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Saltwater Fishing Tips: Fishing in Key West

Updated on May 4, 2011

Key West fishing charters

Key West is famous for numerous things, and saltwater fishing is right up there at the top of the list. You might not need many saltwater fishing tips for these bountiful waters. The fishing in Key West is legendary – the ultimate fantasy of many anglers. According to the International Game Fish Association, more than 400 world-record fish have been landed in the Florida Keys. America’s only living coral reef – the third largest in the world – skirts Key West, too.

While throngs of tourist flock to Key West every year for the history, the scenery, and the party-like atmosphere, the fishing in Key West holds a special place in the hearts of anglers. Fortunately for them, there are scores of Key West fishing charters. Because there are so many, the prices are very competitive. By visiting different websites of Key West fishing charters, you’ll be able to find one that matches your needs and your budget.

Fishing Key West provides for some great scenery!
Fishing Key West provides for some great scenery!

Why fishing in Key West is so awesome!

 

 

Key West is surrounded by bays, shallow flats, deep channels, and a huge reef. The productive Gulf Stream is nearby, too, and it’s one of the most fish-rich currents on the globe. The Florida Keys are also the dividing line between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. All these add up to some superb fishing in Key West.

 

Many Key West fishing charters practice catch-and-release with several fish species, carefully handling the fish and returning them unharmed to the water. This practice is done especially with billfish. That means that the populations are not being decimated, so there’s a constant supply of large predatory fish species.

 

Another reason fishing in Key West is so popular is because of the great year-round climate. The lowest average temperature is 65 degrees, in January, and the hottest average temperature is 89, in August.

 

For fishermen, this means that the surrounding waters of Key West remain a fairly consistent temperature all year, with no major drops, so there’s no reason for the fish to go into hiding or to stop biting. No matter what the season is, fishing in Key West is always great!

 

 

There's plenty of shark fishing in Key West.
There's plenty of shark fishing in Key West.

Available types of fishing in Key West

 

You’ll find several types of fishing in Key West, and it would be hard to say which is the most popular. One of the most pleasurable is flats fishing. The flats near Key West are beautiful, with clear turquoise water in a natural setting. This is the place to land bonefish, permit, and tarpon. Key West holds the state record for the largest tarpon – it tipped the scales at 243 pounds.

 

Key West waters are littered with wrecks, and the natural reef extends beyond the Dry Tortugas. These areas offer some amazing Key West wreck and reef fishing because many species of fish are attracted to the bottom structure. Likely catches here include a variety of snappers and groupers, along with cobia, sharks, amberjack, and barracuda.

 

Offshore fishing in Key West is perhaps the most thrilling of all the angling methods offered. The ninety-mile stretch of water between Key West and Cuba is one of the most fertile in the entire world. Fishing in the Gulf Stream off Key West will produce catches of dorado (mahi mahi), king mackerel, cobia, wahoo, tuna, sailfish, swordfish, and both blue marlin and white marlin.

 

Shark fishing in the Keys has its loyal followers, too. Several shark species can be found in less than ten feet of water, and because of the water’s clarity, you can usually see the sharks attacking your bait. With Key West shark fishing, you’ll have excellent opportunities to catch bull sharks, hammerheads, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, spinner sharks, blacktip sharks, and tiger sharks. The state record white shark was caught off Key West, weighing in at 686 pounds.

 

 

Grouper fishing in Key West is very productive.
Grouper fishing in Key West is very productive.

Key West deep sea fishing

 

For the ultimate angling adventure, try Key West deep sea fishing. This is world-class fishing for big brutes like billfish and other giants of the deep. Most of the Key West deep sea fishing for these species is done by trolling, and what you catch depends largely on what time of year you’re fishing.

 

If you’re hoping to catch a trophy blue marlin, visit Key West in May, June, July, or August. Big barracudas can be landed all year, and sailfish are active every month except for July and August. Fish Key West in the summer if you’re after wahoo, and in the winter if you’re after mackerel.

 

Fishing in Key West produced the state record blackfin tuna and the state record yellowfin tuna. If you want to get in on some of this action, try Key West deep sea fishing in October through May.

 

 

Many Key West fishing charters are available.
Many Key West fishing charters are available.

Key West fishing charters

 

Key West fishing charters are definitely the way to go if you want to do some serious angling. No matter what kind of fishing or what species of fish you’re seeking, charter boats will accommodate you. You might prefer to spend just a few hours flats fishing, or you might decide to spend a full day fishing the reefs and wrecks or doing some offshore trolling.

 

You’ll find all kinds of Key West charter boats, too. These include large party boats with restrooms and full galleys, fast offshore charter boats for trolling, and smaller skiffs for flats fishing. You can go alone, with a few friends, or with the entire family. Many Key West fishing charters welcome kids, and if you’re a novice, the crew will be glad to provide help.

