One of the most famous fisheries in North America would be crystal clear, tropical waters of the Florida Keys. Key West, the last in this island chain is possibly the most famous. Surrounded by water on all sides, Key West fishing offers many options depending on the time of year, target species and your heart’s desire. The deep blue waters of the Atlantic collide with the calcareous crust of the islands creating a fish attracting feature for dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, tuna, marlin, sharks and so much more.
The fertile waters of the Gulf of Mexico saturate the other side of the Keys offering another host of species like grouper, snapper, cobia and kingfish to name a few. Both overlap at Key West making it a smorgasbord of fishing possibilities. The shallow borders of the land create intricate stretches of flats that are home to tarpon, bonefish, and mangrove snapper to name a few.
With so many different species and habitats, Key West anglers must master a wide variety of techniques and offerings to consistently catch fish in these waters. Throw into the mix the fact that crystal clear water gives the fish a distinct visual advantage and fishermen must learn to rig their baits in the stealthiest of presentations. Fishing pressure also educates the local fish populations creating an environment where “local knowledge” is more important than all other factors.
Anglers use lures to some degree, but the live bait is king and often the key to a successful day of fishing.
Finding and catching the bait has become an art form itself and many guides go to extremes to keep that edge for their clients.
Rush of Odyssea Key West Sportfishing tells us all about it. “ So many people don’t have to suffer from bait anxiety, but I deal with it on a daily basis. The location and dependability of live bait is never certain, yet it is often the key to success. For that reason, I go to great lengths to catch and pen up bait as a back up to the daily supply. We sabiki a variety of pilchards, herring, goggle eyes and hard tails to keep in floating pens. We baby them, feed them and cure these baits, nursing them back to health after their capture. I like to have a variety of types because one never knows what the fish are going to be keyed in to eating on any given day.”
All of this effort is focused on preparation so that the day of fishing whether for charter or family fun, is at its peak potential in these fertile, but particular waters. “Local knowledge” is the key and it evolves with the watery-world around us.