Fishing enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike know that Key Largo, Florida is a top destination for saltwater fishing. This beautiful tropical paradise offers a range of fishing experiences, from reef and offshore fishing to flats fishing and backcountry adventures. With such a variety of fishing opportunities available, it can be difficult to know where to start planning your trip. In this blog, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to saltwater fishing in Key Largo, including the best fishing spots, types of fish you can expect to catch, tips and tricks for success, and recommendations for where to stay and how to book your fishing excursion. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, this guide will help you plan the ultimate saltwater fishing adventure in Key Largo, Florida.
Best Saltwater Fishing Spots in Key Largo Florida
Here are some of the best saltwater fishing spots in Key Largo Florida:
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: This state park is known for its excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities, but it’s also a great spot for saltwater fishing. The park is home to a variety of fish species, including grouper, snapper, tarpon, and bonefish.
- Florida Bay: Florida Bay is a large shallow water bay that’s located between the Florida Keys and the mainland. It’s a popular spot for fishing, especially for species like bonefish, tarpon, and redfish.
- Everglades National Park: The Everglades is a vast wetland that covers much of southern Florida, including the Florida Keys. The park is home to a diverse range of fish species, including snook, redfish, and trout.
- Hawk Channel: Hawk Channel is a deep-water channel that runs parallel to the Florida Keys. It’s a popular spot for fishing, especially for species like sailfish, tuna, and mahi-mahi.
- Islamorada Humps: The Islamorada Humps are a series of underwater seamounts located off the coast of Islamorada. They’re a great spot for fishing for species like yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, and wahoo.
- Key Largo Reef: Key Largo Reef is a large coral reef system that’s located off the coast of Key Largo. It’s a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, but it’s also a great spot for fishing for species like snapper, grouper, and tarpon.
- Gulf of Mexico: The Gulf of Mexico is a large body of water that’s located to the west of Key Largo. It’s a popular spot for fishing for species like snapper, grouper, and cobia.
Types of Saltwater Fish in Key Largo Florida
There are many types of saltwater fish found in the waters around Key Largo, Florida. Here are some of the most common species:
- Bonefish: Bonefish are known for their speed and are a popular catch for anglers in Key Largo. They can be found in the shallow flats and channels around the island.
- Tarpon: Tarpon are a popular game fish in Key Largo, prized for their acrobatic jumps and strong fight. They can be found in the backcountry waters and channels.
- Snook: Snook are a common species in the backcountry waters around Key Largo, particularly around mangroves and other structures.
- Redfish: Redfish can be found in the flats and channels around Key Largo, particularly in the fall months.
- Grouper: There are several species of grouper that can be caught in the waters around Key Largo, including black grouper, red grouper, and gag grouper.
- Snapper: There are several species of snapper that can be caught in the waters around Key Largo, including yellowtail snapper, mangrove snapper, and mutton snapper.
- Mahi-mahi: Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphin fish, can be caught offshore in the waters around Key Largo, particularly during the summer months.
- Tuna: Several species of tuna can be caught offshore in the waters around Key Largo, including blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna.
- Sailfish: Sailfish are a prized game fish in the waters around Key Largo, particularly in the winter months when they are more abundant.
Best Time of Year for Saltwater Fishing in Key Largo Florida
The best time of year for saltwater fishing in Key Largo, Florida depends on the species you are targeting. Here are some general guidelines for when certain species are most abundant:
- Bonefish: Bonefish can be caught year-round in Key Largo, but they are most abundant in the winter and spring months.
- Tarpon: Tarpon season in Key Largo typically runs from April through September, with the peak months being May, June, and July.
- Snook: Snook are most active in the summer months, but can be caught year-round in Key Largo.
- Redfish: Redfish can be caught year-round in Key Largo, but they are most abundant in the fall months.
- Grouper and Snapper: These species can be caught year-round in Key Largo, but are most abundant in the spring and fall months.
- Mahi-mahi and Tuna: These species are most abundant in the summer months, typically from May through September.
- Sailfish: Sailfish season in Key Largo typically runs from December through March, with the peak months being January and February.
Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing in Key Largo Florida
The best bait for saltwater fishing in Key Largo, Florida depends on the species you are targeting. Here are some commonly used baits for some of the most popular species:
- Bonefish: Bonefish are typically caught using live shrimp or small crabs, as well as artificial flies and lures.
- Tarpon: Tarpon are often caught using live bait, such as mullet or crabs, as well as artificial lures and flies.
- Snook: Snook can be caught using live bait, such as pilchards or shrimp, as well as artificial lures and jigs.
- Redfish: Redfish can be caught using live bait, such as shrimp or crabs, as well as artificial lures and jigs.
- Grouper and Snapper: These species are often caught using live bait, such as pinfish or grunts, as well as cut bait and artificial lures.
- Mahi-mahi and Tuna: These species are typically caught using artificial lures, such as trolling lures and skirted baits.
- Sailfish: Sailfish are often caught using live bait, such as ballyhoo or goggle eyes, as well as artificial lures and rigged baits.
Recommended Gear for Saltwater Fishing in Key Largo Florida
When it comes to saltwater fishing in Key Largo, Florida, having the right gear can make all the difference in your success. Here are some recommended gear items to consider:
- Fishing Rod: A medium to heavy-action spinning or conventional rod with a fast or extra-fast tip is recommended for most saltwater species in Key Largo.
- Reel: A high-quality spinning or conventional reel with a smooth drag system is essential for saltwater fishing.
