Saltwater Fishing Top Fishing Spots

Florida Keys Fishing Reefs, Wrecks and Map Coordinates

florida keys anglers fishing

The Florida Keys is a chain of subtropical islands along the southern coast of Florida. Its home to pristine beaches, amazing wildlife and some of the best backcountry and offshore fishing in North America. It’s been coined the fishing capital of Florida and I’d easily place it at the top of my list of all time best fishing destinations in the world.

What makes Florida Key fishing so great? In my book, three things. The weather, diverse fishing habitat, and diversity of fish species. There aren’t many places you can fish year round in the sunshine and expect to get a bite every time you hit the water. And talk about diversity. From fishing the backcountry flats by kayak, to trolling the reefs dotting its southern coast, the Keys has it all.

When you fish the Keys you can expect to catch a little bit of everything. One minute you’re reeling in a 10 lb snook and the next you’re fighting with a 100 lb tarpon. Inshore you’ll find oversized Red Drum, Permit, Sea Trout, Snook, Tarpon and Bonefish. Fish the coastal reefs for Gag Grouper, Yellowtail Snapper, Cobia, Cero and Mackerel.

When you’re ready for the big boys head for the Gulf Stream and Atlantic Ocean. There you’ll find prize Mahi Mahi, Bluefin Tuna, Amberjack and a variety of Billfish, include White and Blue Marlin, Bonnethead Shark, Sailfish, Swordfish and even the elusive Shortbill Spearfish.

Where to fish?

While fish are abundant throughout the Keys, knowing where to wet your line will improve your catch rate and help you better target specific fish species. The Florida Keys Fishing Map below shows productive fishing spots located from Key Largo all the way down to Dry Tortugas National park 64 miles west of Key West.

For location details, including GPS coordinates and common fish species, click on a map marker. Many of the map markers also include a list of confirmed catches. This is helpful for identifying where you’re likely to find a specific species.(Note: Fish have a tendency to swim around, so don’t get hung up fishing a specific spot. You’ll improve your catch rate by moving around and trying different areas.)

Florida Keys Fishing Hot Spots

The following list includes the top fishing spots in the Florida Keys. For a more comprehensive list of fishing locations, review the interactive map above.

Stretching 33 miles, Key Largo is the longest of the Florida Keys. Bordered on the north by the shallow bays and mangrove channels of the Everglades, and to the south by the the Atlantic Ocean, Key Largo offers a truly unique fishing habit and experience.

Its warm, nutrient-rich waters attract a large variety of oceanic pelagic, demersal and reef fish species including Snook, Spotted Seatrout, Red Snapper, Bonefish, Permit, Amberjack, Red Drum, Tarpon, Tuna, Marlin, Mahi Mahi (Dolphin fish), Cobia and Swordfish.

Key Largo is one of the more popular inshore and deepsea fishing destinations for tourists and local anglers. If ever there was a angler’s paradise, there’s a good chance it’s Key Largo.

Inshore Fishing

For those who want to wet their line while remaining firmly planted on terra firma Key Largo offer unparalleled inshore fishing opportunities. Most inshore fishing is on the Everglades side of Key Largo but fishing along the south shore of Key Largo is also popular.

