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C-MAP Hot Spot: Upper Florida Keys
Find mahi, wahoo and more at these hot spots in the upper Florida Keys.
The upper Florida Keys, from Key Largo south to Marathon, are home to some of the most diverse fishing grounds in the United States. To score offshore, however, you will need to pinpoint structure and it helps to have some cutting edge cartography on board such as these charts provided by C-MAP by Jeppesen.
This high-resolution C-MAP chart shows how close the edge of the reef pushes in off the Florida Keys. Some boats begin working the weedlines that tend to form up on the reef edge, but most of the local boats prefer to motor further offshore to deeper areas such as the Marathon Hump, 409 Hump and Islamorada Hump. These relatively small seamounts attract mahi, blackfin tuna, sails and wahoo.
The Islamorada Hump can get pretty busy with other boats, that's where the C-MAP cartography really comes into play. Using detailed charts along with the latest weather and current data, you can pinpoint smaller structure to troll for big mahi. Photo by Pat Ford.
The circular marks on this high-resolution C-MAP chart show just how small the humps are. The Islamorada Hump rises to about 300 feet and creates a rip on the surface.
This 3-D C-MAP chart provides a better perspective when you are looking to pinpoint structure to find fish as opposed to navigating across open water. It can be helpful to switch back forth between the two images on your plotter while also monitoring the sounder.
Sometimes the dolphin give themselves away by shooting out from underneath weedlines or flotsam. Always keep your eyes peeled for birds on the horizon and floating debris to help you locate fish once you position the boat over the hump.
Current and tide also play an active part in locating fish off of the Florida Keys. Blackfin tuna, for example, prefer a strong current. Make sure to check the latest marine conditions on FishTrack before you leave the dock.
Wahoo are another favorite Florida Keys game fish that you'll find when fishing the humps. The wahoo tend to travel in small groups and will happily whack a trolled ballyhoo or jet-head lure. If you want to focus on landing wahoo, try using a down rigger or wire line to get your offerings a bit lower in the water column and zigzag across the drop-offs. Photo by Steve Dougherty.
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