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    Fishing in Marathon in November #591 09/18/07 07:24 PM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    Hi All,

    Avid saltwater fisherman up in NJ and NC, but first time coming to the keys this November. Will be in Marathon on the Atlantic side on a waterway. Won't have a boat with me, so looking for info on shore/pier/bridge fishing, party/rental boat suggestions, wading, etc. What should be biting close to shore or in the rivers/bays and coves? Also what type of spinning equipment to bring, best lures/baits, etc. Lots of questions I know -- Any info will be greatly appreciated and favor returned if anyone heads to NJ or the Outer Banks of NC!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #592 09/18/07 08:20 PM
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    Capt. Jesse Karen Offline
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    wELL THE EASIET PLACE TO FISH WILL BE THE 7 MILE BRIDGE. IT HAS A FISHING AREA. PEOPLE CATCH ALL KINDS OF STUFF. SNAPPER, GROUPER, SOMETIMES SNOOK AND PERMIT SHARKS ETC....IT'S BEST TO HAVE A PIER NET OR LANDING MAY BE VERY DIFFICULT.

    A STOUT 7 FOOT ROD WITH 30 POUND BRAID ON A 4000 SERIES REEL SHOULD DO THE TRICK.

    A MEDIUM ACTION 7 FOOT WITH A 2500 SERIES REEL AND 15 POUND BRAID WILL BE PERFECT FOR ANY ROADSIDE CANALS OR STUFF YOU MAY FIND. NOT A WHOLE LOT OF BOATLESS FISHING DESTINATIONS OTHER THEN THE BRIDGES....THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WADEABLE FLATS WHERE i AM SURE YOU WILL SEE OTHERS FISHING. tHE LIGHTER ROD WITH A 1/4OZ WHITE BUCKTAIL FLATS JIG AND A SMALL PIECE OF SHRIMP WILL BE BEST IN THAT SCENARIO. THERE ARE A FEW TACKLE SHOPS IN TOWN, STOP IN AND SEE WHAT THEY RECCOMEND. ONE OF THE 29 BRIDGES I AM SHURE.

    ALSO BE SURE TO USE 30 OR 40 POUND LEADER ABOUT 12 TO 24 INCHES FROM YOUR MAIN LINE TO YOU HOOK.LURES ON THE BRIDGES AND 20 POUND ON THE FLATS.

    THE WATER RIPS AT THE BRIDGES, I AM SURE THE TACKLE SHOP WILL SELL YOU THE APPROPRIATE RIG AND WEIGHT FOR BAIT FISHING.

    GOOD LUCK! HOPE THIS HELPS.

    BTW - I FEEL BAD FOR YOU IN LBI....WITHOUT A BOAT YOUR CHANCES OF GOOD FISHING ARE MINIMAL. (UNLESS THE BIG BLUES ARE BUSTING OFF THE BEACH) I ASSUME YOU HAVE A BOAT. FORGET FLUKE AND SEA BASS.....GET READY FOR SOME GOOD FISHING! JUST KIDDING BRO...HAVE A GOOD TIME!

    LAST TIME I WAS IN LBI TWO SUMMERS AGO I CAUGHT THREE SEA BASS OVER 16" ON BERKLEY GULP IN 60' OF WATER.



    Capt. Jesse Karen
    Fishing the 10,000 Islands in Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City!
    Families or professionals, I'll put you on the fish!

    http://www.madsnookin.com

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: Capt. Jesse Karen] #595 09/19/07 09:15 AM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    Hey Capt Jesse - thanks a bunch for the good info. Was planning to bring the 7 footer, will include a heavy and light reel, plus a light 1/4-1/2 oz outfit for the little stuff on the flats. Figured the bridges and wading were my best shot. Besides small jigs and bait, what about plastics and plugs? How does Gulp Shrimp do versus the real stuff down there?

    LBI was/is popping with blues -- small 2-3 lbers all summer (with good fluking) and now the big guys are moving in as the bait moves out of the bay. Stripers (rockfish to you southern types!) starting to show too. I look at my 20 ft Key Largo center console all the time -- just don't have the time to get out too much...so I'm travelling 1000+ miles to fish!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #597 09/19/07 01:28 PM
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    I lived in Key Colony Beach (right off Marathon) from 2003-04. Will get back later today (when I have more time) with some info.

    Where are you staying? I recommend Blackfin Resort. Not fancy, but run by friends of our that are very nice. Clean rooms, a nice little beachy area and a rocky point where you can clean up on mangroves at night.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #599 09/19/07 03:00 PM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    staying by Sister's creek, private house


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #600 09/19/07 03:11 PM
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    There is a party boat in Marathon. It's located right after Vaca Cut as you are entering Marathon.

