16 Mar Florida keys flats fishing
Florida keys flats fishing
Miami and the Keys have been our targeted locations for fishing charters during February and March. Stable weather patterns with little to no cold activity produced great fishing in south Florida during February and March so far. Hot water temperatures had all the glamour species such as bonefish, permit and Tarpon ready to eat our offerings.
I ran trips from Biscayne down to islamorada with bonefish being the highlight of most outings. Both Fly and spinning trips, we consistently caught some nice bones with a few silver bullets in the 8-10lb range. Most fish were mudding and cruising with a few here and there tailing during low water periods.
Some permit were around, although not in the same numbers of bones. Things should change as we get into March, which with the right weather, can be one of the best months of the year for permit fishing in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.
Tarpon of all sizes have been around Miami and the Keys, Flamingo and backcountry areas of Florida bay. These fish have been either rolling, cruising or laid up in bays, shorelines, river mouths, banks and basins. Plugs, soft plastics and flies have been getting the job done.
We had some windy days coupled with murky water that made locating the fish a bit more difficult but they were still there willing to bite if you knew were to look. When you find this type of conditions, nothing beats using spin tackle, plugs and soft plastics to cover more water and find the fish. I’ve also found good baby tarpon fishing around islamorada in their usual whereabouts. These fish are almost always willing to eat a well presented, lure or fly.
The great Barracuda
Another great fish we have been targeting is the Barracuda. Often underrated, These toothy critters are one of the most exciting fish to catch on the flats. With lighting speed runs, jumps and extremely aggressive bites, the Barracuda has all the qualities of the perfect sport fish. When the weather gets cold and windy in the winter, barracuda are always the target of choice, fly or spinning gear. Give Barracuda fishing a try and I guarantee that you’ll be hooked.
A cold front is coming in as I am writing this report, which means the backcountry tarpon and Permit will be off until the weather starts warming back up. The situation may be the opposite for the tarpon bite off Miami Beach, as cold weather kicks off the shrimp runs this time of the year and the Tarpon join the party to have their shrimp cocktail. Fishing at night is the way to go in order to take advantage of the tarpon party.
Bonefish will still be available in Miami and the Keys if we don’t get extended periods of cold weather. In fact, winter time produces some of the biggest bonefish of the year. When conditions get right, we will find these fish cruising and mudding in big schools, mostly on the ocean side shore lines of Elliot key and key largo. These fish will be cruising in water from 2 to 6 feet deep. When the weather gets cold we have to look deeper for them and shallower during hot weather. Bonefish don’t tend to tail much this time of the year but it is possible to observe this behavior if we get several days of hot weather in a row.
Barracuda fishing thrives whenever the temperatures plummet so don’t let changes on the weather discourage you from going fishing on your own or booking your favorite guide. There is always something to be caught if you’re willing to adjust and fishing for what’s available at the time.
The 3 month tarpon marathon is right around the corner and the fish are beginning to stack up in all the traditional areas in Miami beach and the Keys before they start their migratory pattern along both coasts. I mostly run fly fishing trips out of islamorada during the spring tarpon season but I’m happy to accommodate a few bait trips in between.
As today, I still have a few days in May and some more towards the end of June. If you want to live the experience of hooking a big silver king, there is no better time of the year to do it. Contact me and I’ll be happy to show you why tarpon fishing is so addictive.
This is all for now.
Tight lines and I am looking forward to fishing with you.
Capt Alex Zapata
Flats fishing guide
IFFF certified fly casting instructor
Miami, Everglades and the keys
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