Islamorada, FL 33036
There are many varieties of fish in the shallow waters around Islamorada, and the Everglades National Park. This is a general look at them, and hopefully it will give you a basic idea of the shallow water game fish in the Florida Keys. There are other fish we try to catch, however I've limited the list to the most common.
To understand some local fishing terms better, I've described a few and they are located near the bottom of this page.
Bonefish are a highly sought after fish of the shallows. They are my favorite of favorites! Often seen tailing, these are the speedsters of the flats. The average size is between 7 to 10 pounds, with fish often reaching 12 pounds or more. These are the largest Bonefish in the World! A large fish hooked will easily run 500 feet on it's initial run! Not easy to catch, but a fish of a lifetime. You will never forget your first Islamorada Bonefish! Sight casting to Bonefish can be done with either a spinning rod, or fly rod. They are available all year, with the best months being June, through November.
Permit are the elusive fish of the flats. A beautiful fish weighing from 15 to 40 pounds that makes long runs, and pull hard. They are sometimes hard to find, but the thrill of catching one will last forever! When fishing the flats, they are normally spotted tailing or swimming while looking for Bonefish. They can be taken on a spinning rod, and fly rod (not easy), or caught in the channels while fishing for Tarpon. The best months for these fish are the warmer ones. Permit will sometimes appear in great numbers for a few days, then be sparse for a period of time. I usually always target another species, but always consider the Permit a welcomed bonus when he shows up!
Well known for the "freight train" type runs, spectacular leaps, and long fighting times, the Tarpon is always a thrill for everyone! They are fished in the channels, and are also taken on fly rods in shallower waters. These fish are big! It is common to catch fish that range in weight between 75 and 150 pounds! They can wear out even the heartiest angler, and are very exciting! Small (10-25 pound) Tarpon are usually found in the winter months, with the large ones arriving in March. Best months for channel fishing are April, May, June, and July. Fly rodder's should aim at May and June, however March and April can be good depending on the movement of the fish and weather patterns. If you plan to fish with bait, do yourself a favor if you're fishing with me. Book a morning and/ or evening trip instead of an all day excursion! They bite better on average during the lower light levels.
One of my favorites on the flats when it comes to shallow water fishing. The Redfish is a great choice for people learning to fly fish. They are often seen tailing or cruising the shallows, and can be more tolerant with casters than the other fish. They average between 5 to 10 pounds, and have a "Bulldog" fight. I love 'em! They can be cast to with spinning rods also, and sometimes are taken in the large ditches far in the Everglades. They live here all year, with the best months being between June and December. A super fish on the flats!
A friend of everyone, the Seatrout a.k.a. Speck, and Trout, is a cousin of the Weakfish which is found in the Northeastern states. Trout are normally easy to catch, and are great fun on light tackle. They range in size from a foot long to 4 pounds, with most coming in at 14" to 20" size. They eat flies, jigs, live bait, and can make a slow day of fishing into a busy day of taking fish off the hook! Another great fish to learn how to fly fish with. Best fished for between October and April.
Snook are a game fish that is normally found along the mangrove islands, and in the numerous ditches located in the Back Country. The battle is usually a tug of war, with some good runs, and sometimes a leap or two! Occasionally they'll hang out on the flats, and are great on a spinning or fly rod. Average size of these fish are 5 to 10 pounds, with some larger ones being tricked into biting a live bait in the ditches. Best months are November through February.
Here's some local fishing terms to help you out...
Flats - Large areas of shallow water with a grassy marl bottom, where sight casting for game fish occur.
Capt.Jack Backus fully licensed and coast guard approved.
I am a full time shallow water fishing guide in Islamorada with over twenty years experience fishing the waters around Islamorada, Key Largo, and the Everglades National Park.
Appropriate Clothing, Beverages, Camera, Comfortable Shoes, Cooler, Food Supplies, Hat, Jacket, Lunch, No glass bottles, Non-Marking Sole Shoes, Raingear, Soft soled shoes , Sunglasses, Sunscreen