Big Pine Key

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Top Fishing Charters in Big Pine Key

Fishing in Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key fishing charters can get you all excited in as little time as a half day trip. They say variety is one of the Keys’ most cherished fishing assets, and nowhere is that clearer than the assorted waterways of Big Pine Key. Flanked by the nourishing Gulf currents on the one side and the pelagic wilderness of the Atlantic on the other, the Lower Keys are a perfect choice for all anglers.

Known For

Big Pine Key fishing has the best of both worlds. If it’s windy on the Atlantic side, the Gulf may prove more soothing and calm. If you don’t like offshore fishing, hang around shallows and flats. If it’s raining, go fish under a bridge. Whether it’s big game, a a half day excursion, fly fishing, or big game, Big Pine Key can give you what you want.

Often overlooked in all of this big game frenzy is also one of the most well-rounded inshore fisheries in all of Florida, as the endless backcountry channels, estuaries and shallow flats brim with everything from Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit to the likes of Redfish, Sea Trout, Pompano and even an occasional Mackerel. If that’s not good enough for you, good luck finding a better place to fish.

Atlantic side

South of the island lies probably the closest thing to an authentic Caribbean fishery this side of the continent. These waters are home to lavish Atlantic quarry including such prized targets as Sailfish and Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, Kingfish, Amberjack, and many more. But, before you get there, you must first get past the network of reefs and wrecks filled with fish. It’s any angler’s heaven, and it gets better with each mile you go offshore.

What to expect on an inshore trip

The inshore waterways on the south of the island boast some impressive catches. When the summer sets in, so do Tarpon. If you want to try your skills against this inshore beast, head straight to the Bahia Honda Bridge. There are schools of Tarpon there each year, and you can try sight fishing with light tackle or fly fishing gear. It’s gonna be splashes and acrobatics and muscle-popping action all over the place.

The backcountry waters are filled with Permit, Snook, Sea Trout, Cobia, Jack Crevalle, Barracuda, and Sharks. They are mostly available year-round, and prove a real challenge even for more experienced anglers.

Now, another fish that is ‘a thing’ here is the ‘Grey Ghost,’ aka Bonefish. Bone fishing around the Keys is a great thrill. Find a local guide who’s quick and willing to go after this elusive species. Don’t be surprised if in the shallow backcountry waters you come across some bigger fish, such as Sharks. Also, when taking shelter below the bridge, you might even get a Goliath Grouper.

Usually, a half day trip should be enough if you’re a less experienced angler or coming here with a family. Hardcore anglers will benefit from a longer trip as well, as there is no boredom around Big Pine Key. Either way, it doesn’t take long to get to the flats and other fisheries. This means that you will have enough time to have a go and fish, depending on how much action you want. Half day trips inshore cost around $400, while full days mostly start at $600.

Fishing the reefs

The Atlantic side of Big Pine Key has many treasure-keeping reefs. They store Snapper and Grouper, and you can get them if you use the fishfinder to its full potential. These fish like to hide, and you will find them in the oceanside reefs anywhere from 20 to 90 feet. Yellowtail Snapper will be biting like crazy once you bring the chum into play. Use squid to get Ballyhoo, then switch for Ballyhoo to lure Mackerel. You might even find Barracuda. Again, most charters can get you there on a half hour trip, but you’ll get more from a full day trip if more experienced. Reef fishing trips are not much more expensive than inshore trips.

What you will be doing on an offshore trip

The answer is ‘get some really impressive fish’. Once you get past the maze of inshore channels, estuaries, and flats, and get your vessel a bit further out, that’s when the chase starts. The Gulf Stream lies some 10 miles offshore, and the warm currents help the fishing action year round. There are Sailfish, Mahis, Wahoo, and Tunas, and, of course, Marlin. These trips are not for the faint-hearted, despite the fact that it won’t take long before you reach the hot spots. Sailfish can get super aggressive, toss around and smash. You need to be careful, and generally listen to the captain. Offshore fishing can seem like a lot of effort, but it’s twice as rewarding. To have some proper fishing, you should start with a ¾ day trip. These usually cost around $700 or more, depending on the size of the boat.

Gulf side

The Gulf side is legendary for the many shipwrecks and manmade structures copious year round with marine life, particularly the famed Cobia, Permit, Snapper, Barracuda, Grouper, and plenty others.

You can find Tarpon in basins on the Gulf side. Trolling is also good there, and you might even try kite fishing. Some 25 miles offshore and more you can start getting the big fish to bite, including Mahis, Tuna, Wahoo, and number of Billfish, with Sailfish, Swordfish, and Marlin as the most prominent.

What you can expect from your Gulf trip

Depending on what you want to get, your trip can last anywhere from a half day or a ¾ day to a full day, or even more. Shorter trips can get you to artificial reefs and there you can sink your lure hoping to get bottom fish. These trips don’t differ much in price from Atlantic charters, at around $450 for a half day trip to some $700 for a ¾ day trip that explore the reefs.

On offshore trips, you will need to head out at least 10 miles to get the fish to bite, mostly even more than that. Those trips are no less rewarding, and cost mostly the same as offshore trips on the oceanside. If you really want to get something, then go with the full day trip.

