Saltwater Fishing Key West Florida

photographing Key West and the surrounding beaches and parks along the Florida Keys
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Are you a passionate angler looking for your next fishing adventure? If so, Key West Florida may be just the destination you’ve been searching for. With its crystal clear waters, diverse range of fish species, and stunning scenery, Key West has long been a mecca for saltwater fishing enthusiasts. In this blog, we’ll explore the best saltwater fishing spots in Key West, the types of fish you can expect to catch, the best time of year to go fishing, recommended gear and bait, and much more. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, join us as we dive into the exciting world of saltwater fishing in Key West Florida.

Best Saltwater Fishing Spots in Key West Florida

Key West Florida is famous for its beautiful waters and rich marine life, which makes it a perfect destination for saltwater fishing enthusiasts. Here are some of the best saltwater fishing spots in Key West Florida:

  1. The Marquesas Keys: The Marquesas Keys are a group of uninhabited islands about 20 miles west of Key West. The area is known for its clear waters and diverse marine life, making it a great spot for fly fishing and reef fishing. Common catches in this area include tarpon, permit, bonefish, and snook.
  2. Dry Tortugas: Dry Tortugas is a remote national park located about 70 miles west of Key West. The park is home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, making it an ideal spot for offshore fishing. Here, you can expect to catch species like grouper, snapper, mahi-mahi, and sailfish.
  3. Key West Harbor: Key West Harbor is a popular spot for inshore fishing, as it offers easy access to a variety of fishing opportunities. The harbor is home to a number of species, including tarpon, snapper, and grouper. You can also find bonefish and permit in the shallow waters around the mangroves.
  4. The Gulf of Mexico: The Gulf of Mexico is a vast area with a variety of fishing opportunities. The area is known for its deep-sea fishing, where you can expect to catch species like tuna, marlin, and wahoo. Closer to the shore, you can find grouper, snapper, and amberjack.
  5. The Backcountry: The backcountry refers to the shallow waters between the mangroves and the shore. This area is a popular spot for flats fishing and fly fishing, as it is home to bonefish, permit, and tarpon. The backcountry is also a great spot for catching snook and redfish.

These are just a few of the many saltwater fishing spots that Key West Florida has to offer.

Fishing in the Florida Keys

Types of Saltwater Fish in Key West Florida

Key West Florida is known for its rich and diverse marine life, with a wide variety of saltwater fish species available for anglers to catch. Here are some of the most common types of saltwater fish that you can expect to find in the waters around Key West:

  1. Tarpon: Tarpon is one of the most popular game fish in Key West. Known for their acrobatic jumps and powerful runs, tarpon can be found in the shallow waters around the mangroves, as well as in deeper channels and flats.
  2. Bonefish: Bonefish is another popular species for flats fishing in Key West. Known for their speed and agility, bonefish can be found in the shallow waters around the mangroves and flats, where they feed on crustaceans and other small organisms.
  3. Permit: Permit is a prized game fish in Key West, known for its challenging fight and elusive nature. These fish can be found in the shallow flats and channels, where they feed on crabs and other small crustaceans.
  4. Snapper: Snapper is a common species in Key West, with a variety of different types available, including mangrove, yellowtail, and mutton snapper. These fish can be found in both shallow and deep waters, and are often caught using live bait or artificial lures.
  5. Grouper: Grouper is another popular species in Key West, known for their large size and delicious taste. These fish can be found in deeper waters, and are often caught using live bait or jigs.
  6. Mahi-mahi: Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphin fish, is a popular offshore species in Key West. These fish are known for their vibrant colors and strong fighting ability, and can be caught using a variety of different techniques, including trolling and live bait fishing.
  7. Sailfish: Sailfish is a prized game fish in Key West, known for its acrobatic jumps and powerful runs. These fish can be found in deeper offshore waters, and are often caught using live bait or trolling lures.

These are just a few examples of the many different types of saltwater fish that can be found in the waters around Key West Florida. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, there’s sure to be a species that suits your preferences and skill level.

