|The Marathon Hump
Florida Keys. These humps are loosely called seamounts, because they are like
mountains rising from the ocean floor. Worldwide, there are thousands of these structures.
Some are remnants of underwater volcanoes; others may have once been emergent
islands. Wherever you find them, seamounts are unique marine habitats.
The Marathon Hump, originally called the West Hump, is 27 miles South East of Marathon
and is one of the favorite fishing spots for charter boats and private boats. This hump or
mound rises from 1150 feet on the east side to 480 feet from the surface. The Marathon
Hump is located almost exactly in the middle of the Gulf Stream where the current runs the
hardest. Large eddy currents form from the constant easterly flow of the Gulf stream,
forcing bait to the surface. This bait draws larger fish which draws larger fish and so on.
On a good day, hundreds if not thousands of terns will be feeding over schooling Black Fin
Tuna and Dolphin crashing bait. The feeding frenzy in turn attracts large numbers of sea
birds and is a perfect way to find the fish.
The list of gamefish caught on the Hump includes dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, huge
amberjack, blue marlin, sailfish, white marlin and big sharks, chiefly makos and great
whites. Fishing deep on the bottom, you might catch snowy grouper, queen snapper and a
variety of other bottom dwellers. You just never know what you might hook out there but can
always sure that the Tuna and Bonita will always give you plenty of great light tackle action
and everything else will just be icing on the cake.
Each populations of different species of fish find its own comfort zone, according to depth
and water temperature. In the case of the Hump, bottom dwellers prefer to stay close to
rocky structure on the seamount, while tuna and bonito are normally seen on the fishfinder
at about 100 to 200 feet down. Billfish and other pelagics, such as dolphin and wahoo can
be found anywhere in the water column.
The time-proven method for catching blackfin tuna on the Hump is to troll a combination of
small artificials and skirted ballyhoo 150 yards behind the boat, at 7 to 8 knots. The captain
locates the crown of the Hump and then trolls into the current, oftentimes chasing diving
birds, and bait sprays, caused by blackfins chasing schools of flyingfish or other baits.
Modern techniques for catching blackfin tuna include anything from trolling large deep-
diving artificals, run straight from the rod, or on downriggers, to chumming with live bait.
To effectively chum with live bait, the captain runs upcurrent of the crown of the Hump, and
then as the bottom begins to rise, dumps several hundred live baits overboard. The
schools of bait will dash beneath the boat, in an attempt to hide, but can be easily washed
out by kicking an engine in gear. The tuna rise to the bait, and can be caught by sight-
casting live bait on spinning tackle, or even using a fly. Many world-record blackfin have
been caught while anglers used live chum.
Pulling a big lure on the shot gun line is a good idea. Marlin, Makos, Wahoo and bigger
Yellowfin tuna, like eating Black Fins. They don't always want to play, but the hump is a
great place to hook a fish of a life time. A few miles south of the hump is the wall. Here the
water drops to over 1000 feet. A great place to dust off those big marlin lures and see how
they work. If you find birds working, get ready for just about any pelagic you can imagine.
Here are the GPS and loran coordinates for navigation to four productive seamounts off the
Florida Keys. Latitude and longitude are in degrees, minutes and tenths, so set your GPS
unit accordingly. The humps are fairly substantial bottom features, and slight aberrations in
GPS or loran accuracy are easily remedied by keeping an eye peeled for rips formed by
current changes, birds feeding overhead and other boats working the area. A depthfinder
will also prove useful.
Coordinates given for the Key Largo Hump, listed below, are based on a rough midpoint;
it's actually less of a hump and more of an "S" curve between 280 and 330 feet off French
Key Largo Hump GPS: 25-00.661' N; 80-16.8'W Loran: 14133.7; 43217.8 Depth: 280-330 ft.
Islamorada Hump GPS: 24-48.175' N; 80-26.674' W Loran: 14098.3; 43266.4 Depth: 294 ft.
409 Hump GPS: 24-35.5' N; 80-35.5' W Loran: 14064.6; 43311.8 Depth: 409 ft.
Marathon Hump (West Hump) GPS: 24-25.528' N; 80-45.328' W Loran: 14032.3; 43358.5
Depth: 516 ft.
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|More helpful Florida Keys and Key West websites:
www.flkeys-diving.com | www.thefloridakeys-keywest.com | www.flkeysgc.com