A few of the top inshore fishing destinations include Jewfish Creek, Long Sound, Blackwater Sound, Joe Bay, Trout Creek, Steamboat Creek, Largo Sound, Barnes Sound, Card Sound, Marvin D. Adams Waterway and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Jewfish CreekFish under the bridge
Common fish species: Snook, Mangrove Snapper, Permit, Seatrout
Coordinates: 25.18467, -80.38851
Long SoundJust west of Hwy 1 Rd near Miami Dade
Common fish species: Seatrout, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum), Tarpon
Coordinates: 25.22952, -80.46286
Blackwater SoundJust west of Hwy 1 Rd near Miami Dade
Common fish species: Seatrout, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum), Tarpon
Coordinates: 25.21177, -80.44347
Joe BayCatch and release, paddle only
Common fish species: Amberjack, Ladyfish, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)
Coordinates: 25.23009, -80.55981
Trout CreekPaddle only
Common fish species: Snapper, Black drum, Bluegill, Seatrout, Amberjack, Ladyfish, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)
Coordinates: 25.21838, -80.5389
Steamboat CreekShallow Channel
Common fish species: Black Drum, Snook, Spotted Sea Trout and Jack Crevalle
Coordinates: 25.27681, -80.33481
Largo SoundSaltwater bay in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Common fish species: Permit, Spotted Sea Trout, Mahi Mahi, Mangrove Snapper, Red Snapper, Snook, Tarpon, Redfish, Crevalle Jack, Grouper
Coordinates: 25.13542, -80.39062
Barnes SoundCommon fish species: Crevalle Jack, Great Barracuda, Ladyfish, Grouper, Kingfish, Yellowtail Tuna, Sea Trout, Blue Marlin, Cobia, Mutton Snapper
Coordinates: 25.25004, -80.37179
Card SoundCommon fish species: Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Barracuda, Crevalle Jack, Gray (Mangrove) Snapper, Mahi Mahi (Dolphinfish), King Mackerel, Red Grouper, Sailfish, Spotted Seatrout, Snook
Coordinates: 25.31989, -80.32473
Marvin D. Adams WaterwayChannel connecting Largo Sound and Blackwater Sound
Common fish species: Mangrove Snapper, Snook, Sea Trout, Tarpon
Coordinates: 25.13835, -80.39923
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State ParkMangrove-lined trails that can be navigated by small boat or kayak
Common fish species: Snapper, Grunt, Barracuda, Snook
Coordinates: 25.12504, -80.40654
Offshore Fishing

The Atlantic Ocean on the south side of Key Largo offers some of the most spectacular deepsea fishing anywhere on earth. One of the biggest draws to offshore fishing in Key Largo is the large number of shipwrecks and reefs that support vibrant year-round fishing activity.

Two of the most popular wrecks and fishing spots include USCG Duanne, a few miles south of Key Largo, and Bibb, located in the waters just east of Key Largo. Both are premeir diving sites as well as excellent fisheries. (Note: To fish either vessel you must tie your boat to the mooring buoy.)

The top offshore fishing spots near Key Largo include:

Key Largo HumpS-shaped hump near French Reef, Depth 280-330ft
Common fish species: Mahi Mahi (Dophin fish), Wahoo, Blackfin Tuna, King Mackerel
Coordinates: 25.02906, -80.27862
Molasses ReefCorral reef, Depth avg. 15-40ft
Common fish species: Snappers, Groupers, Lobsters, Moray eel, Grunt
Coordinates: 25.01641, -80.37859
Belcher Barge85' Steel barge, 120' deep
Common fish species: Red Drum, Dolphinfish, Bluefin, Tuna, Snapper, Grouper, Mackerel, Amberjack
Coordinates: 25.41571, -80.11860
Santa Rita200' Steel ship, 245' deep
Common fish species: Red Drum, Dolphinfish, Bluefin, Tuna, Snapper, Grouper, Mackerel, Amberjack
Coordinates: 25.39589, -80.09164
Ocean Freeze aka Scott Mason-Chaite297' Steel ship, 240' deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Goliath Grouper, Barracuda, Amberjack, Shark
Coordinates: 25.39345, -80.11864
Berry Patch155' Steel ship, 150' deep
Common fish species: Dolphinfish, Bluefin, Tuna, Snapper, Grouper, Mackerel, Amberjack
Coordinates: 25.37214, -80.12970
Doc de Milly287' Steel ship 140' deep
Common fish species: Snapper, Grouper, Mackerel, Dolphinfish, Bluefin Tuna, Amberjack
Coordinates: 25.36794, -80.13132
Bibb Shipwreck327' Coast Guard Cutter 95', 130' deep
Common fish species: Amberjack, Hogfish, Snapper, Black Grouper
Coordinates: 25.00587, -80.37885
Duane327' Steel ship, 118' deep
Common fish species: Great barracuda, Atlantic spadefish, Yellowtail snapper, Goliath grouper, Nurse shark, Reef shark, Bull shark
Coordinates: 24.99125, -80.38233
Hugo's April Fool115' Steel ship, 145' deep
Common fish species: Amberjack, Grouper, Snapper, Tuna, Mahi Mahi
Coordinates: 25.39188, -80.13003
Jet Fighters 3F-4 Phantom jet fuselages, 118' deep
Common fish species: Amberjack, Grouper, Snapper, Tuna, Mahi Mahi
Coordinates: 25.38052, -80.12830
Alva Chapman ReefConcrete boat hulls & dredge pipe, 118' deep
Common fish species: Barracuda, Billfish, Amberjack, Grouper, Snapper, Tuna, Mahi Mahi
Coordinates: 25.29463, -80.15168
Pickles ReefNatural and artificial reef, non-restricted fishing
Common fish species: Snapper, Grouper, Hogfish, Tuna, Barracuda, Sailfish (outer edge), Snowy Grouper
Coordinates: 24.98893, -80.41546
Mosquito BanksSandbars and shallow areas, best fishing during winter months, fish deeper edges for larger fish
Common fish species: Grunts, Yellowtail Tuna
Coordinates: 25.07013, -80.38375