Best Time of Year for Saltwater Fishing in Key West Florida

Key West Florida is an excellent year-round destination for saltwater fishing, with a variety of species available at different times of the year. However, the best time to go fishing in Key West depends on the specific species you’re targeting and your preferred fishing technique. Here’s a general overview of the best time of year for saltwater fishing in Key West:

  1. Tarpon: The best time to catch tarpon in Key West is from April to July. During this time, these fish migrate through the area, and can often be found in the shallow waters around the mangroves.
  2. Bonefish: Bonefish can be caught year-round in Key West, but the best time to target them is from March to October, when the water temperatures are warmer.
  3. Permit: Permit fishing is best from March to July, when the fish are spawning and can be found in large schools.
  4. Snapper: Snapper can be caught year-round in Key West, but the best time to target them is from April to September, when the water temperatures are warmer.
  5. Grouper: Grouper can be caught year-round in Key West, but the best time to target them is from May to September, when the water temperatures are warmer and the fish are more active.
  6. Mahi-mahi: Mahi-mahi fishing is best from April to June and from September to November, when the fish migrate through the area and can be found in offshore waters.
  7. Sailfish: Sailfish can be caught year-round in Key West, but the best time to target them is from November to April, when the water temperatures are cooler and the fish are more active.
Floriday Key Bridge Fishing – Catch and Cook

Best Bait for Saltwater Fishing in Key West Florida

The best bait for saltwater fishing in Key West Florida depends on the species you’re targeting and the fishing technique you’re using. Here are some common baits and lures used for popular saltwater species in Key West:

  1. Tarpon: Live bait is the best option for tarpon fishing in Key West, with popular choices including live mullet, pinfish, and crabs.
  2. Bonefish: For bonefish, anglers typically use small flies and lures that mimic the crustaceans and small baitfish that these fish feed on.
  3. Permit: Permit are often caught using live crabs, which can be fished on the bottom or suspended in the water column using a float.
  4. Snapper: Snapper can be caught using a variety of baits and lures, including live shrimp, small jigs, and cut bait.
  5. Grouper: Grouper are often caught using live bait, such as pinfish, grunts, and ballyhoo, as well as large jigs and trolling lures.
  6. Mahi-mahi: Mahi-mahi are often caught using trolling lures, such as plastic skirts or feathers, as well as live bait, such as ballyhoo.
  7. Sailfish: Sailfish are often caught using live bait, such as ballyhoo or goggle-eyes, as well as trolling lures, such as artificial squid or plastic skirts.

Recommended Gear for Saltwater Fishing in Key West Florida

The recommended gear for saltwater fishing in Key West Florida varies depending on the species you’re targeting and the fishing technique you’re using. Here are some general recommendations for saltwater fishing gear in Key West:

  1. Rod and reel: A medium to heavy action spinning or conventional rod with a matching reel is recommended for most saltwater species in Key West. The size of the rod and reel should be matched to the size of the fish you’re targeting.
  2. Line: A braided line or monofilament line with a test weight of 20-30 pounds is recommended for most saltwater species in Key West.
  3. Terminal tackle: Depending on the species you’re targeting, you’ll need a variety of hooks, sinkers, and swivels. Circle hooks are recommended for catch-and-release fishing, as they reduce the risk of hooking the fish in the throat.
  4. Lures and baits: As mentioned earlier, the type of lure or bait you use will depend on the species you’re targeting. Live bait is often the most effective option, but artificial lures and jigs can also be effective, especially when fished with the right technique and presentation.
  5. Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are essential for protecting your skin and eyes from the strong Florida sun.
  6. Cooler: A cooler with ice is necessary for keeping your catch fresh and safe to eat.
  7. Safety equipment: A life jacket, whistle, and other safety equipment may be required by law or recommended by local fishing guides or charter captains.

It’s always a good idea to check with local fishing guides or charter captains to get the most up-to-date information on the best gear for your desired species and fishing technique.

Fishing Key West Saltwater 

Best Saltwater Fishing Charters in Key West Florida

There are many excellent saltwater fishing charters in Key West Florida, offering a variety of fishing experiences for anglers of all levels. Here are some of the best saltwater fishing charters in Key West:

  1. Dream Catcher Charters: Dream Catcher Charters offers a wide range of fishing charters, including flats fishing, backcountry fishing, and offshore fishing. They have experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the local fish species and fishing techniques.
  2. Fish Key West: Fish Key West offers half-day, full-day, and overnight fishing charters for a variety of species, including tarpon, bonefish, permit, and snapper. Their guides have many years of experience fishing the waters around Key West.
  3. Seaborn Charters: Seaborn Charters offers private, customized fishing charters for up to six passengers. They specialize in light tackle and fly fishing for species such as tarpon, bonefish, and permit.
  4. Saltwater Angler: Saltwater Angler offers guided fishing trips for anglers of all levels, including backcountry fishing, flats fishing, and offshore fishing. They have knowledgeable guides who can help you catch a variety of species, including tarpon, bonefish, and snapper.
  5. Reel Easy Charters: Reel Easy Charters offers half-day and full-day fishing charters for a variety of species, including tarpon, bonefish, permit, and snapper. Their guides have many years of experience fishing the waters around Key West.

