The Florida Keys are a world-renowned island chain that offers the world’s best fishing spots. Beyond hosting dozens of fishing tournaments, the coastal region of the “Keys” is full of tarpon, marlin, and many other species. Furthermore, you can enjoy the Florida Keys throughout the year, with a wonderful climate, beautiful scenery, and vacation areas available. Here’s a list of the top fishing spots where you can land fish around the Florida Keys.
1. The Flats Around Key West
A popular vacation spot with family-friendly activities, restaurants, and lively nightlife, the flats around Key West offers several beach-fishing opportunities. Nevertheless, the flats cover an area of 4,000 square miles around Key West. It starts about 80 miles north of Cuba if you want to take your fishing trip further. As such, it provides an incredible variety of bonefish, permit, tarpon, and other species. Even better, this area allows reliable fishing for anglers of all experience levels.
Besides, you can fish right from the shore or coast on a small flat boat. In the skinny waters throughout the Key West flats, you can find snook, lemon shark, and yellowtail snapper. The calm waters produce many fishing options while having an entertaining and cultural location for a vacation.
2. The Cudjoe Key Channels
The channels of Cudjoe Key also have some of the best fishing available in the Keys. Offering catches of snapper, grouper, bonefish, permit, tarpon, and jacks, these shallow waters provide an easy site for your next catch. Moreover, there are occasional deep spots with sunken boats and other debris that help draw in a large fish population. Throughout these channels, a great deal of rich vegetation helps protect the channels from the wind, keeping these shallow, clear waters quite calm. Nevertheless, it is an easy spot to fish, with several game fish species present. However, there are sharks and barracuda that make their way through these channels.
Marathon is a historic city surrounding countless islands inside the archipelago. It is well-known for world-class tarpon fishing year-round. Thus, these tarpons are as large as eight feet long and can be 250 lbs or more. Likewise, tarpons are aggressive during the late spring and early summer, but offer action-packed and adventurous fishing. While Marathon is a spot for more experienced anglers, other locations nearby offer more easy-going fishing for novice fishermen. Here, you can target species including dolphinfish, barracuda, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, sailfish, mahi-mahi, blue marlin, and white marlin.
A highlight of Marathon is its deep-sea fishing. As such, the Gulf Stream waters push into the region and bring small bait fish to the surface with larger game fish on their tails. These waters are as deep as 500 feet, and there are many species to catch while deep-sea fishing off the shore.
4. Florida Bay
Located where Florida’s mainland and the Gulf of Mexico meet, it is referred to as Florida Bay. Nevertheless, this makes it the first prime saltwater fishing spot as you head off the Florida mainland. Yet, it makes one of the best spots for exciting fishing. Common species include snapper, ladyfish, and tarpon. However, there are several shark species such as lemon, bull, and blacktip sharks caught throughout this region.
Aside from this scenic area, you can vacation and fish from the shore or on a boat. More so, with clear water up to about 20 feet deep, you can easily see the fish headed toward your line. A variety of species exists throughout Florida Bay, and you can move around the islands or meander near the mangroves. But, do not forget to stock up on baitfish, including squid and pinfish.
A small village spread across many islands, Islamorada provides many vacation activities along with famous fishing. Furthermore, it’s popular for fishing in the spring and summer, and various locations offer excellent fishing in the winter. Not to mention, that there are many species of fish in the water around Islamorada, but, mahi mahi is the most common. Additionally, the backcountry saltwater areas provide bonefish, tarpon, sailfish, marlin, tuna, grouper, and swordfish which are caught regularly.
Being a large area, the water contains various reefs and wrecks, which produce hiding areas for schooling fish and bait species. Generally known as the “inshore super grand slam” that sees bonefish, tarpon, permit, and snook caught in one day. The Islamorada shores provide exciting and rich catch opportunities to all anglers year-round.
6. Tavernier Key Reefs
A patch of reefs just south of Tavernier Key is another spot well-known for various gamefish. Throughout this area, you can catch a great deal of mutton, mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, and gag grouper. Being a quiet and calm area, this allows for a quality laid-back family vacation along with your fishing trip. Moreover, its shallow water offers a prime destination to teach fishing to the young beginners.
7. Key Largo
Key Largo, is nestled near the Florida mainland. Boasting more than 600 species of fish, Key Largo provides limitless targets. These include exotic fish in addition to the traditional bonefish, snook, tarpon, and other common species among the Keys. It’s also a world-renowned spot for diving aside from fishing. Thus, the shipwrecks around Key Largo are a short boat ride away to locate thousands of fish. Around these sunken vessels, it’s easy to find hogfish, grouper, snapper, amberjack, and many more. Furthermore, there are plenty of daily fishing charters to take a trip out to the hot spots located around Key Largo.
8. Marquesas Keys
Only 20 miles west of Key West, you can find the Marquesas Keys; a chain of uninhabited mangrove islands. Here, water is between 15 and 30 feet deep and covers a patch of rocky bottoms that are home to many snapper and grouper species. So, it’s a hot spot for your next fishing trip with the ability to catch king mackerel, mutton, barracuda, and even sharks. There is no such thing as boring fishing around these rock piles, with many people catching a big fish. With an abundance of bait fish all around, large fish frequent the area looking for their next meal.
9. Big Pine Key
Another popular diving and fishing spot is Big Pine Key. As such, it has a small population, helping you to avoid big crowds. Within the Lower Keys, this area is well-known for small catches. In addition to swordfish, yellowtail snappers, and permits, among many others. Aside from that, sardines and mullet allow you to pull in 10-15 inch fish throughout the day.
10. Channel Bridges
For hassle-free fishing throughout the Keys, try “bridge-hopping”. Some of the most popular spots include the Boca Channel Bridge, Chica Channel Bridge, and the Bahia Honda Bridge that connect the Keys. Likewise, these bridges offer some of the most active fishing spots. Species commonly caught here include tarpon, permit, mutton, and sharks. With a great deal of food moving through the waters beneath these bridges, hungry fish constantly make their way through these channels. Yet, tarpon weighing as much as 130 lbs are frequently caught.
Are You Ready For The Florida Keys?
There you have it, the 10 top fishing spots found within the Florida Keys. When it comes to fishing, the Florida Key produces some of the best opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Shallow waters make for a family day of fishing or dipping your rod in the water for the first time, while advanced anglers may want to try deep sea or target sport species like marlin. Whether you end up in Key Largo, Marathon, or Key West, there is no argument when it comes to the Florida Keys being the best for fishing.