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It’s Kick-Off Time in Key West

Mid-August is a time of transition for Key West angling.
Making the right move can result in “Banner Days”…

Deep Sea/Offshore:

As the Gulf Stream moves farther out from the land mass the fishing/trolling action is affected. Weed lines break down, currents many days lessen in force and bait fish scatter. Things become far more “hit or miss” nearer shore therefore the angler must cover far more water to be productive. This is the time of year when the hard core offshore angler understands run times and distances increase to the more productive fishing grounds well offshore. Our recommendation for the late summer are “Full Day” charters but with the option of stopping on the reef or wrecks when returning from trolling well offshore.

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) remain our primary target species in blue water. Fish running up to 15 pounds are the average with many in the 6 to 12 pound slot as routine. Larger Dolphin if found will definitely be well offshore. On the upside the elusive Wahoo are here and the rare Marlin can come this time of year but again well offshore beyond the ½ day range for certain.

Reef & Wreck:

When the offshore action slows this time of year the reef and wrecks typically come to life for us in Key West.  With our seasonally super calm waters on the reef now this becomes a perfect time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out. Comfortable and calm seas make for enjoyable conditions for those worried about motion discomfort…Plus with the fast paced action there is no time to give anything a second thought other than fighting fish. The Snapper and Grouper bite is predictable now and most days we fill the fish box with those wonderful “table fare” species. Yellow Tail Snapper our local favorite for the dinner plate are plentiful and active. Limiting out on Yellow Tail “Flags” is routine. The Mutton bite on the deeper wrecks continues with fish running from 12 to 15 pounds plus. Mangrove Snapper are spawning on the reef so numbers are large and the fish are aggressive. Grouper continue to range to about 20 pounds as well.

For the angler looking for more of a challenge Permit are on the isolated wrecks most days. Permit are elusive and certainly one of the more prized sport fish in our waters and we are entering a very productive time to pursue them. Cobia as well will be found on the reef and about most wreck sites. Typically the Cobia are traveling near the surface in smaller “wolf packs” of about 3 to 5 fish but ranging from 15 to 50 pounds plus. Many locations on the reef will hold a population of Mackerel and for those anglers looking for a workout…the Amberjack are still here for a while yet. Predators are plentiful on the reef and around the isolated ship wreck sites. Large Barracuda are common and several species of sharks are patrolling these areas as well.  The Bull sharks and occasional Hammerheads will make your pulse rise when they swim along-side the boat before helping themselves to your hooked fish still in the water. This is the best deep water trip in our recommendation and can be enjoyed on a ½ day or better on a ¾ day charter thus allowing for great action early then beating the heat of the late afternoon on the water.

Back Country:

Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year also offers an abundance of visible marine life, sea and tropical birds on the Mangrove Island shorelines and mirror calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country remains impressive with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target…a perfect trip for the family or groups numbering up to 4 anglers. The back country is also a fly fishers dream come true with protection from the wind for long casts and plentiful fish which will readily pursue a fly.

The current Tarpon population is down to our resident year round fish levels. The migration of visiting spawning Tarpon has taken place and things in the Tarpon world have settled down somewhat. We refer to these fish as our juvenile Tarpon and they will range from 10 pounds to maybe 50 pounds…still awesome fighters on light tackle and/or fly but not many of the behemoth fish of the early summer months remain. Frankly, we tend to down play the Tarpon action as they become one of many excellent species holding in the back country. Anglers should look towards the elusive Permit or numerous Redfish for example. Jacks are providing fast paced action and while try to knock the fishing rod from your grasp…Trout will soon arrive joining Mackerel in the bays and grassy bottomed basins. Do not overlook the shark fishing now in the back country. Black Tip, Lemon, Bull even Hammerheads are all coming shallow to feed…shark fishing on light tackle in the shallows is unbelievably exciting and brings you head to head with our apex predators.

We HIGHY recommend a back country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip.


Bonefish continue to provide heart stopping excitement for the highly skilled and patient angler willing to work hard for his prey. The Bonefish action is very good with quality size fish ranging from 4 to 8 pounds. This action should continue to be the norm typically throughout all of October before slowing somewhat. Just a remainder that we provide a true “flats fishing experience” and this should not be confused with the back country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866 259 4205 for more insights. If Bonefish are on your angling “bucket list” this is an exceptional time to book your trip with one of our legendary flats guides.


For those anglers looking for that “one of a kind” fishing experience we suggest Sharks in the Shallows! Sharks are especially plentiful and active in the shallow waters of our back country this time of year. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home! Black Tip, Lemon, Bull and Hammerhead are but a few of the several sharks cruising the shallows while feeding aggressively. Granted not dangerous but certainly not for the faint of heart either…sharks in the shallows will provide you with memories of a lifetime…Are you up for it?

Let’s go Fishing!

Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter 866 259 4205 daily 7 AM to 11 PM. We look forward to your call!