Florida Keys Fishing: Reef Fishing & Sport Fishing

Florida Keys – Fishing

Fishing is popular along the Florida Keys, whether as sport, pastime or as a commercial activity. You will find people fishing up and down throughout the different islands and small Keys.

Reef fish of coastal zones are usual inhabitants of the Florida Keys waters, but there are also wide varieties of species that anglers do appreciate, since not all the visitors are looking for bottom fishing.

Parodying the Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy, locals say that there is no fishing like Keys fishing. Anglers who enjoy offshore fishing will rejoice catching Tuna, Bonefish, Marlin, Tarpon, Wahoo, Sailfish, and other species living in the Gulf Stream waters.

Fishing charters depart from almost any of the major Key islands Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, or Key West. From deep blue to turquoise waters, Florida Keys are a fishing paradise.

Whether you prefer backcountry fishing, light tackle fishing, offshore fishing, or bottom fishing, there is a place to go for bait and tackle, dockage, boat rentals, fuel, accommodations, charters, accommodations, and more, including fishing tournaments.

Do not be afraid to try, if you are a novice angler, or never before tried, as most charter services provide the guidance of professional captains that will teach you fishing and tackle techniques.


Tarpon, Redfish and Bonefish are the most common catches when you engage in backcountry fishing at Key Largo and the contiguous areas of the Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

Land anglers and boat anglers are required to obtain a saltwater fishing license for fishing in Key Largo if they are not residents. This same regulation applies for freshwater fishing, applying for both local and visitors.

You can purchase a fishing license directly at the Tax Collector’s Office located at the Plantation Key Government Center, phone (305) 852-7150. Your license includes a booklet explaining in detail all the regulations that apply in this zone.

Some private fishing charter services in Key Largo:

  • Dockside Charters, phone (305) 451-5903
  • Key Largo Flats & Backcountry Fishing, phone (305) 394-0505
  • Party Boat Fishing Charter, phone (305) 451-1802
  • Reel Style Charters, phone (305) 301-2701
  • Yellow Bait House, phone (305) 451-0921


The name “Sportfishing Capital of the World” says it all. Islamorada is the main fishing paradise destination of the Florida Keys with seasonal fishing areas providing a variety of fish species all year round.

In the waters of Islamorada you will easily find Wahoo, Tuna, Grouper, Yellowtail, Bonefish, Redfish, Sailfish, Cobia, Amberjack, Permit, Tarpon, Kingfish, Dolphin, Marlin, Snook, Snapper, and Shark.

Fishing licenses are not required when you charter a trip from some of the charter services in this zone. Otherwise, you can contact the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce for further information to purchase your license, by calling (305) 664-4503

Some private fishing charter services in Islamorada:

  • Bud n’ Mary’s Fishing Marina, phone (305) 664-2461
  • Captain Ron’s Reel ‘n Reef Charters, phone (305) 853-0636
  • Flat Out Charters, phone (305) 872-3831
  • Keys Charters, phone (305) 853-0216
  • Reel Style Charters, phone (305) 301-2701


Fishing tournaments are always up at Marathon, where Tarpon fishing is the king along Bahia Honda and Seven Mile Bridges, plenty of Tarpons waiting for avid anglers.

Tarpon is an easy catch for novice and pros so you are fishing in “safe waters” trying your fishing style and techniques at Marathon. The topographic characteristics and location of this Key create a different fishing setting incomparable to that of the Upper Florida Keys.

Light tackle and backcountry fishing at the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, north of Marathon provides you with more than catches, a full encounter with nature wonders.

Fishing licenses are available at most marinas and bait and tackle shops, available for different periods of time. On a side note, you must be aware that collecting invertebrates and coral species are not allowed. If you need further information call Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce office at the Marathon Visitor Center, phone (305) 743-5417

Some private fishing charter services in Marathon:

  • Captain Hook’s Marina & Dive Center, phone (305) 743-2444
  • Captain Pips Marina & Hideaway, phone (305) 743-4403
  • Family Fun Charters, phone (305) 743-4691
  • Flat Out Charters, phone (305) 872-3831
  • Island Charters, phone (305) 872-1612


Just ahead of the Seven Mile Bridge, Big Pine Key is the place where you will find numerous shipwrecks dating from the World War II, and others from centuries ago which are home to thousands of colorful tropical fish.

However, anglers will be rewarded with Cobia, Jewfish, Barracuda, Grouper, Snapper, and Sailfish. The best fishing is usually during the run up to the full moon and just after it, but there are fish to be caught all year round. Snapper, Permit, and Sharks, among other species inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico.

Approaching to the south towards Key West, the fishing grounds of Ernest Hemingway are just one hour away from the doc, bringing Blue Marlin with the Gulf Stream flowing from Cuba.

For information on fishing licenses and saltwater fishing, contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission at 800-DIAL-FMP, or call the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, phone (305) 872-2411

Some private fishing charter services in Big Pine Key:

  • Flat Out Charters, phone (305) 872-3831
  • Island Charters, phone (305) 872-1612
  • Sea Boots Charters, phone (305) 745-1530
  • Screaming Eagle Fishing Charter, phone (305) 395-0056
  • Summerland Key, phone (305) 872-3995


Sportfishing at Key West is as varied as the city itself. Diversity of styles, species, and chartered fishing trips for both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean make it hard to make a decision when it comes to getting the best catches.

Key West weather is excellent for fishing and challenging through the different waters and settings, where Barracuda, Kingfish, Blackfin Tuna, Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, Dolphin and Monsters Shark are common species.

Here, like in all the other Florida Keys, a fishing license is required for fishing. Licenses are available in almost any tackle and bait shop, marinas, charter services, and boat rentals.

  • Some private fishing charter services in Key West:
  • Action Charters, phone (305) 292-5000
  • Happy Hookers Bait & Tackle, phone (305) 295-0840
  • Island Charters, phone (305) 872-1612
  • Key West Bait & Tackle, phone (305) 292-1961
  • The Saltwater Angler, phone (305) 294-3248

Fishing anywhere in the Florida Keys does not require a fishing license if you are aboard a guide’s backcountry boat or charter boat. These services are required to provide license to anglers, specified in the captain’s documentation.

If you want to go fishing on your own, there is a telephone number providing fishing license information for any location within the Florida state, just call toll free at 1-888-347-4356 (1-888-FISH-FLORIDA).

The Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission is another federal office helping the anglers during their stay in Florida, just call (407) 640-6100.

Last but not least, all fishing regulation can be found online at www.floridaconservation.org or www.marinefisheries.org/regulation.htmlife Commission at 800-DIAL-FMP, or call the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce,

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