Fishing and the Florida Keys - it's a match made in heaven. But before you cast off, you'll want to decide what type of fishing appeals to you.
Generally, visitors choose either of two ways to fish in the Keys. One is to hire a Backcountry Guide to pilot you into the wilderness of the uninhabited Keys and mangrove shorelines of Florida Bay.
Those who prefer offshore fishing have two options. One is to hop on board a Party Boat Charter that will carry you, and a group of others to the waters offshore.
For the novice, serious and experienced angler, a Deep Sea Charter will take you into the Gulf Stream for big game fishing .
All selections provide unparalleled opportunities for excitement, adventure and a good chance of bringing home your own "catch-of-the-day." And if you don't have equipment, most establishments have top notch gear available for rent. So whatever your vessel of choice may be, good luck! You've come to the place that made fishing famous - the Florida Keys.
For those looking to get out in the open seas (but not too far out) there is a fleet of party boats (or headboats) waiting for you to climb aboard. Ranging in size by passenger capacity, party boats are the perfect choice for the novice fishermen looking for a chance to reel in the big one.
Both half day and full-day excursions are available, and you will find a knowledgeable and friendly crew waiting to make even the most inexperienced angler welcome. The half-day trips are especially attractive to those new to the sport, and a morning or afternoon trip leaves the rest of the day open for other excursions. For the more experienced full-day trips offer the opportunity to fish for live bait as well as the chance to change locations to find the best spot. Another option is night fishing, which usually affords calmer seas and cooler weather. Fishing at night is ideal for those looking to avoid exposure to the sun. Some even say it's a bit romantic.
Generally, Keys party boats fish at anchor in a variety of locations, depending on weather conditions and time of year. In shallow waters, anglers can expect to catch cero and Spanish mackerel on the surface and grouper, mangrove snapper, mutton, porgy, sheepshead and yellowtail. Fishing reefs bring catches that can include big grouper, bonito, cero, king mackerel, mutton snapper, sailfish, tuna, yellowtail and wahoo. Deep ledge (130 to 200 feet) fishing is the spot of choice for big king mackerel, muttons, vermillion and lane snappers, larger porgy, mangrove, silk and genuine red snappers. Fishing the wrecks will bring big amberjack, smoker kings, grouper and blacktip sharks.If you don't mind sharing your fishing spot with sometimes 30 or more people, or maybe you're new to fishing and want "to just give it a try" for the morning, then party boat fishing is for you.
If you've come to the Keys with serious fishing in mind, deep sea fishing has what you're looking for. Charters to the Gulf Stream offer challenging and exciting fishing, usually at depths of 1,000 to 2,000 feet. Seasoned anglers will delight in the challenge of the hunt for dolphin (the fish), marlin, sailfish, shark, tuna and wahoo.
Smaller than party boat charters, deep sea charters (also known as offshore) generally take up to six people. Like the party boats, both half and full day excursions are available. The parties are smaller and the fare is higher, but the challenge is greater. For the veteran big game fisherman who wants the best, the answer is found in the deep sea.
Backcountry, party boat or deep sea? Which one is for you? If you're looking for the personal attention that teaming up with a guide surely brings or the silence and solitude found exploring the wilderness of the Florida Keys, then backcountry fishing is the choice for you. If the quick thrill of a half-day trip off shore or the fun and excitement of having others around appeals to you, then party boat fishing is the way to go. If you're a veteran angler looking for big game catches, you'll find them aboard a deep sea charter. And no matter which route to your fishing adventure you choose, all come with the same guarantee -- fishing in the Florida Keys is truly fabulous.
Reefs, wrecks, ledges