Reef Fishing Marathon Florida
Reef Fishing Marathon Florida

Reef Fishing in the Florida Keys

The only living coral reef in North America is located right here in the Florida Keys. Better yet, fantastic reef fishing is available just minutes away from our dock! Reef charters can be a fun and economical way to fill up the box with delicious tasting fish. Reef fishing is also an excellent way to start your day before heading off to the wreck or offshore for a Combo trip. Reef trips are especially recommended for families and novice anglers due to the shorter travel time.

If you are working on a budget, reef fishing is a fantastic option since trip prices are set based on our expected fuel usage. If fishing with children and beginners, the reef is also a great choice because the fish are typically more plentiful and a little bit easier to fight. We use light tackle on the reef, which is easier for small children to fight fish with. Many of our experienced customers also love to fish the reef, they see it as a great way to warm up and get some meat before heading offshore.

Mutton Snapper are a fantastic eating fish that can be found on the reef.

Mangrove Snapper

Mangrove Snapper are caught year round on the reef, but best to target during the summertime spawn.

Yellowtail Snapper - Reef Fishing

Yellowtail Snapper are our bread and butter on the reef during the wintertime. Fun to catch and wonderful to eat!

Can I catch big fish on the reef?

Yes, you can! While the average size of fish caught on the reef might be a bit smaller than offshore, we do catch big fish on the reef which is often an exciting surprise for our anglers! It depends on the time of year and the conditions, but there are quite a few scenarios where bigger fish are caught.

For instance, you might be catching Yellowtail Snapper and a Barracuda shows up trying to eat your fish. Your Captain or Mate will quickly assist you in trying to hook that Barracuda! If there are Grouper or Sharks around and the current allows it, your crew might drop a large bait under the boat to hook one.

In the winter months when the wind is right, we also fly kites and target Sailfish, Wahoo, and Kingfish while on the reef. We also catch Yellowjack, Amberjack, and the occasional Mahi on the reef. There are also a variety of sharks we encounter such as Nurse, Blacktip, and Bull.

The techniques we use on the reef are specific to the Florida Keys and unlike any type of fishing, you have probably done in other parts of the country. Make sure you read our blog article about Yellowtail fishing on the reef before your trip so you know what you can expect.

FL Keys Reef Fishing Charters

This beautiful Black Grouper was caught on the reef. Grouper are prized for their mild, flaky meat.

FL Keys Red Grouper

This Red Grouper was also caught on the reef. Grouper season begins May 1st and closes December 31st.

Reef Fishing Combined with Offshore or Wreck

Our “Combo” trips allow you to combine reef fishing with wreck or offshore fishing in one day! We recommend reading throughout our website and blog and giving us a call to discuss all the different options based on the time of year you plan to fish with us. It is a good idea to express to us what your goals are on your upcoming trip. The success of your fishing trip depends on the conditions of the day you are fishing, as well as your willingness to be flexible.

When you arrive for your fishing trip and meet your Captain for the day, ask them what they think the best type of fishing would be based on the current conditions. You may have booked a Reef trip but the current and wind might suggest Offshore would be a better option. This is not your Captain trying to up-sell you, our only goal is to give you the best trip possible.

Conversely, If you book an offshore trip and your Captain thinks the waves might be too rough or the conditions are not good for finding fish, they might suggest reef fishing instead.

It is important to be flexible, as are we! If you book a reef trip and 2 hours into it you decide you caught enough reef fish, let the Captain know. We can upgrade you to an offshore or wreck trip and you can go look for other fish.

Our crews fish 300+ days a year and have experience reading the conditions of the day and how to fish them with the highest chances of success. We will always offer our professional advice but at the end of the day it is your trip and we are happy to try another method of fishing if that is what you prefer. 

When you get back to the dock from fishing, you pay for your trip. Upgrading your reef trip to a Combo will trigger the standard offshore rate. We highly recommend that you communicate with your Captain before and during your trip to have a plan based on what is in season, as well as their advice regarding the current fishing conditions.

You may also always call management before, during, or after your trip at (305) 289-0071 if you have any questions or concerns.

Mutton Snapper

Combining your reef trip with wreck fishing can yield even bigger bigger fish such as this large Mutton Snapper.