Pick up any Florida Keys guidebook and there’s no denying you’ll find page after page of poetic adjectives describing the water. Words like “azure,” “tranquil,” and “picturesque” are all used to paint mental pictures of just how beautiful the Keys’ waterscape is. I may even use one or two of these terms in this fishing report. Truth is, no matter how creatively we arrange words to conjure up images of the sea we always seem to come up short. That’s because at times, when conditions are just right, the Florida Keys water can be so blue, and so clear, that the only way to appreciate its true beauty is to go out and see it firsthand. This is one of those times.
Currently, the Gulf Stream is pushed all the way onto the shallow reefs bringing in those tranquil azure waters we love to read about. The color contrasts are picturesque, to say the least, and the visibility is downright amazing. Combine that with the tremendous variety of species brought in by the warm Gulf Stream currents, and there’s just no telling what types of sea life you may encounter while out fishing (or sightseeing). Last week we saw several whale sharks in as shallow as 30 feet of water and we were able to get up close and personal with one that was at least 25 feet long! We weren’t able to get the accompanying cobia to eat (we tried), but the site of this giant and unique creature was something myself and my anglers won’t soon forget. In addition, we’ve recently seen see sea turtles, bottlenose dolphin, and all sorts of exotic fish and game fish swimming around. Point being, even if you don’t enjoy fishing all that much, it’s still a great time to be on the water.
As far as the fishing goes (since this is a fishing report), it’s been just as incredible as the sightseeing. Offshore, sailfish and cobia have been red hot from 80 to 300 feet of water, with multiple sails being caught daily and gigantic cobia upwards of 80 pounds being reported. A few dolphin have been caught here and there as well, but look for the big push of dorados to still be a few weeks away.
On the reef, we’ve been limiting out on snapper on nearly every trip. Mangroves, muttons and yellowtails are as hungry as ever, and while we can’t keep the grouper yet, a strong bite points to good things down the road when the season reopens. The mackerel species are still hanging around the reef as well, so there’s still time to load up on kingfish, ceros and Spanish mackerel for the smoker.
Inshore, I’m pleased to report that the tarpon have begun showing up at the bridges. Large schools of tarpon in the 20 to 80-pound class are being caught in good numbers, and the warm weather should signal more fish arriving daily.
Your Best Bet for the Weeks Ahead: It’s Tarpon Time!
In addition to offshore, reef and wreck fishing, Best Bet offers daily tarpon trips during season. Stop by one of the Best Bet boats located in Key Colony Beach, or use the contact information below to set up your Florida Keys tarpon trip