Florida is known as a fisher’s paradise and with help from Key West fishing charters who know the local area, you will have the chance to hook a monster all year round. By winter, a host of species populate the waters off the Florida Keys including Sailfish, King Mackerel and several types of Grouper and by summer, the fishing heats up even more with migrations of Tarpon, Dolphin fish and Snapper.
Grouper are one of the most prized catches in the world and south Florida, particularly Key West, is known around the world as one of the premier places to hook one of these behemoths. Several species make their home here including the Black, Red, Gag and Goliath.
These fish are caught in a few places including in the mangroves inshore, near reefs and in and around wrecks. Most species in Key West mate during the summer months. That’s why summer is the most popular time to use fishing charters to land a Grouper.
Grouper are giants of the deep and some species can weight 400 pounds or more. Some Grouper, like the Marbled, only reach weights of ten or so pounds. But regardless of size, this game fish is one of the tastiest around, which only adds to its desirability among anglers. Note that most species of Grouper are in season for only part of the year.
Sailfish, meanwhile, are available all year round. They are most abundant in the waters off the Florida Keys during the months of April and May, however. These fish are iconic thanks to their distinctive sail-like dorsal fin which is also how this fish gets its name.
While Grouper tend to stick to the bottom of the ocean floor, Sailfish swim near the surface. This makes them great fun to battle once hooked and sometimes jump out of the water while fighting an angler. Just be careful it doesn’t jump into the boat!
Tarpon are another big draw in Key West and many people hire fishing charters to seek out these creatures. They migrate from April through July and come to the area by the thousands. Tarpon are one of the most popular gamefish in Florida because of their size and the determined fight they give sport fishers.
There is a native population of Tarpon which lives in and around the Florida Keys year-round, however, so no matter when you visit the Sunshine State, you can find the silver king.
Dolphinfish, or sometimes called simply Dolphin by charters, are also in the waters off of Key West. However, they tend to stay in deeper water offshore along with Barracuda and King Mackerel. These three are all popular game fish.
The Dolphinfish is known for its distinctive green color which is decorated with small blue spots and small sail-like dorsal fin which extends the length of its body. Dolphinfish also have a tell-tale rounded snout. The meat from this fish tastes delicious and that makes the Dolphinfish one of the most sought-after prizes in Key West.
In Key West, large Mahi-Mahi begin to show up in early March and spring is the best time to catch one of the bigger fish. Dolphinfish do stick around all year with summer being the next best time to land a mammoth trophy. Anglers have better luck in winter than fall, although neither are ideal for this fish.
Key West boasts not only some of the world’s most prized game fishes, it also features a wide variety of fishing for anglers with expert charters available throughout the island. Just like with the abundance of species type of fish available to sport fishers, the variety in fishing type will entertain any angler from novice to seasoned veteran.
Beginners like how laid back backcountry fishing is in the Keys. The water is almost always clear and calm and the fish are always biting all year around. Key West, and much of south Florida, boasts many mangrove islands. These are home to a vast array of undersea life, much of which you can catch!
The mangroves provide shelter for juvenile fish, which are prime targets for larger predator species such as Tarpon. These larger fish prey on the younger species which makes for a bustling ecosystem with plenty to catch. Anglers can also find Permit, Bonita, Bonefish, Barracuda and a variety of Sharks in and around the mangroves. Most visitors to the area prefer to fly fish in the backcountry or use light tackle.
Reef fishing in Key West also keeps fishing charters busy due to its popularity. The local reefs are home to Grouper, Amber Jacks, Mackerel, King Mackerel, Bonito and a number of different Snapper species. Most anglers fishing the reefs of the Florida Keys use light tackle to fill their coolers.
Wreck fishing is somewhat similar to reef fishing. The shipwrecks act as artificial reefs which have bred ecosystems around them over the years since their sinking. Fish like Tuna, Wahoo, Grouper and Snapper are near-universal and are found on most every wreck in Key West.
Notable wrecks around Key West include the Vandenberg, Curb, Airplane and Sub. The Vandenberg is the largest of these four wrecks and therefore offers the greatest variety of fish which includes Grouper, Snapper, Tuna, Bonita, Barracuda, Kingfish and more.
Finally, deep sea fishing offers the biggest gamble for Key West anglers. However, the big risk does yield big rewards in the form of world-class blue-water fishing. Anglers could spend a day hooking some of the largest fish they will ever see or sometimes busting out completely.
The most popular tactic used in Key West deep sea fishing is trolling. Boats will simply cast out and either drift or sail in an attempt to hook game. Spring and summer are the best months, although different species are available at different times. Deep sea charters do yield King Mackerel, Wahoo, Sailfish and Dolphinfish.
Florida really is a fishing paradise and in Key West, it is the fishing charters who can find you the catch of a lifetime.