Updated on June 30, 2022
The Florida Keys are an archipelago of coral islands off the southern point of Florida starting just south of Miami. The weather in the Keys is tropical because it’s further south and surrounded by the warm water in the Gulf. The pristine beaches, warm weather, and incredible fishing make the Florida Keys an angler’s paradise throughout the year.
The Keys are in the perfect location for world-class sport fishing in all directions with easy access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. With two oceans to pull from, it’s one of the best places to catch a variety of fish. The Keys also happen to be located near the edge of the Florida platform or continental shelf, which is an underwater plateau that supports the state’s landmass. Where the plateau ends, the seafloor drops off quickly allowing easy access to deep water and the giant fish that live there.
Over time these islands have earned a reputation for having some of the best fishing in the world and adopted the title of the “Fishing Capital of the World.”
If you want to chase mangrove snapper or redfish in skinny backwaters, or target tarpon, bonefish, snook, and permit on the flats, the inshore fishing in Key Largo is exactly what you are looking for. In the nearshore and offshore waters surrounding Key Largo, snapper, grouper, pompano, and barracuda pile up near the countless reefs.
Further offshore, deep sea fishing charters catch mahi mahi, tuna, wahoo, and other pelagic monsters like marlin and sailfish. Deep dropping is also a popular option for anglers targeting swordfish in the deep canyons and channels off the coast of Key Largo.
Islamorada has some of the best backcountry fishing on the planet with endless Islands, sandbars, flats, and bays all for you to explore. In addition to classic inshore residents including redfish, speckled trout, and snook, these waters hold bucket list species like bonefish, permit, and tarpon which offer the experience of a lifetime, especially on the fly.
Abundant nearshore reefs hold snapper and grouper year round while also providing opportunities to catch more unusual species like African Pompano and Hogfish. Offshore sportfish are also available on longer trips giving you a shot at popular species like mahi mahi, sailfish, blue marlin, and wahoo.
The city of Marathon is situated on 13 islands that are separated by inlets and channels. Needless to say, there are plenty of places to find the flats, bays, and canals that hold prized gamefish including bonefish, permit, snook, and tarpon along with the other usual suspects.
Just off the coast, there’s an array of artificial reefs, sunken ships, and other shallow water structures that hold a variety of reef fish. The most popular species caught on the reefs include snapper, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, and grouper. With prime offshore fishing grounds nearby, marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, and many other pelagic species are only a short boat ride away.
With an abundance of reefs, mangroves, and bays, Big Pine Key has an array of fish habits that house bucket list fish making it the perfect destination for any angler. In the shallows on the Gulf side, snook and redfish dominate the water while bonefish patrol in force on the Atlantic side. Permit and speckled trout show up on both sides usually holding up in the grass flats. Tarpon can also be found around Big Pine Key from the backcountry out to the bridges where you also have a shot at sharks and grouper.
If you want to head offshore, you’ll have to decide whether you want to target the Gulf or Atlantic. Heading out past the reefs on the Atlantic side will put you on prime feeding grounds for big pelagic species like marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, and blackfin tuna. On the Gulf side, the reefs offer prime bottom fishing opportunities for cobia as well as snapper and grouper species.
The inshore fishing in Key West is arguably the best in the world and one of the main reasons people visit the island. The "Grey Ghost", or Bonefish, can be found cruising the flats along with permit and mangrove snapper which are great targets for sight casting on the fly. Tarpon can be found on patrol near the inlets while redfish and speckled trout dominate the shallow bays.
Heading offshore, Key West offers ample reefs, wrecks, and other deep structures that are perfect for targeting snapper and grouper species while bottom fishing. More aggressive predators like barracudas, Spanish mackerel, and kingfish circle the perimeter of these structures actively hunting for an easy meal. Trolling further out in open bluewater will give you a shot at getting a bite from trophy sport fish including mahi mahi, wahoo, tuna, marlin, and sailfish which are all formidable fighters.