Published On: July 1st, 2019Last Updated: March 29th, 20224 min read

Florida Keys Fishing Conditions Guide

When clients call or email to book a charter, they convey what type of fish they prefer to catch on their trip, whether it is going offshore in search of Mahi or Sailfish, deep dropping for Swordfish, or staying on the reef to catch Snapper. While we note this information at the time of booking, it is essential to understand that the time of year is not the only factor in what species you should target; the conditions on the day you are fishing are most important.

Mahi Mahi

One Day the Mahi can be jumping in the boat the next they might not seam hungry, why? Conditions.

Conditions, i.e. the weather, the wind, the tide, the current, etc., play a huge factor in catching fish. Why is one day a banner day, where it seems as if fish are jumping into the boat, and the very next day, it seems slow?

The typical conditions can tell you a lot about the type of fish you may or may not catch on any given day, and the better a Captain is at reading those conditions, the more consistently he finds fish that are biting.

Since the weatherman isn’t always right and conditions can change throughout the day, your best chance of success is simply relying on your Captain to suggest the best course of action. That is one of the most exciting things about fishing in the ocean because you never know what you will catch until you go!

Our Captains are very experienced at recognizing fishing conditions and adjusting their plans accordingly. Usually, in the Keys, the conditions are right for catching something; the Captain’s job is to figure out what that is.

Below you will find a guide of some of the ideal conditions we found for fishing for specific species in the Florida Keys. These are general guidelines and not hard and fast rules. Sometimes Lady Luck is also a factor!

Sailfish Ideal Conditions

  • Edge of the Gulfstream which Sailfish use to migrate has moved in closer to shore.
  • East winds and sunny, bright days are easier for the Captain to see fish and for fish to see baits.
  • Tailing conditions where current is pushing in opposite direction of sailfish migration raising them to the surface for effective sight fishing.
  • These ideal conditions can appear year round, but typically occur in the winter and spring.
Mahi-Mahi (Dolphin Fish)

Dolphin aka Mahi Ideal Conditions

  • Typically found when travelling in the Gulfstream which is why the offshore range varies.
  • Weedlines or a few birds working, but, not huge groups of birds that is usually a school of Tuna.
  • Debris and floating objects that hold bait-fish.
  • East or SouthEast winds.
  • Rougher seas for larger tailing fish.
Blackfin Tuna

Blackfin Tuna Ideal Conditions

  • Rougher days and cloudy weather, but not so rough you can not reach the Tuna fishing grounds. These grounds are referred to as the Marathon Hump, an underwater mountain located 25+ miles offshore where Blackfin often are found.
  • Sometimes Blackfin can be found in open waters closer to land, your Captain will know when that is a viable option.
  • LOTS of live bait on-board if you want to raise the really Big Blackfin from deeper in the water column. This is only an option when live bait is readily available in large quantities typically during Winter. If not, smaller Blackfin can be caught consistently with Lures and rigged Ballyhoo.

Yellowtail Snapper  Ideal Conditions

  • “Dirty” water (cloudy) so skittish Yellowtail  don’t get spooked by seeing the line.
  • The current and wind flowing in the same direction so your chum and baits drift behind the boat, not under or in front of it.

Swordfish Ideal Conditions

  • East current 2-3 knots.
  • Calm weather is important, as is patience!

Tarpon Ideal Conditions

  • May-July are typically the best months, but the bite can start as early as March and end as late as September.
  • Typically, the bite is best at the beginning of each tide.
  • Warm water and weather, cool fronts often shut the fish down.
  • Mornings and Evenings are prime-time.

If you have further questions or want to know what our Captains are catching right now visit our facebook page, instagram page, updates page or contact us at 305-289-0071.

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