What is Key West Flats Fishing?
Flats fishing takes place in water no more than 5 feet deep. These shallow water habitats are usually grassy or sandy areas where bigger fish hang out and feed on the bait fish, crabs and shrimp that call the flats home. As the tides ebb and flow, so do the flats; creating rich fishing areas around every little island in the Florida Keys as well as each estuary and channel of water Key West and its backcountry have to offer….and that’s quite a few. An experienced flats fishing guide with knowledge of tidal movements will make all the difference to the success of your outing.
A traditional flats boat is either powered by a trolling motor or by poling the shallow hulled skiff into position where fish are sighted in the water. This type of boat doesn’t have as many comfortable amenities as a deep water vessel and can only handle a couple of anglers per trip. Flats fishing requires the anglers to be able to follow quick direction and somewhat skilled at casting to reach the fish the captain sights.
When are they Biting?
January – February – March
This time of year the shallow water of the flats provide a perfect spot for fish who want to lazily sun themselves and catch a quick meal. Tarpon, Permit, Cobia, Barracuda and Jacks are sure to be around. It’s also a great time of year for the apex predator many anglers hope for…..shark!
April – May – June
If catching monster Tarpon or Bonefish is your goal, now is the time to book a Key West sport fishing charter. It’s Tarpon season and the Bonefish are back in the Florida Keys. Shark fishing, as well, is great this time of year and Permit are coming back from spawning. The Spring Break and early summer months are popular with our visitors, so be sure to book your fishing charter early.
July – August – September
Tarpon, Permit and Bonefish is a Grand Slam for a flats sport fishing charter. While it‘s true that Key West flats fishing is good all year round, if you’re looking for the most plentiful catch, this is the best time of year for flats fishing. These summer months provide abundant fish and off-season hotel rates.
October – November – December
Although the cooler fall months are a great choice for a full day of hunting for big game fish. The weather will dictate what will be biting during this seasonal transition. Warm weather means a continuation of the large variety and high numbers of fish found during the summer months particularly Bonefish, Shark, Tarpon and Permit. If a brisk weather front arrives, the usual suspects of Barracuda, Jack, Cobia, and Permit will be biting along with some Tarpon between weather fronts. December typically offers a great variety for flats fishing.
Light tackle (lower test line and lighter rods) with a combination of lures and live bait allows an angler to cast directly to the fish when they’re spotted in the water and to really feel the fight when the fish is hooked. Easier to handle, light tackle helps even the most novice angler land the fish.