Types of Fishing

The number of species we’ve mentioned surely shows that that there are numerous ways here to get the fish. All these fish have ignited people's imagination, so you can ty anything from spearfishing to kite fishing.


Again, there’s no unique answer. And luckily so. You can try and match your rods with light tackle, though some inshore species will feel like heavy tackle is the only way possible. Fly fishing is a popular method to get Tarpon. Sight fishing is very popular and these waters are pristine clear, so Bonefish better watch out. If you’re coming with your family, backcountry fishing is the method to try - you won’t risk seasickness as the water’s shallow and you need only five a big enough center console. If fishing around local reefs on the oceanside, you’ll want to try bottom fishing.


Mostly try trolling. You can either use chum or live bait, and pay close attention to birds flying around. There aren’t many constructions on the gulf side, so be extra attentive to anything moving on, around, or just below the surface. You can also try and get big Marlin, Mahi, and Wahoo when kite fishing. If you’re brave enough, you can use your spearfishing gear to land a big catch.

Rules and Regulations

No license for fishing is necessary if you’re fishing aboard a guided charter, party boat or other for-hire vessel which possesses a valid captain or charter boat license.

If you want to board a half day charter, then pack some snacks, drinks, and sun protection necessities - sunblock, shades, and a hat. On longer trips, you’ll also want to have enough water, and a proper meal, plus sea sickness medication. Most charters don’t have an age limit, but you should start with shorter trips inshore first, especially here in the backcountry paradise, such as Big Pine Key. That way, your kids will likely have a great time on the water and will want to come back again.

Big Pine Key
Based on 15414 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Big Pine Key Fishing Seasons

Trout seem to never let an angler down around Florida. You can also get Snook around the inshore shallows. Offshore waters can reward with Tuna, Mackerel, Sailfish, Swordfish.

Now you have a solid offer of Trout, Permit, some Reds, and Snook inshore. Further out, you can get a solid number of Mangrove Snapper, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, Yellowtail Snapper, and Bills.

Tarpon time is upon us. Head to the flats to get them. Bonefish are also on the chew. Pre-spawning Permit is feisty. Also, Redfish are strong and can be massive. Inshore is the place to be.

The weather’s improving and fishing’s getting better. You can get Bonefish inshore, as well as Permit and Jack Crevalle, while offshore there are Amberjack, Sailfish, Swordfish, and other big catch.

Mangrove Snapper is available, but you can also get bags full of Permit, Bonefish, Cobia. Out there, Mahi, Swordfish, Kingfish, Yellowfin Tuna, and Wahoo are rising in numbers.

Tarpon are biting like crazy. Hire a boat and head out to the bridges and flats to make your day even better. Offshore water boast Amberjack, Billfish, Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and you can get Grouper around reefs.

The hot fishing action continues. If you look inshore, you can still get Tarpon, Permit, and some Cobia. Offshore, the fish are biting heavily. Some Sailfish, many Swordfish, Tuna, and Wahoo are yours to claim.

The summer break is still on, and the fishing is on par with the heat. Go on an offshore trip and get yourself strong Amberjack, Wahoo, Mahi, some Tuna, and more.

Kids go back to school, but fish are going nowhere. In inshore waterways you can catch Permit, Reds, Trout, Bonefish, whereas an offshore trip can get you a Marlin, an occasional Tuna, Wahoo, and some other members of the Bill family.

As the heat drops, so do Snook rise in number, here to stay until February. The offshore waters remain productive and you can get some Kings, Tuna, Wahoo, Swordfish. Head to the reefs for some Grouper and Snapper.

Kids like Lemon and Black Tip shark and this is a good time to get them. Cobia are in solid numbers, as are Trout and Snook. Offshore, Tuna numbers are improving.

Barracuda are in their prime time. Go and get them. Don’t miss out on Wahoo. They are now as strong as ever and put up an excellent fight. Big Pine Swordfish are still there, ready for some rod bending action.

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What People Are Saying About Big Pine Key

"Son's Graduation trip"

Clarence C. fished with Reel Therapy Fishing - 17' on July 12, 2019

Sunscreen and polarized glasses are a must.

"Day trip with America Allegiance."

Gavin T. fished with American Allegiance Charters on November 19, 2018

So many spots... no way of knowing where to go or want to do without an experienced and knowledgeable captain. Captain Harlen made every stage fun and different. Lots of variation and different species caught.

"Afternoon trip in the back country"

Gavin T. fished with Reel Therapy Fishing - 17' on November 18, 2018

Winter is the best time for back country fishing for all kinds of species.

"Half-day trip with Captain Robert!"

Nathan H. J. fished with Kingfisher Backcountry Charters on June 3, 2018

It’s a great time to fish for tarpon.

What would you recommend to anglers fishing in Big Pine Key, Florida for the first time?

Top Targeted Species in Big Pine Key



Snapper (Mangrove)

Snapper (Mangrove)



Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Jack Crevalle

Jack Crevalle

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)



Spotted Seatrout

Spotted Seatrout

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