Snorkeling and diving on Marathon’s beautiful reefs is quite popular, and there are numerous dive shops in town to get you geared up and on the water. Sombrero Reef is one of the most gorgeous reefs and popular snorkel/ dive sites in the Florida Keys.
Even the sunsets are special in Marathon. Take it from one who has lived here in the Keys since 1974, there is not a more beautiful sunset location than at the east end of the Seven Mile Bridge.
Lodging ranges from a host of simple, no frills “mom and pop” motels to exclusive destination resorts that provide every imaginable amenity. And Marathon also offers great dining from a large array of restaurants and delicatessens. Two very popular seafood spots among the locals are The Castaways and Keys Fisheries.
Being geographically located in the center of the Keys, it’s not unusual for visitors stay in Marathon, not only to enjoy what the town has to offer, but also to use it as a jumping off point to make day trips to other areas throughout the Keys.
Let’s Go Fishing!
Variety is also Marathon’s strong suit when it comes to fishing. And most agree that the red-hot tarpon run in the spring is what makes Marathon such a great angling destination. You will marvel at the spectacular leaps of a hooked tarpon. Powerful runs and incredible endurance are also trademarks of this great game fish, earning him the title, the “Silver King.” Tarpon fishing is undoubtedly the best way for a novice angler to catch a large sport fish.
Much of the spring time fishing activity of local Marathon tarpon fishing guides takes place at well known bridges such as the Long Key Viaduct, the Seven Mile Bridge and the Bahia Honda Bridge. Many visitors enjoy walking out on the bridges late in the day, not only to enjoy a beautiful sunset, but also to watch the wild tarpon fishing activity below them.
Another very popular type of fishing done in Marathon is what’s called family fun fishing. And Florida Bay on the north side of Marathon is absolutely the perfect destination for this.
Marathon is quite different from it’s neighbors, in that Florida Bay is deeper and more open. Literally hundreds of natural ledges, wrecks, and artificial reefs are scattered throughout the bay anywhere from 5 to 10 miles north of Marathon. These spots provide fast-action, shallow water fishing for snapper, grouper, sea trout, bluefish, mackerel, etc. But it’s not just the action that makes this so much fun for the family, but the fact that the shallow waters of Florida Bay stay relatively calm, even in a 15-20 knot wind. Whereas tarpon fishing is done mainly in March through June, family fun trips are a year ‘round activity. It’s perfect for kids, inexperienced anglers, and those who may be prone to motion sickness.
Shark Fishing is also quite popular in Florida Bay; it can be done as a stand alone trip, or more typically is incorporated into a family fun trip. These sharks are in the 4 to 6 foot range, and are a lot of fun on 20 pound spinning or conventional tackle. What makes shark fishing so enjoyable out in the bay is the fact that it’s shallow, and you often get to see the shark approach and eat the bait.
Beyond Florida Bay is the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf wreck fishing is very popular in Marathon, with the main target species being cobia, gag grouper, permit, and the giant goliath grouper. Twin engine boats in the 25-30 foot size are best for this type of fishing; they are better suited for the long runs and choppy seas.
Deep Sea offshore fishingis also excellent for sailfish, mahi, and wahoo. Twenty two miles off Marathon is the West Hump. Rising from depths of 1100 feet to a peak of 480 feet, this deep-sea dinner table is an excellent spot for anglers targeting blue and white marlin, mako shark, blackfin tuna, large amberjack, and a host of other fish. In recent years, Marathon offshore captains have had much success putting their anglers on the greatest offshore gladiator of all, the broadbill swordfish.
Reef fishingin Marathon provides anglers with a great variety of snapper, grouper, mackerel, and jacks. Not only do the reefs produce fish, but also excellent fishing can be had on Marathon’s numerous artificial reefs ranging from depths of 20 feet to over 200 feet. These provide a wide variety of angling opportunities for both surface, mid depth, and bottom dwelling species.
Another exciting type of fishing, flats fishing, nvolves light tackle, sight casting to gamesters such as bonefish, permit, and even tarpon. Light spinning or fly casting gear is used to target these wary game fish. This is challenging fishing as it requires a quiet approach and a delicate cast. It’s as much hunting as it is fishing, and once you’re hooked on this style of fishing, nothing else will do.
For those who like to get off the beaten path and enjoy a fishing/ sightseeing adventure, there is backcountry fishing. Just northwest of Marathon lies Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge (bonefish, permit, and tarpon), and to Marathon’s northeast lies the huge expanse of Everglades National Park (snook, redfish, tarpon, sea trout). In the backcountry, you’ll be treated to beautiful scenery, plentiful bird and marine life, and some darn good fishing. Freshwater bass fishermen especially love fishing up in Everglades National Park; working heavy cover with artificials or live bait (while using their own bass rods) for snook and redfish is right up their alley.
Good Words Of Advice
Strongly consider hiring the services of a local, licensed fishing captain who knows the area and understands the movements and feeding habits of your quarry. There are many charter boats in Marathon ranging from 16 foot flats skiffs, up to 50 foot offshore sport fishing vessels. Mid range boats in the 25 foot range are quite popular in this area. Marathon is also home to several large party boats. Party boat fishing offers an angler a more economical means of enjoying a day of fishing.
Fisherman or not, you owe it to yourself to check out all Marathon has to offer. Make Marathon your “Do It All” destination.
Writen By: Veteran Marathon Fishing Guide Buddy Lapointe