    Here's a few recommendations for no-boat fishing:

    Behind Grassy Key is a sand flat. It's exposed during low tide. It's one of the only places I wade fish in the Keys. You'll find bonefish, tarpon, permit, cudas and a number of other regulars to inshore.

    If you want to target bonefish, a 6 1/2 to 7' spinning rod with 10-12 pound test is plenty (fluorocarbon is helpful). Chumming with shrimp will bring the bonefish in. You can then freeline or fish a jighead with dead shrimp - keeping live shimp is a pain when you are wade fishing. This is an example of the jighead that can be fished with or without shrimp ( http://www.hookuplures.com/hook_up_lures_weedless_jigs.htm ).

    Go visit World Class Angler and they can hook you up with tackle and information. There is a class every Thursday night that I highly recommend. It usually focuses on what's hot and what is in season.

    In Key Colony Beach, there is a small park called Sunset Beach. Few people go there and the beach drops off to deeper water close to shore. We're caught numerous different species there ... and it's a nice place to relax.

    You can fish under Vaca Cut for tarpon, but it's tough to land them.

    Even if you don't stay there, visit Blackfin Resort and rent some kayaks. The flats behind Blackfin hold a number of species that will hit artificials, frozen shrimp, squid or cut bait.

    Be sure and visit Bahia Honda while you are there. Cross 7-Mile Bridge and head a little further west. It's the nicest beach in the area.

    If you need restaurant recommendations, let me know.

    I'll post some more bank fishing spots if I can think of them.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #601 09/19/07 03:15 PM
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    As Capt. Jesse said above, there is always bridge fishing. I like the bridge right before Duck Key, but fishing from a bridge is not on my favorites list, plus the bridges can attract a funky crowd.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #611 09/20/07 01:28 PM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    Hey JP - Thanks for the great info. My first time at this site and gotta say I am overwhelmed by the southern hospitality and help.

    I will definitely check out the spots and let you know. Any others or techniques/lures would be welcome. The class sounds like a good investment in time too. And I will try to get to your friends at Blackfin for a kayak. A couple more questions, if I may:

    1. I assume wading shoes or an old pair of sneakers are a must. ?? Anything else needed there for wading, besides my surf bag and a swimsuit? (I assume a stringer for caught fish is NOT a good idea due to attracting sharks!)

    2. Since lve shrimp are tough to keep while wading, any experieince with the Gulp! shrimp there or the plastics, like DOA and Berkely? Any top water action on plugs or swimmers? I use a lot of the rubber shads up here and in NC -- worthwhile, or do they get chewed up too quick? Trying to decide what artificials besides jigs and weedless Johnson spoons to bring. SOunds like weedless is important down there -- grass and coral?

    3. Got the light outfit ready to go, plus a 7 ft med/hvy spin rod with a Penn 4500 and 30 lb Power Pro per Capt Jesse -- but is that enough to cast out to the deep water off that beach, or should I try to bring down a 9-10 ft surf rod to get more distance -- or is that overkill?

    4, Last one (for now!) - Any red drum around on the flats in November? I love catching them up in the OUter BAnks of NC!

    Thanks!!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #613 09/20/07 08:38 PM
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    Answers to questions:

    1. The area I suggested behind Grassy Key is a sandbar out from the shore. I waded barefoot and with boots in this area (you can pick up a pair of wading boots at most sporting goods stores for around $20-$35). The fish you will catch are sporting species, like bonefish, tarpon and permit - not stuff you eat. If you want something for the grill, you should be able to catch snapper near where you are staying. As for a stringer in other cases, I use a belt made by Wade Aid ( http://www.wadeaid.com ). The stringer is 12 or so feet long. In all my years of wade fishing, I've never had a shark take fish. I've had it happen to friends, but the shark just grabbed their fish and moved on. You have better odds getting struck by lightening than getting hit by a shark. Enjoy the ocean and don't worry about sharks.

    2. If you are targeting bonefish and want to make it easy, stick to frozen shrimp and the jighead I mentioned above. Other than that, a fly rod is usually the rig of choice when chasing bones.

    3. Leave the surf rod at home. There is no place that I can think of in the Keys where a surf rod is a good choice.

    4. If you want reds, go to Islamorada and get a guide to take you back country fishing. I caught very few reds and only one spec the entire time I was in the Keys.

    My advice is to talk to a few people. Go to World Class Angler and a few other bait shops. And the best advice I can offer ... fish for what is in season - don't try and target fish that are not abundant or are not being caught.