These are just a few of the many excellent saltwater fishing charters in Key West Florida.

Fishing Regulations in Key West Florida

Fishing regulations in Key West Florida are designed to protect the local fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing practices. It’s important for anglers to follow these regulations to help preserve the natural resources and maintain healthy fish populations. Here are some of the fishing regulations in Key West Florida:

  1. License: All anglers are required to have a valid Florida fishing license. The license can be purchased online or at a local tackle shop.
  2. Bag and size limits: There are bag and size limits for many of the fish species in Key West Florida. Anglers should consult the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) website for the most up-to-date information on bag and size limits for the species they plan to target.
  3. Protected species: Some fish species are protected in Florida and may not be harvested or possessed. These include goliath grouper, sawfish, and several species of sharks.
  4. Seasonal closures: Some fish species have seasonal closures to protect them during their spawning season. Anglers should consult the FWC website for information on seasonal closures for the species they plan to target.
  5. Gear restrictions: There are gear restrictions for some fishing techniques, such as spearfishing and cast nets. Anglers should consult the FWC website for information on gear restrictions for their chosen fishing technique.
  6. No-take zones: Some areas in Key West Florida are designated as no-take zones, where fishing is prohibited. These areas are typically designated to protect sensitive habitats or fish populations. Anglers should consult the FWC website for information on no-take zones in the area they plan to fish.

It’s important to note that fishing regulations can change frequently, so anglers should always check the FWC website for the most up-to-date information before heading out to fish.

Deep Sea Fishing Key West, Florida

Where to Stay When Saltwater Fishing in Key West Florida

When saltwater fishing in Key West Florida, there are many excellent accommodation options available, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels. Here are some of the best places to stay when saltwater fishing in Key West:

  1. Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort: This historic resort offers luxury accommodations and amenities, including a private beach, two oceanfront pools, and several restaurants and bars. It’s located just a few minutes from the heart of Old Town Key West.
  2. The Reach Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort: This oceanfront resort offers luxury accommodations and amenities, including a private beach, an oceanfront pool, and several restaurants and bars. It’s located just steps from Duval Street and other popular attractions.
  3. Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina: This waterfront resort offers comfortable accommodations and amenities, including a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. It’s located in the heart of Old Town Key West, just steps from popular attractions and fishing charters.
  4. The Gates Hotel Key West: This modern hotel offers comfortable accommodations and amenities, including a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. It’s located just a short drive from Old Town Key West and many popular fishing charters.
  5. Silver Palms Inn: This budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable accommodations and amenities, including a pool and free breakfast. It’s located just a short drive from Old Town Key West and many popular fishing charters.

These are just a few of the many excellent accommodation options available in Key West Florida. When choosing a place to stay, it’s important to consider factors such as location, amenities, and budget to ensure a comfortable and convenient fishing trip.

Expert Tips and Tricks for Successful Saltwater Fishing in Key West Florida

Here are some expert tips and tricks for successful saltwater fishing in Key West Florida:

  1. Choose the right bait: The type of bait you use can make a big difference in your success when fishing in Key West. Some popular bait options for saltwater fishing in Key West include live shrimp, pinfish, and pilchards.
  2. Know the tides: Tides can have a big impact on fishing success in Key West. It’s important to check the tide charts and plan your fishing trips around incoming or outgoing tides, as this is often when fish are most active.
  3. Use the right gear: Make sure to bring the appropriate gear for the type of fishing you plan to do in Key West. This might include spinning reels, braided line, and heavy-duty rods for larger fish.
  4. Fish near structure: Many of the best fishing spots in Key West are near structure, such as mangrove islands, bridges, and reefs. These areas provide shelter and food for fish, making them excellent places to target.
  5. Use chum: Chumming is a technique that involves using bait to attract fish to your fishing spot. This can be especially effective when fishing in Key West, as many of the local fish species are attracted to strong scents.
  6. Stay aware of weather conditions: Weather conditions can change quickly in Key West, so it’s important to stay aware of any incoming storms or changes in wind speed and direction. Always check the weather forecast before heading out to fish, and be prepared to adjust your plans if necessary.
Fishing in Key West: Complete Guide 

Conclusion

Key West Florida is an excellent destination for saltwater fishing enthusiasts, offering a variety of fish species and fishing spots to explore. To make the most of your fishing trip, be sure to choose the right gear and bait, plan your trips around tides, and stay aware of weather conditions. Additionally, staying at the right accommodations and knowing local fishing regulations can make for a more enjoyable and successful trip. By following these tips and tricks and respecting local fishing guidelines, you can experience the thrill of saltwater fishing in Key West Florida and create lasting memories.

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