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Boating in Marathon Key

If you live in the coastal areas of other places in the United States, you know that you often have to travel far out to sea to have contact with fish worth catching. If you are in Marathon, you are already 80 miles at sea, right between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, so you don't have to travel far to find the fish.

In the Gulfstream offshore of Marathon, the "Marathon Key West Hump" rises from a depth of 1,000 feet to a mound of 480 feet. The "hump" is a feeding ground for some popular game fish like shark, white and blue marlin, amberjack, and black fin tuna. In addition, there is also great game fishing on the Gulf side of Marathon because, unlike the rest of the Keys, the Gulf side, right on the other side of the Seven Mile Bridge, is deep with fewer flats and small islands. So, when it's too rough offshore, you can move over to the Gulf side and fish in much calmer water.

But, to fish in Florida waters, either from a boat or from land, you will need a license. They are available in marinas, tackle shops, and the County Courthouse.

Sport fishing charters are available through Marathon and Duck Key. You can stop at marinas and bait and tackle shops to get the information you need. In addition, many of the motels and resorts have their own charter boats or will turn you on to a good charter somewhere else. Or you can simply stop at one of the charter concessions you will be able to see from the highway. If you go it alone, it will be expensive, probably over $600. But, with the big cost comes a knowledgeable captain who knows where to find the fish and a crew who will put all their attention on you and the fish you are catching. These private boats will take up to 6 anglers; so, if you don't mind sharing the boat, or are interested in sharing the cost on a private charter, this may be just the ticket for you. The expense should include your license, tackle, and bait, but you will have to provide your own food and drink for the trip.

There are also a couple of party boats at the Vaca Cut Bridge. They specialize in families with children and have half-day and full-day prices. Bait and tackle are extra.

For those who want to really commune with nature, flats or backcountry fishing may be for you. This is fly fishing at its finest, and you really can't beat the feeling of outsmarting a cautious and sly bonefish, tarpon or permit. These fish are not in the least edible so, when you catch them, you will simply have a photo opportunity before you have to return your catch to its watery home. Flats fishing guides leave for their destination at the crack of dawn. Make sure you take your food and plenty of drinking water. If you haven't been in the sun for a while, long sleeves are advisable, but sunscreen is a must. You will also be happy to have a hat with a sun visor. You can find information at Bait and Tackle Shops, motels and resorts, and marinas as well. Of course, many captains have Web sites that will hold information concerning their boats, their experience, and their recent luck.

Bridge fishing is a very popular sport in the Keys. No matter where you are staying, you will need your own transportation because you will have to ride out on the Overseas Highway to find a usable bridge. It is said that you will see more bridge fishing in the Marathong area than anywhere else in the Keys. The best spots are both ends of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, the Long Key Bridge, and both bridges at Toms Harbor. Night fishing from the Old Seven Mile Bridge is something to see. Many people bring their tents and cooking equipment so they don't lack the necessary comforts. Of course, you will be on your own so you will need your license, bait, tackle and food and drink. The sun is very strong on those bridges so sunscreen and proper clothing are items you will feel fortunate to have.

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