I appreciate foreign fishing reports are not of general interest, but I hope one or two may enjoy these pictures and reading my nonsense ! This was my second pilgrimage to Marathon Florida with myself and three pals. This year we fished 11th-17th November, roughly a fortnight earlier than the previous year. A cold front had arrived ten days earlier and this was due to push the Spanish and king mackerel into our patch and onto our radar. Last year, we were unable to venture out into the Atlantic, due to wind, but this conditions allowed us out into the ocean for our first two days. The first day we started fishing some inshore marks on the Atlantic side of the Keys, catching mutton and mangrove snapper, grunts and other species. In the afternoon, we moved further offshore where the seabed quickly drops off from 20’ to 150’ and targeted sailfish using free-lined live pinfish and frozen ballyhoo as bait, fished on heavy spinning rods. Some boats had been catching three or four sailfish a day, but none were forthcoming for us that afternoon. We finished off on an inshore wreck and caught some nice mutton snappers that pull well and are delicious to eat. I took a nice Jack on a deep fished speed jig too. These fish pull way over their pay grade! Jack for me The following day, we travelled out to a mark called “The Humps” which is twenty odd miles offshore. The hump, as its name suggests juts up from the 1,000 ft. deep sea bed to around 500 ft. As we approached the mark, we could see there were already a dozen or so other boats already fishing, but before joining the flotilla, diving birds were spotted, so we deployed two trolling rods and covered this area with two trolling lures. Wes, (our Captain for the week) chose a sparkly skirted lure and I put a 5” cedar plug lure on my other rod. These are trolled 50 to 80 yards behind the boat at around 6 or 7 knots. For those that are not familiar with cedar plugs, they are perhaps the most uninspiring lure you will see on a tackle shop shelf, but don’t be fooled by their plain looks! Whilst you can buy them painted in a variety of colour schemes, I was using the good old plain un-painted version, which I had soaked overnight in menhaden oil, which, I reasoned, would do it no harm! Wes said he rarely used Cedar plugs these days. First blood went to his sparkly effort. Then my cedar plug evened the score. Another for the cedar plug, made in 2-1. Then 3-1. Wes’s lure then dropped a fish, (Oh dear!). The cedar plug scored again. And again. I was winding Wes up with the running tally and we pulled stumps at 7-1 in favour of the cedar. No big tuna, but it would give us sushi for the next night or two! Cedar plug lures We then joined the other boats on The Humps, but it was clear that the tuna were deep rather than on the surface, so a change from trolling tactics was needed. We fished on the drift with big 400 gram speed jigs. The technique is to count them down till you find the fish, so some counted to 60, others to 120 before starting to rip them up. Even after counting to 150, you still hadn’t touched bottom! As well as winding as fast as you can, you need to work the rod up and down at same time. This isn’t tricky for those that can pat their head and circle their tummy at the same time, but for some of the lads it took a bit of fathoming. On top of this, this speed jigging lark has to be one of the most knackering techniques ever invented! Giles's first deep speed jigged tuna We were all but bushed after an hour and half. Most caught using this method, but by midday and full sun, all action had tailed off and we motored back inshore. Wes put us over a deep-water wreck, where we finished the day catching a variety of species including more Mutton Snapper. That was supper sorted! Mutton snapper for tony and I Having fished two days in the deep water of the Atlantic Ocean, for day three, we fished on the west side of the Keys over wrecks in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Here, the depths are typically 10 to 20ft. The routine each morning is a take the boat to the dockside tackle shop for chum, 5 or 6 dozen live shrimp and a dustbin full of ice. On the way out to the Gulf, Wes had two fish traps set, which are each baited with a 7lb block of frozen chum. The traps gave us all the live pinfish we needed for a full day at sea. The furthest wreck we fished was around 24 miles offshore, so depending on sea conditions, it takes around an hour or so to reach. Once on the mark, we fish at anchor, but it sometimes takes one or two attempts before the boat is positioned to the skipper’s satisfaction. That’s one of the great things about the shallow water, the anchor can quickly be pulled in and re-set as required. Once anchored, the frozen chum is deployed over the stern usually within ten minutes the small bait fish arrive to pick of the melted morsels dropping away in the tide. Ballyhoo are usually the first to arrive, which are curious little fish with a garfish like bill. Blue Runner are similarly drawn to the chum. As time goes on, the quantity of baitfish at the stern has to be seen to be believed. Every now and again a four hundred square feet area of the sea erupts, with ballyhoo airborne in an attempt to evade the predator approaching from below them. It’s all very exciting and visual fishing! Tactics at anchor are to fish heavy spinning rods using 30 to 50lb braid. At the business end is 5 feet of 40/50lb fluorocarbon line and either a small jig head, or a 6/0 hook and sliding lead, which the locals call a knocker rig. The jig head can be baited with shrimp or a small live pinfish and the knocker rig fishes a larger live pinfish. Nurse shark caught on the knocker Rig with pinfish I spent most of the week using a slightly heavier set up than the other lads. My rod was a Fox Tarpon travel rod, which is a 20-50 lb 7ft. rod matched to a Shimano Stella 20,000SW. This was loaded with multicolour 80lb Daiwa X braid. I persevered with the knocker rig and bigger live baits hoping big bait big fish! Even with this heavy setup I still got trashed on a few occasions by whatever had picked my bait up and then ran into the wreck. Most likely these were Goliath Grouper. You could barely pull line off the drag of my Stella, but still I was mullered!