Fisherman in Tavernier Key Florida with fish jumping out of water

The waters surrounding Tavernier Key and reefs to the southeast provide an abundance of fish live and fishing opportunity for eager anglers. Some of the more popular fish species targeted off Tavernier include Mangrove, Mutton and Yellow Snapper, as well as Gag Grouper, Tarpon, Permit, Pompano, Cubera and Tripletail.

Tavernier Key offers access by boat to backcountry fishing in the Everglades as well as the flats surround many of the smaller keys to northwest such as Bottle Key, Stake Key, Low Key and Cowspens Cut. Two of the more popular deepsea fishing destinations on the Atlantic side of Tavernier Key include Conch Reef and Tavernier Key Reefs.

Conch ReefNatural and artificial reef, catch and release by trolling (marked by red nun boy)
Common fish species: Snapper, Grouper, Hogfish
Coordinates: 24.96876, -80.45337
Tavernier Key ReefsReef patch south of Tavernier Key
Common fish species: Mutton, Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper
Gag Grouper
Coordinates: 25.00451, -80.50082

anglers flats fishing in islamorada florida keys

Anglers flats fishing in Islamorada Florida keys.
Islamorada is a mecca for sportsfishing and one of the richest fisheries in Florida. Not only will you find anglers from every walk of life, you’ll find virtually every species of saltwater game fish imaginable, including bonefish, permit, mahi-mahi, wahoo, snook, red drum, snapper, amberjacks, hogfish, tarpon, grouper, marlin and tuna.

Dozens of inshore and offshore fishing tournament are held in Islamorada every year. A few more popular events include the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament and the Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament. Family friendly fishing events include Poor Girls Sailfish Tournament, Al Flutie and the Holly.

Inshore Fishing

Islamorada offers a variety of fishing experiences for novice and experienced anglers who want to fish inland or near the shore, including shallow flats and mangrove islands. The following are a few of the best spots to fish Islamorada within a stone’s throw of dry land.

Florida BayFlats ideal for kayak fishing
Common fish species: Snook, Sea Trout, Redfish, Snapper, Tarpon, Cobia, King fish, Tripletail, Bull sharks, Blacktip sharks
Coordinates: 24.94533, -80.70131
Islamorada Reef BridgeBridge connect the keys
Common fish species: Tarpon, Amberjack, Snapper
Coordinates: 24.84143, -80.55142
Offshore Fishing

You’ll find that the deeper, offshore waters near Islamorada produce the bigger fish such Swordfish and Marlin. Some of the fish travel in schools, like mahi mahi, while others are more solitary like mutton snapper, gag grouper, and goliath grouper.

