What does the word paradise mean to you?
For residents, and the many visitors, that flock to the Florida Keys each year, paradise can be found South of Miami-Dade County in the long stretch of islands that make up America’s Southernmost Point.
For fishermen, this paradise extends on both sides of the islands with the Florida Bay to the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the South.
Some of the best fishing in America takes place off of these islands with a multitude of exciting fish species readily available to target throughout the year.
Whether you are headed offshore in your center console to look for Mahi & Tuna, or headed into the backcountry for some sight fishing, anglers can find a lifetime of fun in the Keys.
Have a look at some of the exciting angling adventures you can take advantage of on your next trip down South.
Evening Tarpon Fishing in the Middle Keys
When the bite is on for Tarpon in the late spring and early summer in the Florida Keys, nothing is more exciting than hooking into a large “Silver King”.
There are a number of professional services that offer thrilling evening tarpon fishing adventures in the channels and near the bridges in places like Duck Key, just a little North of Marathon, and Summerland Key, just outside of Key West.
Catching a tarpon is like hooking up to a small truck, and the above-the-water action is completely unforgettable.
Offshore Mahi Fishing
Throughout the Keys, one of the biggest draws for anglers is the offshore action that takes place 10+ miles beyond land in the waters of the Gulfstream.
Here, anglers can troll for a number of pelagic fish species including Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and Billfish.
This experience puts fishermen in the open ocean and out of the sight of land on most days where the action is raw and you can see a number of fish species at any one time.
One of the most thrilling angling adventures takes place in the late spring and summer as the waters in the Gulfstream are thick with Mahi Mahi, or Dolphin (the fish!), as they are also known.
Getting into a school of Mahi is beyond most normal fishing experiences. Smaller Mahi, known as schoolies, strike your bait instantaneously while the bigger Bull Dolphin can hang out of sight in the deeper waters under the main school.
Finding a piece of trash, rope, or anything else that floats can draw Mahi near, so there’s nothing like coming across something in the Gulfstream on a flat calm day in early summer. You just know you are gonna score!
There are a number of qualified captains running offshore charters throughout the Keys. Some of the biggest offshore fleets can be found in Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West.
Yellowtail Snapper Fishing on the Reef
For anglers that aren’t interested in offshore or deep sea fishing, fantastic fishing can be found on the coral reef ecosystem found roughly 5 miles off the islands of the Florida Keys.
Here, a vibrant fishing environment can be found that offers excellent bottom fishing for a variety of snapper, grouper, and other reef fish.
One of the most exciting adventures on the reef can be found while targeting Yellowtail snapper on the mid-depth reef and rock formations.
Fishing with an experienced yellowtailer will blow your mind as you fight flag yellowtail after another, resulting in a delicious dinner!
Another one of the exciting fishing adventures on tap in the Florida Keys is definitely exploring the flats and backcountry found near the islands and into the Florida Bay.
Bonefish, while not at all something you would want to eat, is an unbelievably exciting fish to target and catch, especially if you love fly fishing.
The strategy of a bonefish hunt varies dependent on tide, conditions, the time of year, and much more.
Hooking up with one of the knowledgeable guides throughout the Keys that specialize in Bonefish adventures can be the difference between recording your catch of the elusive bonefish or missing out.
In the late Fall and Winter in the Florida Keys, offshore starts turning into Sailfish Season.
The gorgeous sailfish provides an exciting billfish experience for those anglers willing to face the sometimes chillier and rougher conditions that December and January in the Conch Republic can dish out.
An angler can find some great sailfish charter options at Hawk’s Cay Resort and Marina at mile marker 61 in the Middle Keys.
Got a smaller budget for your Keys fishing excursion?
The Florida Keys are home to countless bridges that offer fantastic fishing for people who don’t want to charter a private boat to get in on the action.
Bridge fishing in the Keys provides the chance to catch exciting species including snapper, grouper, sharks, and even tarpon.
But be sure to have a plan for how you’ll retrieve your catch once you’re hooked up. The bridges are higher than you think once you have a fish on the end of your line.
Walk the Docks and Chat with the Locals
The Keys are a friendly place!
A shared passion for fishing makes it an ideal spot to meet new anglers and tell your latest fish tale!
Whether you’re cruising the docks in your custom boat shirts, or hitting up World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada for the latest tackle and gear, strike up a conversation with a local!
You never know who they could introduce you to, to help make your fishing experience in the Keys unforgettable.
A Fisherman’s Dream
For most anglers, the Florida Keys check all the boxes for one of the ultimate fishing destinations.
From the amazing weather to the variety of species you can target, the Keys provide a convenient fishing location, just 2 hours South of Miami Airport.
Best of all, finding a competent, experienced fishing guide in the Florida Keys is easy no matter what part of the Keys you decide to visit.
Next time you are ready for a warm-weather getaway, be sure to give the Keys a try.
You can be sure that it will be one of your most memorable fishing experiences to date!