- Fishing Line: A high-quality monofilament or braided fishing line with a pound-test rating that matches the targeted species is recommended.
- Hooks: Use high-quality hooks that are appropriate for the size and type of bait you are using, and make sure to sharpen them regularly.
- Lures and Bait: Have a variety of lures and bait on hand that are appropriate for the targeted species.
- Tackle Bag: A tackle bag with multiple compartments can help you stay organized and have easy access to your gear.
- Sun Protection: Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Water and Snacks: Bring plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized during your fishing trip.
- Safety Equipment: Make sure to bring a first aid kit, a whistle, and a life jacket in case of emergencies.
- Fishing License: A valid fishing license is required for saltwater fishing in Florida, so make sure to obtain one before your trip.
Best Saltwater Fishing Charters in Key Largo Florida
Key Largo, Florida has a variety of excellent saltwater fishing charters available. Here are some of the best options to consider:
- Key Largo Fishing Adventures: This charter offers a variety of fishing trips, including reef and wreck fishing, offshore trolling, and backcountry fishing.
- Two Chicks Charters: This all-female crew offers custom fishing trips for groups of up to six people, including reef, wreck, and offshore fishing.
- Fish Key West: This charter offers a range of fishing trips, including reef, wreck, and offshore fishing, as well as fly fishing and backcountry fishing.
- Ankle Deep Fishing Adventures: This charter specializes in backcountry fishing trips for species like snook, tarpon, and redfish.
- Miss Chief Fishing Charters: This charter offers reef and wreck fishing trips for groups of up to six people, as well as custom trips for larger groups.
- Bamboo Charters: This charter specializes in light tackle and fly fishing for species like bonefish, tarpon, and permit.
- Gulfstream Fishing Charters: This charter offers a variety of fishing trips, including reef and wreck fishing, offshore trolling, and backcountry fishing.
Fishing Regulations in Key Largo Florida
In Key Largo, Florida, there are fishing regulations in place to protect the local fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing practices. Here are some of the main regulations to be aware of:
- Fishing License: A valid Florida fishing license is required for all saltwater fishing in Key Largo, including from shore or a vessel.
- Bag Limits: There are bag limits for many species of fish in Key Largo, which limit the number of fish you can keep per person per day.
- Size Limits: There are also size limits for certain species, which restrict the size of fish that can be kept.
- Closed Seasons: Some species, such as grouper and snapper, have closed seasons during certain times of the year when they are spawning and need to be protected.
- Gear Restrictions: Certain gear types, such as spearfishing and cast nets, are restricted in certain areas and for certain species.
- Protected Species: There are also certain protected species in Key Largo, such as bonefish and tarpon, which cannot be harvested and must be released immediately if caught.
Where to Stay When Saltwater Fishing in Key Largo Florida
If you’re planning a saltwater fishing trip in Key Largo, Florida, there are a variety of accommodation options to choose from. Here are some recommendations for where to stay:
- Pelican Cove Resort & Marina: This resort offers waterfront accommodations and a full-service marina with boat rentals, making it a convenient option for anglers.
- Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo: This hotel offers spacious suites with full kitchens and balconies overlooking the ocean, as well as a marina and onsite restaurant.
- Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort: This upscale resort features a private beach, pool, and spa, as well as a marina and watersports rentals.
- Courtyard by Marriott Key Largo: This hotel offers comfortable rooms and a waterfront location with easy access to local fishing charters and dive shops.
- Hampton Inn Key Largo: This budget-friendly option offers clean and comfortable rooms, a pool, and a complimentary breakfast.
- Azul del Mar: This boutique hotel offers stylish and secluded suites with private entrances and outdoor spaces, as well as access to a private beach.
- The Caribbean Resort: This beachfront resort offers a range of accommodations, including villas and suites, as well as a pool, beach, and onsite restaurant.
No matter where you choose to stay, be sure to check for any available fishing packages or discounts and ask about boat docking options.
Expert Tips and Tricks for Successful Saltwater Fishing in Key Largo Florida
Here are some expert tips and tricks for successful saltwater fishing in Key Largo, Florida:
- Choose the Right Time: The best time to fish in Key Largo is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the water is cooler and fish are more active. Avoid fishing during the hottest part of the day.
- Know the Tides: Understanding the tides can help you predict when and where fish will be feeding. Look for incoming tides, which bring in baitfish and attract predatory species.
- Use the Right Bait: Different species of fish prefer different types of bait. Live bait, such as shrimp or pilchards, is often the most effective, but lures and artificial baits can also work well.
- Match the Hatch: When selecting bait or lures, try to match the size and color of the local baitfish as closely as possible.
- Be Patient: Fishing in Key Largo requires patience and persistence. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch anything right away, and be willing to move around to different spots.
- Stay Alert: Keep an eye out for birds, which can indicate the presence of baitfish and larger predators such as tarpon or tuna.
- Know the Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local fishing regulations to ensure that you are following the rules and not harming the local fish populations.
- Hire a Guide: Consider hiring a local fishing guide or charter to help you navigate the waters and increase your chances of success.
Key Largo, Florida is a fantastic destination for saltwater fishing enthusiasts. With its beautiful waters, diverse fish species, and a range of fishing charters and accommodations to choose from, there are plenty of opportunities to catch your next big fish. By following expert tips and tricks and being prepared with the right gear, bait, and knowledge of local regulations, you can maximize your chances of success and have an enjoyable and rewarding fishing experience in Key Largo.