flats fishing for permit in Key West

Florida Keys Flats Fishings Flats Fishing


Flats fishing was pioneered in the Florida Keys and Key West. It’s a tradition I am very proud to carry on. As I pole you along quietly in search of tarpon, permit, and bonefish we are likely to encounter barracuda, sharks and more. For those who don’t fly fish, flats fishing is a great alternative. Florida Keys flats fishing takes place on countless miles of turtle grass and coral flats. The amount of life you will see is staggering. Sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and starfish are seen regularly.  Please let me know if you are spin fishing, so I can plan accordingly.

 Flats Fishing For Tarpon, Permit, and Bonefish


There really isn’t a better place to go flats fishing for tarpon than the Lower Keys and Key West. We have  year round resident tarpon as well as migratory tarpon in the spring. We generally use soft plastics when targeting tarpon on the flats here in the Keys. As far as permit fishing on the flats goes, the Florida Keys are the ultimate destination. We typically use live crabs for permit, but they have been known to eat a pink bucktail jig as well. We find permit on shallow turtle grass flats as well as hard coral bottom. Finally, bonefish are the original flats fishing species. They make lightning fast runs and are a kick in the pants on a light spinning rod. We use live shrimp to target bonefish in the Florida Keys. Be sure to visit Florida Keys fly fishing seasons to book at the best time possible.

Florida Keys Flats Fishing For Sharks


Flats fishing for sharks is an absolute blast. We are very fortunate to have a healthy shark population in the Florida Keys.  On most days we will encounter bonnethead, lemon,  and blacktip sharks. On a flats fishing for sharks trip we will see those but also bull and hopefully hammerhead sharks. The shark fishing near Key West and the Marquesas is incredible. Let me know if you are interested in targeting these toothy critters.



flats fishing for barracuda
Florida Keys flats fishing guide scans for tarpon
flats fishing for lemon sharks in the Marquesas

Flats Fishing For Barracuda In The Florida Keys


Barracuda hold a special place in my heart. They are fast, awesome predators which are great sport on a fly rod. Fly fishing for barracuda in the Florida Keys is very good in the winter. The best time frame tends to be December through February. During winter these fish school up and sun themselves on the flats. The biggest barracuda are not easy, and require long cast. These guys have excellent eye sight and can be very wary. Once you hook into one though hang on! They make blistering runs and incredible jumps.The Key West area is particularly good for big barracuda in the winter.

 Florida Keys Flats Fishing For Snook & Redfish


A discussion of flats fishing would not be complete without mentioning snook and redfish. The Florida Keys  redfish population is booming and every winter I catch more. On Everglades National Park trips they are everywhere. They are great fun and a great introduction to sight fishing. We also go flats fishing for snook in the Everglades as well as some top secret spots in the Lower Keys. Snook run and jump like crazy. Some of the snook we catch get quite large, especially in the evenings. The true pigs are strictly nocturnal.



flats fishing for barracuda in February
flats fishing for snook near Marathon Key

Tips For Florida Keys Flats Fishing Success

1. Sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses are critical when flats fishing in the Florida Keys. If you can’t see the fish you can’t catch it. They don’t have to cost 200.00 but they do need to be polarized with amber or copper lenses.

2. Learn to see through the water. I scan constantly looking for anything different on the bottom. Try not to get tunnel vision. Pointing out sharks, rays etc. will help you learn to see bonefish, permit, and tarpon. Time on the water pays off on the flats.

3.Casting. Practice casting at rays, sharks, or dark spots. This will dial you in when that permit pops up out of nowhere. Learn what fish you need to lead and which ones you have to hit on the head.

4. Realistic goals. A cold front in January isn’t the time to go bonefishing. I will let you know what species we should target on your Florida Keys flats fishing charter. In the beginning starting with barracuda or baby tarpon might make more sense than casting to spooky permit. Start small and work your way up.

5.Patience. Permit, tarpon and bonefish aren’t easy to catch. That’s what makes them so cool. If you have your heart set on catching a permit in the Florida Keys, you must fish for permit.  This means not getting side tracked casting at barracuda or sharks. Boredom can creep in, you quit paying attention, and then a permit comes out of nowhere. You would have caught it, but you were checking Facebook. You get the idea.

6. Focus. Flats fishing here in the Florida Keys is an active sport. To be successful you need to be standing up, and looking at all times. If I am on the poling platform you need to be standing on the deck. Things happen fast on the flats and you need to be ready at all times. The payoff is huge.

7. Be Teachable. Fishing the flats is a team sport in which we work together. Try to listen to advice I give you. No one wants us to catch fish more than me. Ask questions. That’s what I am there for. Pick my brain and I will try to help you in any way possible. Get the most out of your time spent with a Florida Keys fly fishing guide.

8. Have fun with it. It can be intense at moments, but fishing is supposed to be fun. Relax and enjoy your flats fishing trip in the Florida Keys. A good attitude catches more fish every time.

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