    On a final note, the Keys are much better with a boat. If you can fit it in to your budget, visit one of the rental places, like http://www.captainpips.com and get a boat for a few days. Stick with the inshore stuff and patch reefs. If you get a boat, make sure your snorkel Sombrero Reef.

    If you decide to get a boat, and need info on patch reef fishing, let me know. I can also give you some basics on fishing the main reef if you are interested in venturing out a little further.


    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #614 09/21/07 12:18 PM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    Thanks, AGAIN, for all the good info ,JP.

    I am basically a catch and release person, so fishing for what's biting is always my motto. But an occasional fish for the table comes home now and then (my wife is the fish-eater -- who also reminds me how high the "cost per pound" is of the fish I bring home!) so I will definitley target some snapper off the dock or beach. Shrimp, I assume, on the bottom?

    I don't flyfish much anymore - pretty rusty -- mostly spinning these days -- and I doubt the bones will be forgiving of bad fly casts. So unless fly fishing will be a huge plus for overall fishing, I will probably not plan to embarrass myself with the long rod (I assume I would need at least an 8 wt if I did?)

    I have a stringer similar to the one at the website that I got surf fishing up here.

    I will hit WC ANgler and others to check things out to get the lay of the land (sea). Everyone is telling me I should rent a boat, so I will try to for a few days. Pip's smallest boat seems to be a 19'er with 115 hp -- do I really need something that big if I stay in protected waters? Or is it worthwhile to go this size for more mobility and fishing options, like into the Atlantic proper? I had assumed maybe a little (16') skiff would be enough. It's probably just me fishing (unless you want to tag along!), although we'd all snorkel the reef if I got the big boat.

    Do you ever "float" your bait or jigs over the shallows, above the grass or coral cover? Seems like it would be a good idea, especially if the wind put some ripples on the water. We sometimes do it for weakfish (sea trout) up here and I hear they do it for reds in the sounds in NC sometimes.

    Do you guys use circle hooks there with your bait, like shrimp? I like them most times, but I could see a problem in some cases using them there -- by not immediately setting the hook and moving the fish away from heavy cover and coral?

    And let me end by sounding stupid -- what's a patch reef? (a small reef?) If these are fishable with the rental boat and worthwhile, then I guess I want to know. If this is bottom fishing, will the 7' spinner work or should I bring a heavier conventional rod/reel with 30 lb braid? 50lb mono leader for the coral?

    Again, thanks so much. I'm sure I'll have more questions before November. And remember, you all have an open invite for anything I can help with in NJ or the Outer Banks of NC!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #615 09/22/07 10:08 AM
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    Getting reminded of the cost of fish grin ... I have a good solution for that one ... if you rent a boat, do a little lobstering. They are pretty easy to find on the inshore rock piles. Fresh lobster should appease your wife. You can pick up a lobster net, lobster ruler and tickle stick at Target in Marathon (they come as a package) for about $15 or $20. Here's info from FWC on keeper lobster:

    "Spiny Lobster must have a minimum carapace length of greater than 3-inches and the measurement must take place in the water. The carapace is measured beginning at the forward edge between the rostral horns, excluding and soft tissue, and proceeding along the middle to the rear edge of the carapace."

    If you don't flyfish, a spinning rig works great. Circle hooks are good, but I don't use them exclusively. I rig live shrimp with a small #4 treble hook. I use a regular j-hook on frozen shrimp.

    The boat - 19' with a 115 is small, unless you are fishing gulf side or back country. You can venture to patch reefs and the main reef in that boat on a calm day. Don't forget bridge fishing (from a boat). I have caught monster grouper, tarpon and about everything else from a boat under the bridges. 7-mile Bridge, about a 1/3 of the way out from the Marathon side, has always been productive for me. If you have a graph, there is a large deep hole around there on the Atlantic side, which usually holds good numbers and large fish.

    Patch reef fishing - there are small patches of reef all along the Keys between the shore and the main reef. Set up just up current from the patch and set out a chum bag. You can catch grouper, yellowtail snapper, hogfish and many others. The 3 mentioned are all good eating. The only one that requires a little finesse is the yellowtail. Other species with hit just about anything. If you catch pinfish, hook them to your larger rod and catch grouper. For yellowtail, you need to be a little more stealthy. Use your spinning rig with a short shank #4 or smaller hook. Bury the hook in dead shrimp or squid, then free-line the bait in the chum line. You can generally see the yellowtail in the chum line. Larger yellowtail will generally be found in 40 to 100 feet on the main reef. If you are using fluorocarbon in 10- or 12-pound test, tie strait to the hook for yellow tail. For other species, use 30- to 40-pound fluorocarbon leaders. If you are fishing 20-pound test on your larger set-up, use 30-pound leader. If you are fishing 30-pound test, use 40-pound leader.

