Best Florida Keys Bridge Fishing Spots: All You Need to Know

Jan 10, 2023 | 8 minute read Comments
25
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Florida Keys bridge fishing is one of the best ways to experience the Sunshine State. Just take a drive down the 113 miles of the Overseas Highway and you’ll see why. There are 42 bridges connecting the Keys and countless fish beneath them. This imposing stretch of concrete runs from Key Largo in the north to the Hemingway Museum in Key West and offers stellar fishing year-round.

Aerial view of the Overseas Highway Bridge in the Florida Keys near Key West

You will find excellent Tarpon fishing, a healthy stock of Snook, and countless opportunities to land Yellowtail Snapper, Porgy, and Yellow Jack here. It takes a lifetime to explore all the nooks and crannies below each bridge pylon, but it certainly is rewarding.

Florida Keys Bridge Fishing Map

Before we get to the fun part, here’s a quick overview of the top fishing bridges in the Keys.

There are obviously plenty of other bridges you can explore in the area. The ones we’re going to mention, however, have proven to be especially productive over the years. 

The key – mind the pun – is to fish different spots to make the most out of your day. If the bite is slow, don’t waste too much time and move to the next bridge. You won’t be running out of them any time soon.

Florida Keys Bridges: Top Fishing Spots

Once you move past Key Largo and head south, you will see fellow anglers dropping the bait straight from the bridges, or drifting their boats near pylons looking to spot a migrating Tarpon.

Sometimes you could be fishing on your own for hours, with only a glance from a curious passerby. Other days, there’ll be a line of anglers pushing aluminum carts with their gear towards their favorite fishing spot, hoping to catch some delicious fish and turn it into lunch.

Here is a list of places you should check out first to make the most out of your Florida Keys excursion.

1. Channel #2 and Channel #5 Bridges

Lying near Mile Marker 73, Channel #2 Bridge has a convenient fishing platform where you can place your gear as you get to work. Mangrove Snapper and Gag Grouper roam these waters, and you can get them using live bait such as shrimp. Pair those with circle hooks and voila!

A smiling fisherman in a hat and sunglasses holding a Mangrove Snapper he just caught, vegetation in the background

Barracuda fishing is great here, but you’ll need to be in shape to get those brutes out of the water. Yellowtail Snapper are also a popular catch and they bite well during the day. Look for the shadows as the fish will seek shelter from the heat there. For the best chance to get Tarpon or Yellowtail Snapper, go out when the tide is transitioning.

Use a chum bag and throw some chum into the water to attract the fish and improve your chances. One thing to have in mind here is that it can get pretty crowded, so try to arrive early in the morning to claim your spot.

Channel #5 is another praised location that attracts anglers from afar. This bridge has made it to the list of top fishing spots around the Florida Keys thanks to abundant Jacks, Tarpon, and rich wildlife. A good thing about this bridge is that you can get to the water level and work the shadows beneath the bridge. This is also a good spot to get live bait for your outing. Make sure to check out the tides or team up with a local captain to get you to the honey holes.

2. Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge

A fisherman in a cap and sunglasses leaning out of the boat to hold a Bonefish he caught close to the water

At Mile Marker 63, you will find another famed place among local anglers. This fishing bridge has a good offering of Permit and Bonefish, but also lots of Mangrove Snapper. You can use shrimp to get the job done, or some pinfish, especially if you want to snatch lunkers (big fish) from the water. A good thing about using pinfish is that they will keep smaller pesky fish away from stealing your bait.

Before you pack, check the tides – you will find a consistent bite from late afternoon onwards. The bridge is also convenient for anglers with kids as they can fish for Blue Runners and Mackerel. These fish are easy and fun to catch and can serve as excellent baitfish too. There are also restroom facilities near the bridge.

3. Seven Mile Bridge

Two men standing on a fishing boat, each holding two Yellowtail Snapper, cloudy skies and water in the background

Perhaps the best-known bridge around the Keys, Seven Mile Bridge will let you fish like a boss. There are Schoolmaster, Mangrove, and Yellowtail Snapper in abundance, but there are also numerous charters from Marathon going after them. The bridge has a good water level and plenty of space so you won’t feel crowded. Prepare shrimp if you want Schoolmasters, and pack cut ballyhoo for Mangrove Snapper.

