Key Largo Fishing

Key Largo Fishing

Key Largo is one of the northern most keys and closest to the mainland and Miami.

The fishing in Key Largo is good if you want to fish the Reef, the Gulf Stream or the Everglades, but Florida bay is a bit of a run to get to. Key Largo is the home to the Elbow Reef which is a reef at the tip of the barrier reef. It is usually where the gulf stream passes closest to land. Key Largo has several good wrecks and deep reef spots to fish, such as the Northern Lights Wreck and Watson’s Reef. There are also some great patch reefs located close to shore such as Basin Hill Shoals and Mosquito Bank.

Carysfort Reef

The water is exceptionally clear due to proximity to the Gulf Stream, and there are several large Flats in Key Largo that are excellent fishing for bonefish and Permit. Key Largo also has immediate access to the Everglades, and there are miles and miles of shallow bays and mangrove channels to fish. It is also home to Jewfish Creek a great night fishing spot. Depending on the time of year you could pull anything out of the little creek, including massive tarpon and bull sharks.

Elbow Reef

If you are bringing your own boat I would recommend staying at Gilbert’s or at Moonbay, they are located on Black Water sound right as you enter Key Largo, they both have docks, and have great access to both the back country and the Atlantic, plus blackwater and key largo sound are great places to catch bait.

Northwest Channel and Jetty

Northwest Channel and Jetty

The northwest channel and the jetty are popular spots to fish when the wind is blowing or when you don’t want to travel far. The northwest channel is the large channel which connects the Key West harbor and the Atlantic with the Gulf. The current is often pretty extreme so if the wind is blowing the right (or wrong) way it can be pretty rough. The northwest channel is a popular spot to catch mangrove, mutton snappers, cero mackerel and Spanish mackerel. Depending on the time of year there also can be kingfish and cobia.

At the northeast end of the channel there is a large jetty which stretches for close to half a mile. It is home to numerous jewfish and snapper. Fishing it can be hit or miss but usually when there are a lot of bait fish on it there will be other fish. People fish it primarily with live pinfish and jigs tipped with cut bait. It’s really possible for anything to swim up around including permit, big jacks crevelles and king fish.

Gulf Wrecks

Gulf Wrecks

There are dozens of wrecks north of Key West. Many are shrimp boats but others are larger vessels. Some of these wrecks are very public and gps numbers for them can be found from a variety of sources. Remember though hurricanes tend to move wrecks so some numbers will not be very accurate.

These wrecks can be loaded with fish depending on time of year and water conditions. Popular fish to target on these wrecks would be primarily cobia, gag grouper and various snapper. People often use live pinfish and small blue runners for live baits. People also fish jigs tipped with cut bait or shrimp. A chum slick near one of these wrecks can attract a multitude of fish, sometimes huge schools of blue runners, bluefish and Spanish mackerel, not to mention kingfish. On some of these wrecks it will be difficult to get a live bait to the bottom before a large lane snapper will eat it.

One issue with fishing these wrecks can be sharks and jewfish stealing a lot of your fish. Using heavier tackle to get your fish in the boat quicker can help a lot. Also if you throw a steel leader on and hook and fight a shark for awhile, he and his buddies will tend to leave. Sharks don’t like being around a shark in distress.

Airforce Relay Towers

Air Force Relay Towers

There are several of these towers within range of Key West. These towers sit in anywhere from 35 to over 100 feet of water. Most are located in a veritable desert of the gulf. With no other competing structure around them they are magnets for fish. Depending on the time of year huge schools of permit orbit them, along with cobia and mackerel of all sizes. Amberjack and crevelle jacks are also common in large numbers. The actual structure of the towers are usually covered with snappers from small mangroves to large cubera snapper. The bases of the towers are usually stacked with jewfish.

Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas

The Dry Tortugas area is kind of considered the holy grail of bottom fishing in Florida. The actual island and Fort at the Dry Tortugas is actually a sanctuary where you cannot fish but there is a huge amount of awesome reef and bottom structure which surround the sanctuary. Fish caught are pretty much all the common reef species but usually much larger and in much larger numbers.

Key West Harbor

Key West Harbor

The harbor in Key West boasts wildly different fishing depending on the time of year. It’s best known for the spring and summer tarpon fishing but there are fish in the harbor all year round.

In tarpon season huge schools of tarpon roam the harbor and channels running out of it. The best bite is usually in the morning and evening but it’s possible to catch them any time of day. They can be fished with live bait such as pinfish, crabs and small mullet. People also chum the tarpon up using shrimp boat bycatch and catch them on dead baits.

Outside of the tarpon the harbor is home to a wide variety of snapper and in cooler months schools of cero mackerel, Spanish and kingfish swim through. There are small wrecks and rock piles located in and near the harbor which can hold cobia in the winter months. Large sharks cruise the harbor all year, sometimes even swimming under the fish cleaning tables in A & B marina and other adjacent marinas.

The channels that attach to the harbor can also offer good fishing, and depending on the wind direction relatively calm seas. People often fish Calda and the northeast channel for a variety of fish.

Key West Fishing