December 2021 Fishing Report

December is here bringing several newly arriving fish species to pursue. Fantastic action for Key West angling continues through years end.

From the Backcountry to Offshore the overall population and wide variety of species in our local waters is changing yet still offers the light tackle angler so many options…

Deep Sea/Offshore:

Our offshore fishing conditions will settle in vastly improving our light tackle action. Gone are the warm water species replaced with some outstanding and explosive species for the trolling fan. December kicks off the Kingfish action. Big “Smoker” Kingfish are 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 of late. December remains an excellent time to target the action-packed Black Fin Tuna very respectable and excellent eating fish. There is nothing better than crossing paths with a school of Black Fin on the hunt…total chaos but crazy fun.

The Wahoo action will greatly increase during December, these speed demons can get up to 50+lbs. And are not only insanely good eating, but know to smoke lots of drag too. The iconic Sailfish bite continues to improve with January being the real kick off for our most productive period which continues for months into the spring. Unfortunately, we say good-by for the most part to the wonderful Mahi (Dolphin fish) as the cooler water temperatures force a migration for most of them away from our local waters. Soon as this is said we will have a few days of Mahi 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.

The apex predators remain active with December being a good month for large Barracuda. We are moving into an exciting period for offshore however, we believe a 1/2-day (four-hour) charter still has some challenges with ever changing travel times between marina and fishing grounds. Best bet book at least the 3/4 day (six-hour trip) especially if you are a party of three or four or more.

Reef & Wreck:

December can bring winds however the waters on the reef verses further offshore will remain 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” is here in big numbers and ready to dislocate the angler’s shoulders. Amberjack fishing is typically very good for the next few months especially deep dropping on the most remote deeper wreck sites.

The Cobia action becomes excellent for the next few months leading into new year. Cobia typically run in decent sized groups of 3 to 5 fish, often at the surface providing some outstanding sight casting opportunity to the angler. The Snapper family continues to produce numbers during December as typically the Yellowtail and Mangrove numbers make up for solid numbers, as well as the larger Mutton Snapper. The Grouper family will usually not disappoint for December as the last month to harvest Grouper before our season closes in Atlantic waters on January 1. Our elusive Permit will still be making their presence known but at best I would place them in the “good” range. Always challenging, the Permit is a sought-after sport fish and prized by anglers from around the planet. December will still offer the angler a fair chance for success.


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 backcountry continues to grow with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target but also numerous schooling species arrive to provide non-stop action most days. Schooling species such as Trout and Pompano, huge schools of Jacks, Lady Fish, Blue Runners, Grunts, Porgies…the list is nearly endless in December keep it fun all day long and great for the younger anglers with maybe a bit shorter attention span. A perfect trip for the hard-core light tackle angler to the novice angler. A perfect trip for the family or groups numbering up to 4 anglers per boat. Backcountry boats are 4 passenger maximum vessels.

Tarpon time is over in the backcountry. Remaining is our small resident population of juvenile Tarpon however 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. A bonus fish during December for sure.

The Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper fishing remains excellent in the backcountry. 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 1/2-day trips. December is predator time so these aggressive species are always 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.


This is a time of lower and more stable water temperatures so good fishing conditions continue, 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 based upon the tides of course. The PM half day trips can be quite enjoyable especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a few fun 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!

Species to key on:

Offshore: Sailfish-Kingfish-Blackfin Tuna-Wahoo-Barracuda

Reef & Wreck: Grouper (season closes to harvest December 31 in Atlantic waters)-Amberjack-Cobia-Yellowtail, Mutton & Mangrove Snapper-Barracuda-Sharks

Back Country: Snook-Snapper-Redfish-Sea Trout-Cobia-Permit-Barracuda-Sharks

Let’s go Fishing!

Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter!!

1-866-259-4205 daily 8 AM to 9 PM. We look forward to your call!