Dolphin are now spotty but you can't miss targeting the tuna


Don Rodgers and his daughter Paige have been fishing with SeaSquared Charters since 2007. On this day, they landed four good-size muttons, including a 20-pounder.


Typical for July, the dolphin bite is mixed. Some days there are major catches of big fish, while other days there are schoolies or nothing at all.

With new batches of tourist anglers fishing our waters every week, I like to remind everyone that dolphin must measure 20 inches to the fork of the tail to be legal.

The tuna bite at the Marathon Hump is excellent, and we have the calm waters that make this fishery an easy, comfortable ride. Live baits fished deep -- 200 feet and more -- are attracting some very large blackfins up to 20 pounds. Live pilchards and threadfin herring work best, with pinfish filling in as needed.

The wrecks are providing excellent action on mutton snappers, with fish in the 10- to 20-pound range the norm. Live baits are the ticket -- ballyhoo, pilchards and pinfish.

On the deeper wrecks, there are amberjack and jack crevalle to give you a workout.

Snapper fishing on the reef is very good for both yellowtails and mangroves, with night fishing really heating up. The preferred depths are 40 to 60 feet, and the key is to use plenty of chum, as the warmer waters disperse the chum very quickly.

The patches are also offering up good numbers of yellowtails and mangroves. The yellowtails take the same cut baits used on the reef, while the mangroves prefer small, live pinfish or pilchards.

There are still some mangroves at the bridges and in the bay on the wrecks and grass banks. These family-friendly areas also offer fun fishing for barracuda and sharks.

The week's best catches

Maria and Greg Marriner from Ansonia, Conn., celebrated their honeymoon by going fishing with Capt. Chuck Brodzki, who gave them the best wedding present of all -- two tarpon weighing about 75 and 100 pounds each. Both fish were caught before sunrise at Lignumvitae Key on a new moon outgoing tide using colossal-size blue crabs.

Capt. Larry Bell and deckhand Alex Bell fished Drew Rathbun and his family from Merritt Island and caught dolphin offshore of Marathon. On another trip, the Depape family, from Illinois, did some wreck fishing and caught muttons, kingfish, amberjack and more. Blue Magic Charters is docked at the Keys Fisheries Marina in Marathon.

Capt. Ariel Medero, of Big Game Sportfishing at the Hammocks Blue Green Resort in Marathon, says it's the time of year to go to the Marathon humps, where there are plenty of dolphin and tuna. Inshore, he reports tons of yellowtail and mangrove snapper at the wrecks and reefs. And the tarpon are still biting at the Seven Mile Bridge. Use live mullet or goggle eyes.

The SeaSquared crew spent much of the week on the reef and wrecks taking advantage of the outstanding snapper bite. Our anglers loaded up on good-size yellowtails, mangroves and muttons. Offshore, we had a decent dolphin bite, with mostly schoolies coming back to the dock. Shallow-water shark fishing in the bay provides nonstop action on lemon sharks ranging from five to seven feet. Double-digit landings are the norm, with all fish released unharmed.

Capt. Moe Mottice, of Moe's Lucky Charters in Key West, has been trolling for dolphin offshore from 200 feet to the drop off. He's catching dolphin up to 25 pounds along with full-size bonitos. Inshore, there's plenty of action on tarpon, and night fishing for sharks is on fire.

Capt. Chris Johnson is a member of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters out of Porky’s Bayside Marina in Marathon. You can reach him at 743-5305, and

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