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Key West Flats Fishing

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2010/2/15 19:09
From Ohio
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Going to Key West for a wedding the first week in May. Based on some preliminary reading, there is good tarpon, bonefish, and permit fishing on the flats there. I have never fished the salt before, I know nothing and need as much help as I can get. Has anyone ever fished Key West before? Does anyone know of a good guide service down there? Advice on tackle, rigging, flies, etc.; any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

-B

Posted on: 2013/1/10 8:23


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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you need to get a guide. I know orvis has a shop there, but that would be about the most expensive option. Not sure about any public access spots, but from having been there a few times, I think they are few and far between. I'll let someone else chime in with a recommendation for guides, but there are lots.

Posted on: 2013/1/10 17:13
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Re: Key West Flats Fishing
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bc,
I too would strongly recommend a guide. There are flats everywhere you look in the Keys.....unfortunately, most are too soft to wade. FFing in the Keys is mainly a boat game. There are some shore/wading spots, PM me and I'll refer to some of them although the ones I'm familiar with are up RT 1 rather than in the immediate KW area.

The good news is is that May is prime time! Many FFers head to the Keys in Dec-March and wind up disappointed as the flats glamor species can be very spotty during the cold months (although there's a ton of other fish available, esp if you're willing to use spin gear). May is during the prime tarpon run (call your guide ASAP as they can get booked up early during the tarpon run). Tackle and rigging is complex and depends on too much to discuss here unless you have very specific questions. Generally, for bonefish you'll want a 8 or 9WT with a disc drag and at least 100 yards of backing. Tarpon are generally fished with 10-12WT rods and 12s are usually recommended for beginners. Permit and a host of other critters can be chased with 9-10WT rods - these include jacks, cudas, snappers, cobia, small sharks, mackerel etc. Floating lines are typical and bonefish flies are generally big and heavy in the Keys.

FFing in the Keys is difficult and I'd recommend you go with an open mind. Even the schools of mangrove snappers ("mangos" as locals call 'em) that swarm under every dock can be hard to feed a fly. If you really want to catch fish, bait and spin gear will open a heckuva lot more opportunities. A guide I'd recommend (I think he still guides out of KW) would be John Smouse. He guided me to my first permit in May 2008.
Good luck.

Posted on: 2013/1/10 19:38


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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Sounds like I'm going to need to find a guide. Thanks for the advice guys it is appreciated.

Posted on: 2013/1/10 22:46


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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From G-side AKA GLENSIDE
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I can highly recommend going out with the rob delph. now im not sure if he does flats. it is a father and two of his sons that run a guide service. from what we heard from other guides down there where we were staying they are some of the best guides in the keys. we got first class service and were lucky to get im as a guide.

http://www.delphfishing.com/default.htm

Posted on: 2013/1/11 0:45


Re: Key West Flats Fishing
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Quote:

marcq wrote:
I can highly recommend going out with the rob delph. now im not sure if he does flats. it is a father and two of his sons that run a guide service. from what we heard from other guides down there where we were staying they are some of the best guides in the keys. we got first class service and were lucky to get im as a guide.

http://www.delphfishing.com/default.htm


I'll second this. Ralph Delph is well known and one of the guys (maybe the guy) who pioneered FFing for sharks in recent years.

Posted on: 2013/1/11 9:00


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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Great advice guys. Thank you for the help!

I've heard some guides don't provide equipment. When you all went out with guides did they provide rods, flies, etc? I'd really like to avoid buying a saltwater rig for this trip.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 8:59


Re: Key West Flats Fishing
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They should provide the equipment unless they don't normally guide FFers - make sure you clarify this as some guides only provide spin gear. Also, ask about food or lunch. If it's a guide who works with FFers you should only need sunglasses, sunscreen and camera.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 9:57


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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Thanks FI. I'll be sure to ask baout those things as I make arrangements.

Posted on: 2013/1/12 13:25


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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I believe the guys at Key West on Fly are all solid, but I would imagine hard to get at times. I can say that Jon Ohearn will work his as off to put you on fish.

Posted on: 2013/1/17 22:42


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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I'm going to the keys next week. I'm bringing my 8wt with me. The best flies I have found are roaches looks like little crabs or shrimp. Jacks, mangroves and bones are what I'm targeting this time. I'm going to be near big pine keys not key west so there is a lot more wade fishing for me. Last year I got a lot of mangroves and little cudas. Bones were a lot harder to target but did hook one, never brought it to hand though. It's a good time down there I have my boat there already so ill be going offshore and light tackle for some sailfish and Bonita. Good luck ill keep you updated on my trip

Posted on: 2013/1/18 6:36
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Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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Sounds great, have fun!

Posted on: 2013/1/18 8:03


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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Just got back from Key West, went out with a guide for a half day on Monday looking for tarpon. Saw about a dozen fish, mostly singles, a couple of pairs, and one string of 4. Hooked one fish about 70-80 lbs. The fish was roughly 5' long. It jumped several times during the fight. I fought the fish for 40 minutes and just as we were about to land it, the tarpon made a short run and jumped again, as it landed a bull shark breached the water and ate the tarpon! It was like footage you would see on the Discovery channel. After a quick violent furry the tarpon was gone and the shark disappeared into the deep water. Nothing but a few silver scales were left of the tarpon. It was such a shocking experience, I was completely stunned. I was sad to see this happen to such a big and old fish. I guess the ocean is a cruel and dangerous place. The guide took a picture of me fighting the fish. If you look off to the right of the bow you can see the silhouette of the tarpon. The fish was about 30 yards out when this picture was taken. Thanks to all who gave their advice.

Attach file:



jpg  Fighting Tarpon 2.jpg (27.90 KB)
3270_518cd5a087f32.jpg 448X336 px

Posted on: 2013/5/10 7:10


Re: Key West Flats Fishing
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Quote:

boychick wrote:
a bull shark breached the water and ate the tarpon! It was like footage you would see on the Discovery channel. After a quick violent furry the tarpon was gone and the shark disappeared into the deep water. Nothing but a few silver scales were left of the tarpon. It was such a shocking experience, I was completely stunned. I was sad to see this happen to such a big and old fish. .


Glad to hear you had a good time. The experience of losing a hooked tarpon to a shark is actually a common phenomena - happens all the time. Sometimes if one see the shark - often a very large hammerhead - before it gets to the fish one can break the tarpon off and it will escape. Oftentimes, however, it happens so fast there's nothing the angler can do.....and the tarpon winds up being food for the bigger fish.

Posted on: 2013/5/10 8:17


Re: Key West Flats Fishing

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I would think the shark thing would leave me with a unsettled strange feeling.

Posted on: 2013/5/10 8:30
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