Printer icon

Florida Keys Humps Are Like
Mecca To Avid Sport Fishermen

The Florida Keys Humps are positioned to the east of the islands, in the Atlantic Ocean and they're a true magnet for Florida Keys fish.

Often, people unfamiliar with the Florida Keys will ask what the humps are and why Florida Keys fishing enthusiasts find them so enticing.

It's the geography or the makeup of these underwater mountains and the affects they have on marine life that may them a sportfishing paradise.

The humps are a series of seamounts that tower up from the bottom of the ocean floor.

Their rising structure forces the water to funnel around them, and this creates the perfect marine life habitat which makes fishing Florida Keys very productive.

Lark Shark Hanging at Islamorada Hump

Florida Keys Shark Fishing The Humps
Photo Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr

The rise of the Florida Keys Humps through the ocean water forces the currents to go around them. This is what pushes the smaller bait fish to the surface. This in turn attracts the larger migratory, pelagic predator fish and brings in the serious Florida Keys sport fishermen.

As the big predators race to the surface after the bait fish, the prey leap out of the water trying to escape. This action is called bait spraying and it's easy to spot this activity by the amount of birds circling overhead. They circle and then dive into or to the water's surface to scoop up the bait fish.

In the midst of the bait fish frenzy is where you'll find the blackfin tuna and dolphin, the mammal. They often run together and their presence indicates that there will be lots of other larger, predator fish in the area.

The Florida Keys Humps

From north to south, the seamounts are Key Largo Hump, Islamorada Hump, 409 Hump, the Marathon Hump, and Carlson's Two Humps.

The Islamorada Hump, the 409 Hump, and the Marathon Hump are the 3 largest and most heavily fished. These Florida Keys Humps are also the spawning grounds for the massive greater amberjack.

Key Largo Hump

12 miles offshore and near French Reef you'll find the Key Largo Hump. This 'hump' curves in an 'S' shape fashion as opposed to a straight rising vertical hump. It also has a top depth that is between 280 and 330 feet.

Key Largo Hump GPS coordinates are 25 00.661N and 80 16.8W.

Islamorada Hump

The Islamorada area is renowned as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. Flats fishing is extremely popular in Islamorada but having the Hump offshore simply adds to the area's WOW factor.

You need to know that if you do fish the Islamorada Hump, live bait will be the key to your success. Use pilchard, ballyhoo, goggle-eye and mackerel as bait.

You can also throw some chum into the mix, and watch the blackfin tuna or some of the big Florida fish like sailfish, marlin, even wahoo race to the surface. Once they come rolling out of the water in a live boil, throw your baited line into the fray, and get ready to haul in some heavy fighters.

Sport fishing enthusiasts know that Islamorada fishing is some of the best. This means that the area's popularity carries over to the Islamorada Hump. You'll find that there are many days when the traffic is extremely heavy and congested.

If this happens, you're better off to travel to the 409 Hump or the Key Largo Hump. Both are productive and typically less congested, and you'll find your day fishing will be more enjoyable without having to fight all the traffic.

The Islamorada Hump is located about 15 miles offshore at 290 feet below surface.

The Islamorada Hump GPS coordinates are 24 48.175N and 80 26.674W.

Boats Sitting Over the Humps

Sport Fishing Islamorada Hump Can Get Congested, Photo Derke Snodgrass NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC/SFD

The 409 Hump

The 409 Hump is called 409 because it's top rises to that depth. To get the most rush out of Florida Keys sport fishing this hump, plan on fishing deep jigs and using lighter tackle.

One of your best catches will be amberjack and you'll find that out here, they're still hitting hard into the summer months when fishing for them is not so good elsewhere.

The 409 Hump GPS coordinates are 24 35.5N and 8035.5W.

Marathon Hump aka West Hump

The Marathon Hump is the second deepest of the humps with it's top sitting at 516 feet. It's position and size forces the current of the Gulf Stream to move around it. This in turn causes the bait fish, and the food they feed on, to rise creating a massive feeding frenzy.