4. Bahia Honda Bridge

Two man standing next to each other, younger man is holding a Bull Shark, with sky and water behind them

If you want to get Tarpon, this is the place to be. “Silver King” go past and around these bridges. It’s not uncommon to get 130 lb Tarpon here. What’s also good is that you can catch them in broad daylight. When it’s windy, you may get a rough ride despite the channel being narrow. But if you persevere, you may be landing Hammerhead, Bull, and Tiger Shark in addition to Tarpon. It’s a nice feat for anglers with some experience, but don’t miss out on schools of Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper swimming around.

5. No Name Key Bridge

A smiling angler in sunglasses holding a Snook he caught, with blue skies in the background

Combine a meditative walk with a good fishing spot, and head to the bridge between No Name Key and Big Pine Key. You can get Snapper and Grouper here, as well as Snook. Mangrove Snapper are a good choice, and on a good day, you can fill your cooler quite quickly. You can fish from the bridge, or take a ride and explore the fishing opportunities near the water level. Rig some shrimp on your hook and watch as Snapper devour it, or chase Tarpon near the base of the bridge.

6. Sugarloaf Key Channels

Two fishermen in caps and sunglasses standing on a boat, each holding a Jack Crevalle, with cloudy skies and water behind them

When you come to the beautiful Sugarloaf Key, you will have access to great fishing. Have in mind that some of these places are only accessible by boat or kayak. As a rule of thumb, look for walk-downs near the bridges and open space in the middle of mangroves where you can easily get down to the water level and wet the line. Again, there is a good source of live bait in these waters, so make sure to use the opportunity.

Jack Crevalle is a prominent figure around here and he puts up an incredible fight. You can winch up Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper when fishing from the bridges, but if you hop on a boat, you’ll be in Tarpon paradise. Before you head out, make sure to ask in local tackle shops whether the bridge is open for the public as construction works may change availability.

7. Boca Chica Channel Bridge

A smiling angler in a cap and sunglasses standing on a fishing boat, holding a juvenile Tarpon

Anglers looking for a nighttime outing will find a solid Tarpon bite here. Good current flow, deep water cuts where you can drop the line, and a rich selection of live bait to snatch up all make this fishery a must-visit before you finally arrive in Key West. You can make more progress if fishing below the bridge, near the water level where Tarpon swim in the shadows waiting for a quick bite. It’s a perfect trip for anglers looking to spend a couple of hours on the water.

Gear to use when fishing Florida Keys Bridges

When it comes to conquering the Florida Keys bridges, either fish directly from the bridge or drift near the bridge on a boat. The best part of it is that you don’t have to be a long-time angler to be successful. But if you’re coming to the Keys for the first time, there are a couple of things you should know.

Most of the time, anglers bring along chum bags just to get the fish going before they sink the bait. You can use menhaden and either drop it down in a chum bag, or just toss it straight into the water. Let it do its business and then rig your hook.

There are several popular live bait options here, including shrimp, squid, pilchards, and pinfish. If you want variety, you can use shrimp as it attracts all sorts of fish. You might get bored after a while by really small critters pecking away at your bait, though. To get bigger fish, use pinfish, as they are difficult to take off the hook and you have a better chance of the bait staying on.

Fishing from a bridge is tricky because the fish can run for the nearby rocks or mangroves and cut your line. If you want more flexibility, use a monofilament line. On the other hand, a braided line lets you cast farther.

If you want to explore the bridge fishing opportunities from a charter, you will have a different view of affairs. You will have more flexibility to reach deeper cuts in the channel where big Jacks, Tarpon, and Snook hide.

Florida Keys Bridges: Tides

Knowing the tides is important if you want to get the fish around these bridges. Tide times can vary depending on the bridge you are fishing from, so it’s safest to check real-time data on currents and tides for the selected dates. These tables are usually available for the week ahead, but you should check a day or two before getting out.

A tide prediction table by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with high and low tide points

When fishing around the Keys bridges, you should look for times when the tide is transitioning from its lowest to its highest point and vice versa. The current will bring the baitfish to the bigger fish that you’re targeting.

The website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a reliable place to look for data on tide changes. Check out the data on each of the bridges below.

Top Species to Catch around Florida Keys Bridges

Just as the Keys’ popularity among vacation goers doesn’t wear off, neither does its fishing season. Early days of the year can get you Snapper literally just inches from the bridge, while the first warm days of March signal the highly anticipated Tarpon season that lasts well into fall. Snook is by and large in the water year-round, and the summer also entices multiple kinds of Sharks.

