Key West Fishing Report

/Key West Fishing Report/

Summer Rules in the Lower Keys

The hot August weather gets to you about 10AM. It’s the fishing that keeps you going for at least a few more hours.

I love the summer months for a number of reasons. Less crowded. Tailing fish. Lobsters!

We go lobstering now as a family most of the time. This year the regular spots have been good with some really great sized lobster.


2014-10-02T15:15:59+00:00 August 9th, 2014|

Key West FIshing Report

February 2014 Key West FIshing Report

While the rest of the nation is taking a pounding of snow and winter weather we are still enjoying the warmth and sunshine that makes this state the envy of the nation. At least right now it does.

Ok so this morning it was a little cooler out but the last week or so has been spectacular weather. Calm and crystal clear water, warmth up in the 80s and tarpon! Yes, that’s right, Tarpon in February. It doesn’t happen every year but a few lucky souls get to enjoy the sun and the tarpon fishing – what a treat!

Backcountry fishing has it’s ups and downs this time of year in general. Permit are always on hand but may fluxuate in and out of deeper water depending on the temperatures and air pressure. Look for the permit fishing to get better and better as we head into March. We will keep our fingers crossed that the permit stick around until mid-March for the March Merkin Permit Tournament. The tournament runs March 17-20 in Key West and benefits Bonefish Tarpon Trust specifiically to the Jon Ain Memorial Fund. Ain was the founder of the March Merkin and a very accomplished permit angler too.

Other backcountry options include barracuda which can be quite large this time of year. Our Cuda Bowllargest fish measured was by David Moloney of Summerland Key at 51.5 inches! That’s a big one! Jack crevalle, sharks, snappers, grouper and sea trout are also good rod bending material in the shallow waters.

Offshore has been just as active the past few weeks. Wahoo, tuna, sailfish, mahi mahi and kingfish are out beyond the reef. Although finding bait can be a challenge at times once you find it and head out there you are bound to make the ocean boil behind your boat.

Reefs and wrecks are alive with grouper and snapper. Don’t forget grouper season is closed until May 1 so enjoy the fight but let them go for another day.

Tarpon will continue to move around as long as the water temperature is higher and calm winds also help too. They will be migrating soon and it’s hard to tell when exactly it will start but peak times for tarpon are April through July.


2014-09-26T17:49:53+00:00 February 14th, 2014|

Updated Key West Report – Feb. 2009

February 7, 2009

There has been some down time this week with a brutal cold front that moved through the Keys. Just prior to it I was fishing with my Dad and our best bet during the warmest part of the day was to hunt for barracuda on the ocean flats. There were plenty of cudas around and they were willing to eat. We hooked quite a few on tube lures. We had some shots at a couple of nice bonnethead sharks one of which took the fly without thinking twice.

What is yet to come is the warm up. The forecast says we’ll get warmer weather after this weekend. That is when the flats will come alive again. The water needs a few days to get back to normal temperatures before we’ll see some permit back on the flats.

February and March are prime time for permit. There are a lot of big permit in the Lower Keys – more so than the Upper Keys have to offer. What will follow with warmer water temperatures are the silver flash of big tarpon. They can appear as early as now and can stick around well through the summer months.

2014-09-25T18:55:57+00:00 February 7th, 2009|

Ringing in 2009 Fishing

January 5, 2009

Happy New Year everyone! The days have been nearly perfect this week in the Keys. Perfect weather for permit fishing in the backcountry. The tides have been right in the afternoon this past week giving us multiple shots at big permit on the flats near the Gulf edge.

The months of January and February bring a lot of opportunities to the flats for serious fly anglers as well as folks looking for some light
tackle fun fishing.

If the weather is right and we get a few warm days in a row, the tarpon will make a show in the deep basins and that can be a real treat in the
middle of January!

There may even be some bonefish around but a few cooler days and they are gone for a while. Instead there are large jack crevalle, seatrout, ladyfish, snapper and grouper to fish for all over the Lower Keys.

Whatever you passion is, come down and visit us and go fishing!

I still have some great dates available in February for permit (and tarpon).

2014-09-25T18:57:11+00:00 January 5th, 2009|

October 2008 Key West Fishing Report

October 17, 2008 – The Lower Keys have had a bout with windy conditions this week. It has not deterred the fish from getting up on the flats to feed. Large permit are a great target in late October and in November. These fish particularly like flats that are near deeper channels or along the edge of a large basin like Key West Harbor. That way they can pop up onto the flat, feed and then return to safety in deeper water.

Bonefish are also a great target species in the fall months. The bonefish in the lower Keys range from 6 to 8 pounds on average with some larger bones mixed in that can be upwards of ten pounds!

There are still some baby tarpon available in the Lower Keys. They don’t always cooperate but we can certain try and find a few to cast at. The bigger tarpon will not be around until early 2009 unless you happen to run into a resident tarpon along the edges of Key West Harbor or near Bahia Honda Bridge.

The winter fishing in the Keys brings on a whole new roster of species. Barracuda, jacks, sharks, seatrout, redfish and sometimes even snook are up on the flats and ready to feed. We also have the opportunity to fish for snapper and grouper when the water gets cooler. They may not all be of size to keep but they are fun to catch and a great fight on light tackle for adults and kids.

