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KEY WEST Fishing is On!
March kicks off our Tarpon season in Key West. Here are some helpful insights to anglers interested in Tarpon fishing.
Tarpon are pursued in shallow waters primarily in our “Back Country” although the “Flats” angler can target them as well. Night Tarpon charters begin around April 1. We do not recommend more than 3 anglers to a back-country boat with Tarpon as a primary target. Tarpon feed nocturnally therefore early morning and sunset are the most productive time frames…Let’s go fishing!
With March’s arrival the fishing action explodes in Key West! We are entering a time of some of the best fishing action of the entire year. Tarpon have begun to arrive and are flooding into shallows of the back country. This becomes our fastest paced action trip with a wide variety of sport fish and predators for the light tackle angler to pursue. Sailfish are offshore, Bonefish are cruising the flats and the bottom dwellers of the reef and deeper wrecks are gathering in numbers. It’s a time of exceptional action when fishing the waters of Key West!
The iconic Sailfish bite is on! March remains an excellent period for Kingfish action as well. Big “Smoker” Kingfish continue providing excellent action offshore and recently nearer the reef. March sees an explosion in the aggressiveness of Black Fin Tuna. There are few species of pelagic fish capable of the total chaos when a school of big Black Fin show up. Mahi action for early March remains slow but towards the end of March seemingly overnight they will come to life as there are more and more Mahi around in our waters every day. The predators remain super aggressive with March being an awesome month for large Barracuda. We have moved into an exciting period for offshore angling 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. We do not recommend more than 4 anglers for the ultimate light tackle offshore experience. Remember light tackle boats operate without a deck-mate. Regardless of experience, talent or effort one pair of hands may assist only so many anglers timely. We do have six passenger licensed vessels in our fleet with guides willing to accommodate these larger parties however it should be understood more than 4 anglers aboard will have some affects and likely will lessen the experience.
Reef & Wreck:
March typically has some wind with it, 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 Cobia action continues to be outstanding. Cobia should remain excellent for the next few months and always provides hard fought battles with great yields for the table fare anglers. The Snapper family continues to produce and with March we expect steady action targeting the Mangrove and Yellowtail action. The large Mutton Snapper will provide some exceptional days on the reef now. The Grouper family as always provides outstanding action however the harvest of Grouper ended January 1 with the season now closed until May 1 in Monroe County (all of the keys). Our elusive Permit is always challenging, the Permit is a sought-after sport fish and prized by anglers from around the planet. March typically shows a marked improvement from the last few months and we are on the way to excellent Permit action always by April. The predator action with Barracuda and Sharks continues to be crazy good. We do not recommend more than 4 anglers for the ultimate light tackle reef and wreck experience. Remember light tackle boats operate without a deck-mate. Regardless of experience, talent or effort one pair of hands may assist only so many anglers timely. We do have six passenger licensed vessels in our fleet with guides willing to accommodate these larger parties however it should be understood more than 4 anglers aboard will have some affects and likely will lessen the experience. Rarely do conditions allow for more than four anglers to be fishing simultaneously.
Anglers take note: We have recently added a number of Hybrid Back Country boats to our fleet. Hybrid’s are the next generation of leading-edge technology and design for the shallow water enthusiast. Hybrid boats retain the back-country experience yet provide additional “creature features aboard such as an enclosed marine head (potty), T top for shade, some carry additional seating and a second elevated station for the captain so helpful when sight casting to elusive sport fish in the shallows. These larger vessels have the ability to comfortably fish our slightly deeper “patch reef areas” as well depending upon the conditions of the day. Rates are slightly higher for these larger vessels that can accommodate families from 4 up to 6 total. We do not fish 6 adults from these vessels.
Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year remains an excellent time for fast paced action while targeting a very wide variety of species. Anglers will appreciate our calm, crystal clear waters now filling with newly arriving migratory Tarpon. The overall population of Tarpon in the back country continues to grow throughout the month joining with several additional sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target. Redfish are slowing as our water temperatures begin a seasonal rise. Snook are improving but remain hit or miss in March with the last of the fast-moving fronts passing over the island Snook action is typically better when targeted in April. The numerous schooling species will continue to provide nonstop action most days. Just a few of the schooling species remaining in our bays now are Trout and Pompano but their days here are numbered now. The ever-present Jack, Lady Fish, Blue Runners, Grunts, Porgies…the list is nearly endless again in March. A perfect trip for the hard-core light tackle angler to the novice angler or the family.
Tarpon time is here. The population of Tarpon will continue to increase daily throughout all of March. The spawning migration that brings adult Tarpon to Key West is underway and the activity and productivity on Tarpon is increasing. Tarpon fishing in Key West becomes prolific. These behemoth sport fish are on every saltwater angler’s “bucket list” and rightfully so. Key West now offers the angler a high level of success to landing possibly the largest fish of a life time. Tarpon are pursued in shallow waters primarily in our “Back Country” although the “Flats” angler can target them as well. Night Tarpon charters begin around April 1. We do not recommend more than 3 anglers to a back-country boat with Tarpon as a primary target. Tarpon feed nocturnally therefore early morning and sunset are the most productive time frames…Let’s go fishing!
We do not fly fish from back country bay boats. Fly fishers interested in pursuing Tarpon are welcome on our flats skiffs designed with the fly caster in mind. Note Flats skiffs are two passenger maximum vessels and we will fish one flat caster at a time with the second angler “backing up” with spin gear if they choose too.
The ½ day to ¾ day trips continue to produce well as the afternoon water temperatures are still far from high so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. Good Cobia fishing continues and can produce some quality fish and action in the back country. Snapper fishing continues to be very good in the back country in March. For serious “table fare” harvest we certainly 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. Remember where you find large Tarpon schools you find feeding sharks. March remains 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.
Our Bonefish action continues to improve…although still not at the levels of April, March can be a productive time to fish the flats for the patient angler. Permit have been scarce on the flats but the action is coming to us better now. Tarpon are still primarily found at home in the back country but do begin to venture out onto the flats in later March. The flats angler should certainly be including 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.
Fly fishers are welcome on our flats skiffs designed with the fly caster in mind. Note Flats skiffs ate two passenger maximum vessels and we will fish one fly-caster at a time with the second angler “backing up” with spin gear if they choose too.
This is a time of transition in regards to our water temperatures so fishing conditions in general are improving, 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 only continue to improve as the population of fish in the shallows grows. The afternoons 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!
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!