Here are the hot shots you can land near the Keys bridges:

Bridge Hopping: Things to Know

  1. You will need a saltwater fishing license when fishing on your own. When fishing from a charter, the licenses are included.
  2. Make sure to follow the legal limits and size. They are subject to change, so best check out the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rules.
  3. Pack fishing gear. If going on a charter, consult this guide on what to bring on your fishing trip.
  4. Mind the traffic. There might be a lot of traffic – especially in the summertime – please make sure to stay safe.

So, there you have it. Now that you know what the best Florida Keys bridge fishing spots are, there’s nothing to stop you from reeling in that monster fish!

What are your favorite Florida Keys fishing bridges? Are there some you think we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below. 

Comments (25)
  • Tim

    Aug 18, 2022

    Notice Mono is preferred over braid. Why the preferance?

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Andriana

      Aug 18, 2022

      Hello Tim,

      Mono line is usually a better fit for bridge and pier fishing because it’s more flexible and abrasion-resistant, which is necessary when you’re fishing around underwater structures, as is usually the case. Braided line has its advantages as well – it’s stronger and you can cast further, but it’s not as flexible as mono.

      I hope this helps, Tim.

      All the best!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Juan G

    Jun 20, 2022

    How long can you fish on the bridges at night? Can you fish overnight with a tent? What is the time limit that you can be there till?

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Lisa

      Jun 21, 2022

      Hi Juan,

      Thank you for such an interesting question. A lot of anglers fish at night, especially for Tarpon and Snook. I’m not aware of any time limits. In fact, a lot of anglers park their RV right beside their bridge of choice and bring a grill, snacks, and drinks.

      It’s always a good idea to get in touch with a local FWC office and consult with them about whether there are any special rules or regulations for the bridge you’re interested in.

      You do, however, need to possess a valid Florida fishing license and get familiar with local regulations ahead of time, including bag limits and seasonality.

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Robert Snider

    Mar 11, 2021

    So both times now that I have gone through the ‘south cut’ of the old 7 Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys with my boat I have snagged fishing lines. They turned the old US 1 highway there into a very long fishing bridge and both times I used the channel cut to cross from the Atlantic to the Gulf someone has hiked all the way out to the very end and insisted on throwing lines from the end of the fishing bridge across the only cut anywhere nearby to the bridge pier on opposite side at the only place anyone with a large top can make it though because of the low height on the old bridge. Last guy was waving his arms like he did not want me to go through. I saw at least two other boats use the channel near the same time. That bridge has a mile of fishing spots so why do they do this and what should we be doing, if anything, about it?

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Albert

      Mar 12, 2021

      Hi Robert,

      That sure does sound like a problem. I guess people go all the way to the end because they think “deeper water, bigger fish” even if that isn’t necessarily true.

      As so what we can do about it? Not much I guess, other than petition the FWC to restrict fishing at the very end of the pier.

      I guess you could also put a sign up yourself, warning people that their lines might get snagged on boats if they cast into the boat channel. I’m not sure whether that’s against any laws, though, so best to check if you do decide to.

      All the best!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Aldo

    May 9, 2020

    Hello,
    Is parking available for the even mile bridge?

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Albert

      May 11, 2020

      Hi Aldo,

      Yes, there’s parking available at both ends of the old Seven Mile Bridge. You can’t drive onto it, though.

      Tight lines!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • SEAN S LEIBO

    Jan 29, 2020

    How about fly fishing from these bridges? I will be staying in Islamorada. Just curious if you could recommend a bridge that the setup may be more friendly to fly fishing. Thanks so much. The information here is great especially for someone who generally fishes for trout up north. Thanks again.

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Albert

      Jan 30, 2020

      Hi Sean,

      Good question! I don’t know if people really try off the bridges. There are plenty of flats and tidal banks around Islamorada that are a dream for fly fishing, though.

      If you’re looking for more info, we’ve got a general guide to fly fishing in Islamorada that you might be interested in (just scroll down past the photos).

      Has anyone else had success fly fishing from bridges around Islamorada? Where did you do it?

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Bryan

    Feb 23, 2019

    I have a few questions about bridge fishing, we are flying down Wednesday, my son and I, we are staying in Marathon and have a couple of Charters set up already ( Backcountry )and that is great. So Bridge Fishing, can you just rent fishing gear on Marathon, if so any recommendations. Do you have certain things I will need to rent besides the rod? Do you have any places you would recommend for us to try as well as what bait to buy for this time of year? Thanks for your help
    Bryan

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Mar 1, 2019

      Hello Bryan,

      Thank you for reading the blog.

