Florida Bay, Everglades Park and Near Shore Fishing
Florida Keys Bait and Tackle Backcountry Fishing Slam – Snook-Redfish-Trout
Snook - The Florida Keys backcountry offers some excellent Snook fishing. The average size is 5 to 9 pounds and 24-34 inches. You will find them around bridges, mangroves, pilings just about any structure. They eat Mullet, Shrimp, Pilchards, Pinfish and a multitude of artificial lures or combinations of live and dead bait.
Redfish - Redfish love the warm waters of south Florida, the oyster beds, mangroves, and grassy flats are their regular haunts. They are prolific, and definitely not timid when it comes to eating - Which makes them a great sport fish for light tackle and fly-fishing. Redfish are often seen "tailing" (very similar to bonefish) on the shallow flats as they feed.
Seatrout - Seatrout are frequently targeted from December to April. When fishing for them you can use the old standby a popping cork rig with a shrimp or artificial hanging below the cork. Remember Pop the cork Sea Trout come to the gurgling sound the cork makes.Sea Trout are found over grassy bottom and in the"muds" that is muddy areas where the bait is routing in the bottom stirring up shrimp and small fishes.
Florida Keys Flats Fishing Slam – Bonefish-Tarpon-Permit
Bonefish ("Grey Ghost") - Known for very fast and very long first runs, this is probably the species most synonymous with Florida flats fishing. There is a reason why they are called "gray ghost of the flats" and are a real light tackle challenge. Here in the Keys, bonefish generally average in the 6 to 8 pound range with fish of 10 to 12 or larger not uncommon. They are usually fished in water less than two feet deep, and sometimes are seen so shallow that their tails and dorsal fins show as they root out food from the bottom. This is called "tailing" and is the most demanding of angler skills. Bonefish prefer water temperatures over 72 degrees, but can sometimes be found in slightly cooler conditions.
Tarpon ("Silver King") - These incredible fish offer the ultimate in a shallow water big game fish. During the spring migrations, fish can average from 80 to over 150 pounds. They can be found rolling and feeding in deep backcountry finger channels, in shallow grassy basins or along the edges of bars and flats in 4 to 6 feet of water. Tarpon tend to prefer water temps in the mid 70's for the channels and usually need 78-79 degrees for the flats. The big fish are here in good to excellent numbers from March through July and small tarpon 8-20 pounds are here year-round, disappearing during cold fronts in winter.
Permit - The permit is a very strong and hard fighting fish, averaging 8 to 16 pounds. Fish in the 20 to 35 pound range are common with fish to near 50 pounds showing fairly often. They seem to tolerate slightly cooler and slightly warmer conditions than the bones, and are also here all year with February thru November probably being most productive. Permit are usually found in waters less than 3 to 4 feet deep and will also float in channels or off flat edges in calm situations.
Florida Keys Bait and Tackle Charter Fishing Tips
Who's going? Is everyone fishing? Find out who in your party is ready for the trip and get a head count. Is everyone fishing or are some just tagging along to get some sun or to watch other bring in the big one. This will be an important question to ask prior to booking the Charter. Note: a Charter runs from 4 to 8 hours on the open Water so for those who have difficulty with the motion of the Boat remember there is no turning back because the others on the Boat paid to go fishing and time is money for the Captain. Get some motion sickness medicine before heading out.
What's your Budget? Great everyone is coming! Now we need to prepare for what we are willing to spend. A lot will depend on the type of fishing you plan on doing. Fishing Guides (fish inland and coastal Waterways) can take out one to three people and prices can range from $120 to $550 per day per trip. Private Fishing Charter (fish on large inland Waterways, coastal bays and off-shore) will let you rent the Boat with a full-crew for a half day or full day with prices ranging from $250 to $1200 per day per trip for up to six people at a time. Now the least expense Charter Fishing adventure is in way of what they call a "Head Boat" or a Deep Sea Fishing Boat head off-shore due to their size; can take out 20 to 60 people at a time and charge $30 to $80 per person. Note: pricing depends on the seasonality of the location; for example: Florida and the Caribbean in the winter months will be at premium rates versus summer months. Also ask what the price includes such as gas, gratuities, any taxes or fees, bait, drinking water, etc... if there is nothing included in the price find out the extras.
Start Shopping! What type of fishing are you looking for - inland and coastal Waterways or off-shore? A Fishing Guide will be the one to take you out on inland and coastal Waterways including backcountry fishing. The advantage a Guide has is there is only 2 or 3 people on the Boat, less rocking motion on the Water then off-shore or large bays and there is more to see and explore. Charter Fishing Captain would be the one to take you out off-shore in the deep blue ocean. The advantage a Charter Rental has is more people with bait in the Water the more opportunity to catch fish, catch larger fish including sharks, off-shore Boats are larger with typically a head (toilet), beverage bar/snacks and you’ll usually catch a quantity of fish not always quality. Which do you prefer? Go with the one that is right for you.
Once you find a Guide or Charter ask some questions... This is a sure way of not missing anything and choosing the right Florida Keys Charter or Guide prior to cutting the check and making the commitment.
Is there any cost for someone who isn't fishing but wants to ride along?
Are you kid friendly?
Is the boat in compliance with Coast Guard and state safety regulations?
In the event of bad weather, is the deposit (if any) refundable?
Is a fishing license required?
Is a head (bathroom) on-board?
Do you have or sell beverages on-board?