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Glossary

Get useful information and tips about fishing terms and more on our Key West Fishing Glossary.

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Atlantic Ocean Fishery

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Key West Florida is a small island lying in the Straits of Florida 129 miles southwest of Miami, Florida and 106 miles north-northeast of Havana, Cuba (24°33′33″N 81°47′03″W). Key West is at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, and the city of Key West is the southernmost city in the continental United States.

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Backcountry

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The Florida Keys stretch south then west of the tip of the Florida Peninsula. The Lower Keys end in the Dry Tortugas islands 70 miles to the west of Key West. The string of inhabited and uninhabited islands, sandbanks, and shallow water zones that comprise the Lower Keys effectively divide the open waters of the […]

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Bait Fish

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Over the past 15 years, fishing with live bait has become one of the most popular techniques for Key West waters. The careful presentation of a naturally swimming live baitfish draws the attention of many species of fish, and the fishing action is likely to be much faster than it is when trolling dead bait […]

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Big Game Fish

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In the waters off the Florida Keys, the species typically referred to as big game fish include Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi-Mahi or Dolphin Fish. The billfish in particular, Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish are the legendary fighters of the deep that for decades have attracted world class professional anglers and enthusiastic […]

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Birds of Key West

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The lower Florida Keys are home to three National Wildlife Refuges that contain intact eco-systems and habitats for many species of birds and animals. The National Key Deer, Great White Heron, and Key West National Wildlife Refuges were established to protect the native birds and animals of the Keys from damage caused by human hunters […]

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Boca Grande Channel

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The Boca Grande Channel is a 6-mile wide passage lying 17.5 miles due west of Key West and separating the Mule Keys from the Marquesas Keys further west. The channel is in a marine region that includes protected island and water areas that are part of the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges. The area features […]

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Chum Slick

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Chumming is the use of attractants (chum) to draw fish to the angler’s location and incite them to feed. The chum usually consists of various fish or shrimp oils, blood, ground fish, or other by-products. For Shark fishing, blood and by-products from large animals such as cattle may be used.

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Conch

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Besides being a nickname for Key West natives, Conch are fast-growing marine snails that feed on algae. Although the term is generally applied to several types of large sea snails, true conches belong to the family Strombidae, specifically the genus Strombus and other closely related genera such as Eustrombus. The larger types of Conch found […]

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Coral Reef

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A coral reef is a natural underwater structure formed by colonies of tiny marine organisms called polyps. Polyps belong to a family of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish. The polyps cluster in groups and extract the minerals from seawater to secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect their […]

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Deep Sea vs. Offshore Fishing Charters

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In Florida, “Deep Sea Fishing” or “Offshore Fishing” are often taken to mean fishing far offshore in the deep, blue Atlantic waters of the Gulf Stream. This is in contrast to fishing the near shore waters around the Keys, or in the Keys Backcountry that extends north from Key West along shore towards Marathon and […]

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Dry Tortugas

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The Dry Tortugas are seven small islands lying nearly 70 miles to the west of Key West. The islands are part of the remote Dry Tortugas National Park, 100 square miles in size and mostly comprised of clear, blue water over coral and sand bottom. The park is world famous for Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century […]

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Federal Permits

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A few Key West fishing charter operations have the ability to go out fishing in the Federal waters of the National Marine Sanctuary and beyond in the Gulf of Mexico. This is only possible for charter fishing companies that possess Federal Waters Charter Fishing Permits. These permits allow captains who have them to enter protected […]

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Feeding Frenzy

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A feeding frenzy occurs when a large school of baitfish or the presence of a large quantity of any other type of food such as chum or shrimp boat trash attracts a school of predator fish or causes a number of normally solitary fish to gather. The predator fish all begin feeding at once. They […]

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Flats Grand Slam

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The Key West Flats are expanses of shallow water lying near shore around the Keys, over bottoms composed mainly of sand, sea grass flats, stony substrates, and patch corals. Relatively deep channels border and cross the Flats. Flats fishing is a technical style of angling involving the hunt for particular species of fish that feed in […]

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Gulf of Mexico Towers

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The Gulf of Mexico Towers are huge US Air Force radio relay towers scattered along Florida’s western shoreline from the Panhandle to the Keys. Lying anywhere from 10 to 20 miles offshore – well beyond the 9-mile state line marine limit – the 14 now-unused towers sit in depths of 35 to 110 feet of […]

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