Islamorada Hump15 miles offshore at a depth of 290ft, live bait is best
Common fish species: Blackfin Tuna, Amberjack, Sailfish, Marlin, Wahoo, Queen Snapper, Sharks, Dolphin Fish, Snow Grouper
Coordinates: 24.83407, -80.44593
409 HumpDepth of 409ft, Fish deep jigs with lighter tackle
Common fish species: Blackfin Tuna, Blue Marlin, Greater Amberjack, Mahi-mahi Sailfish, Tiger Shark, Wahoo White Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna
Coordinates: 24.65408, -80.58892
Spiegel Grove510' Steel ship, 135' deep
Common fish species: Black Grouper, Graysby Grouper, Goliath Grouper, Gray Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Blackfin Snapper, Striped Grunt, Tomtate Grunt
Coordinates: 25.06689, -80.31076
Eagle Wreck287' Steel ship, 110ft deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda, Shark, Sailfish
Coordinates: 24.88313, -80.56744
Alexander Barge120' Steel barge, 95' deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Barracudea, Marlin, Shark (and larger fish), Lobsters
Coordinates: 24.86188, -80.56833
Indian Key State ParkLocated just offshore near Mile Marker 78 on Highway 1, reach by kayak
Common fish species: Barracuda, Permit, Red Drums, Tarpon, Snapper, Amberjack
Coordinates: 24.87855, -80.67683

Two of my favorite fishing spots in the Florida Keys—Lignumvitae and Channel 2 Bridge—are located just off Lower Matecumbe Key. Lignumvitae offers excellent fishing for bonefish on the flats and tarpon in nearby channels. Snapper, Snook, Mackerel and Lobster are also common catches in the area.

Channel 2 Bridge is popular and convenient fishing spot a few miles southwest of Lower Matecumbe Key near Mile Marker 73 along Hwy 1. Channel 2 Bridge is very accessible, has a convenient fishing platform to setup shop, and provides access to a variety of fish species including Mangrove Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Gag Grouper, Barracuda and Tarpon.

Lignumvitae KeyFlat fishing best during high tide, 1 ¼ mile kayak paddle from the Indian Key Boat Ramp
Common fish species: Bonefish, Tarpon, Snapper, Mackerel, Snook, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.90633, -80.69783
Channel 2 BridgeConverted fishing pier west of southwest of Matecumbe Key
Common fish species: Yellowtail Snapper, Mangrove (Gray) Snapper, Gag Grouper, Snook, Tarpon, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.84353, -80.75023

angler with mangrove snapper catch in florida keys

Angler with Mangrove snapper catch ooff Overseas Hwy 1 in Florida Keys
When people of think of the best fishing spots in the Florida keys, Key Largo or Key West are typically first on the list. Maybe that’s why so many fisherman flock to these regions year in and year out. But from my experience, some of the most productive fishing to be found anywhere in the Florida keys is in the Middle Keys — including Long Key.

Long Key provides access to four really great spots for targeting many of the Key’s most sought after catches, including Snapper, Grouper, Tarpon and Bonefish. Recommended fishing spots near Long Key that attract “in-the-know” anglers include Channel 5 Bridge, Long Key State Park, Long Key Bight, and Long Key Bridge.

Channel 5 bridge is among the top fishing locations in the Florida Keys for two reasons — access and access. This spot provides access to some of the richest fishing waters in the Florida Keys (jacks, tarpons, snappers, sea trout, etc.) and its one of the few fishing bridges that will get you right down on the water’s edge so you can fish directly under the bridge. If you’re in the area, and are itching to fish, this is a great spot to wet your line and appetite for some good fishing.

Long Key State Park, Long Key Bight and Long key Bridge also provide great access to top Florida Keys fisheries.

