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January has arrived kicking off one of our most productive periods for offshore angling while the back country remains fast paced with the widest variety of sport fish to predators for the light tackle angler to pursue. It’s a great time to fish the waters of Key West!
Our offshore fishing has vastly improved. The iconic Sailfish bite is on and improves daily as we move closer to spawn time for these magnificent sport fish! January is also the real kick off for one of our most productive time frames offshore which continues for months into the spring. January is all about Kingfish action. Big “Smoker” Kingfish continue providing excellent action well offshore and occasionally nearer the reef. The Mackerel family is here in huge numbers in general with quality size Cero and Spanish. January remains an excellent time to target the action packed Black Fin Tuna. There are few species of pelagic fish capable of the total chaos when a school of big Black Fin show up. We continue taking the solitary Wahoo during January. Soon as we begin thinking the Mahi action is slow we will have a few days of great action fire up…there seems to always be a few Mahi around in our waters but in fairness to the angler…think of them as a wonderful bonus fish when they come in the boat during January. The apex predators remain active with January being a good month for large Barracuda. We are moving into an exciting period for offshore however, we believe a ½-day charter still has some challenges with ever changing travel times between marina and fishing grounds. Best bet book at least the ¾ day (six-hour trip) especially if you are a party of three or four or more.
Reef & Wreck:
January can bring winds therefore the waters on the reef verses further offshore will remain far more comfortable most days. This continues to be a good time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out to the nearer shore wreck sites as well. The “reef donkey” remains active and ready to test the anglers resolve. Amberjack fishing remains good for January before slowing for a short period in February. The Cobia action continues to in the excellent range for the next few months. The Snapper family continues to produce and with January comes the Mutton! The Yellowtail and Mangrove numbers finally slow for January but only briefly as February arrives they both improve significantly. The Grouper family will usually not disappoint for January however the harvest of Grouper ends January 1 with the season now closed until May in Monroe county (all of the keys). Our elusive Permit typically take a brief break during January. Always challenging, the Permit is a sought-after sport fish and prized by anglers from around the planet, but January is far from a stellar month to pursue them.
Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year moves into an excellent time for fast paced action while targeting a very wide variety of species. Anglers will appreciate our calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country continues to grow with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target but also numerous schooling species have now arrived to provide nonstop action most days. Just a few of the schooling species in our bays now are Trout and Pompano, Jacks, Lady Fish, Blue Runners, Grunts, Porgies…the list is nearly endless in January. 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 casting and plentiful fish which will readily pursue a fly.
Tarpon time is slow generally in the back country during January but on the given day the bonus Tarpon shows up. Remaining is our small resident population of juvenile Tarpon and the angler needs to keep in mind these fish are super sensitive to changing conditions and become very “hit or miss”. Some Tarpon are still here but we typically do not target them for the next few months.
The ½ day to ¾-day trips continue to produce well however the afternoon water temperatures are not as high now so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. The Redfish action during January is as good as we enjoy in Key West. Good Cobia fishing continues and can produce some quality fish and action in the back country. Snook are certainly not super active with our cooler water temps, but we do have those rare days of mild air temperatures and calmer winds that can bring the Snook to life in the back country. This is a time of fast paced “excellent” action in general from the schooling species such as Jacks including some huge Yellow Jacks, Sea Trout, Pompano and more.
The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing can slow in January even in the back country. For serious “table fare” harvest we definitely recommend the reef & wreck trips now but to include a few “keeper” fish for lunch or dinner will not be a problem in our shallows. The predator fishing continues. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the hit list. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple larger sharks even on the ½-day trips. January is predator time especially in the Marquesas, so anglers can count on these aggressive species to be ready to go “head to head”. We “highly recommend” a back-country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip in calmer waters.
Short periods of “decent” Bonefish action continue for the patient angler in January and February. Permit typically will have moved off the flats and Tarpon are completely out of action on the flats for now. The flats angler should now include Barracuda and sharks on his hit list. 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.
This is a time of more stable water temperatures so fishing conditions in general have settled in, friends. We still recommend fishing morning trips if going shallow as they remain the most productive over the later afternoon hours for the serious angler but again the afternoon trips are good. The PM half day trips have improved and can be quite enjoyable especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. Reef trips in the afternoon fishing slightly deeper waters along with the patch reefs can be very good trips for later in the day departure times. Sharks are plentiful and active. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home!