 

If you’re planning on hiring one of the Key West fishing charters, find out everything that’s included in the price. Different boats and captains include different amenities, and they all have different rules. One thing you definitely don’t want to forget is your camera. You’ll want to get pics of the fish you catch, along with the splendid scenery. Fishing in Key West is an experience you’ll never forget!

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    • profile image

      Dhanjay 4 years ago

      adam m, July 30, 2012 at 3:33 am My son and I had a 1/2 day great trip. I was a little leery about this beucase some of the older reviews were a bit rough. We didn't experience anything but a great day on the ocean. We are already planning our next trip. Everything from the check-in process, to rod rental, to getting on the boat was smooth and courteous. Fred, the captain, was very professional and kept us all informed. The deck hands pretty much handled everything except baiting your hook and holding your rod. (The tied the knots, taught you how to fish, cut the bait, took the fish off your line, detangled any problems you had, kept track of your catch, filleted your fish, etc.) The crew was very busy but never too busy to stop to help you, nor short. In fact, I was very pleased with their attitudes for such a tough job. They were excellent with kids. The captain moved the boat about 4 times trying to find the fish. All-in-all I guess we fished a good 2-3 hours which was plenty for me and my 8-year old boy. We caught 9 fish, 5 keepers, between us, and were pretty pleased with that. Here's a quick list of our costs. (Since people were mad about that in other reviews)- $10 each rod rental- $15 CA fishing license- $2 for fish bag- $2 for biggest catch buy-in- $1 per fish to fillet- a few bucks for snacks- tip for crewYou can bring your own snacks, non-alcoholic beverages. A couple of the families did that and it was just fine. Also, bring warm clothes appropriate for the time of year. -yelp

    • applejuic3 profile image

      applejuic3 6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      looks like an amazing place to fish and your hub is full of great information. thank you.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Bpop!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      I adore Key West and I used to fish when I was a kid. I am glad you are back and I wish you the best. Hope your husband is doing well. My thoughts are with you.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks a bunch, Neverletitgo!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Michael, that soounds awesome!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Quail, great to have a fellow angler as a guest!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      xixi, the waters around South FL are amazing!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Oceans! Thanks for dropping by!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Mischelle, I don't dive, but my friend does, and he agrees with you!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Eth. Mine, too!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      My sincere thanks, Katie!

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Neverletitgo 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      habee,this is beautiful hub. I voted up and buetuful,awesom. I proud to be your follower. Please come to my hub.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Michael Buchman profile image

      Michael Buchman 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      My wife and I spent last Christmas in the Keys. Wonderful!

      It was our first time there. Sparse tenants at the Hilton due to the off season...practically had the place all to ourselves. Took some great pics and have lots of new memories.

      I'm new to the "hub" so hope to be reading more of blogs.

      Thanks.

    • The Quail 1957 profile image

      The Quail 1957 6 years ago

      I love your hub;i'm also an avid fisherman! Great job and well done.

    • xixi12 profile image

      xixi12 6 years ago from Everywhere but here. In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. You can never be truly free till you have the discipline to manage it.

      Great hub, lovely pictures. It must be amazing living in such a beautiful place, you hardly find things like this in the UK

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I would love to go fishing in Key West! Thanks for sharing Habee :)

    • mwatkins profile image

      mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      LOVE This! I got my deep water diving certification in the Keys and it was some of the best diving around! Great hub! While we were there we also got to go fishing, snorkeling and had such a fun time! The sharks were the ONLY think I tried to avoid while there - LOl! ;-)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      This is a lovely Hub. It would be my Hubby's idea of heaven, bless him

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      What exciting fishing in key west. I must confess I'm intriqued with the sharks. I pet one once at the ZOO of cours and it was really cool. I can only imagine the thrill of fishing for such fish. WOW :) Hope your husband is on the mend. My most positive thoughts!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      HH, great to see you, too! Hubby has been sick and in the hospital, and he's still having to go for more tests, so things here have been pretty crazy.

      Anglnwu, thanks! That's my middle daughter, Shannon.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Schoolmarm, I envy your living in that area!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      I want to go fishing after reading this. I love all the pictures, including your new profile pic.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Habeeee, what a lovely surprise. I thought youpackup and left the country. You have beden to those slimming classes again.

      Thank you for showing this lovely piece on earth. It is so beautiful.

      I hope you are keeping well. Take care and all the best.

    • schoolmarm profile image

      schoolmarm 6 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub! I live very near Key West and am down there deep sea fishing every chance I get. I usually have them prepare my "catch" to bring home, but the past few times I went they were having fish-fry charities for different causes, so I donated. Now you've got me hungry!

      The residents are very friendly and down to earth there too.

      I have yet to go on a charter or private fishing trip in the keys without catching something BIG!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Polly and Pam, that's my middle daughter. Good to see both of you!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Wow Habee! I was surprised by your new picture but figure it is you perhaps a few years ago. Very pretty. I think this is a very good hub about fishing off Key West. Rated up!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

      Jeeps habee! I had to come make sure it was you. Great idea...and hub!