Middle Keys Fishing – Sept 2017

Nice mutton snapper catch for the Wilson family, from Georgia.

by Capt. Chris Johnson

September being the back-to-school and back-to-work time of the year, our tourism activity here in Marathon slows down a tad. But, not the fishing!

We had an excellent dolphin (mahi mahi) run this summer, and it shows no sign of quitting. The dolphin are here in good numbers and in all sizes from schoolies to gaffers to some real slammers.

Birds working over the top of weed lines have been the primary indicator of schools of mahi. Trolling naked ballyhoo or plastics down the weed lines have been connecting on a regular basis.

There are good numbers of blackfin tuna mixed in with the dolphin. Their presence is typically indicated by large flocks of birds working over their position. Small, dark-colored plastics trolled through the school work well, as does throwing butterfly jigs into the school. This time of year, the blackfins average five to ten pounds.

Nice amberjack for the Trabue group from Ohio who also caught a limit of mangroves and 4 muttons.

The Atlantic wrecks hold plenty of mutton snappers and the occasional grouper. Large amberjacks and jack crevalles are present as well and will test your mettle on light tackle.

Live baits, such as pinfish or ballyhoo, are best for the muttons. Bluerunners, grunts and other larger live baits work for the groupers and jacks.

Reef fishing during September is all about the yellowtail snappers, with some mangrove snappers mixed in. This fishing is best done early in the morning before the heat of the day sets in.

Baits such as silversides and pieces of filleted ballyhoo will do the trick for the yellowtails, while the mangroves will take an assortment of live pinfish or ballyhoo or large chunks of pinfish or ballyhoo.

You still need large amounts of chum to get and keep the attention of the snappers. Adding a mixture of oats and ChumDrop or YellowtailUp to your frozen chum will enhance your catches tremendously.

Lobster season got off to a slow start in the Marathon area on August 6, with keeper-size bugs being few and far between. All we can do is hope for improvement in September.

The bugs should be on the move this time of year in the six- to ten-foot depths in Florida Bay, making them easily accessible for even novice bug-hunters. It takes some practice and patience to perfect the art of tickling them out of their holes, but it’s a lot of fun and the rewards are tasty indeed!


19lb yellowjack and 25 big mangroves for the Ozbun group from Missouri.

Keys Fishing Seminar Series

We’re pleased to announce we will be conducting a series of fishing seminars in conjunction with Faro Blanco Resort and Marina and The Tackle Box. The first one takes place December 6, and the topic is Reef from Top to Bottom. Drop us an email or give us a call for details.

Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, reef/wreck, gulf/bay, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon.

305-743-5305 | SeaSquaredCharters.com