Printer icon

Florida Keys Flats Fishing
Tips And Techniques

Florida Keys flats fishing is popular all year and the flats are home to a tremendous variety of saltwater fish.

It's possible to go Key Largo flats fishing all the way down to Key West flats fishing.

However, flat fishing Florida Keys is especially good from Marathon Key south to Key West due to the larger concentration of grassy areas.

The variety of saltwater fish and the different methods you can employ when Florida Keys fishing is also what makes flats fishing exciting.

Flats fishing is also perfect for going on a fishing trip with children, due to the fact that the water is shallow and calmer.

You can go it alone, but you'll have better luck if you head out with a qualified Key West fishing guide. If you go out at least the first day or two with any of the Key West flats fishing guides, you'll be able to learn the best areas to fish, and what to use for the type of Florida saltwater fish you're most interested in targeting. All in all, you'll find your time spent fishing will be more productive and definitely a lot more fun.

To help get you started, I've arranged some of the more successful Florida Keys fishing guides from Key Largo down to Key West.

You'll notice that some offer a variety of styles of fishing, and can take you Florida Keys fishing in other areas as well. So after spending some time flats fishing you may want to include another day reef and wreck fishing, or even offshore fishing for some of the biggest deep sea fighters.

FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Deep South Fishing Charters
Captain Ryan Booth
18' Hells Bay 18 Waterman skiff, 70 hp Yamaha engine, 2 person capacity
Key Largo Departure
Payment 20% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks, American Express
Numerous species of most popular inshore, backcountry and flats fishing targeted, child friendly, deposit non-refundable, pickup agreed upon reservation
Fishing Trip Destinations
Inshore Fishing     Flats Fishing     Backcountry Fishing     Everglades National Park
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Spinning     Jigging     Popping     Fly Fishing     Handline
Fishing Trip Description
Deep South Fishing Charters with a maximum cruising speed of 40 knots, can also float in 3 inches of water, making it possible for you to get out fast, and then hit the skinniest of waters in search of the wiliest fighting fish, like permit, redfish, snook and bonefish. The ability to pole this light boat quietly through the water or use a trolling motor in search of tarpon makes a fishing expedition with Deep South Fishing Charters exciting and productive. You'll find Captain Booth's combination of expertise and determined dedication to do what he can to make your fishing trip a success are just some of the reasons why his customers go home happy.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Bamboo Charters 1
Captain Matt Bellinger
24' Ranger Boats (2), 250 hp Mercury Marine engine, 4 person capacity
Islamorada Departure
Payment 20% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks
Numerous species of most popular inshore and backcountry fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup included in price
Fishing Trip Destinations
Nearshore Fishing     Flats Fishing     Backcountry Fishing     Everglades National Park
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing     Trolling
Spinning     Jigging     Popping     Fly Fishing     Kite Fishing
Fishing Trip Description
Bamboo Charters 1 boats have a maximum cruising speed of 44 knots. Captain Bellinger is not only a highly accomplished Florida Keys fishing guide, he is also a PADI Master scuba diver and a highly trained and certified naturalist. These combinations bring an astounding level of knowledge to your fishing trip experience whether you're targeting tarpon, barracuda, shark, permit or cobia. You'll learn about the fish you're targeting, the marine and bird life you see on the water, and the importance of this water wonderland and it's connection to Everglades National Park and human lives. If you're eager to learn the best ways to catch fish, or sharpen your existing skills, plus are interested in understanding more about the natural Florida surrounding you, this is one Islamorada fishing charter trip you won't want to miss.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Pirate For Hire Charters
Captain Ron Brack
22' Mako, 200 hp Mercury engine, 4 person capacity
Islamorada Departure
Payment 20% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks, American Express
Numerous species of most popular inshore, flats and backcountry fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup included in price
Fishing Trip Destinations
Inshore Fishing     Nearshore Fishing     Flats Fishing     Backcountry Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle    Bottom Fishing    Spinning    Jigging    Popping
Fishing Trip Description
Pirate For Hire Charters is a fast boat with a maximum cruising speed of 45 knots that's equipped with top notch fishing technology and equipment. Captain Ron, and his son not only have years of fishing experience, they're as passionate about what they do, as they are about ensuring you have the time of your life fishing with them. Whether you're targeting shark, barracuda, cobia, permit, bonefish or tarpon, the mighty silver king, they have the expertise and fishing equipment necessary so you can bring in the trophy fish you've been dreaming about.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Papa Pip’s 29-ft. Topaz Express
Captain Johnny Maddox Charters, Sportfishing Adventures
29' Topaz refurbished in 2008, 2 250HP Yanmar engines, 6 person capacity
Marathon Departure
Payment 15% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks, Bank Transfer, PayPal
Numerous species of most popular offshore fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup agreed upon reservation
Fishing Trip Destinations
Inshore Fishing     Nearshore Fishing     Offshore Fishing     Reef Fishing
Wreck Fishing     Flats Fishing (Florida Bay)     Backcountry Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle    Heavy Tackle    Bottom Fishing
Trolling    Fly Fishing    Kite Fishing
Fishing Trip Description
Papa Pip’s 29-ft. Topaz Express has a maximum cruising speed of 24 knots to get you out into the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico depending on what you're wanting to target on your Marathon fishing vacation. From snapper to cobia, wahoo to grouper, marlin to mahi mahi, you'll discover a true fishing adventure while you're aboard Papa Pip's well equipped Topaz.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Florida Straits Sportfishing
Captain John Hiers
32' Stamas Center console, 2 450 hp Yamaha engines, 6 person capacity
Marathon Departure
Payment 15% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Checks
Numerous species of most popular offshore and reef and wreck fishing targeted, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup agreed upon reservation
Fishing Trip Destinations
Inshore Fishing     Nearshore Fishing     Offshore Fishing     Reef Fishing
Wreck Fishing     Flats Fishing     Backcountry Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Heavy Tackle     Bottom Fishing     Trolling     Spinning
Jigging     Popping     Drift Fishing     Kite Fishing     Spearfishing
Fishing Trip Description
Florida Straits Sportfishing with a maximum cruising speed of 42 knots is one of the faster Florida Keys fishing charter boats. Also roomy, this comfortable boat is able to get out to deep water fast for targeting sailfish, wahoo and mahi mahi. The boat is also equipped with a variety of fishing gear and live bait, so if you want to go reef or wreck fishing, Captain John Hiers and his crew are able to easily accommodate. Professional, well versed in the art of fishing, your fishing charter trip with Florida Straits Sportfishing can be designed to suit your exact tastes and style of fishing.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Captain Ruben's Charters
Captain Ruben Diaz
16' dolphin flats boat refurbished in 2016, 60 hp Mercury engine, 2 person capacity
Key West Departure
Payment 30% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Master Card
Targeting popular backcountry fish, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup not included
Fishing Trip Destinations
Inshore Fishing     Backcountry Fishing     Flats Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Spinning     Fly   
Fishing Trip Description
Captain Ruben's Charters boat has a maximum cruising speed of 30 knots. Providing customized backcountry and flats fishing trips, you can expect to target the best fighting fish in season, whether it's barracuda, permit, bonefish, tarpon, shark, or more. All fishing gear, bait, lures, drinking water, and licenses are provided.



