The city of Marathon sits on the world-renowned Florida Keys. These islands consist of Boot Key, Knight's Key, Hog Key, Vaca Key, Stirrup Key, Crawl Key, Little Crawl Key, East and West Sister’s Island, Deer Key, Fat Deer Key, Long Point Key, and Grassy Key. Given its idyllic location, the city is surrounded by white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and world-class accommodations. Aside from the picturesque sceneries, there are tons of relaxing and fun activities here, with diving, boating, fishing, and other thrilling water sports as some of the local and tourist favorites.
In the early 1800s, Bahamians were the first to settle on these islands. However, several fishing families from Mystic, Connecticut, followed by a small group of wreckers and farmers came and stayed in the islands in the 1820s. These are the first westerners who built the first settlements in the Keys. In the next couple of centuries, the communities grew, and the islands were slowly developed as railways, and other structures were constructed. Marathon got its name when railroad workers who struggled to complete the project exclaimed, “This is getting to be a real marathon!” In 1999, the communities in the islands were finally incorporated into a city.
Today, over 8,500 people call the city of Marathon their home, with most of the population deriving their livelihoods from the ocean through fisheries and, of course, tourism. The city draws in almost a million domestic and international visitors each year. In 2018 alone, Marathon attracted over 800,000 visitors that spent a total of $457 million, making tourism one of the city’s prime economic boosters. Marathon is a hit tourist destination because one can easily get here either by air via the Florida Keys/Marathon International Airport or by land through the Overseas Highway that connects the Keys to the mainland by way of Homestead and Miami.
Marathon is a city nestled right in the middle of the Florida Keys, so it’s really not surprising that one of the most popular activities here is recreational fishing. The pristine waters around the islands alone are already teeming with marine life that anglers can cast their line straight from the shores and still hit the jackpot. And because the islands are flanked by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the mighty Atlantic to the east, all one needs to do is charter a fishing boat and head out into the open seas for some deep-sea action.
If you’re a beginner, a seasoned guide is what you will need, first and foremost. That’s because a guide is not just someone who will point you where you can catch a fish, he or she can also teach you the basics of the sport—from choosing the right equipment to proper fishing techniques, thus drastically increasing your chances of catching anything. Even if you have years of angling experience in your pocket, you should also consider hiring a guide. Why? Well, as you know, there are so many factors that come into play when you’re fishing, including the underwater structures where your target usually lives and its food sources, which a local guide would know like the back of his or her hand. Furthermore, getting tips from a seasoned guide will always be gold whether you’re an experienced angler or not.
So how can you experience the best fishing in Marathon? There are three possible ways—flats fishing, reef fishing, and offshore fishing. For the first one, it’s no secret Florida Keys is a flats fishing paradise with hundreds of miles of fishable shallow waters around the islands. These flats are known to support a wide array of marine life, including shrimps, crabs, and other crustaceans and, of course, different species of game fish such as permit, tarpon, snook, redfish, snapper, bonefish, barracuda, and even sharks. You can also cast your line while sitting comfortably on a flat-bottomed boat or, if you don’t mind getting a bit wet, you can wade into the shallow waters.
Reef fishing is another way to experience the best of fishing in Marathon. Within the inner “curve” of the Keys at the Gulf side of the islands is where one of the most bountiful reefs is located. Here, anglers can enjoy some of the most scenic views around the islands while hunting for a trophy fish or two. For reef fishing, snook, redfish, tarpon, permit, bonefish, yellowtail snapper, king and Spanish mackerel, and grouper are some of the species you can catch here.
Now, if you’re up for some real adventure and you’re going for the huge ones, offshore fishing is the one for you. There are numerous fishing charters available in Marathon that offer offshore trips to the Gulf of Mexico and/or to the Atlantic Ocean. Not only will these charter boats take you to where you’re most likely to catch some real monsters of the sea, but their captains and crews are also full of fishing knowledge, which they would be more than happy to share with you. Aside from that, their fishing boats are packed to the brim with all the fishing necessities to catch large mahi mahi, billfish, wahoo, blackfin tuna, blue and white marlin, barracuda, and yes, even some sharks, including bull, blacktip, and mako.
We have already mentioned two of the best fishing spots in the waters around the city of Marathon, namely the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. However, we have yet to mention the ones where you won’t need to step into a boat. Here are four of the best fishing spots in Marathon where you can still catch some quality fish while on sturdy ground:
Oceanfront Park – just behind the city hall, this 7.94-acre park is open to the public at no charge. This is also the perfect place for you to introduce your children to the thrill and excitement of sport fishing.
Sombrero Beach – located on the south side of Marathon, this beach is an ideal place to try some surfcasting while basking in the sun and enjoying the view of the Atlantic. Here’s where you can land a variety of game fish, including favorites like snook and tarpon.
Seven Mile Bridge – although its name implies it is seven miles long, the total length of the bridge is actually just 6.7 miles. Be as it may, this iconic bridge is also a favorite fishing spot among the locals as different types of fish are known to flock the waters around the structure.
Bahia Honda State Park – beyond the Seven Mile Bridge, just before you hit the Spanish Harbor Key lies this beautiful state park where you can enjoy the sceneries while trying to hook some tarpon, trout, and snook.
As we all know, one of the best things about the state of Florida is its all-year-round warm tropical climate. This means that you can go fishing in Marathon any time you want. There are, however, certain fish species that are under strict monitoring and regulations to help the species’ population recover from overfishing. So if you’re planning a fishing trip in Marathon, it’s best that you check the regulations of some of the top targets through the official Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. Or better yet, contact a guide or a fishing charter in Marathon to get all the details you need to fish here.
It’s a chain of islands surrounded by waters full of marine life—truly an angler’s dream destination.
White sand beaches, clear blue skies, crystal-clear waters, and a refreshing ocean breeze are just some of the things you can enjoy when you explore the islands on foot, on a bike, or while paddling on a kayak around the islands.
Get up close and personal with the residents of the sea.
Enjoy the spectacular sceneries around the islands or beyond by sailing around the Keys on a catamaran. It’s also the perfect way to end your day by embarking on a two-hour private sunset cruise.
Enjoy the best views high up in the sky via helicopter tours offered at the Marathon Airport.