Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tough Fishing the Past Few Days


I don't know if we zigged when should have zagged, but haven't found the temperature breaks and floaters offshore.  Part of that is due to the last cold front pushing cold water out.  We saw water temperatures on the ups and downs drop a couple of degrees.  The free sea surface temperature data we get from Hotspots gets blanked out by cloud cover but there are some composite charts available from NASA which you can use with Google Earth.  So I am playing around with that to see If I can make that easier to use.  The color scale they use is pretty course, but that temperature break is about 27 miles south and we stopped a few miles short of that the other day in order to get back in shore in time to do something else.  The something else, the old stand by rock piles was slower than all get out other than grouper we couldn't keep anyway, so the trip sucked in my opinion.

We did have a couple of knock downs, likely by sailfish in my opinion, but I never got to see what was spraying the bait.  Since the Lady Catherine is docked near Vaca Cut, we try not to run too far West, but the current has been pretty weak meaning it isn't all that easy to get a bite going.  I am not sure what the guys want to do tomorrow, but if it is dolphin and tuna we probably will have a lone run without much time to change plans.  If they want a shot at the sailfish, then we have plenty of back up plans.  Most of the bad trips I have is when we roll the dice and go for the hero fish which is part of fishing, but slow doesn't impress the folks at the dock.

Ballyhoo on the ocean side have also been scarce and those live wigglers can really come in handy.  Winds are supposed to be nice in the morning so if that is right we might get some nice rollers that get the sailfish tailing.  In any case, no bragging fish the past two days but there have been a fair number of sails caught close and some nice dolphin, wahoo and tuna if you get out far enough.  In the middle is just about dead.


Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Last Cold Front?

The winds picked up just enough to make fishing more of a challenge.  We had two trips on the Lady Catherine, and offshore and a Bay Side and both were slower than normal.  Offshore the hump was pretty dead but we found fish about 2 miles west of the hump.  When we could catch up with them we caught a few but it was hard getting the fish behind the boat in pretty confused seas.

Bay Side we had wind against current and anchoring issues.  We would get set up about right and catch a nice mixed bag until the the wind picked up then we had to hunt for another spot.  We ended up with a nice mixed bag of mainly Mangrove with a few 'tail and Porgies, but it wasn't a chamber of commerce kind of trip.  The last day was a blow out which was find with my because my knees and back could use a little break.

It looks like we have some better weather coming so we should be back out there tomorrow.  Since there are a few sailfish moving through maybe we can get lucky.

If this is the last cold front, then Dolphin should be the main event for a while.  April, May and June are the big Dolphin months along with Tarpon, Permit and a few others.  Then things shift into Snapper with the spawn starting in June depending on the moon and lasting until August at times.  In a couple of days Grouper will open up finally which will give us another fall back species for the cleaning table center piece.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lady Catherine - Hump Trip





Not bad.  The bite was pretty stead all day but never really crazy.  We ended up with about 10 Blackfin Tuna, three Skipjack Tuna and three dolphin.  The crew had a great time.  It is fairly rare to get light a variable winds in March.  The schoolie dolphin were finicky or we would have had lots more fish.

I have several trips coming up on the Lady Catherine and most should be trolling so hopefully we will get a shot at some of the really big dolphin that tend to cruise through this time of year.


Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rentals - Beach Front and Otherwise

As most of the regulars know beachfront rentals are a bit rare and pricy in the Keys probably because real beaches are a bit rare.  Canal front is the most common rental choice because most of my regulars fish.  My regulars though have significant others that might not be quite as avid fishermen, so other amenities are desired.  I have been meaning to update my Where to Stay post, a comment has inspired me to get off my butt.

For the beach goers in Marathon, favorite  rentals are in Key Colony Beach and have a Cabana club membership, Coco Plum and Sombrero Beach areas.


VRBO which stands for Vacation Rental By Owner, handles a lot of the Key Colony Beach (KCB) rental properties and on the whole has an excellent reputation.  The Cabana Club has a special appeal for those who like a real beach but really like a fresh water swimming pool and full bar close by.  KCB isn't the only beach in town.  Sombrero beach is public but there a several nice homes for rent within a minute's walk  Coca Plum Beach, also public and a bit more off the beaten path has homes for rent close by.  These often have canal front for the fishermen and a short walk for the beach goers.  Sombrero rentals can have a very short walk to one of the most popular public beaches with a view as well.



Coco Plum Beach and Tennis Club has a "classic" private beach with accommodations that have a good reputation.  There are quite a few homes for rent that have smaller private beaches mainly on the Bay Side.

Tranquility Bay, Indigo Reef, Banana Bay and The Hammocks are Bay Side and each have their following. The Hammocks was formerly a hotel that has been converted to time share as part of Blue Green Resorts.  There is not much of a beach there due to water sports and sport fishing docks, but they do have a small beach with hammocks of course, located close to the pool and Tiki Bar.  If you are not so much into night life, Tranquility Bay and Indigo Reef have a no partying after Ten clause  Most of Marathon tends to roll up the sidewalks after ten except for weekends in season when a few places adopt a 'til whenever policy.