Since the Marathon Hump is positioned right in the middle of the Gulf Stream, it sits directly in the path of migrating billfish and other pelagic species. These predators feed on the bait fish who are feeding near the surface. This is what makes fishing the Marathon Hump so productive.

The considerable depth of the Marathon Hump translates into varying water temperatures and this provides the angler with numerous options in terms of what to Florida fish to catch and how to angle for them.

Throughout the depths surrounding the Marathon Hump, you'll catch mahi mahi, greater amberjack, wahoo, and larger shark like Mako.

This is also one of the best places to catch sailfish and blue marlin. These fish will swim nearer the surface, averaging a depth of about 20 - 80 feet as they roam in search of prey.

The Marathon Hump is also called the West Hump and is located about 27 miles southeast of Marathon Key FL.

The Marathon Hump GPS coordinates are 24 25.528N and 80 45.328W.

Boats and a Freighter at The Marathon Hump

Florida Keys Fishing Boats And Freighter Off Marathon Hump

Carlson's Two Humps

At 600 feet, Carlson's Two Humps is the deepest and deep drop fishing is going to be one of your more productive choices here.

Carlson's Two Humps GPS coordinates are 24 25.110N and 81 03.665 W.

Florida Keys Humps Fishing Techniques

There are many species of Florida Keys fish that live and feed in these areas and they're found at different levels. However many sport fishermen come here for the big fighters.

Sailfish and marlin are two of the hot targets sought by most anglers sport fishing Florida Keys Humps. These are pelagic fish, which means they swim the open oceans and congregate closer to the surface.

This is opposed to those species such as warsaw and goliath grouper, amberjack and snapper who live on or near the bottom and are called bottom dwellers. To catch the bottom dwelling fish, typically the deep drop method is most effective.

In between the bottom and the surface you'll find other Florida fish swimming and feeding at various levels. These include blackfin tuna and bonito, two species particularly fun to catch on lighter tackle. In fact, blackfin tuna are one of the favorites anglers target when fishing the Florida Keys Humps. These fish consistently provide good sport fishing action.

You can also fish shallower, and if you do, you'll find a vast assortment of other fish. These include tilefish, pink porgies, blackfin snapper, and yelloweye that will keep you busy.

Over and above deep drop fishing, you have other fishing options you can choose from. You can troll with lines running about 50 yards out and attach lures or live bait like ballyhoo, pilchard and goggle-eye.

You can down rig, and you can chum. When you chum, the fish will come right to the surface and you can spin cast or even fly fish for them as they race to the surface in search of the food.

If you're fly fishing or using lighter weight tackle, you'll substantially heighten the thrill of the battle, as well as your adrenalin rush.

If you're going deep when fishing the Florida Keys Humps, and you're using live bait, you'll often bring up amberjack.

These fish can be monsters, plus they're the all time big fighters of the sea. If you have an AJ at the other end, you'll need to prepare yourself for a horrendous fight and certainly for some major aches and pains.

Due to the fact that amberjack live in this area, and are such supreme fighters, they've unfortunately become over fished in recent years.

Commercial fishermen on the Marathon Hump fishing for amberjack

Commercial Fishermen Deep Drop Fishing
For Amberjack On Marathon Hump

To help protect them they are now partially protected by various restrictions. Any of the Florida Keys fishing charters you go out with, will have an update on any and all fishing regulations, along with the necessary licensing.

The great thing about the Florida Keys Humps is that as summer builds and the fishing drops off elsewhere, the fishing continues to be good here.

No matter which of the Florida Keys Humps you fish, you'll find that their unusual water patterns will keep you on your toes. The forced channeling of the water and the way it affects the marine life, means you need to be ready for all types of Florida fish.

You never know what's going to come racing up to meet you, and quite often it's not what you expect. It's best to be prepared, so you should keep a second dedicated rod on hand, because you could end up catching a wahoo or even more unexpectedly a blue marlin!

This way you're ready when the big one for the record books comes screaming to the surface. You can cast out a second line, and not miss the opportunity of a lifetime.


Do you have anything to add? We look forward to feedback on what you've just read so leave me a comment in the box below.


Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040

Fantasy Fest Pirate Costumes