Channel 5 BridgeConverted fishing pier northeast of Long Key
Common fish species: Yellowtail Snapper, Mangrove (Gray) Snapper, Gag Grouper, Snook, Tarpon, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.83961, -80.77309
Long Key State ParkShore and kayak fishing through channel and mangroves
Common fish species: Bonefish, Redfish (red drum), Snapper, Mullet
Coordinates: 24.81631, -80.82303
Long Key Bightaverage depth of 1-5 feet
Common fish species: Mangrove snapper, Mutton snapper, Yellow jack, Sea trout, Bonefish
Coordinates: 24.82643, -80.80026
Long Key BridgeLow fishing pressure, accessible by car or bike
Most common fish species: Snapper, Grouper, Snook, Tarpon
Coordinates: 24.79810, -80.86554

Marathon probably offers one of the most diverse fishing experiences anywhere in the Florida Keys. There’s backcountry fishing, deep sea fishing, kayak fishing on flats, and trolling the Gulfstream for pelagics such as Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Marline and Sailfish.

The Marathon West Hump situated 27 miles southeast of Marathon Key rises from the ocean floor to a depth of 500 feet to create unique habit that attracts a variety of larger gamefish, including white marlin, wahoo, blue marlin, blackfin tuna and sharks.

If you’re interested in snagging mangrove, mutton and yellow tail snapper, giant grouper, mackerel or barracuda, you can fish the natural and artificial reefs along on the Atlantic ocean side of Marathon.

What I like best about Marathon is that it doesn’t experience the fishing pressure common throughout the waters of Islamorada and Key Largo — but still has all the fish.

Inshore Fishing

If you want to land a trophy catch without hitting the open ocean, Marathon Key offers some of the most productive inshore and inland fish spots to drop your line.

The most productive, and easy to access, inshore fishing spots in Marathon include Seven Mile Bridge and Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge. Although not technically part of Marathon Key, Bahia Honda Bridge, down Hwy 1 a few more miles also offers superb inshore fishing.

Among the inshore fishing piers and bridges in the Florida Keys, Seven Mile Bridge is perhaps the best-known. Fish are abundant and within casting distance. The bridge is accessible and provides plenty of space for casting without bumping into your neighbor. Common catches include Snapper and Schoolmaster.

If Seven Mile Bridge is out of reach, about 10 miles up the road at Mile Marker 63 is Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge. Fish selection here is a little different than Seven Mile Bridge, but the fishing is just as good. Expect to reel in some Mangrove Snapper, Permit, Blue Runners, and Mackerel.

Other inshore fishing spots in the area you might want to explore if you’ve got the time include Curry Hammock State Park, Sombrero, Oceanfront Park, Boot Key, Deer Key, Little Deer Key, and Bamboo Key.

Seven Mile BridgeFish the west end for Tarpo
Common fish species: Tarpon, Mangrove Snapper, Yellow Snapper, Schoolmaster
Coordinates: 24.69730, -81.17908
Tom’s Harbor Cut BridgeFishing pier providing easy access, Located at Mile Marker 63 on Hwy 1
Common fish species: Permit, Bonefish, Mangrove Snapper, Blue Runners, Mackerel
Coordinates: 24.78280, -80.90804
Curry Hammock State Park1000-acre state park, fish the bays on the west side of the park
Common fish species: Snapper, Amberjacks, Barracuda, Snook, Tarpon, Redfish, Bonefish
Coordinates: 24.73878, -80.98142
Oceanfront ParkShore and flat fishing
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, etc.
Coordinates: 24.72405, -81.04484
Sombrero BeachSurf-fishing, kayak fishing, pier fishing
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Barracuda, etc.
Coordinates: 24.69604, -81.08485
Boot KeyFlat fishing, kayak fishing
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.69547, -81.10139
Deer KeyFlat fishing and kayak fishing around Deer Key island
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.73667, -80.98886
Little Deer KeyFish the northside flats by flat boat or kayak
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Barracuda, Bluefish, Mackerel
Coordinates: 24.74520, -80.99855
Bamboo KeyFish the northside flats by flat boat or kayak
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Barracuda, Mackerel, Bluefish
Coordinates: 24.75522, -81.00289
Offshore Fishing

One of the beauties of fishing from Marathon Key is that you have relatively quick access to deeper waters where the fishing for larger pelagic fish like Marlin and Sailfish really gets going.