There are quite a few other resorts/hotels in the area that have a big following  Sea Scape resort, The Reef at Marthon, Kingsail Resort motel, Holiday Inn Express Marathon and the new Marathon Hyatt Place/Faro Blanco Resort are just a few of the more popular places to stay.

Pet friendly can be an issue at times with some of the resorts.  They appear to have a limited number of pet friendly rooms which can limit room views that are available to pet owners.  Starting with private rentals is often the best way to go in this case.  VRBO has a good number of pet friendly listings and Trip Adviser can have helpful reviews and additional pictures.

Since most of the Keys natural shore line is mangroves and cap rock there are more water front homes with this type of "beach".  Some folks love it, some want the "classic" sand beach.  In the winter on the Bay Side, natural can be bay grass that smells a bit like rotting eggs.  So if you want a "clean" beach in winter think about ocean side.  In the summer the winds are more from the south which brings in jellyfish.  So if you aren't a jellyfish fan consider Bay Side in the summer.

For big parties and family reunions, there are quite a few large homes/estates available for weekly and monthly rental.  Some of the monthly rentals are worth a look even if you aren't planning to stay the full month.  Due to zoning restrictions some of the nicer areas don't allow weekly rentals and you can get a deal on 3 plus bedrooms with dock, sometimes a boat or kayaks pool private beach and lots of other stuff.  there are some great homes on Grassy and the Torch Keys that are monthly only.

For serious fishermen, there are also no frills rentals on canals with plenty of extras just older and not so large.  Some park model RV/trailers are comfortable, have nice docks and are located close to some great fishing.

Most of my customers rent or bring their own boats and fishing gear, but I do have a charter boat available, the Lady Catherine run by Capt. David or Capt. Jim, where I mate for parties less that 7 people.  The Lady Catherine can accommodate up to 18 people mainly for dive trips and sight seeing cruises, but fishes up to 10 people pretty well.  Rental Boats are generally a better value for the serious fisherman that likes to do it himself.  Some though like to hire me every day so they can do the fishing not the driving.  I haven't updated that general rental information in a while but other than new equipment it is still pretty current.

The Lady Catherine sunset cruise is a tour of Sister's Creek and Boot Key Harbor with sun set viewing by the historic Seven Mile Bridge.   With a large enough party the sunset cruise is about the least expensive way to get out on the water.  The next low cost way to get out on the water are the local snorkel boats like The Spirit that  generally do 3 to 4 hour trips to Sombrero Key reef.  These trips are around $25 per person but you can find a $5 off discount without too much trouble.

Tarpon fishing is a big deal down here and there are lots of good tarpon guides.  Capt. David runs tarpon trips  with the smaller Lady Catherine boat and Capt. Jeff Knapp is another I recommend, but there are dozens of good tarpon guides.  I try to avoid tarpon trips myself, but have shown a few the basics.

There is a lot more I cannot add in this post, but this should give you a good start.  Do remember the winter/summer considerations for beach front though.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.


 Tight lines,


 Capt. Dallas

Friday, March 20, 2015

Some other guides and offshore report

I like my gig in Marathon and would really rather not run too far up or down the Keys if I don't have to.  I had been looking for other guides in the Islamarada area and finally found a "reluctant" guide for your boat kinda stuff.  His handle is relentless39 on the Florida Sportsman Fishing Forum and while he prefers to fish his own boat he will do guide trips on your boat.

I do take trips south of Marathon down to Bahia Honda but try not to go much further south than the Torch Keys.  Pinerwahoo is the handle of another guide down that way that can help you out in that direction.

It isn't that I don't know how to fish those areas as much as I don't stay on top of the changes outside of the Marathon area that much.  Having a more local guide means better local knowledge which is the whole idea of hiring a guide.  For Fishing 101, I am teaching the bare bones basics which which is good for any place in the Keys, but it costs time and money to drive all over the place so, you should get a better deal with a more local guy.

On another note I was forced to make a new batch of Dallas Darts so I have those available in the purple and blank Tuna color and Blue and Silver everything else color.  Some folks like red and black but the quality of the last batch of red and black skirts I bought was so bad I am avoiding them.  Skirt quality btw are the reason I don't make more to keep in stock.  Sometimes the skirts are real heat sensitive so if you leave them in a car with the windows up things can go south.

Offshore for Dolphin is starting to pick up but you probably will have to head way south for a while.  A good weed line was found in 2500 foot of water yesterday which is about 30 miles south of the beach.  Some fish are being caught closer in but they are mainly schoolies.   The fish out deep are mainly heavy lifters and gaffers.  I use my Darts as a hunting tool to find fish then switch to pitch baits or rigged natural baits once I find the bigger fish.  The fish don't understand that so sometimes I get the big ones on the Darts and the small ones on the rigged baits.  Fish love to make a liar out of me, but as long as something is getting hooked up I am fine with it.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy Graduates

Once in a while my fishing 101 students actually remember to send me some pictures.





Not bad huh?

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

 Tight lines,

 Capt. Dallas