The Florida Keys are some of the most gorgeous islands in the world, and it’s also one of the best places to catch a wide variety of fish. On a single boat trip, you can go from shallow flats to deep-sea fishing, giving you one of the most exciting and diverse fishing experiences you’ll ever have.
Because fishing in the Florida Keys is so versatile, you’ll need to know how the different areas will affect your fishing.
Getting into the flats and backcountry of the Florida Keys is a great way to use your fly fishing skills, but you can also use spinning reels and plugs to catch a wide variety of species. Because the flats are shallow, they are heavily affected by the tides, so you will want to understand the tide charts to make sure you have a successful day on the water.
Coral reefs that are closer to the surface receive more sunlight, increasing the amount of vegetation. The vegetation attracts small fish like yellowtails, as well as predatory fish like barracudas, which feed on these and other baitfish species.
Anglers who fish in the Florida Keys are very familiar with the transition zone— an area that usually ranges in depth between 30 and 50 feet. The coral in this area is not as abundant, and you will see many large white sandy spots between the coral. In these white sandy areas, you can target a lot of bottom species like snappers and other fish that use these areas for spawning grounds.
Going deeper off the Florida Keys is an area that is commonly referred to as the ledge. Ranging from 50 to 120 feet, the ledge is home to many kinds of fish, including painted mackerel, kingfish, and wahoo. Many larger fish use this area not only as a migratory highway, but also as abundant waters for feeding.
Moving away from the ledge, the water gets deeper, giving you more access to deep-sea fishing. At a depth of 100 to 200 feet, you can target species like tuna and sailfish. You can even go further to catch fish off the deepest edges of the Florida Keys. At a depth reaching 600 feet, you can target various species including dolphin and other deep-water fish.
Similar to waters in almost any area, fishing along structures is often the most consistent strategy. Bridges, especially the chain of bridges making the Overseas Highway, are noted for having excellent game, while reefs and wrecks can also be used to fill your boat with fish. These structures are especially popular because of their wide variety of fish, which can include permit, snapper, amberjack, cobia, and even sharks.
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