September 29, 2023
Key Largo to Key West
Captains Juan Garcia, James Chappell and Jamie Connell tackle backcountry, inshore and offshore fishing from Key Largo to Key West, including Islamorada and Marathon.
September 29 - October 1
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Backcountry - Report from 9/22
Hello everyone! Most guides that got on the water throughout the week reported great redfish, snook and tarpon action all through the Park. Captain Lain Goodwin reported a great snook and redfish bite while fishing both the island and mainland shorelines in Key Largo. They have been fishing with live pilchards and scented soft plastics. Look for mullet muds throughout the bay for some trout and rod-bending action. Fish Berkley Gulp shrimp under a popping cork for the best action. The boats that got to fish the Flamingo area in between passing storms reported a good bite of snook and redfish with some tarpon mixed in. The sharks are a big problem so do your best not to lose too many fish to them, tight drags and stout tackle is a must. Work the tides around the Snake Bight runoffs with scented soft plastics, pinfish and pilchards for some good action. The deeper channels are holding some big sharks and the occasional tarpon. The sight fishing action around the shallow flats in Florida Bay has been decent and the shallow drafted skiffs that have been looking for them have all been getting their fair number of shots. Gold Johnson Silver Minnows spoons, DOA jerk baits rigged weedless or your favorite redfish fly will all get the job done.
Expect the Gulf fishery to start getting better as we approach our fall season. Look for the cobia to start showing up in greater numbers as we get closer to October as well as the Spanish and king mackerel. There is still plenty of action going on near the park boundaries from Sandy Key all the way to Spriger Bank. bouncing 1/2 oz pompano jigs as you drift will get you some really nice trout and snappers with a mixed bag of rod benders.
It's been off and on with the bonefish lately thanks to the stormy weather. The guides targeting them are reporting great numbers of fish in both ocean and bayside flats. The best action has been on the rising tide with calm conditions. Look for permit to be cruising on the deeper edges of flats and banks both bayside and oceanside. A small live crab and a stealthy approach will get you hooked up. If the weather is bad it might be a good idea to fish around the many local bridges and adjacent channels. A live well full of pilchards will get you into a lot of action with some nice snappers, groupers, jacks, snook and tarpon. If you don't have the pilchards cut fresh ladyfish, mullet or pinfish will get the job done. So get out on the water and enjoy all the great fishing going on in the Florida Keys backcountry.
Capt. Juan Garcia
Well, another week has come and gone in this beautiful place, and things are settling in for fall. The fishing this week was consistent on the humps with the blackfin tunas, and even a few mahi around still. I still think we are going to get a few weeks of good mahi fishing, but time will tell. The deep ledge produced a few nice swords this week, with a couple topping the 200-pound mark. One from Key Largo and one from Marathon I am told, and a few smaller ones in between. The deep dropping was decent too with some nice queen snappers to boot! The wreck fishing started to pick up as the current was trying to get moving, and the water cleaning up. I hope this weekend will be the change we are looking for. Reef fishing remains about the same. If you get some current they are happy, but if no current then it is going to be tough. The fish are there and if you can get the right conditions, you will find success. Some positive notes are that there have been a few sails around all up and down the road, and we are starting to see a few nicer tunas move inside on the wrecks. Let’s hope this means an early season for our winter fish, as that would be nice for everyone! Well, that is all for this week! Be safe out there, and check back next week for a new report!
Capt. James Chappell
Welcome back to the Lower Keys Fishing Forecast, we’ve had a wet and windy week down here, but it does look like the weather is improving for the weekend. The forecasters are calling for wind around 10-15 mph and a 35% chance of rain and that’s a big upgrade from the conditions all week. If you can get offshore, there are still mahi mahi around. We are also starting to get some blackfin tunas and wahoo showing up down here. The moon is getting full and the fishing has been good, so if you get the right conditions to head offshore this weekend, you may want to take advantage of it this weekend.
Fishing on the flats was a little tougher this week. We have plenty of fish around, but the weather conditions and king tides all week made it difficult to sight fish. If the sun comes out this weekend, you should be able to get some bonefish and tarpon shots on the flats though. There is also a lot of bait showing up in the backcountry at the moment. If you’re having tough fishing conditions, try to stay near the bait. You can catch all kinds of fish, like tarpon, snappers, jacks and plenty of other species.
Capt. Jamie Connell