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Gray8188

Summer keys fishing help

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Hey guys planning on a trip down to the keys in July (pending everything going on). And looking at places around marathon/Islamorada. I’ll be bringing my 2200 pathfinder. Wanting to do some inshore and possibly run offshore on some calm days and try to find some dolphin. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Have your run of the mill 3000-4000 spinning setups with 15-20lb test. Have a 8000 spheros 8ft xxh tarpon setup. Looking to add a 5000 spinning reel to the mix and a conventional for trolling. Any tips with targeting mahi? And any tips for targeting anything inshore aswell? Thanks for any help I’ve never fished in the keys. 

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Welcome, Gray !

Firstly, I would lodge up around Islamorada or Lower Matecumbe.  That way, if it is windy you can still fish behind the islands and run your crew to restaurants and the sandbars.  Marathon has few options.  If you are going to stay in a motel, Breezy Palms at MM 80 is the place. It is an older mom & pop place but.. The ramp is excellent, the docks are new, and it is on the Oceanside: No mosquitoes or no see-ums.  The marina is fully protected from wave action.  There will be a lot of Pathfinders there in early July. 

Secondly, your spin tackle is fine for Mahi and bottom fishing. It is easy to troll small lures around flotsam or toss baits in front of birds working a school of fish.  In the Keys, the birds are the secret to catching Mahi.  Weedlines do have fish around them, but the better sized fish are followed by the birds. Start the search for fish around 600 feet if it is nice offshore. The Humps are amazing spectacles.. There are three Humps you can fish off Islamorada. 

Thirdly, Please research the Everglades National Park boaters education course you must take online, and the Park fees that will be required. You will want to see the Park. Best to follow another boater the first times back in there.

Tarpon fishing is OK in July. Live mullet are the bait of choice. Dead mullet on the bottom works. Crabs, Pilchards are good to drift under corks.  The Top Spot maps are a good start, even though every boat down there has one on board.

Marc

Others will chime in and offer their advice.

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53 minutes ago, Moderator said:

Welcome, Gray !

Firstly, I would lodge up around Islamorada or Lower Matecumbe.  That way, if it is windy you can still fish behind the islands and run your crew to restaurants and the sandbars.  Marathon has few options.  If you are going to stay in a motel, Breezy Palms at MM 80 is the place. It is an older mom & pop place but.. The ramp is excellent, the docks are new, and it is on the Oceanside: No mosquitoes or no see-ums.  The marina is fully protected from wave action.  There will be a lot of Pathfinders there in early July. 

Secondly, your spin tackle is fine for Mahi and bottom fishing. It is easy to troll small lures around flotsam or toss baits in front of birds working a school of fish.  In the Keys, the birds are the secret to catching Mahi.  Weedlines do have fish around them, but the better sized fish are followed by the birds. Start the search for fish around 600 feet if it is nice offshore. The Humps are amazing spectacles.. There are three Humps you can fish off Islamorada. 

Thirdly, Please research the Everglades National Park boaters education course you must take online, and the Park fees that will be required. You will want to see the Park. Best to follow another boater the first times back in there.

Tarpon fishing is OK in July. Live mullet are the bait of choice. Dead mullet on the bottom works. Crabs, Pilchards are good to drift under corks.  The Top Spot maps are a good start, even though every boat down there has one on board.

Marc

Others will chime in and offer their advice.

Thank you for the help I appreciate it! We’re looking at renting a house so that helps me figure what areas would be best to look for a place. 
 And should I grab a conventional in case I want to try trolling for mahi, or possibly even wahoo? (been looking for an excuse to get one lol) And also what terminal tackle should I be using on my spin tackle? Sorry for all the questions this type fishing is new to me I want to make sure I make the most of it.  
And I will be sure to pick up one of the top spot maps and also take the Everglades national park fishing course. 

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Like Marc said. If you go offshore, run until you see birds and try to drag a Mylar feather in front where their heading too. You should pick up a Blackfin, dolphin or Bonito. If you see a thick patch of weeds, or a floating log or pallet, troll by it or cast to it. Lots of small tripletail, jacks etc hang by that. I've had the best luck in 700ft plus of water. Do yourself a favor and buy the FMT chip. Stay on the red lines inshore and you should be fine. Run to Rabbit Key and fish the moat around it for Mangroves. Been hitting the Keys every year for over 40 years and always seem to find some fish. Fished Islamorada last year with the Hewes and made it offshore twice when the wind died. This year back to Marathon for a couple weeks fist of July if its open for non residents.  Good luck.

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3 hours ago, lrobalo said:

Like Marc said. If you go offshore, run until you see birds and try to drag a Mylar feather in front where their heading too. You should pick up a Blackfin, dolphin or Bonito. If you see a thick patch of weeds, or a floating log or pallet, troll by it or cast to it. Lots of small tripletail, jacks etc hang by that. I've had the best luck in 700ft plus of water. Do yourself a favor and buy the FMT chip. Stay on the red lines inshore and you should be fine. Run to Rabbit Key and fish the moat around it for Mangroves. Been hitting the Keys every year for over 40 years and always seem to find some fish. Fished Islamorada last year with the Hewes and made it offshore twice when the wind died. This year back to Marathon for a couple weeks fist of July if its open for non residents.  Good luck.

Thank you for the recommendations! I’m going to look up those areas now!  Been doing a bit of reading sounds like I need to pick up a trolling setup. Been looking into a tld25 or Avet lx reels.  Anyone have any rod recommendations for trolling for either of these 2 reels?

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The TLD's are good reels. One observation though.. They can backlash easily with their large line capacity.  Annoying till you get used to trolling reels. The Avet reels are as good as you can buy. 

Having one trolling rod is a good plan. 25 or 30lb setup is adequate. There are several ways to get a wahoo bait down deeper. Stagger the distance back for all the trolling lines to avoid tangles when you turn. YouTube is a great place for all the tutorials you need.  You will need some more gear too.. A gaff, cooler for fishbox, lures, leader, terminal tackle, etc,

Islamorada is a beautiful place.  Your Pathfinder is absolutely ideal for the Keys.  It is also a lot of work to make sure everything is ready for the trip. The challenge is limiting the number of things you forget to bring.

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Moderator said:

The TLD's are good reels. One observation though.. They can backlash easily with their large line capacity.  Annoying till you get used to trolling reels. The Avet reels are as good as you can buy. 

Having one trolling rod is a good plan. 25 or 30lb setup is adequate. There are several ways to get a wahoo bait down deeper. Stagger the distance back for all the trolling lines to avoid tangles when you turn. YouTube is a great place for all the tutorials you need.  You will need some more gear too.. A gaff, cooler for fishbox, lures, leader, terminal tackle, etc,

Islamorada is a beautiful place.  Your Pathfinder is absolutely ideal for the Keys.  It is also a lot of work to make sure everything is ready for the trip. The challenge is limiting the number of things you forget to bring.

 

 

I’m stoked to go, just really hoping all of this stuff calms down by then. And do you mean 25-30lb line or class rod? Anyone have any links to rods they would recommend that won’t break the bank for an Avet lx?

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We use our 22 every summer in the keys offshore, obviously depending on the seas.  We troll with the TLD20 with the star rod that West Marine sells as a combo.  Filled with 30lb mono. We troll with 4 normally (Each corner in the gunnel rod holders, and two off the leaning post a short and a long) and sometimes spinners of top angled rod holders on the T-Top.   

Bring the tarpon spinners rigged ready for a pitch bait.  

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