Key Largo to Key West
Includes Islamorada and Marathon

April 9 – 11


Hello everyone! Some still say that the fishing was a little tough this past week in the Florida Keys backcountry, although some that had fantastic days. This inconsistency is in part do to the unstable weather patterns we usually have this time of the year while transitioning from winter to spring and summer patterns. The wind frequently changes direction as cold fronts still make their way south, bringing changes in water pressure as well. The trick to having a great time on the water this time of the year is to plan accordingly to the weather conditions. The good news is that April is here and the weather should hopefully stabilize soon.

The Key Largo area continues to have some good action while fishing the mainland shorelines. Snook, redfish and trout along with other rod benders have all been part of daily reports by the Key Largo guides. Stalking the shallow areas east of Flamingo has also been giving anglers multiple shots at redfish and snook both on fly and artificials. The Flamingo area should start getting more consistent with redfish, snook, trout, sharks and tarpon as the water gets warmer. Fish the runoffs on the last of the outgoing tide. Look for the fish to get back up in to the shallow flats as the water rises on the incoming tides. Some action also can be had while fishing the island moats in the Flamingo area. Work the bushes with live baits for better success and a mixed bag of snook and redfish with some nice snappers mixed in as well. If you’re looking for some hard tugging, anchor up on the deeper channels and fish some dead baits on the bottom for sharks and tarpon with the occasional sawfish as well. Farther west in the Cape Sable and Lake Ingram area, look for a decent bite of snook and reds while fishing the shorelines and creek mouths. With the warming trend forecasted, the tarpon action should also heat up in the area.

We have been taking advantage of a great trout and snapper bite from Sandy Key area all the way towards Spriger bank. Big trout up to 30 inches have been eating jigs and soft plastics along with grey snappers up to 5 pounds. Most of the big trout are full of eggs so releasing them to fight another day is the way to go, there are plenty of snappers for the dinner table.

Some tripletail can still be found free floating along the trap lines west of Sandy Key. Out in the Gulf, look for the great shark fishing to continue. Giant bull sharks and many others can be found. Keep your eyes open on the way to your favorite wreck for the massive schools of tarpon that are making their way to us. Permit and many more can also be found while fishing the wrecks.

The warmer weather will spike things up around the local islands and oceanside flats. Bonefish, permit and tarpon will becoming more abundant and more willing to take your offering. Fish some live mullet, pinfish or pilchards around the local bridges and channels for the tarpon during daylight hours and drift medium size crabs on the outgoing tide closer to sunset and nighttime hours. Look for tailing bonefish on the lower tide stages around oceanside flats and mudding fish on the higher tides. The permit fishing has also been good as this fish are making their way to deeper water on he reef to spawn. Have a silver dollar size crab ready at all times for when the opportunity presents. Very exiting things are going to start happening in the Florida Keys backcountry and the next couple of weeks are going to be full of great fishing stories. So get out on the water and take advantage of the great fishing!

Capt. Juan Garcia

Upper Keys

Hello everyone, and welcome back to this week’s report! A little windy this week, but some pretty weather nonetheless. Fishing this week has been pretty good, with a good variety for our clients. The reef remains strong, with the wreck fishing right there with it. Snappers of all types have been happy and some nice tunas have been found on the wrecks. Even a few sails being caught around the wrecks, as well as some decent mackerel. The offshore scene is starting to show signs of promise. The humps are producing some tunas, but the sizes are all over the place. A few swords off the ledge, with a few mahi swimming up during the drift. Pretty decent all around really, just as we’d expect during the spring. Waiting on the conditions to get right for the tailing season on the sails, and hoping it shapes up. Starting to show some promise to the south, so maybe toward the end of the month? We will see! Be safe out there, see ya next week!

Capt. James Chappell

Lower Keys

Welcome back to the Lower Keys fishing forecast, it looks like we will have a warm wind out of the southeast this weekend. The forecast is calling for wind around 20 mph, but the temperature should be in the mid to upper 70’s. Although, there have been a few mahi mahi and sailfish around this week, it could be a good weekend to fish the Gulf side. It will be more protected on that side and the fishing has been pretty good around the Gulf wrecks. This time of year, you can catch cobia, kingfish and a variety of snappers. We also have the Viking Key West Challenge, so the marinas are crowded and there will be big a some big sportfish boats running around offshore.

Backcountry fishing was tough this week because of the cold weather, but that should be getting better as we approach the weekend. The tarpon showed up thick the day before the cold front got here so we should be seeing them rolling around in some of the backcountry basins and channels again. They will be our main targeted species for the next few months in the backcountry. You can target these fish a few different ways, the like to eat live baits like crabs, pinfish or mullet. You can also throw a variety of artificial lures like soft plastics and swimming plugs; and you even catch them on a fly rod. The best time to target these fish tends be during low light, so either get out there early, or fish them during sunset.

Capt. Jamie Connell
(908) 303-9873

Best Location, Bait and Technique for Permit

Best Location, Bait and Technique for Permit

Find the right water, make the right presentation, get hooked up. Channel edges are often the place to be, where you can sight-fish permit cruising the tide...
Rigging Wire Leaders for Toothy Fish

Rigging Wire Leaders for Toothy Fish

A short section of light wire leader shouldn’t deter bites—and may catch you the fish of the day. Jeff Weakley and Rhett Nelson put their wire leaders...
Load Comments ( )

Don’t forget to sign up!

Get the Top Stories from Florida Sportsman Delivered to Your Inbox Every Week