    Finally, be sure and have a FWC regs book and something to help identify species. Identifying snapper and grouper can be a little confusing. You don't want to keep a juvenile goliath grouper by mistake.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #616 09/22/07 11:41 AM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    More great info -- and I like the lobster idea -- might be able to get everyone involved in that one!

    I have a cheap little portable depth finder that I use on a deep lakes with rowboats -- will bring it in case the boats don't come equipped -- great idea, now that I have your "hole" to look for!

    How far offshore are the main and patch reefs? If I don't venture that far, I've got the bridges, but what can I do in the gulf -- besides ground out?

    Pinfish or other baitfish -- I was going to ask about catching live bait. Worth bringing a cast net? the house I'm renting has a dock, and I assume lights on it. (It looks like we are driving down and back in my van, so I have a lot of room to bring stuff, versus flying.)

    Or can I catch bait on a Sabiki rig? Use tiny pieces of squid or shrimp? Or fishbites or Gukp? Grouper rig would be an egg sinker and a circle hook (4/0?) on the bottom I assume?

    I was also wondering about ID'ing fish -- so I am legal and not eating the wrong thing! I got the 2 pages of regs on-line, but what about ID aids -- suggestions? Or just hit a tackle shop there? I can easily see getting confused with all the snapper and grouper varieties there

    Again, thanks and I hope I am not bugging you -- I just like to be as knowledgable and prepared as possible. And then of course I never end up touching 95% of the stuff I bring!



    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #621 09/23/07 11:33 AM
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    Hey JP - Gonna order a couple of those weedless jigs you suggested at http://www.hookuplures.com/hook_up_lures_weedless_jigs.htm

    Any suggestions on weights and colors?



    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #623 09/23/07 01:19 PM
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    Capt. Jesse Karen Offline
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    Shrimp and crab imitating patterns. Like white and pink. White and brown. 1/4 oz and 1/8 oz.

    Key Colony is nice J.P.!

    I'd add to this thread but there is nothing to add. JP did you right.

    I will add a permit I caught outside of sisters creek two weeks ago in front of Boot Key.

    [Linked Image]


    Capt. Jesse Karen
    Fishing the 10,000 Islands in Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City!
    Families or professionals, I'll put you on the fish!

    http://www.madsnookin.com

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: Capt. Jesse Karen] #626 09/24/07 07:01 AM
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    Steve-

    I'll get some more info up for you this evening.

    JP

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #628 09/24/07 04:05 PM
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    Thanks Capt Jesse - I figured pink, will try one of each in each size. Ever use the Gulp little crabs, or are the real things easily available there? BTW -- Real Nice fish!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #630 09/24/07 09:18 PM
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    use real crabs, everyone sells them!


    Capt. Jesse Karen
    Fishing the 10,000 Islands in Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City!
    Families or professionals, I'll put you on the fish!

    http://www.madsnookin.com

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: Capt. Jesse Karen] #635 09/26/07 06:39 AM
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    Steve-

    Sorry for the delay getting back to you. Let's see if I can answer a few more of your questions...

    The depth finder ... most of the water you are fishing will be clear. Patch reefs start close to shore and you can easily spot them. It might come in handy fishing the bridges. Sometimes the water is murky around bridges and the depth finder will help you find deeper holes, but don't spend all your time focusing on holes. Fish just up current of the pylons and let your bait drift towards them. If you venture to the main reef, a depth finder will help you fish varying depths. Check the bait shops and find out what depths are working on the main reef. One day it may be 40 feet and the next 80.

    Patch reefs occur all over between the shore and the main reef. I usually fish them starting in about 15 to 20 feet.

    Catching bait is easy from a lighted dock. Keeping bait alive is a different story. Saltwater baitfish need a constant flow of fresh saltwater. If you have one of the big mesh type bait keeping bags, that you can keep submerged, you can keep bait alive.

    Pinfish can be caught on Sabiki rigs, but I usually use a small bream hook with a tiny piece of squid and a split shot weight when catching them from a dock.

    As for the fish ID aids, you can find them everywhere. They come as posters and laminated pamphlets for the boat.

    You are not bugging me - this is what the forum is for. If you have any more questions, post them up!

