The Islamorada Hump usually has a number of boats fishing it, so if you get in trouble, there should be someone there to provide assistance.
I also recommend having a SEA TOW membership or a like service. See: http://www.seatow.com
Also, know your VHF channels. Here's some basic information.The most important channel on a VHF radio is Channel 16, the international distress and calling frequency. Channel 9 is used for hailing, radio checks, plus some other functions. In Florida, for example, 9 is the bridge tender's channel. Channel 6 is for ship-to-ship safety calls after contact is made on another frequency. Channel 13 is for boat-to-boat navigation. Channel 22 is for emergency transmissions once directed by the Coast Guard to switch from another channel. Channels 24-28 and 84-88 are where you'll find a marine operator available to connect you to a land-based line. WX-1-3 are the NOAA weather channels.
Have the local Coast Guard number in your cell phone.
The Islamorada Hump is located approximately 12 miles from Whale Harbor or Snake Creek Channel.
Fishing for AJs (and tuna)...
I generally use live bait on a heavy rig. My AJ rod is an Avet Pro EX 30 with 130 pound Jerry Brown hallow core braid on a custom Super Seeker rod. It's a monster rig, but I target big AJs. The leader is 200-300 pound mono with #10-12 circle hooks. Pinfish are good, but my largest AJs have come on hardtails. Not sure if this is the best bait, just what I personally have done well on. I use 1 hook with the weight a foot or so below the hook. You can easily get by with a smaller rod and reel set up, but if you hook a big AJ, you may need to chase the fish. Don't think your hardtails are too big. I've used 2-3 pound hardtails as bait.
You can also use a jig on AJs. Blackfin will hit the jig as well. I usually use a 6 ounce diamond jig. If the current is strong, use a heavier jig. Butterfly jigs are also a great choice. I throw the jigs on Avet LX and EX reels mounted on Bass Pro Shops Offshore Extreme jigging rods. I've had good luck with these rods for $99 a piece. If you want a really awesome rod, check out OTI rods. See: http://www.oceantackle.net
I'm going to order on of their new 7 1/2' popping rods that is supposed to hit the market later this month.
If you don't have a jigging rod and are interested in purchasing one, put some thought in to the spinning set ups as well. While I love the small Avet EX for jigging 6 ounce baits, I'll soon add a spinning/jigging rod to the line-up. It's easier to let the line out fast and deep on a spinning rig.