Snapper and grouper are sure things, and don’t forget the tarpon

Dave Bridges and his pals from Tampa went two for three on tarpon at the Bahia Honda Bridge with SeaSquared Charters.
Dave Bridges and his pals from Tampa went two for three on tarpon at the Bahia Honda Bridge with SeaSquared Charters. SeaSquared Charters

If you’re looking to have fun and fill your freezer at the same time, head to the reef and wreck areas where the snappers and groupers are biting with a vengeance.

If there’s a decent amount of current, the yellowtail snapper action is fast and furious. The deeper sections of the reef in 50 to 90 feet are the most consistent for larger fish from 16 inches up to flags over 20 inches. And there are a few muttons mixed in, mostly midsize fish in the five- to 10-pound class.

On the shallower edge of the reef in 30 to 50 feet of water, there are loads of keeper-size yellowtails plus increased numbers of mangroves showing every week. Make sure you’re using lots of chum this time of year, as it takes copious amounts to hold the snappers’ interest. Supplement your frozen chum with YellowtailUp or ChumDrop and your catches will increase dramatically.

The usual assortment of cut baits do the trick for the yellowtails, while the mangroves prefer pinfish or live ballyhoo on a jighead.

The wrecks hold plenty of mutton snapper, amberjack and some really nice black grouper. Large live baits work best, so take along big pinfish, grunts or ballyhoo.

Offshore, the dolphin are here in good numbers, with schoolies and the occasional slammer coming back to the docks. Birds working the water surface is the go-to for finding the mahi. While you’re making the trip offshore, head to the humps for blackfin tuna. We’re seeing some large specimens these days, and the biggest ones are being taken with speed jigs or live baits.

At the bridges, the tarpon bite remains quite active. Live mullet, pinfish or crabs are your baits of choice, depending on where you’re fishing. Check with your local tackle shop for what works in your area. If you don’t know how to get your own mullet, shoot us an email at and we will put you in contact with our provider.

Florida Bay is alive with mangroves as they begin their move toward the reef for their annual spawn later this summer. Round out your day with catch-and-release shark fishing for blacktips, spinners, lemons and hammerheads.

The week’s best

The SeaSquared boats hit just about every fishing venue Marathon has to offer.

On the reef and wreck areas, our guests caught flag yellowtails plus mangroves and muttons and many groupers. Offshore, we got into some good size dolphin with loads of schoolies mixed in. Large lemon and bull sharks entertained in Florida Bay, and the tarpon action continues at both the Bahia Honda and Seven Mile bridges. You can see our daily catch reports on

Capt. Chris Johnson specializes in offshore, gulf/bay, reef/wreck, sailfish, shark and tarpon fishing with SeaSquared Charters, docked at Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club in Marathon. You can reach him at (305) 743-5305, and