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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. These companies are available to you through FishingBooker.

Why? The reason is FishingBooker excels at transparency.

Through them you can find out exactly what each fishing charter offers so you actually end up booking the fishing trip you want.

FishingBooker makes choosing a charter incredibly easy as they have a vast variety of search criteria so you can drill down to exactly what you want.

For this reason I've chosen to work with them as an affiliate. Also, so you're fully aware, as an affiliate of FishingBooker, if you click a link to a charter, book it and go on it, I stand to earn a small commission. There's no extra cost to you booking a charter here, as this is what being an "affiliate" means.

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.

The following fishing charters offer a quick-at-a-glance peak of who services this area along with additional information about them.

However, the following link takes you to the main Florida Keys fishing charters page, and it's here that you can drill down to:

. what you want to spend
. what part of the Florida Keys you want to fish
. where you want to fish (flats, backcountry, reef, deep sea)
. what you want to fish for (snook, snapper, shark, wahoo, barracuda)
. boat and crew details
. options and amenities
. fishing tackle and more!

This way you can research ALL of your options and make sure you get the best fishing charter for you, as you plan your upcoming Florida Keys fishing vacation.

Following Is A Sample Of Flats Fishing Charters

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. .

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

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 with the right saltwater fly fishing rod and reel makes this perhaps the most popular sight fishing method when flats fishing Florida Keys. The greatest thrill is to fly fish for the real prizes. Those fish 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 using the correct saltwater fly fishing lures.

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 with your fly when casting. Your success depends on your skill level and using the correct for these species.

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.

He discovered that tarpon fishing with a fly was a lot of fun, but flyfishing for permit and bonefish was a true challenge and required the right permit and bonefish fly fishing lures. This is because permit are especially one of the hardest species to catch on a fly.

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 tackleand 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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases such as these items listed above.

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.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040