Tarpon Hit Town and Key West Flats Fishing Kicks Off

The Key West fishing season is coming on strong as perfect spring weather welcomes the Tarpon run to town and Key West Flats fishing lights up with some extra-large Permit. Our overall mild winter has transitioned nicely the past couple of weeks from the late winter chill into a beautiful spring, with plenty of sunshine, light breezes out of the east and blue water off the reef. A lot of fishermen are showing up in Key West and charters are booking up fast as the news of scattered early Tarpon in late February turned into hundreds of fish rolling in Key West harbor the first week of March. The consistently warm weather conditions we have seen lately brought water temperatures quickly into the upper 70s, and the Tarpon showed up ready to eat anything that moved.

Between the start of Key West Tarpon fishing season, the consistently hot Key West Flats fishing, and the first waves of spring breakers, town has gotten busy lately. The action in town is being matched out on the water with the Deep Sea, Flats, Backcountry, and shallow Gulf wrecks all producing lots of fish. The shifting weather patterns at this time of year keep the water stirred up and varying in temperature, pushing the bait around and getting the predators on the move as well. If you have ever wanted go for Tarpon or try some Key West Flats Fishing, this is the year to do it because conditions are setting up for an epic spring season. As long as the weather stays steady, fishing is going to be red hot.

It is still too early to find Tarpon on the Flats, but anytime the water is above 75, they can be seen in the harbor, the Backcountry basins, and channels on the Flats edges. The Silver Kings are not into their migration yet, so they tend to be a bit scattered and random according to where the feed is at the time. Once you find the fish, they are eating well and a variety of live baits like crabs, shrimp, or ballyhoo have been working fine. Cut threadfin or soft baits will also draw hits. Just set up a ways up-current from a group of rolling fish; far enough to get a good drift but not so far that you have more line out than you can get back with 100lb fish on the end. Put a pinfish or other tasty bait on a circle hook under a float and let it drift back. The way the fish are eating now, it’s that simple. This aggressive feeding is also great for fly fishermen because hits are nearly guaranteed. The usual toad pattern in green, and sometimes yellow or purple will make it work.

Key West Flats Fishing

The offshore fishing has been going strong, with good catches of Blackfin Tuna, Bonito, Mahi, Sailfish, and Wahoo coming in to the docks. However, for the next couple of months, the real draw in town is going to be the Key West Flats fishing out in the Backcountry. It was already great in February, with some excellent action on Cobia as cooler temperatures got a nice push of fish into the channels running in from the Gulf. The shark fishing has been going strong, with lots of Blacktip and Lemon sharks being caught. Now, the stars of the Flats, Bonefish and Permit are starting to come around. Bonefish in numbers are mainly being seen in the upper Keys for now, but they are showing up on the Key West Flats in scatterings. If you are looking for Permit, the past couple of weeks have produced evidence that they are running big this year, with stories of hookups and releases on 35 lb. fish happening in the shallow water. It looks like we will have some good fishing for for the March Merkin permit tournament set for Key West from March 16-19.

This is an ideal time of the year to get out in the Backcountry. The weather is nice and warm, with a light breeze, and a good variety of fish including some big predators are feeding in the shallows. The Barracuda are there as always, and when you find Tarpon, they are often being trailed by schools of big Jack Crevalle that will gladly hit drifting bait that the Tarpon miss. A nice spring fishing strategy is to go out for Tarpon in the morning, then as it gets later in the day switch to sharks or get some Mangrove Snappers and Pompano for the dinner table. Another option is to go offshore and see if you can hook up with some blue water game fish, then end the day by coming in shallow on the patch reefs to fish for Snapper and whatever else might be around.

Spring is here in Key West, and you should be too. Whether you are up for tackling some Deep Sea big game fish or catching the excitement of the shallow water on a Key West Flats fishing trip, now is the time to do it. It’s the busiest time of the year, so don’t wait – use the Fish Key West secure booking systems to get your trip set up now.