FISHING CHARTER COMPANY
Capt. Mike Wilbur’s Chaser Key West
Captain Mike Wilbur
18' Montgomery Custom flats boat refurbished in 2015, 115 hp Mercury engine, 2 person capacity
Key West Departure
Payment 25% deposit to guarantee reservation, balance day of trip via Cash, Visa, Master Card, Check, American Express, PayPal
Targeting popular backcountry flat fish, child friendly, free cancellation, pickup not included
Fishing Trip Destinations
Flats Fishing     Backcountry Fishing
Fishing Techniques
Light Tackle     Jigging     Spinning    Fly Fishing
Fishing Trip Description
Capt. Mike Wilbur’s Chaser Key West has a maximum cruising speed of 35 knots. With over 20 years experience and recognized several times as the Best Guide Service in Key West you'll enjoy your Key West fishing trip, Gulf or oceanside for bonefish, tarpon, permit, jack crevalle, and other backcountry fighters. Boat is equipped with essential gear and includes both spin and flycasting equipment.






What Are The Florida Keys Flats?

The flats are commonly found in the marshes and bays. They consist of stretches of grassy or sandy areas which are more plentiful in the southern portion of the Florida Keys.

One of the more important features of the flats is that when the tide is in, the water is typically no more than 6 - 7 feet deep.

To be successful at flats fishing Key West or elsewhere, it's critical to understand the movement of the saltwater fish you want to target. The fish come into the flats when the tide is high and is just beginning to go out.