A deepsea fishing trip to Marathon just isn’t complete without dropping your line off Marathon Hump, a hot spot where the fishing can get intense. What I like most about Marathon Hump is that the fishing is just as good as Islamorada Hump, but without all the congestion.

Another deepsea fishing gem directly south of Marathon is Carlson’s Two Humps. On a good day you can expect to reel in Sailfish, Wahoo, Cobia, Tuna and Marlin. At a depth of 600 feet, Carlson’s Two Humps is one of the deeper fishing spots in the area. Deep drop fishing tends to be one of the more productive fishing techniques for non-pelagic fish species.

Marathon Humps27 miles southeast of Marathon Key FL, Depth of 516ft, positioned in Gulf Stream, use bait fish
Common fish species: Mahi Mahi, Greater Amberjack, Wahoo, Mako Shark, Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Bonita, Snowy Grouper, Strawberry Grouper, Yellowedge Grouper, Queen Snapper, Amberjack
Coordinates: 24.49796, -80.74722
Carlson's Two Humps600ft deep and a good place for deep drops. dropoff fishing,
Common fish species: Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Cobia, Wahoo, Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo
Coordinates: 24.53848, -81.06108

man and woman tarpon fishing off bahia honda key

Man and woman Tarpon fishing in waters off Bahia Honda Key (Source:
Anglers typically throw Bahia Honda in with Marathon Key, but it’s technically it’s own key and deserves recognition as one of the top fishing spots in the Florida Keys. While there are any number of locations to wet your line around the island the two most noteworthy fishing spots are Bahia Honda Bridge and Bahia Honda State Park.

There several good areas to fish from shore within Bahia Honda State Park, but most anglers visiting Bahia Honda will try their hand at catching a Snapper, Grouper or Tarpon from Bahia Honda Bridge. On the atlantic side of Bahia there are shallow flats and channels ideal for fly-fishing for Tarpon, Permit and Bonefish.

Bahia Honda bridge is known as one of the top spots for Tarpon fishing. Each year 70-130 lb Tarpon flood the channel under the bridge as they migrate north up the coast.

Bahia Honda BridgeTop spot for Tarpon fishing
Common fish species: Tarpon, Permit, Sheepshead
Mutton, Mangrove and Yellow Snapper
Hammerhead, Bull, and Tiger Shark
Coordinates: 24.65692, -81.28965
Bahia Honda State ParkVarious fishing from shore areas
Common fish species: Mutton, Mangrove and Yellow Snapper
Grouper, Bonefish, Permit, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.65951, -81.27423

Looe key sanctuary preserve

Looe Key Preserve located 5 miles southest of Big Pine Key in the Atlantic. Fishing is prohibited within the preserve, but the deeper waters surrounding the preserver are rich with pelagics and gamefish including yellowtail, snapper and grouper.
Big Pine Key is a fishing hotspot for anglers who want to avoid big crowds. For being one of the larger islands in the Lower Keys, Big Pine experiences relatively low fishing pressure.

Just offshore of Big Pine key you can fish for permit, tarpon, snook, barracuda, snappers, pompano, bluefish, snook and some big sharks. Larger species including swordfish, Goliath groups, Cobia, and King mackerel, can be found in deeper waters on the Gulf side of the key. One of the most common gamefish species found in Big Pine waters is the Mangrove snapper.

The best fishing in Big Pine Key occurs during the fall around the Atlantic reefs for snappers (mangrove, yellowtail, mutton), grouper and mackerel. For tarpon, grouper and larger sharks I recommend fishing from the bridges.

The flats on either side of Big Pine Key offer great fishing for Bonefish, and if you’re looking for Snook, Red drum, or permit fish the channels and backcountry. The grassflats on the bay side of Big Pine are known for Sea trout.

