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Discussion Starter #1
We just booked a weeks vacation in April to Marathon. Staying at Key Cove. was thinking of renting a boat for a few days while there, but unfamiliar with the area. are there spots to go for snorkeling and what not or is better to just book a trip for that? since I'm not familiar with the area I think it would be better to book a fishing trip with a charter and then book a snorkel trip for the family rather then renting a boat and not being familiar with the area....

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In Marathon you can snorkel Sombrero Reef, it’s about 5 miles off shore at the Sombrero Light ( looks like an oil rig )
We went on a 45 ft power cat & it was my family & another couple we had all the room you would want & a lot cheaper than renting a boat
have fun
 

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We have rented a boats from Maya at Vacation Boat Rentals in the past and again this coming July.
She is a great and very helpful.
I believe she would point you in the right direction.
Looe Key is doable from Marathon but will be a long run, Sombrero Light is nice also, also a lot closer.
 

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If you have a day with iffy weather, run up to the Everglades National Park and go to the Nike Missile base, there is a guided tour with retired military guys and it's really amazing. You don't have to drive very far into the park to get there.
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Can't believe I just saw this. You can easily snorkel yourself at Sombrero. It's straight out from the beginning of the 7 Mile Bridge. You can see the tower from the bridge. Once you get close, you'll see other boats. They have mooring balls, so you just run your bowline through the loop on the mooring's rope and cleat it. Then hop over. I've been on Looe Key and Sombrero. Looe Key is nicer, but only a little bit nicer. And Sombrero is a 15 minute boat ride from where you're staying. Straight out from Vaca Cut, is Coffins Patch. Another reef with mooring balls. It's a little deeper than Sombrero, so I prefer Sombrero for snorkeling. Straight out from your place, in The Gulf, is plenty of good fishing if it's too windy for the reef or blue. Or, the wind is coming from the south. Set up on the edge of one of the banks and chum. You will get mangrove snappers for sure. In April, you will also get Spanish mackerel. You may also see speckled trout or cobia, sharks and barracuda. In the chum slick, you can freeline chunks of cut bait and shrimp. Always bring a few dozen live shrimp. Everything eats them. You could also put a big cut bait on the bottom for a shark or goliath grouper. I also freeline a rigged ballyhoo, far off the back of the boat. A big barracuda, kingfish, big spanish mackerel or who-knows-what might hit it. If you can get to the reef, use the same strategy. Anchor in the sand and drift your chum and bait towards the coral. You'll easily see the difference. It will be swimming pool clear on the reef. If the wind really sucks, you can fish the big bridge. Fish near the pilings and you'll get snapper, small grouper and jacks. There are also tarpon, permit, barracuda and and sharks under the bridge. If you get a really calm day, find the Thunderbolt wreck. There should be large school of big permit on it. Drift over it with a live shrimp or crab on a small jig head. Get that bait about 30-50 feet down. Permit will willingly bite if they are there. Captain Hook's dive shop does regular dives there and they can tell you what kind of fish are on it at that time. There are sometimes big amberjack on that wreck and always huge goliath. They will take you into the wreck more often than not. Also, if you can tie up on the wreck and chum, there are big yellowtails and other snappers. Plus kings and cero. April has every species there. The wind is your only challenge.

My advice on snorkeling - take your own boat to Sombrero Reef if you can physically do it. If it's way too windy, take the snorkel boat out. Spirit it is called.

My advice on fishing - you can do it on your own. But, if you can go out with a guide on your first or second day, you will have success and learn a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yea my Wife is pushing for boat rental, but I really dont want the hassle of it. I prefer to go out enjoy myself on vacation and not have to be Captain and bait guy and fish cleaner and boat cleaner, gas attendant and deck hand... We are going with the 6 of us plus her sister's family of 4. And a boat to carry that many is going to have to be a deck boat or pontoon....

My luck it will blow like a hurricane when I am down there. That's what happened when we went to PR. The wind was howling and never got to go fishing or to Vieques... We we there last year when they were having the earth quakes. that was fun. LOL

So I am pushing for excursions with guides and the snorkel cruise. We will have kayaks and our rental is on the water on the bayside, so when I can escape I will try and do a little kayak fishing on my own.
 

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Yea my Wife is pushing for boat rental, but I really dont want the hassle of it. I prefer to go out enjoy myself on vacation and not have to be Captain and bait guy and fish cleaner and boat cleaner, gas attendant and deck hand... We are going with the 6 of us plus her sister's family of 4. And a boat to carry that many is going to have to be a deck boat or pontoon....

My luck it will blow like a hurricane when I am down there. That's what happened when we went to PR. The wind was howling and never got to go fishing or to Vieques... We we there last year when they were having the earth quakes. that was fun. LOL

So I am pushing for excursions with guides and the snorkel cruise. We will have kayaks and our rental is on the water on the bayside, so when I can escape I will try and do a little kayak fishing on my own.
I gotcha. Maybe, if you get a nice day, just rent a boat for you and a couple of your favorite peeps. :D The Spirit snorkel will get you to the reef. You'll be out with a crowd, but you can swim away from them. Definitely do it, though.

You should have some fun fishing on the kayak. I'll be down in 15 days and I'll provide some fresh recon. We'll be staying on the ocean side, but pretty much across the island from you.
 

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ill be down there beginning of May. Wanted to ship two rods down to our rental place somehow and then ship them back when done. My wife is pregnant so we wont be going on a charter or anything. But i did want to do some fishing from land somewhere down in the keys.... We are island hopping starting in Key Largo and staying at different islands every night until key west. We have never been down to the keys before so are open to pretty much any advice on food/attractions/ fishing spots, etc...
 

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ill be down there beginning of May. Wanted to ship two rods down to our rental place somehow and then ship them back when done. My wife is pregnant so we wont be going on a charter or anything. But i did want to do some fishing from land somewhere down in the keys.... We are island hopping starting in Key Largo and staying at different islands every night until key west. We have never been down to the keys before so are open to pretty much any advice on food/attractions/ fishing spots, etc...
You could put the two reels in your suitcase and bring rods with you. In a tube you check, or, if you have two-piece rods, I have brought them on the plane as a personal item. I just zip tie them together and put them under my seat. I've thought about shipping rods, but it seems like it would be a PIA.

For your trip, I'd definitely stop and feed the tarpon at Robbie's in Islamorada. They also have an open air market there. I like eating on the water at the Island Fish Co and Tiki Bar in Marathon. The Sunset Grill is also on the water, with a pool as well. That's right at the 7 mile Bridge. You can fish from the bridges there. And there are also some places you can fish from shore. Any bridge will be decent fishing. Snapper, grouper, jacks, sharks, barracuda, etc....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So the winds were blowing 20 and gusting 30’s so we’ve been just fishing off the dock. Dock fishing in Marathon has been fun for the kids. We’ve caught an abundance of species from baby hammerhead sharks, ballyhoo, blowfish, blue stripes grunts and stingrays. There are a couple of decent sized groupers swimming around the docks that refuse to go after any baits.
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