2014-09-25T18:57:47+00:00 October 17th, 2008|

Key West Fishing – Sept 2008

September 5th, 2008

Hurricane Ike is looking pretty healthy and we’re going to just keep our fingers crossed that he misses the Keys altogether.

Fishing has been spectacular this week. Pre-storm fishing is always epic in my eyes. The fish are hungry and they can sense what is coming well before we can.

The Redbone Superfly was today and with a plan in mind and a great guy, Cal Collier, on the bow, we were victorious in capturing the grand champion title.

Read about it on ESPN Outdoors…

2018-04-09T18:39:43+00:00 September 5th, 2008|

Key West Fishing – August 2008

August 25, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay was nothing but a rain event for most of Florida. The Keys were lucky to be spared once again from any major damage from a tropical system.

A few of my anglers who were visiting from California and Nevada had the opportunity to reap the benefits of pre-storm fishing.

The tarpon run this year has been off by a long shot. Even in August on any given year we’ve found plenty of tarpon, even some of the larger 80- pound fish. This year they seemed to come through early and move through fast. There are still a few schools here and there but it is not stellar fishing for them right now.

On the other hand, permit and bonefish are becoming more plentiful. Before Fay passed over the Lower Keys my anglers had a chance to feed several permit and bonefish and successfully landed a few.

Now that we are nearing the end of August the tides are strong in the backcountry making for great conditions for permit and bonefish to feed. Later this week will be great for wade fishing in the evening for bonefish and maybe some permit.

September, October and November all hold great possibilities on the flats to catch permit and bonefish. If we’re luckly there may be a few baby tarpon around to be had to complete the Grand Slam.

2014-09-25T18:59:14+00:00 August 25th, 2008|

May Key West Fishing 2008

May 12, 2008

Finally the weather has cooperated for us and the tarpon are moving through the Lower Keys in larger schools. We’ve had a couple of great days where my anglers have hooked multiple tarpon and landed a few nice fish.

Most of my fishing in May is fly fishing for tarpon. Right now they are eating a variety of flies including toad patterns and other shrimp-like fly patterns. Early morning rolling fish are a great target with a black and purple fly and then switch up to a lighter fly after the sun gets up a bit.

Bonefishing has been spotty but when it has been good the fish are plentiful and range from 5- to 8- pounds. More and more permit are being spotted along the Gulf side flats now which means they are maybe making the move back from the spawn offshore.

Tarpon fishing will remain very active through July and into August for some of the big boys, the fall months will be more permit and bonefish opportunties with some smaller tarpon mixed in.

We still have availability in August and through the fall months for flats fishing. It is a great time to be here, calm conditions and tailing fish.

2014-09-25T18:59:57+00:00 May 12th, 2008|

April Fools Fishing Key West

April 1st, 2008

With March behind us we have one major thing to focus on now… tarpon.

The water and air has been pretty warm, in the 80s nearly every day. The tarpon have moved into the area and they are eating flies really well. Permit fishing has been tough this year, we’ve had some good days where we’ve had a lot of shots at tailing fish while other days they are just difficult to get near.

The tarpon fishing should turn on now for a while. We’ll experience less cool fronts and more prevailing southerly winds which keeps the water warm. The population of bonefish should increase on the flats too with the warmer water. I’ve heard several good reports as far as bonefishing goes but I have not been pursuing them lately myself. The bonefish census will take place this Thursday in the Keys. This is when flats fishing guides are asked to help with bonefish research and actually count the number of bonefish they see in a particular area during the course of one day. The study has produced some remarkable results. There are several guides who also tag bonefish in the Keys. One of my anglers landed a bonefish a few months back with a tag in it. Come to find out a good friend and fellow guide, Capt. Steve Friedman, had tagged the fish weeks before.

The spring fishing should take a turn toward heating up here now that we are in the month of April. For anglers considering a trip down for tarpon, bonefish or permit please email us or call for availability. If we cannot accommodate you we can give you a referral to a professional full-time guide in the Keys.

2014-09-25T19:01:11+00:00 April 1st, 2008|

March Fishing Report for Key West – 2008

March 3, 2008

This year has already shown us some great fishing so far. Last week there were some very calm warm days and tarpon rolling everywhere. We had some great fishing with some of the U.B.T. gang and landed 4 out of 8 tarpon we hooked on fly. The permit fishing was also good but with the calmer days it is very hard to get close to these fish.

The past few days it has been a whole different story. The winds are howling from the northeast and it’s made fishing a little challenging. The barracudas are snapping like crazy now though. We had so many eat the fly and destroy it over the last two days that I had to sit down and tie more. The permit fishing has also been excellent. There are plenty of big permit on the flats and they are eating!

The tarpon will have to wait a few days until the water warms up again. It won’t be long before the tarpon will be pushing through on a regular basis.

Consider the fall months of Septemer through early November for great bonefish and permit fishing. The crowds are minimal and the shots at fish are plentiful. There are even some baby tarpon in the mix too.

You can reach Captain Justin Rea at 305-744-0903 or email

2014-09-25T19:03:06+00:00 March 3rd, 2008|