Mid-February Fishing Report—For today’s action call 866 259 4205
Mid-February moving into March is a time of transition towards great action for Key West angling.
From the Flats and Back Country to Offshore the overall population and wide variety of species in our local waters offers the light tackle angler so many options
This is the time of year when the hard core offshore angler understands run times and distances can become a bit shorter to the more productive fishing grounds offshore. Our recommendations are always “Full Day” charters especially with three to four anglers aboard but the ¾ day (six hour charters) will typically also produce well.
It’s Sailfish time! This is an exceptional time to target your “bucket list” bill fish here in Key West. Kingfish are still here in numbers and running of good size. In fact the Mackerel faimly (Spanish and Cero) are in our waters in good numbers. The Black Fin Tuna are everywhere and providing some absolutely crazy good action as we move into an “excellent” period for these prized pelagic fish. The Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) bite increases but this is still a bit early in the season to go “Dolphin fishing”. Keep them in the “possible range’ any given day offshore now. On the upside the the rare Marlin “can” come this time of year but again well offshore way beyond the ½ day charter range for certain.
Reef & Wreck:
This time of year the resident reef and wreck species such as Snapper and Grouper typically improve noticeably for us in Key West. With our calmer waters on the reef verses further offshore now this becomes a perfect time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out. The Snapper and Grouper bite is predictable great now (Note Grouper season is closed to harvesting these fish) and most days we fill the fish box with those wonderful “table fare” species such as Yellow Tail Snapper our local favorite for the dinner plate. Limiting out on Yellow Tail “Flags” is routine. The Mutton bite on the deeper wrecks continues to be fast paced on quality size fish. Mangrove Snapper numbers are good and the larger fish are aggressive.
For the angler looking for more of a challenge Cobia will be found on the reef and about most wreck sites. Typically the Cobia continue to be traveling near the surface in smaller “wolf packs” of about 3 to 5 fish but ranging from 15 to 50 pounds plus. We enjoy decent Cobia action from now through April. Big Jacks are still in schools and patrolling the deeper wrecks in numbers. Of late Jacks to about 25 pounds have been common and provide the light tackle angler with a hand full of fight! Many locations on the reef will hold a population of Black Fin Tuna and Kingfish. For those anglers looking for a workout Amberjack are here and activity is building for the larger fish. 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 charter in our recommendation to be enjoyed on a ½ to ¾ day charter.
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.
Our water temperatures have stabilized from a recent cold snap so quality sport fish have returned to more natural haunts in our shallows. The Redfish action has been quite good of late. Snook on those calmer, warmer days have really come to life and produced some outstanding catches. Cobia fishing has been outstanding for “keepers” ranging in the 15 to 35 pound range being plentiful and aggressive. This is a time of fast paced “excellent” action from the schooling species such as Speckled Sea Trout, tasty Pompano and the always fun “poor man’s Tarpon” the Lady Fish. BIG schools of Jacks including some huge Yellow Jacks continue to be red hot with the larger fish going north of 25 pounds an absolute blast on light tackle and top water!
The predator fishing was certainly slowed by the unseasonable weather, high winds and cold fronts holding over the island but has rebounded now the increasing population of huge Barracuda in the shallows have put these tenacious hard fighters back on the menu. Aggressive and always ready to go “head to head” so you adrenaline junkies out there should sight casting top water lures to cruising Barracuda! We have started taking a few more juvenile Tarpon from the Mangroves and shallows and are looking forward to the early arriving Tarpon to reach our back country. This is an early time in the pre-spawn period and the action can be a bit hit or miss for a few weeks yet…but Tarpon time is close! The Bonefish population in the back country has been fun lately on the deeper flats. Of course we can always count on the resident species of the back country to top off a productive day. Mangrove Snapper and Mutton Snapper have been crazy good and the Grouper bite has been predictably good while the season remains closed to harvest We “highly 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 improve and provide heart stopping excitement for the highly skilled and patient angler willing to work hard for his prey. The Bonefish action this time of year can produce quality size fish ranging from 4 to 8 pounds. The flats angler should include Barracuda and sharks on his hit list if so inclined. 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.
This is a time of slowing rising water temperatures and great fishing conditions are coming to the angler, friends. With our hard core anglers in mind we still recommend fishing early morning trips as the most productive over the later afternoon hours however the PM half day trips can be quite productive especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. For those anglers looking for that “one of a kind” fishing experience we suggest Sharks in the Shallows! Sharks are especially plentiful now and active in the shallow waters of our back country. 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 and Bull are the more common of the several sharks cruising the shallows. Granted not overly dangerous, certainly not for the faint of heart, 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 9 PM. We look forward to your call!