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #640 09/26/07 01:37 PM
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    Thanks again. OK let's talk what kind/size of boat to rent for the reef and patch reefs versus the gulf side and bridge areas, and what kind of fish I'd encounter in each. Boat tradeoffs are safety vs budget, but also locations I can safely fish. I realize that a deep-V might be better in the ATlantic, but will limit me in the flats, and vice versa with a flats type skiff or a boat with lesser draft. Got a good compromise?

    Also, in case I can get my wife and/or 16 yr old daughter out to try some keys fishing (and justify the boat!), what's the best bet for 1. Easy action on calm water and 2nd some table fare (besides lobster)?

    Back to fishing tackle for a moment...due to the clear water and spooky fish, is the 2-3' flourocarbon leader that I use here enough "distance" from a braid main line, or do I need to put on a longer (10 foot?) top shot of flouro or mono so the braid is further away from the bait or jig? Want the small diam briad for casting distance, abrasion and strength if possible. I'm thinking that 6-10 lb mono will get sliced off on a coral fan or similar in no time flat, even with a short 30 lb leader.

    If you keep giving out good info, I'll keep coming up with questions!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #641 09/26/07 08:30 PM
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    I would get a 22' to 24' boat. 20' or less puts too many limitations in relation to ocean conditions.

    2' to 3' of leader is fine, unless you are fishing for yellowtail snapper, in which case you will need 5' or 6'.

    If you are patch reef fishing, 12-15 pound line is fine. If you are bottom fishing on the main reef, use 30-40 pound. When hauling grouper away from their hole, you will need more pulling power. I even have an AJ / grouper rig that is an Avet with 130 pound JB braid, but you don't need a winch for most of the fish you will catch.

    The cero mackerel bite is good in November and they are a blast to catch. You can head out of Marathon on a due west course - out about 7 to 10 miles. You are looking for the beginnings of the needle grass (not sure if that is the proper name) - turtle grass is what you see inshore - you are looking for the start of the thinner grass 5+ miles out. The water will be around 8'-10' deep. Set up a chum line and fish with a short wire leader. They are fast and furious when hooked.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #642 09/27/07 02:34 PM
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    Sounds good. Thanks again. What kind of chum and bait for the cero macs? Are these spanish macs or different? Hook size and fish size expected? Just drop a baited hook back into the chum line and wait?

    What do you think the chances are of getting a decent discount off the posted rates on a boat rental in November?


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #656 10/02/07 07:49 AM
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    Any chum will work. You can even purchase chum at Walgreens in Marathon. Every bait store sells chum. Ceros aren't too picky. Just use the cheap stuff. One bag out will generally suffice. Have at least 3 bags on board (4 or 5 even better).

    Ceros are larger than Spanish Macs. They average around 5-15 punds with the IGFA record at 26.

    They will hit cut bait, live bait and artificials. We have done well on topwaters as well. Once they are around you, they aren't too picky. Just make sure you use a short wire leader. A basic Mustad saltwater hook works fine. Match hooks to the bait you are using.

    I have only rented a boat once in the Keys. The folks we rented from are now out of business. We rented the boat for 3 days and were able to negotiate a better rate than was advertised on the web.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #662 10/02/07 06:39 PM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    Thanks JP. Sounds like it could be fun -- maybe like fishing for bluefish up here, and about the same size. We'll sometimes take a small blue and use it for cut bait here -- you think same might work with the ceros? I assume ceros are oily like most mackeral -- edible?

    If I get to the right spot and chum as you say, anything else we might hook up with in the chum slick, or down at the bottom of it?


    Steve On LBI-NJ
    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: SteveOnLBI-NJ] #664 10/03/07 11:41 AM
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    We catch bluefish in the same spot. With a chum slick, you will eventually end up with sharks. Sometimes I catch a few, but usually just relocate.

    I had to call FWC on the cero macs. Per that conservation, they are not regulated (as I thought), meaning, you can use them as cut bait. I have used them as cut bait and they work very well, but wanted to check before I gave you any advice. Don't want you getting a ticket due to bad information I gave you.

    Re: Fishing in Marathon in November [Re: FFF Staff] #675 10/11/07 06:26 PM
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    SteveOnLBI-NJ Offline OP
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    Thanks again JP. Starting to put some gear together and then get the SW license online. Plans are to take a lite 6' rod and spinning reel w/ 200 yds 8-10lb mono, a 6 1/2' medium light rod with spinner and 15lb braid (150 yds), and a 7' med/hvy bridge/reef rod with spinner and 30lb braid (200+ yds). Am I covered? Any reccommendations or thoughts appreciated!


    Steve On LBI-NJ
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