A Complete Guide to Fishing in Islamorada

Written By Alla Levin
April 25, 2022
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A Complete Guide to Fishing in Islamorada: Captain Experiences

Key West is a fishing paradise where you can burn through a bucket list or catch a personal record with just a short trip. If you want to catch it, Islamorada has it.

Located a third of the way down the Florida Keys, the 20-mile-long island is the perfect spot to do all kinds of fishing. The shallow flats and backcountry bays have inspired legendary stories for generations and bring anglers from around the world. Just a short boat ride away, the offshore waters hold fish year-round. Fishing in Islamorada is guaranteed to knock off bucket-list species, oftentimes multiple in the same trip.

Types of Fishing in Islamorada: Inshore

As far as inshore fishing is concerned, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better destination. The little slice of inshore paradise situated between the tip of Florida and the island has some of the best backcountry fishing on the planet and draws countless eager visitors every year. Islands, sandbars, and flats divide countless basins and bays.

In the backcountry, you can do world-class fishing no matter the time of year. The weather here rarely gets below 60 degrees, which means plenty of inshore gamefish spends their winters feeding in the warm waters. In addition to your classic inshore denizens like Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Snook, these waters hold bucket list species that you don’t find in most other fishing destinations. Sight fishing for Bonefish and Permit in the flats is the experience of a lifetime, especially on the fly.

Islamorada is a major stop on the Tarpon migration down the east coast and around the gulf. They pretty much hang out here year-round. There aren’t many better places to go to catch “The Silver King.” From late February through early November, schools of Tarpon make the backcountry bays and basins their feeding grounds. Warm water seasons are ideal for catching these elusive fish, although they can still be caught in the winter too.

Fly FishingFly Fishing

For the fly fisher, it just doesn’t get better than Islamorada. Saltwater fly-fishing was pioneered in this anglers’ paradise, and there’s no question why fly anglers from all over the world flock here every year. With an army of world-class fly guides at the helm, catching that grand slam on the fly (Tarpon, Permit, and Bonefish) is within reach. In addition to these sought-after species, there’s always the option to go after a hard fighting Redfish or Snook just around the corner.

Deep-Sea

The action doesn’t stop when the water gets deeper; Deeper water almost always means bigger fish. Nearshore, bountiful reefs hold Snapper and Grouper variants year-round, with shots at exotics like African Pompano and Hogfish. Filling up the freezer with delicious fish filets doesn’t get much easier than in these abundant waters.

Further offshore, flybridge sportfisher and center console boats troll, deep drop, and kite fish for every species under the sun. The Florida Keys are known for having some of the most diverse species of fish in the world. Deepwater swordfish fishing is not only excellent here, but arguably the best in the world. Bluewater pelagics like Mahi-Mahi, Sailfish, Blue Marlin, and Wahoo are always biting on the longer offshore trips.

Species and Where to Find Them

With endless Islands, sandbars, flats, and bays all for you to explore, Islamorada has some of the best backcountry fishing on the planet. In addition to classic inshore residents including redfish, speckled trout, and snook, these waters hold bucket list species like bonefish, permit, and tarpon which offer the experience of a lifetime, especially on the fly.

The abundant nearshore reefs host snapper and grouper year-round while also providing opportunities to catch more unusual species like African Pompano and Hogfish. Offshore sportfish are also available on longer trips giving you a shot at popular species like mahi-mahi, sailfish, blue marlin, wahoo, and other big-game species that are sure to bend your rod.

Most Popular Charters and What to ExpectFishing in Islamorada

Islamorada has a fleet of modern charter boats ready to take you to the prime fishing grounds. Whether you’re chasing a Florida Keys grand slam, or heading offshore for a 2-day billfish trip, there’s an Islamorada fishing guide with the local knowledge needed to keep you on the fish.

For the true sportsman, Captain Experiences offers over 65 fishing charters equipped with all the gear you need to land the pelagic monster of a lifetime.

Other Things to Do

Even with all these exciting fishing opportunities, you may eventually want to find something to do besides fishing. It’s rare to find such an incredible fishing destination that also has fun for the whole family, but Islamorada does just that.

Apart from the fishing and white sand beaches, there are plenty of sites and attractions around the island. You can visit one of the numerous galleries to look at salt-inspired masterpieces, stop by the farmer’s market to pick up some local specialties to accompany your fresh catch, take your little ones to the History of Diving Museum, or head over to any number of local watering holes or seafood joints.

No Islamorada to-do list is complete without the famous Bud N Mary’s! Home to almost every guide in Islamorada, this famous marina will be your number one stop.

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