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KEY WEST Fishing is ON!
April is full on 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 backcountry 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!
April arrives and we enter into a period of outstanding action. Over the next few months some of the best fishing of the entire year comes to us. The huge schools of migrating Tarpon have arrived and are flooding into the shallows of the back country. Key West is now one of the most prolific Tarpon fisheries on the planet. Impressive schools of Bonefish are feeding heavily on the flats. We have experienced one of the best Sailfish seasons so far this year of the last decade and now comes Mahi-Mahi time to dominate the blue water. The reef and wrecks are holding massive populations of true heavy weight gladiators ready to go head to head with the willing angler plus table fare species, the first choice of bottom fishers, become super aggressive. It’s a time of exceptional action when fishing the waters of Key West! You may have the fishing rod knocked out of your hand over the next few months friends.
March is typically a time of wind however as we enter April conditions improve for the anglers looking to get away from the land mass. The iconic Sailfish is in high gear! Our Sailfish action so far this year overshadows recent past years easily…always elusive but the success rate for Sailfish day to day has remained quite high. April does signal the beginning of the end to our Kingfish action unfortunately but it is going out with a bang. April sees an explosion in the aggressiveness of Black Fin Tuna which have consistently been red hot for over some time now. There are few species of pelagic fish capable of the total chaos when a school of big Black Fin show up. Mahi action enjoyed a huge upswing during April and will rapidly become the angler’s bread & butter species. Mahi (Dolphin fish-Dorado) are plentiful, schooling fish that provide excellent action at a blistering pace. High leapers when hooked up, beautiful colored fish that also a favorite for many on the dinner plate. When the Mahi are biting, businesses close on the island…it gets that good!
The predators remain aggressive with April being an awesome month for large Barracuda. We have moved into an exciting period for offshore angling however, we always 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.
Light Tackle/Reef & Wreck:
April brings calmer winds and smaller seas typically yet still the conditions on the reef verses further offshore will remain far more comfortable for the angler concerned about motion discomfort. Cobia action continues to be outstanding with fish exceeding 50 pounds taken of late. Cobia should remain excellent for all of April then typically slow slightly over the next few months. The Snapper family continues to produce and with April we expect steady action targeting the Mangrove and Yellow Tail action. The larger Mutton Snapper will continue to provide some exceptional days on the reef especially as we move towards their spawning time. 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. April typically shows a marked improvement from the last few months and we are on the way to excellent Permit action over the next few months. The predator action with Barracuda and Sharks continues to be crazy good.
Anglers take note: We have recently added a number of Hybrid Back Country boats to our fleet. Hybrids are the next generation of leading- edge technology and design for the shallow water enthusiast. Hybrid boats retain the backcountry 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 choice for fast paced action while targeting a very wide variety of species. Anglers will appreciate our calm, crystal clear waters now filling with behemoth 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 all but done for now as our water temperatures begin a seasonal rise. Snook are a bit “hit or miss” in early April but are improving so better targeted in later April. The numerous schooling species will continue to provide nonstop action most days and the list is nearly endless again in April that keeps the younger anglers happy with the superfast bite of schooling fish. It remains an excellent time to pursue Speckled Sea Trout and several species of larger Jacks. A perfect trip for the hardcore light tackle angler to the novice angler or the family.
Tarpon time is exploding. The population of Tarpon has continued to increase daily throughout all of March. The spawning migration that brings adult Tarpon to Key West is well underway and the activity and productivity on Tarpon is rising towards seasonal highs. Tarpon fishing in Key West is now becoming prolific. These behemoth sport fish should be 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. We begin seeing the sunset Tarpon feeding activity increase so we are now offering our Sunset Tarpon trips. These trips are spectacular when conditions (primarily the tides) are optimal. We do not recommend more than 3 anglers as a max on our Tarpon bay boats for night trips. If you have more than three anglers understand the time restraints in catching multiple Tarpon and the need for larger vessels to accommodate the chaos that comes with a 100 pound plus fish going berserk at boat side.
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 backcountry 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 to.
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. The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing continues to be very good in the back country in April. 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. April 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 backcountry charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip in calmer waters.
Our Bonefish action kicks in big time for April…April is the first of a few months that typically produce those Grand Slam events where the anglers successfully lands a Bonefish, a Permit and a Tarpon in the same day…a rare feat at the very pinnacle of flats fishing accomplishments. Permit are venturing on to the flats more so now and the action is improving. Tarpon are still primarily found at home in the back country but we should begin seeing them nearer the deeper edges of the flats in early April. 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 backcountry 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 you are a serious saltwater fly fisher you should be fishing the flats. To include a little fly fishing while in the back country is one thing but if you are seeking a hardcore fly only trip…fish the flats.
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 have improved nicely, friends. We still recommend fishing morning trips if going shallow (early departures are a must for your best success with Tarpon) 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 continues to increase. 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!