mahi) run offshore of Marathon. Large quantities of these colorful gamefish pile through the Florida Straits every day.

What the dolphin may lack in size, they make up for in quantity. So, if you’re looking to fill your freezer, you’ll be able to load up on schoolie-size (five- to ten-pound) dolphin, with the occasional bigger fish in the 15- to 40-pound category.

All the standard dolphin fishing tactics will work. Try trolling or looking for weed lines, birds working the surface or floating debris.

The Benson group caught muttons and a big jack crevalle with Capt. Wayne Burri and SeaSquared Charters.

If you find some floating debris in these deep areas, you may luck into a wahoo or two. For best results, troll lipped plugs past the debris or drop large bucktails or butterfly jigs to 200 feet and retrieve them to the surface as fast as possible.

While there’s still some tarpon action at the bridges, it tends to wane dramatically by midmonth. So, if catching a Silver King is on your bucket list, get out there early in the month for a shot at a mature tarpon in the 80- to 150-pound class.

The Cammer group landed all three of the tarpon they hooked at Bahia Honda with Capt. Jason Bell.

Shallow-water, catch-and-release shark fishing in Florida Bay is red-hot during June. Lemons are the primary shark species this time of year, but you may also see blacktips, bulls, hammerheads and more.

These sharks range in size from five to eight feet, and it’s not unusual to find yourself with a 200-pound toothy critter on the end of your line. They give you a good fight, with acrobatics, before you reel them in to the side of the boat for a photo opp and then release them to fight another day.

Capt. Chris Johnson

Specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, saifish, shark, tarpon and lobster fishing with SeaSquared Charters. For daily fishing reports with pictures, please click over to Facebook.com/MarathonFishing.

305-743-5305 | SeaSquaredCharters.com

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