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Top Fishing Charters in Cedar Key

Fishing in Cedar Key

Anglers spend their time in Cedar Key fishing some of the most unusual—and productive—hot spots in Florida’s Big Bend. Known fondly as “the other Keys,” this area is one massive grassflat riddled with channels, deep potholes, and a smattering of small keys.

Here, timing is everything. Inshore game fish flood the flats as the tide rises, then slip into nearby potholes as it falls again. You’ll have to be just as diligent while fishing the nearshore reefs—if you miss tide out here, you might just be stranded!

Known For

Cedar Key harkens back to “Old Florida,” to the days before the Sunshine State was all about Disney World. There’s no big chain stores here, and it’s not uncommon to find signs hanging in shop windows that read “Gone fishing.”

While visits to this sleepy fishing village might not get your kids all riled up, it certainly does the trick for anglers. The inshore waters hold loads of baitfish from spring through autumn, and that means gamefish galore. Redfish, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and Sheepshead are just a few of the characters you’ll find cruising around. Add to that a variety of offshore fishing holes and the list of game fish keeps getting better.

Cedar Key Fishing Spots

Casting lines in these waters takes a whole lot of know-how. But this fishery isn’t reserved just for the pros. Take your pick of Cedar Key fishing charters and let the locals show you how they make the most of their favorite hot spots!

Deadman’s Key

A couple miles west of Cedar Key is Deadman’s Key, smack dab between Seahorse Key and North Key. Don’t let the name give you the wrong impression—things are far from dead on the water here.

In warm weather, you can fish the large grass flat between Deadman’s and Seahorse Key for Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Spanish Mackerel. In some years, you’ll even see parades of schooling Redfish up to 30 feet wide and 100 feet long during October. The cherry on top is that fact that you won’t run into many charter boats here.

Snake Key and the Finger Channels

Directly south of Cedar Key you’ll find Snake Key, another great place to fish the flats for Redfish and “Gator” Trout. You might also land a Cobia or a Shark while you’re here.

The flats southeast of Snake Key are gouged by several finger channels running as deep as 16 feet. Fishing these channels and the edges around them is especially productive in warmer months, when you can catch Spanish Mackerel, Ladyfish, Bluefish, and Speckled Trout.

Seahorse Reef

If you’re ready to venture beyond the inshore waters of Cedar Key, put Seahorse Reef at the top of your list. This 10-mile sandbar is the area’s primary offshore structure. Between May and October, it’s also one of the best places to catch Spanish Mackerel in the entire state. In the heat of summer, you’ll catch Speckled Trout here, too, accompanied by Ladyfish and small Bluefish. Grab some baitfish while you’re at it and then head to The Kingfish Hole.

The Kingfish Hole

The Kingfish Hole sits on the northwest side of Seahorse Reef. This area of flat, rocky bottom surface 20-25 feet below looks something like swiss cheese. As you may have guessed by the name, this hot spot is where local anglers come to troll for King Mackerel (or Kingfish) in April and May, and again between mid September and November. While fishing here, you might also catch Spanish Mackerel, Black Seabass, and Cedar Key Snapper.

The Steel Tower

For a totally different fishing experience, head to the lighted tower at the end of Seahorse Reef. Laying beside this structure in 6-8 feet of water are the bones of the previous tower, which was destroyed in 1993 during the “Storm of the Century.” If you get past the eerie mystique of this place, you’ll find great fishing for spawner Sheepshead between January and April. From May to October, there’s no better place to hook into a Cobia than right here.

The Ten-Three Hole and Beyond

Heading farther offshore will bring you to deeper water (30-45 feet), where you can fish for Mackerel, Cobia, Seabass, Grouper, Mangrove Snapper, and Grunts. The Ten-Three Hole and the fishing grounds south of Whistle Buoy are a couple of popular locations when it comes to these species.

Sailing 10-40 miles into the Gulf of Mexico opens up even more bottom fishing opportunities, with Amberjack, Red Snapper, Triggerfish, and many other species available at certain times of the year.