Fish such as permit and bonefish, are drawn into the flats to feed on the crab, shrimp and smaller fish that live in the shallow water. As the tide starts to move out, it washes the food supply to the incoming predator fish.

Once the tide has completely gone out, you'll find that typically only sand remains. During this part of the tide cycle, the only Florida Keys flats fishing you'll do is crabbing.

Due to the shallow depth of the flats, the temperature of the water is more noticeably impacted by the seasons. This determines what kind of fish come into the flats.

For example, when the water's warm, tarpon, permit and snook are plentiful. When the water cools, the needlefish arrive in droves.

Fortunately there's an ample variety of saltwater fish that prefer a wide range of water temperatures, to keep any angler Florida Keys flats fishing busy all year.

Florida Keys Flats Fishing off Islamorada


Islamorada Flats Fishing
www.byways.org


When Key West flats fishing, you'll be surprised by the immense variety of saltwater fish frequenting the flats. Tarpon, bonefish, redfin needlefish, mackerel, barracuda, snook, sea trout, permit, striped bass, and bluefish are all fished here.

When Florida Keys flats fishing, you can even catch larger, more aggressive species. Shark are also attracted to the ringing dinner bell of the tide as it pulls in the prey they hunt and kill.

It's possible that you'll encounter aggressive species such as tiger shark or the less dangerous blacktip. You'll find that the blacktip shark will usually stay closer to shore, favoring mangroves, and bays.

If you plan on sport fishing for shark, the good news is that they'll eat most anything. However if you're including live bait such as mullet, or have added chunks of squid to your live well arsenal, you'll have the perfect appetizer to tempt the Florida sharks into biting harder and faster.




Flats Fishing Tips And Techniques

You'll find that the waters off Key West are absolutely fantastic for flats fishing. However, you'll want to maximize your day, so you can get the most fishing done, with the best results.

You'll also find that the fishing techniques employed, are somewhat different when you're fishing these shallow waters. Typically when Florida Keys flats fishing, you visually seek out and throw the line to your targeted Florida fish.

Sight fishing can take this sport to a whole new level as you're actually hunting your prey. The excitement of watching them come to your bait, and the battle that ensues is what makes flats fishing so exhilarating.

Rarracuda Cruising the Shallows

Barracuda Cruising the Shallows
Photo Courtesy of Luvjnx on Flickr


Fly fishing is perhaps the most popular sight fishing method used when flats fishing Florida Keys. The greatest thrill is to fly fish for the real prizes. Those who are the wariest, and who'll test your skill and strength. These are the bonefish, permit, snook, and tarpon.

Bonefish are especially plentiful in the Upper Keys and are often what is thought of when flats fishing Islamorada. Other species that are great to fly fish for are redfish, blackfin tuna, shark, barracuda, jack and snapper.

Without question, if you're looking for one of the biggest thrills in the sport fishing world, it's fly fishing Florida Keys flats. But before you leap right in, you'll need to hone your skills. You must learn how to properly use a fly rod and make the perfect presentation when casting. Your success depends on your skill level.

You'll need to practice your casting before going out on the boat, you may even need to consider lessons. To gain some additional useful knowledge, you can also read our interview with international fly fishing guide, Bob Guard. He developed a particularly interesting and unusual method to perfect his cast for tarpon fishing.

If you opt for fly fishing lessons, you're better off to take them from someone local in the Florida Keys, so you'll learn the proper Florida Keys fly fishing techniques.

Fly fishing in saltwater is more challenging and takes greater presentation skills then freshwater fishing. Plus saltwater fish are totally different. These fish are stronger, bigger, warier, feistier and always on the move.

You may even get lucky enough to spend at least some of your day, bulldogging it out with a permit you somehow managed to catch on a fly.

If you want to flyfish and your skill level is not as advanced as it should be, you have another option. You can still flyfish but go after the easier to catch, less finicky fish such as ladyfish, barracuda and yes - shark.

Or you can use spinning tackle and bait to lure in these prized game fish. You'll still have some finessing to do, and it will still be fun, and of course it'll produce some pretty good stories when the day is done.

Perhaps you'll spend a bone-weary day catching and fighting tarpon on light tackle for an hour or more each time. No matter what happens, you'll find that a day spent Florida Keys flats fishing, will be one of the most exhilarating days you'll have spent on the water.










Comments!

Do you have anything to add? We look forward to feedback on what you've just read so leave me a comment in the box below.














SAVE BIG WITH THESE
KEY WEST DISCOUNTS






Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040




Fantasy Fest Pirate Costumes