Florida Keys Fly Fishing Seasons
We are blessed to have incredible fly fishing in the keys all year long. This is a breakdown of what you can expect to encounter on the flats month by month. Water temperatures play a critical role in flats fishing so any species can be found on any given day year round. If the water temperatures are above 70 degrees. Here are the Florida Keys fly fishing seasons in a nutshell.
Spring Fly Fishing in The Florida Keys
In the Southernmost part of the United States our Spring starts In February, and sometimes January. That first initial warm up brings fly fishing magic to the Florida Keys. The permit, tarpon and bonefish come out of the woodwork. It’s difficult to time but it can be the best fishing of the year. The fish are everywhere and they are kind of dumb. They eat with gusto all day long. March is usually on the best months for permit. It is typically our windiest month and it allows us to get close without spooking them. Bonefish are also plentiful in the backcountry. The first Migratory tarpon start to show up in the basins and strip banks this time of year. The early season tarpon bite in the Marquesas can be epic as well as Everglades National Park. April marks the unofficial start of fly fishing for tarpon in the Florida Keys. By now the backcountry is full of fish and they will be transitioning to the beach. Night time fly fishing for tarpon can be absurdly good.
Summer Fly fishing In The Florida Keys
May is when things go crazy in the Florida Keys. Trains of tarpon start pushing down the beach and anglers show up in force for the show. On certain days thousands of tarpon will come by the skiff and the action is fast. Most years the weather is stable, but it can be windy at times. Bring your A game and I will bring mine. If you want to see gobs of tarpon May is the month to fly fish the keys. Some permit will be off spawning, but there are plenty around in May. This can be great because everyone else is targeting tarpon. June is very solid for tarpon still and the permit are coming back from spawn. Most years the weather tends to calm and we settle into our summer pattern. Once this happens my favorite permit fishing of the year begins. Slick calm mornings and quiet evenings make permit tail in a big way. You can see them a mile away and the cat and mouse game is one. After June the migratory tarpon start to thin and we shift focus to our resident tarpon. Bonefishing remains solid all summer.
Fall Fly Fishing In The Florida Keys
September brings warm water and calm conditions. September is one of the best months for Florida Keys fly fishing. All 3 glamour species are great and will get better as water temps start to cool with longer nights. I always enjoy fall fishing and very few people are on the water. We get big schools of bait on the oceanside flats and our resident tarpon go nuts! This is something not many know about and the action is incredible. It’s a great time to visit the Marquesas due to the lack of people and great weather. The redfish and snook action in Everglades National Park is great by now too. Fall is generally the best time to catch bonefish in the Florida Keys. They go on the feed and stay that way all day long by Mid October. This is the time to be in the Keys for fly fishing. Shhhh don’t tell anyone.
Winter Fly Fishing In The Florida Keys
Barracuda are one of my favorite fish of all time. They scream drag, jump and are usually willing to play. Don’t be mistaken though, our big barracuda are not push overs. They have incredible eyesight, instincts and can run at you faster than you can blink. December and January bring the cold fronts they like. The humidity is gone and we have bluebird conditions most days. If you have a long cast and don’t mind stripping like a banshee, then fly fishing for barracuda is a riot. We also get big jacks on the channel edges that will put their permit cousins to shame. Jacks are incredible fighters that are fun to catch. Tarpon, permit and bonefish are all still available as long as the water temps are in the low 70’s. Some of the biggest permit of the year are caught in the winter.
Best Months For Permit Fishing In The Florida Keys
Although the permit fishing is great year round in the Keys, there are some prime months. First off would be March. This is a magical time in the Florida Keys when the permit hit the flats in big numbers. As permit prepare to spawn they school up and feed all day long. March is usually on the windy side, but this allows us to sneak up on the wary permit.
June is also a great month for permit. After spawning they seem to be a little love struck and easier to catch. Combine that with crab flushes on outgoing tides and you have a recipe for success. The weather is a little calmer by June so it makes casting easier as well.
October is a great permit month as water temperatures begin to cool. They tend to stay active all day long as in the spring. There are few anglers and weather is fantastic. Fall is the hidden gem of permit fishing in the Florida Keys.
Best Times For Tarpon Fishing In The Florida Keys
This one is a tricky one. Tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys can be good year round, but certain months stand out. The first is May. This is the height of the tarpon season in the Keys. The annual migration is in full swing and tarpon are everywhere. It’s as good as it gets anywhere in the world.
June is a close second with lots of migratory tarpon still around. The crowds have thinned a little, but the fish have seen a lot of anglers. That being said, June is super solid and is a sure thing. The weather is usually a little calmer than May most years. The beginning of the month will have more fish, but you really can’t go wrong in June.
September is also a great month for tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys. We have a ton of resident tarpon in the keys and fall is a great time to catch them. We have hordes of bait fish on the beaches and tarpon in the 20 – 60 lb. range go bonkers over them. There is no angling pressure at all, and it’s pretty easy pickings.
Best Months For Bonefish In The Florida Keys
April is a great time to target bonefish in the Florida Keys. The water temps are increasing and the bonefish feed hard. A lot of other people are tarpon fishing so the bonefish flats are pretty empty. October is probably the best month for bones in the Keys. No pressure and falling water temps make for excellent fishing all day. Finally November is also great with bonefish everywhere. Spring and Fall are your best bets for big bonefish in the Florida Keys.
Florida Keys Tarpon Season
Tarpon season in the Florida Keys usually refers to the annual tarpon migration. This begins in March and steadily progresses to it’s peak in May and June. May is madness on the flats of the Florida Keys with schools of tarpon everywhere. The big spectacle is on the ocean side flats where a near constant stream of tarpon is the norm. June is red hot as well with tons of tarpon still pouring through. As July starts tarpon season proper is winding down in the keys, but there are still tons of tarpon around. They will hang around in varying numbers all summer long.
It’s Always Tarpon Season In The Florida Keys
Yes this is a fact. We host loads of resident tarpon year round. Our back country and flats fish extremely well all year as long as water temps are above 74 degrees. In fact the biggest tarpon I have had a client land was in December. Our resident tarpon eat well too. If you get the fly in front of a resident tarpon you will usually get bit. These fish are our bread and butter for which I am very grateful. Not to mention baby tarpon can be found all throughout the back country of the keys.
Click here to learn more about tarpon and fishing the Florida Keys
Visit the Florida Keys and Key West travel information website for lodging information.