...And Then Some

The Cedar Key fishing scene doesn’t end there. You’ll find captains offering Scallop charters all along the Big Bend in late summer, giving you a chance to get in on a brief but productive season. A Cedar Key scalloping trip could take you north toward Steinhatchee or south to Crystal River. Heading to these hot spots takes a bit of time, but it’s well worthwhile when you bring up a bag full of fresh, delicious Scallops!

Types of Fishing

Fishing the flats is all about light tackle action. Early in the day, you’ll have great success (and loads of fun) watching Redfish and Trout blast a topwater plug.

Plastic-tail jigs and spinnerbaits also prove very effective with Redfish. When you find them in large schools on the flats, they’ll go after these artificials along with spoons, jerkbaits, and almost anything else you toss their way.

Fly fishermen will have success with any streamer pattern, as well as poppers and surface hair bugs.

You can troll live or dead bait for King Mackerel. Spanish Mackerel go after trolled spoons and jigs, or live Shrimp if you’re drift fishing. Jigging and bottom fishing with Shrimp and cut bait will help you catch Grunts, Seabass, and Grouper.

Need to Know

Many Cedar Key fishing charters head out of the Cedar Key Dock and Marina. If you’re heading in from out of town, just follow Florida State Road 24 all the way to the end.

All licensed charter boats include a fishing license for customers. If you plan on fishing from the pier, shore, or on your own boat, be sure to purchase a Florida fishing license.

Cedar Key Fishing Seasons

The flats around Cedar Key tend to be pretty empty in the dead of winter. With average temperatures hovering around 57°F, you may find a good day to head to shore and practice casting a few lines.

There’s still no action to be found on the flats, but that doesn’t mean the fish have stopped biting altogether. You may reel in a Black Drum or Sheepshead here and there. Chin up, spring is right around the corner!

Things are heating up, as the average temperature climbs toward 63°F. If you make it out to the reefs, you may have luck fishing for Amberjack, Triggerfish, Red Grouper, and other bottom dwellers.

Redfish and Speckled Trout are making a comeback on the flats, followed closely by Spanish Mackerel and Cobia. Check out the Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in your spare time.

Cedar Key’s fishing season is in full swing. Fish the nearshore reefs and land yourself Mackerel, Bluefish, or Cobia. The flats are bustling with all kinds of game fish, from Reds and Speckled Trout to Jack Crevalle.

At this time of year, you can expect sunny days and temperatures around 80°F. This is the time to head offshore for Red Snapper and a wide variety of other bottom fish.

Almost everything that swims is biting and free for the taking in July! Scallop season is open, action on the reefs is red hot, and the flats are full of fish. Dodge the tides and come catch yourself a treat!

Summer fun continues, with your choice of Scalloping, flats fishing, and a trip to the reefs offshore. Take a dip before heading back to the dock and cool off—it’s the hottest month of the year, after all. 

Spanish and King Mackerel are heading into their second peak season near the reefs. From Memorial Day through New Year’s, tourists will be flocking to Cedar Key, so book your accommodations early!

It’s time for the Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival! Now that you’ve caught everything out there, come ashore and enjoy eating some of it (that is, when you’re not sight fishing for schooling Redfish on the flats).

Average temperatures are sliding back down toward 63°F. You can still enjoy fishing the flats for Sheepshead, Black Drum, and some Redfish or Speckled Trout. The reefs will continue to provide good bottom fishing.

Come December, there’s not much to keep you busy on the water around here. But the town will be bustling with families from out of town and holiday cheer.

Cedar Key Fishing Calendar

What People Are Saying About Cedar Key

"Half day trip with Captain Nick"

Brent Byrd fished with High Octane Fishing - Cedar Key on April 5, 2018

Book early a lot of people know how good the fishing is in Cedar Key.

"Half day trip with Captain Jason"

fished with In The Slot Fishing on January 7, 2018

Book a Charter with "In the Slot Fishing".

"In The Slot Fishing"

fished with In The Slot Fishing on January 6, 2018

Prepare yourself for a great time. Invest in a buff. It surely helps with the wind. Listen to the Captain. They know where the fish are at.
Cedar Key
Based on 6592 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Top Targeted Species in Cedar Key



King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Spanish Mackerel