There are plenty of places to fish in the world, but few locations can compete with the Florida Keys. Blessed with a wonderful year-round climate and surrounded by some of the most idyllic scenery in the world, the Keys are an angler’s paradise. But you can’t just head down to the Keys and start randomly casting. To help you plan the perfect trip, here are seven of the best Florida Keys fishing spots.
Marathon is a city that encompasses several islands nestled in the middle of the archipelago. The area provides world-class tarpon fishing. It’s no secret that Marathon offers some of the best fishing in Florida Keys. Anglers from all over the world descend on these islands each year to pursue these gigantic gamefish, which occasionally reach 8 feet in length and 250 pounds or more in weight!
When it comes to fishing season, it’s almost no holds barred. You can catch tarpon nearly all year long—but tarpon are particularly aggressive during the late spring and early summer. If you need to brush up on technique, you can catch tarpon with crabs, small fish and other live baits. They’ll also hit spoons and plugs when they’re aggressively feeding.
2. Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key is one of the larger islands in the Lower Keys. But it is only home to 5,000-odd residents, making it one of the best fishing hot spots for anglers who want to avoid big crowds. It’s also a great place for novice anglers to get a feel for fishing in the Keys, given the abundance of small species available in the nearby waters.
Mangrove snappers are one of the most common fish locals pursue. Sardines and mullet are two of the most effective baits for these 10 to 15-inch-long fish, but some anglers prefer using shrimp instead. And while small species tend to dominate the region, you can also catch big game fish in the area, including swordfish.
3. Florida Bay
Florida Bay is the name given to the water lying between the southern tip of the Mainland and the Keys. The Bay is connected to the Gulf of Mexico, but because it features numerous shallow banks and an abundance of seagrass, the water of the bay doesn’t intermingle with the Gulf very much.
Florida Bay is the first prime saltwater fishing spot you’ll encounter while working your way down US 1, and the area’s numerous gamefish ensure that your first stop will be an exciting one. Snapper and tarpon are two of the most common species in the area, but lemon, bull and blacktip sharks are also caught frequently in the bay.
4. Key West
Key West represents the end of the line, as it is the southernmost part of the lower 48. It’s well worth the trek, as it’s one of the most exciting fishing locations in the entire country and should be on every angler’s bucket list. While there are plenty of beach-fishing opportunities on the island, you’ll want to maximize your time here by enlisting the services of a guide.
There is plenty of variety when it comes to Key West Florida fishing. If you’d like to stay close to shore, try your hand at catching bonefish or permit in the flats. You can even use fly-fishing gear when trying to land these elusive and warry fish. Of course, you can also head out on a deep-sea charter, strap yourself into a chair and try hauling in a 100-pound sailfish or 200-pound marlin!
5. Key Largo
Key Largo is the northernmost large island in the chain, closest to the Florida mainland. It is also the largest of the Keys, and it boasts the largest local fish population too.
In total, more than 600 different fish species call these waters home! There’s no shortage of targets. However, while there are plenty of exotic fish you can target, most anglers will be happy pursuing tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook and other common species. Key Largo should represent one of the high points of your Florida Keys fishing adventure, so this is another place in which it pays to hook up with a charter.
6. Boca Chica Channel Bridge
The Keys are connected by a series of bridges. Many of them provide excellent fishing opportunities for those who’d like to stay on dry ground while fishing. Many of the bridges are popular with local and visiting anglers, but the Boca Chica Channel Bridge is likely the most popular and productive.
Fishing from the bridge is an exercise in simplicity. Bait your hook with a shrimp, chuck it out near one of the pilings, and hold on. The bridge provides some of the most reliable fishing in the region, and you can catch a variety of species in the surrounding waters. However, ballyhoo and snappers are among the most common species caught in the bridge’s shadow.
Islamorada is a village of about 6,000 people spread out across five different islands. These islands certainly provide plenty of activities for vacationers, but fishing is the village’s claim to fame. The best fishing action in Islamorada occurs in the spring and summer, but there are several locations that offer excellent fishing in the winter too.
You can catch a number of species in the water surrounding Islamorada, but mahi mahi are undoubtedly some of the most popular targets for visiting anglers. The uneven seafloor in the region creates rough seas, which draw in the celebrated yellow-green gamefish. Sailfish and swordfish are also in the area if you’d like to target larger fish.
Experience The Best Fishing Spots In The Keys
The Florida Keys are often considered a single entity, but each island presents anglers with different opportunities and challenges. Fortunately, given the ease with which you can travel from one island to the next, you should be able to make time to fish in several different locations among them. Just be sure that you include a few of the best fishing spots discussed above on your itinerary. Maybe we’ll see you down there.
Dress For The Adventure
At Bone On Sportswear, Florida has a special place in our hearts. You’ll find many Florida fishing references in our clothing catalog, and many of our pieces have been specifically designed to help protect you in the harsh conditions anglers face in the area. Explore our line of fishing apparel to gear up for your Florida Keys fishing trip in comfort and style:
- UV Protection. Our UV Protection Fishing Shirts are perfect for keeping you cool, comfortable and protected from the sun’s rays.
- Technical Fishing Shirts. Our Technical Fishing Shirts are available in short- and long-sleeve styles, offering plenty of great fishing features.
- Fishing Hats. Browse our expansive line of Fishing Hats to protect your head and rep your favorite sport.
- Graphic Tees. For the post-trip hangout or everyday wear, be sure to check out our full line of Fishing Graphic Tees.