Summer finally hit the mainland after what was the worst winter in memory for many people in the US. Even though it is the so-called “off-season” for the Keys, summer still brings plenty of visitors down for beach and watersports vacations now that the kids are out of school. Boating, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, world-class diving and snorkeling on hundreds of square miles of natural coral reef and multitudes of near-shore wrecks; the Keys are absolutely unmatched in North America for quantity and quality of watersports opportunities. The Keys fishing is also some of the best in the world, and this June has proven that fact with great Key West Offshore Fishing. The month has been a fisherman’s dream time as nearly every species of fish on the reef and wrecks was spawning, unusually large numbers of big Mahi-Mahi were cruising the weedlines offshore, and the Tarpon were going strong throughout most of the month.
The Tarpon numbers stayed high, but the schools were on the move so the key to success has been to be where the fish are with the bait that they want to eat. The mid-month full moon brought some extra high and low tides, and captains that played the combination right were able to bring on multiple hookups for their guests. The full moon also brought on a Palolo worm hatch on the ocean side coral flats off Key West, and the Tarpon were on hand to pursue the worms as they wiggled their way across the surface to the reef 7 miles offshore. The worm hatch came on an incoming tide, an unusual set up as they generally emerge into outgoing water that will give them a boost towards the reef. Fly fisherman who were in the right place at the right time to place a fly in front of a worm-crazed Silverking got to experience a quintessential Tarpon fishing moment. The worm hatch is no guarantee of mass hookups; that takes a stealthy guide and an accurate cast. But viewing the unearthly phenomenon of huge Tarpon surfacing all around through a mass of millions of wiggling red worms is itself worth the trip out.
The Key West Offshore Fishing from late spring through this early part of summer has been some of the best seen in years. The charter boats have been nailing big Mahi-Mahi in numbers that fill limits quickly and have anglers nursing sore arms in no time. With a Dolphin limit being 10 fish over 20 inches each, and a nearly steady stream of 30-40 inch fish coming on board, many trips have been limiting early the past couple of weeks, leaving the poor fishermen with nothing to do but haul Snapper, Grouper, Yellowtail, and Amberjack off the reefs and wrecks on the way back to port.
The Permit fishing has been hot on the wrecks lately, as the fish are gathering to spawn near the deep and shallow wrecks out in the Gulf. The spawn offers a chance at these great sportfish for anglers who do not quite have the patience and willpower it takes to pursue the skittish Permit across the shallow water Flats. Dropping live crabs or jigs down to the wrecks on light tackle has been reliably resulting in numerous hook-ups and some memorable fights with one of the most prized fish in Key West waters. Some captains have reported nearly a dozen Permit brought alongside in one trip, and it has also been easy to follow up the Permit fishing with action on Cobia, Grouper, and Snapper as these reef fish are done with their evening spawning sessions and ready to get back to eating.
Summer is an excellent time to get in some Key West fishing as the crowds are (slightly) lower, the weather is great for being in and on the water, and the angling is action-packed. Tarpon fishing should stay good through most of July if you want to battle a giant, and water conditions are right for either Key West Offshore Fishing trips or into the Keys Backcountry. Book your fishing trip through Fish Key West now get a taste of summer in the Keys.