Within a quick boat trip from from Big Pine Key Resort you’ll find several small keys that provide great sportfishing: Little Torch Key, Summerland Key, Big Mangrove, No Name Key and Little Don Quixote Key.

Newfound Harbor ChannelBay south of Big Pine Key
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Grouper
Coordinates: 24.64241, -81.38591
Little Torch KeyTop spot for fishing Black grouper, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi
Coordinates: 24.66922, -81.39071
Summerland KeyOffers great Tarpon fishing
Coordinates: 24.66453, -81.44429
No Name KeyCommon fish species: Tarpon, Snook, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.69497, -81.32647
Big Mangrove KeyCommon fish species: Snapper, Barracuda, Sharks
Coordinates: 24.66822, -81.32529
Don QuixoteBest fishing is on the flat north of Don Quixote Key
Common fish species: Sharks, Permit, Tarpon
Coordinates: 24.66456, -81.30947
Looe KeyFish the waters surrounding the Looe Key preserve. Fishing prohibited inside the preserve.
Common fish species: Yellowtail, Grouper, Snapper
Coordinates: 24.55403, -81.40494

Cudjoe Key is a productive fishery located between Big Pine and Key West. Compared to other fisheries within the Keys, Cudjoe experiences relatively low fishing pressure. In fact, most Florida anglers have never even heard of Cudjoe Key. Rarely will you ever find a crowd here.

Cudjoe Key offers a variety of exceptional inshore and offshore fishing habits and opportunities including bridges, channels, mangrove islands, shallow channels, Atlantic-side reefs and Gulf wrecks. Fish the reefs to target Yellowtail, Mutton and Mangrove snappers. For Permit, Snapper, Cobia, Kingfish, Grouper, Amberjack, Barracuda, Mackerel and sharks, head to the reefs. Cudjoe some of the best sight fishing opportunities anywhere in the Keys.

Cudjoe KeyLow fishing pressure
flats, channels, bridges, reefs, wrecks and offshore waters
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Wahoo, Amberjack, Cobia, Kingfish, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.67523, -81.49152
Cudjoe BayCommon fish species: mahi mahi (dorado and dolphin), grouper, tuna, wahoo, snappers, crevalle jack, yellowtail, sailfish, red drum, mangrove, hogfish, tarpon, bonefish, jewfish, cobia, permit, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, barracuda
Coordinates: 24.65641, -81.49107

american shoal lighthouse and reef

American Shoal Lighthouse and Reef 10 miles south of Sugarloaf Key. Offers great fishing for grouper, mangrove snapper, permit, blackfin tuna, and larger pelagic species such as marlin and sailfish.
The Sugarloaf keys—comprised of Upper Sugarloaf Key, Lower Sugarloaf Key and Sugarloaf Key—provide some of the best fishing opportunities in the Florida Keys. As with the other keys, Sugarloaf Keys is surrounded by a myriad of small Islands—especially on its northern side. The majority of Sugarloaf Keys is made up of marshes, shallow sandy flats and channels—all productive fishing areas.

Sugarloaf Keys offers both inshore and offshore fishing. Most inshore fishing takes place in the flats and backcountry on the north side of the island where anglers will find Tarpon, Permit, Snook, Jack Crevalle, Bonefish, Blacktip Shark and Bull Shark among other game fish species common to the keys. Sugarloaf Key flats are a popular spot for flyfishing and sight fishing.

Deeper waters to the south for Sugarloaf are home to several species of Billfish, Mackerel, Amberjack, Sailfish, Tuna, Grouper, Mahi Mahi and Snapper. The most popular technique for deepsea fishing in this area is trolling.

While there are literally hundreds of places to fish in and around Sugarloaf Keys a few of the most productive fisheries include Upper Sugarloaf Sound, Lower Sugarloaf Sound, Park Channel Fishing Bridge, and Turkey Basin.

