Key West Fishing Charter: Reef Fish Stays Hot in July

July is closing out and temperatures have been holding steady in the upper 80s to low 90s range as is typical for Key West this time of year. Other than the occasional afternoon thundershowers that roll through, the weather is perfect for fishing, and high humidity and many nearly windless days make getting out on the water and catching the ocean breeze the obvious option for cooling off. The dead calm water we have had the past couple of weeks has opened up a lot of good fishing opportunities, as charter captains are able to run anywhere they want at high speed. These conditions let anglers get a chance at remote spots like the Gulf Towers, Dry Tortugas, and Marquesas, where the fishing pressure is lighter and nearly all species tend to run in larger sizes. Closer in to shore, Key West fishing charter with reef and wreck fishing are the call because when the boat is not bouncing around on chop, it is much easier and more comfortable to run the 6 miles from Key West out to the reef or the Atlantic and Gulf wrecks.

And with the offshore staple Dolphin fishing being on the inconsistent side this month, the reefs and the wrecks have been the place to be. Key West fishing charter has been satisfying many visiting anglers lately, and the low wind conditions make the reef an easy run in the afternoon when the heat tends to shut down fishing on the Flats and other shallow areas. The Mangrove Snapper spawn is on now, so these fish are gathered in huge schools at different spots on the reef. Chumming them up to the boat and tossing live pinfish to them will fill a cooler fast. Shallow areas on the reef are ideal for throwing artificial lures like plugs for surface action or buck tail jigs to get a bit deeper. Barracudas, Groupers, Jacks, and various Snappers have all been responding to this technique.

The mainstay of the reef, Yellowtail Snapper fishing, has also been excellent lately. Quick limits on large “Flag” Snappers are being reported by many of the captains coming into the marina. Yellowtail are in the top ranks of eating fish, and it is common for successful fishermen to carry a few filets straight from the dock to their favorite restaurant, where the cooks are happy to make super-fresh fish part of a delicious dinner.

Speaking of tasty treats from the reef, the Keys Lobster Mini-Season goes off this Wednesday and Thursday July 29 and 30. For a great day, book a lobster and reef fishing combination trip. Start the day by getting in the water with mask and snorkel and hunting down up to 6 lobsters for each person. There are a few tricks to catching these spiny critters, but your crew will be happy to show you the ropes. Once you have a few lobsters in the cooler, go reef fishing. The action on the reef is usually fast and fun, and in no time you can collect a selection of good eating fish to go with some lobster appetizers at dinner time.

The wrecks are also producing well as fish look for deeper, cooler waters. Dropping live bait has been working, and Amberjack, Cobia, Mutton Snapper, Permit, Yellow Jacks and more are coming into the dock in good numbers. If you are looking for some big bottom fish, take advantage of the good weather to run out to the Atlantic offshore deep wrecks. These isolated wrecks attract big schools of bait fish and action has been steady on predators like Blackfin Tuna, Bonito, Kingfish, and big Mutton Snapper. Your captain may have you drift a live pilchard over the wreck, or you might anchor up and drop a jig tipped with a bit of shrimp or cut bait down deep. Sharks can sometimes be a problem in these deep waters, so you will need to crank your fish up fast if you don’t want to share it.

Although summer is considered the slow season here in Key West, there is plenty of good fishing to be had. The weather is on the hot side, but that is balanced by calm wind and water conditions that make for pleasant fishing. As the summer winds into August, you will want to book your trip soon because many Key West charter fishing captains go on vacation in August and September.