      There are a few bait and tackle shops along Overseas Highway in Marathon. Local fishermen like to go with cigar minnows, but you’d best inquire at the local tackle shop to see what’s been working as of late. For more general info on lures, please check out our guide.

      If you’re still in town by the 9th and 10th, do check out the Marathon Seafood Festival.

      I hope you’ll have a great time!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Ken Reddy

    Dec 30, 2018

    I am a beginner bridge fisher. Are than any detailed rigging, baiting and general fishing tutorials or instructions available ??

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Jan 8, 2019

      Hello Ken,

      Thank you for reading the blog.

      Please feel free to check some of the other educational posts on our blog. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a lot of useful information.

      In the meantime, I’d like to give you a few short pointers for your bridge fishing setup:

      1. Use a simple spinning rod. It should be tested for 15-30 pounds, depending on what you want to catch.
      2. A mono line (single filament) for flexibility.
      3. For bait, use shrimp, squid, pilchards or pinfish. You can use chum to attract fish before you cast your bait.
      4. Use a simple paternoster setup. You can use this setup with two J hooks to increase your odds for a hook-up. To make this setup, check out this video.
      5. To keep your bait deeper in the water, use a weight (sinker) – the smallest one you can.
      6. The best time to go out will be dawn or dusk.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Have a great day!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Nivaldo

    Dec 6, 2018

    I have been fishing on both channel 5-2 and the last time I caught a 15 pound Jack. It’s a great little trip and you will have a ball just make sure all undersize fish is put back in the water. Wildlife officers are constantly walking the bridges also make sure that you have a saltwater fishing license.

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

  • Dan

    Oct 12, 2018

    Amazing information on bridge fishing. Also, i would include when fishing these spots, especially at night, mosquito repellent. Just in case you’re near mangroves, sitting near, water always be prepared for the worst.

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Stefan

      Oct 15, 2018

      Hi, Dan,

      Thanks for reading the blog! That’s an excellent piece of advice, thanks!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Brandon

      Apr 29, 2019

      As I’m aware that No-see-um’s are a problem down there, I’d personally suggest getting a bug spray that’s known to effectively repel them. Regular bug spray that repels mosquitos will not always repel No-see-um’s. I personally use Avon SSS Bug Guard Expedition spray and they’ll land on your skin sometimes but won’t bite you. My fishing buddy and myself learned the hard way (almost two weeks on constant itching) at Sand Key State Park in Clearwater, FL. 😔

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Jasmin Martino

    May 18, 2018

    Where do you buy a fishing licence in the Florida Keys and can I get one with a Swiss passport?

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Stefan

      May 21, 2018

      Hi, Jasmin,

      You can buy a fishing license either online or in any of the local tackle shops. You’d need a non-resident fishing license.

      If you’re planning on fishing from a charter, then you don’t need a fishing license, as the charter license covers all anglers onboard.

      Have a nice fishing trip,
      Stefan

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Jack

      Jun 2, 2018

      Excellent information in this article

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Michael Bell

      Jul 24, 2019

      Hi Going to keys next feb and wanting to shore fish can you please tell me the following
      Tackle to use off the bridge
      Lb line to use
      LB rod to use
      bait to use or lures
      Many thanks

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Jul 25, 2019

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for reading.

      For fishing from one of the Florida Keys bridges, I would recommend using a 20-30 lb mono line. This line will work for most inshore fish, and will provide enough flexibility when battling these critters. For larger fish like Tarpon, you’ll probably need something stronger – a 30 to 50 lb braided line. This will allow you to cast further out as well.

      An 8 to 9 ft rod works well when fishing from these bridges.

      For bait, use shrimp, squid, pilchards or pinfish. You can use chum the water to attract fish before you cast your bait.

      I would always recommend asking what bait/lures have been working best in a local tackle shop.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Matt

      Nov 10, 2021

      Fishing for Tarpon off a bridge is NOT really an option for an ethical fisherman. On average they are 70-100lbs. You will not be able to lift them unless you had a gigantic pier net and will probably stress the fish to it’s death , literally. Unless you can reel it to the shore to release it I would suggest you don’t try.

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Stu

      Mar 3, 2022

      Lol smh

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *