Key West Fishing Seasons

Key West is considered one of the top fishing destination with some of the best fishing in the world. So when is the best time to come down and drop a line in the water?

The quick answer is any time of the year because the fish are always here, and you are bound to have an exciting time no matter what time of year you visit. But a few factors might help you with your travel plans. First, what fish are you looking to reel in? Many of the fish that take residency here are found year-round, so it is just a matter of deciding which one fish or many fish you want to pursue.

Another factor is the weather. Being the southernmost point in the United States, it does get unseasonably hot during the Summer, and hurricanes come through periodically. Also, we are a tourist mecca in the spring and summer. So if you want to avoid the crowds, the fall or winter may be your best bet.

Whichever time of the year you decide to go, there is plenty of the most highly sought-after sport fish to choose from, and you will definitely have a fun day on the water.

Fishing in the Spring Seasons

Spring brings better weather and brings lots of fish species ready for your hook. Everywhere there is hot action.

Flats Fishing

There are large Permit in the shallows. Tarpon are starting to show back up in the deeper flats, and Bull sharks are spawning. In May, the bonefish are back, and this is some of the year’s best fishing. The “Grand Slam” of Permit, Tarpon and Bonefish is possible, but all three of these are elusive.

Backcountry Fishing

In March, you can find Tarpon in good numbers along with Cobia, Permit, and Snapper in the channels. There is also excellent large shark fishing like Hammerheads and Bulls.

Wrecks and Reef Fishing

For all of Spring in the wrecks, you can find a large number of Permit as they are spawning on the reefs. Cobia and Snapper are found in the wrecks and reefs. Kingfish are found in the Gulf, and many Blackfin Tuna can be seen near shrimp boats. It is the best time for Amberjack and Grouper season starts in May. Overall the fishing in Spring at the wrecks and reefs is Epic.

Blue Water/Deep Sea Fishing

The Spring in the deep blue has a very strong bite for Sailfish, Mahi Mahi and Blackfin Tuna. April and May are the time for the Marlin to start frequenting the waters.

Fishing in the Summer

Summer gets hot both in temperature and in fishing. Because of the heat, try to plan your trips in the morning or the afternoon to escape the sun! Also, the heat tends to slow the fish bite down considerably.

Flats Fishing

The flats are open all Summer long for chances of Grand Slams of Permit, Tarpon and Bonefish. This is one of the best places in the world to get your chances of catching all three sport fish in one day. If you are a fly fisherman, you must come to Key West to experience Summer on the Flats. You want to try to fish early before the water temperature rises.

Backcountry Fishing

It is all about the Tarpon in the backcountry in the Summer. While you can find Snapper and Grouper in the shallows, it is the “Silver King” for which most anglers have come to fish. Also, Barracuda and Sharks can be found here.

Wrecks and Reef Fishing

Blue Water/Deep Sea Fishing

The summer months are when the temperature gets hot, but the fish do not mind because it takes a lot of time for the temperatures to rise. If you can stand the sun and heat, you are in for a treat fishing Key West in the Summer. It is the start of the Mangrove Snappers’ spawn in late July. These and other large Snapper varieties and Grouper, yes, it is finally Grouper season. You can find Permit in significant numbers in the wrecks and reefs, and Barracuda are always found on the reefs.

Fishing in the Fall

In the fall, the heat dies down, and the summer tourists leave, leaving more room for fishing, which is still excellent. In September, you might still want to plan the trips with the sun and choose early or late charters because while it cools on days, the sun sometimes shines as bright as the Summer.

Flats Fishing

While the flats have been good fishing in these months, the fishing is the best it will be all year. THE SLAM is still on, and September and October are undoubtedly the best months of the year for Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon. In November, the weather gets colder, and the Bonefish and Tarpon start to leave. However, there is still plenty of Permit along with Sharks and large Barracuda.

Backcountry Fishing

In the fall, there is still a chance for a Slam with Permit and Bonefish still available, but the Tarpon, while still here, will start their migration to warmer waters. Sharks, Snapper, Grouper and more are still ready to be reeled in.

Wrecks and Reef Fishing

The water temperature in the wrecks and reefs is optimal for great fishing. Loads of baitfish bring all the fish to the party. You can drop your line down for bottom-feeding Snapper and Grouper. Other fish like Amberjacks, Mackerel, Jacks and Barracuda are a good bet on the reefs and deeper at the wrecks. Of course, all these fish attracts Sharks, which is excellent Shark fishing time too. In late November, Sailfish come back to Key West.

Blue Water/Deep Sea Fishing

This is not the best time of year for going out to the Blue. The Marlin season is starting to tail down, and the Mahi Mahi are the smallest all year. Sailfishing is beginning to heat up, though, in November.

Fishing in the Winter

Winter is considered a cold month, but there are no COLD months in Key West, and the winter is the time to come for Sailfish in Key West.

Flats Fishing

In the winter, while it does not get cold air temperature-wise, the water does get colder. Bonefish and Tarpon have left for warmer waters, but fear not because Permit are still here and in the middle of winter Cobia and Jacks abound chasing after baitfish. Sharks and Barracuda like always patrol the waters.

Backcountry Fishing

The backcountry has some real action still. This is the best time of year for Mangrove Snapper and Sea Trout. There are plenty of other fish to reel in, but be warned, this is also the time for Blacktip Sharks. They love eating anything that moves, including your catch. But you can always change plans and target them for a fun day on the water.

Wrecks and Reef Fishing

The wrecks and reefs this time of year are still a good time for fishing. Snapper are biting on the bottom, and December is the last time for Grouper till May, so get them while you can! One of the best seasons for Cobia, you can find them along with Kingfish and others cruising the reefs and wrecks. Sailfish can be caught on the outskirts of the reefs, usually with kites.

Bluewater/ Deep Sea Fishing

Sailfish and Kingfish are the big two when going offshore, and this time of year is the best for both of them. Another fish that comes back in Winter is Wahoo. It is still Grouper season in December so try your luck at deep dropping for them, Snapper and even the occasional Swordfish. This may not be the best fishing time, but it is still an exhilarating time on the water with the bite.



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