I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Key West for a work trip and a last minute one at that. So with Key West travel and booking things late, all meant I had to drive from Miami to Key West. It is a 3 plus hour drive depending on traffic, so why not take advantage of the trip to check out the shore fishing on the way down and opportunities to fish from the shore. Now, I’m not going after any trophy fish or highly targeted species, just looking for something to catch after work for some entertainment. Some people might get caught up in the Key West nightlife and the happenings on Duval St. However, I chose to spend my extra time scouting the local fishing scene.
So I should frame this post as what not to do because obviously you will find out I didn’t take the advice of multiple people I talked to. I least I can say I tried something different. Shore fishing the Florida Keys is really simple and try to listen to the advice, that I chose to ignore and you will find success fishing the Keys!
I started the drive down with at stop at the Islamorada World Wide Sportsman or more fondly know as Bass Pro. I was lacking a heavy duty travel rod and the local Bass Pro in Baltimore did not have what I wanted. There I picked up a new Tsunami travel boat rod, and what I great investment that was (review to come!) While there I also took the time to check out the area. This is a great stop to find motivation to fish the shallows of the Keys. The docks surrounding the Bass Pro are covered in HUGE 5-6ft Tarpon, which is lazily cruising around knowing that they are being left alone! That site alone had me all amped up to go fishing.
As I got back to the drive to Key West I made a few stops at various bridges and keys to check things out and see what the locals were catching. It seemed most people were having luck with various grouper, snapper, and barracuda near all the bridges. On the drive down the most notable bridges that seemed to be producing and popular with the locals; Indian Key @ Indian Key Channel, Lower Matecumbe Key @ Channel Two, the bridge between Long Key and Duck Key. If you want to throw a fly a decent place I scoped out was at Bahia Honda State Park. The front side of the island around the beaches and near the bridge, with the right wind, looked so promising for a fly rod. However, the wind was not cooperating with me that day so I moved on. The ranger at the park did tell me when the wind is right, so is the fishing! This is where I ended my day and headed to the hotel as the sun was setting.
Recommendations for shore fishing the Keys.
Honestly, if you can find a bridge or a spot on the side of the road to fish, you are going to catch “something”! The reoccurring fishing theme for the various bridges was fresh bait, shrimp or squid. I high recommend two rods. One set up with a small jig head and bait it with squid to catch smaller fish. Then throw out the smaller fish on circle hooks to catch something bigger!!! The best bait to use to avoid the bait stealer is squid and Berkley Gulp. Any shiny baits or lures for barracuda! Small jigs with bait to catch more bait. Then send the smaller bait or the bait you bought farther out to deep water to catch something else. I’m very confident that this info will bring you luck in the Keys, that I on my next trip I promise to follow my own advice and use this info and let everyone know how it works.
While this is a not a complete list of places, it is a start to discover shore fishing the Florida Keys!
Joe, The National Angler