Mid-April 2016 Fishing Report
For today’s action call 866 259 4205
Mid-April through May brings fantastic 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 3/4 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. 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 over the next few months. The Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) bite comes to life in April and we begin a five month long period where the Dorado rules the offshore weed lines. Our Spanish and Cero Mackerel remain quite action traveling in large schools. This is a time frame for behemoth Barracuda as these apex predators really become super aggressive. The rare Marlin “can” come this time of year as can the Yellow Fin Tuna but well offshore way beyond the ½ day charter range for certain and these two species will always be extremely “hit or miss” in our local waters.
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 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 as we move towards the Mutton Spawn which occurs at night during the fuller moon phases. Mangrove Snapper numbers are good and the larger fish are aggressive.
For the angler looking for more of a challenge Permit now begin to make their way to the deeper waters and are commonly taken in the vicinity of isolated wrecks. Cobia will also remain 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 good Cobia action from now through end of April but then only slowing a bit until well into the fall. 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 strong 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 1/2 to 3/4 day charter.
Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year also offers an abundance of visible marine life and tropical birds on the Mangrove Island shorelines with 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 hard core light tackle angler to the novice angler or 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.
It is Tarpon time in the back country! Key West is now one of the most prolific Tarpon fisheries on the planet through end of June into July. We have started offering our Sunset Tarpon & Shark charters which can produce mind boggling action on huge fish. We recommend no more than three anglers aboard if Tarpon are your target species. However the 1/2 day morning trips typically produce well. Permit are in the shallow and the bite is good on quality size fish. We have boated several in the past week of so in the 20 plus pound range. Although Redfish have started to migrate away due to our rising water temperatures the Snook on the given days have really come to life and are produced some outstanding catches. Cobia fishing continues to be 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 schools of BIG 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 Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing is excellent in the back country. For serious “table fare” harvest we recommend the reef & wreck trips but to include a few fish for lunch or dinner this is never a problem in our shallows. Our Sea Trout remain active but are slowing with May being the last of their action.
The predator fishing has certainly exploded. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the menu. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple large sharks even on the 1/2 day trips. This is predator time so these aggressive species are always ready to go “head to head” so you adrenaline junkies out there should sight casting top water lures to cruising Barracuda! The Bonefish population in the back country has been fun lately on the deeper flats. For the serious Bonefish angler, the flats is your trip but to include the possibility of Bonefish on the back country trips is reasonable. 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 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 Tarpon action is good on the flats and in the shallows. The flats angler could include giant 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 Tarpon at sunset or 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!