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Top Fishing Charters in Key West

Fishing in Key West

Key West is your quintessential Florida fishery. Home to Nobel laureate and notorious angler Ernest Hemingway, as well as some of the best fishing in all of North America, it attracts visitors from far and wide all year round. And due to its breathtaking snorkeling and diving opportunities, you never have to worry about leaving your non-angler friends and family behind again!

It's easy to see why people come fishing here from far and wide. Just take a look at the offshore adventures available along the massive deep water trough just beyond its reef. Then consider wading the uninhabited flats and remote mangroves for the Big 3 of flats fishing (Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon). Whatever you're dreaming of catching, you don't need to look far to find dozens of Key West fishing charters ready to hook you up on that fish of a lifetime. USA's southernmost continental point really does have it all. 

Known For

Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Key West is an essential pit stop on many pelagic fish’s migratory route. The summer months see Marlin traveling offshore, while Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Tuna also pass by along the Gulf Stream at different times of year.

Fishing in Key West isn’t restricted to the big game battles of The Old Man and the Sea, though. Many anglers come here specifically for its world class flats fishing. Just imagine - vast expanses of crystal clear blue waters are just waiting to be explored. This is a paradise for light tackle and fly anglers alike, who wade and pole across these waters all year round in search of the prestigious “Grand Slam,” catching Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit all in the same day.

Go fishing in the Keys, and you can also experience the wild, untouched backcountry. This is one of the few places you can see Florida’s wildlife as it has been for tens of thousands of years. It is also one of the best places to meet one of the mid-Atlantic's most notorious fish species: the Tarpon.

Rules & Regulations

You do not need a license if you are fishing from a for-hire vessel, guided charter, party boat, that has a valid charter boat license or charter captain license. Fish on your own or with a guide in freshwater, and you'll need to obtain a Florida fishing license before you pick up a rod.

Types of Fishing

Sight fish the crystal clear waters of Key West's flats for the "Big 3" - Permit, Tarpon, and Bonefish. Tackle these on light tackle or fly. Explore the backcountry and enjoy jigging and casting for Trout and more all year round. Sight fish over the wrecks for Cobia in the cooler months, and hook monster Permit here in the warmer ones. Troll offshore for Marlin in the summer, also targeting Wahoo, Sailfish, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi. Deep drop for mouth-watering Groupers and more, or even go after Swordfish in the depths during the day or night.

Want to try something different? How about kite fishing for Mahi Mahi or Sailfish?

Whatever you choose, just let yourself get lost in Key West’s wildlife. Your only danger is that you won’t want to come back to civilization!

Key West
Based on 9122 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Key West Fishing Seasons

The weather is changeable, making flats fishing inconsistent. Backwater fishing sees calm waters and steady action. Sailfish and Blackfin Tuna are caught offshore, with occasional Mahi.

Windy conditions affect flats and offshore fishing. Sight fishing for Permit on the flats is phenomenal, backcountry fishing is still extremely good, and Cobia can be caught over the wrecks.

Warm breezes see the end of Winter in Key West. Permit fishing is still excellent and targeted in the March Merkin tournament. Offshore, big Mahi arrive. Tarpon is heating up in the backcountry.

The waters warm up: Permit move to the reef to spawn and Bonefish start to show in the flats. Shark fishing is very good. Offshore fishing is excellent for Sailfish and large Mahi.

Winds are light, fishing is amazing. The Tarpon migration is kicking off, with lots of big fish in under 3 ft of water. Go for a Grand Slam: Tarpon, Bonefish, and Permit are all caught on the flats. 

Conditions are hot, humid and sweaty. The water is very clear on the flats - go for Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon in one day. Mahi fishing is excellent, with Marlin, Wahoo, and Swordfish also around.

Conditions are calm but still hot. Early morning and late evening fishing is recommended for catching Tarpon. Late in the month the lobster season starts for some light hearted fun. 

Both weather and fishing is hot. Waters are calm: tailing Bonefish and Permit are easy to spot. Offshore, the fish are smaller and less plentiful, but deep dropping and Swordfishing is good. 

The weather cools and the crowds thin. This is the best time of year to score a Slam on the flats. The weather can be unpredictable with hurricanes, but the fishing makes it worth while.

Late fall sees the reefs come alive. Large numbers of baitfish attract delicacies such as Yellowtail Snappers, Groupers, and Mutton Snappers, which then arrive in boats and on the dinner table. 

Reef fishing is still good but can be windy. Bonefish thins out on the flats but Permit is as good as ever. Sailfish and Tuna are caught over the reefs and backcountry fishing is excellent.

Windy conditions offshore and fewer species on the flats make backcountry fishing your best option. If you can get offshore, enjoy the good Grouper bite before the season closes in January. 

Key West Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Key West

"Fishing with Capt Craig - Great Fun "

Don O. fished with Ultra Grand Slam Sport Fishing on January 13, 2019

What a great time fishing in the sunny Keys in January - I am trying to schedule another trip already!

"Whole day Marquesas "

Joe G. fished with Reel Easy Charters on January 11, 2019

Fish were easy to find and bit instantly. Perfect for 1st timers

"NYE 2018 Fishing Trip"

Martin C. fished with Reel Easy Charters on December 31, 2018

Get to the boat early and expect to have a great time!

"December fishing trip"

David G. fished with Cowboy Charters - Cowboy on December 24, 2018

Take dramamine if you think you could possibly get sea sickness. Listen to the crew for direction during your fishing adventure!

Top Targeted Species in Key West

Barracuda (Great)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Snapper (Mutton)


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