Sugarloaf KeysBackcountry islands with offshore, channel, mangrove, and flats fishing
Common fish species: Tarpon, Bonefish, Grouper, Sailfish, Crevalle Jack, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda, Mackerel, Mangrove and Yellowtail Snapper, Marlin, Tuna, Seatrout, Ladyfish
Coordinates: 24.62823, -81.54450
Upper Sugarloaf SoundMangroves, channels and flats
Common fish species: Snook, Tarpon, Crevalle Jack, Permit, Bonnethead Shark
Coordinates: 24.64100, -81.53732
Lower Sugarloaf SoundMangrove channel, kayak fishing is popular
Common fish species: Great Barracuda, Mangrove Snapper, Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon
Coordinates: 24.62416, -81.57532
Park Channel Fishing BridgeLocated on US-1, Mile Marker 18.5
Common fish species: Black Grouper, Snowy Grouper, Tilefish, Yellowtail Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Schoolmaster Snapper, Bonnethead Shark, Nurse Shark, Grun, Crevalle Jack, Permit, Barracuda, Tarpon, King Mackerel
Coordinates: 24.65540, -81.54091
American Shoal Reef10 miles south of Sugarloaf Keys
Common fish species: Blackfin Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, Billfish, Hogfish, Snapper
Coordinates: 24.56487, -81.46645

woman fishing in the dry tortugas key west

Fishing the shallows off Dry Tortugas 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.
Surrounded by natural reefs, flats, and deep seas full of ever hungry fish, Key West is one of the most productive fishing destinations in the Florida Keys. Just about everywhere you cast your line you’re likely to get a bite. And the diversity of gamefish found in the waters surrounding Key West is unparalleled. When it comes to world-class fishing destinations, no question Key West is at the top the list.

Inshore Fishing

When most anglers think of wetting their line in Key West, deep sea fishing is the first thing that springs to mind. While Key West is known for offering some of the best deep sea fishing in the Keys, you don’t have to stray far from the mainland to land an incredible catch.

In fact, inshore fishing in Key West is one of the biggest attractions for anglers. There’s an almost limitless number of prize gamefish species you can target from shore, in the shallows, along the flats, and in the backcountry without ever venturing into the deep — or getting sea sick.

The shallows of Key West offer anglers an unparalleled inshore fishing experience like none other in the Keys, with accessible fishing grounds and opportunities as far as the eye can see. Key West shallows and flats serve up a virtual smorgasbord of fish species with including barracuda, bonefish, tarpon, jacks and the elusive permit.

Moving from the flats to Key West’s awe-inspiring backcountry you’ll have access to miles and miles of fishing at its finest. Here you’ll find abundant marine life, flora, fauna and of course game fish. Backcountry bays are home Sea trout, Jacks and Pompanos. For Snook and Redfish hit the mangrove shorelines. Venture into deeper channels for Tarpon, Snapper, Grouper and Cobia.

There really isn’t a bad place to cast your line from the shore in Key West, but the following are the most popular inshore fishing destinations.

Shark Channel BridgeLocated on US-1, Mile Marker 12. Ideal for kayak fishing
Common fish species: Black Grouper, Snowy Grouper, Tilefish, Yellowtail Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Schoolmaster Snapper, Bonnethead Shark, Nurse Shark, Grun, Crevalle Jack, Permit, Barracuda, Tarpon, King Mackerel, Marlin
Coordinates: 24.60551, -81.64066
White Street Fishing PierAka Edward B. Knight Pier at South end of White St., Key West (night fishing is best)
Common fish species: Mahi Mahi, Jacks, Snapper, Snook, Redfish Coordinates: 24.54737, -81.78383
Boca Chica Channel BridgeFish near the pilings using shrimp for best results
Common fish species: Tarpon, Snapper (multiple species), Jacks, Grunt, Barracuda, Grouper, Ballyhoo, Bluefish
Coordinates: 24.57771, -81.71714
Smathers Beachwade and shore fishing
Common fish species: Tarpon
Coordinates: 24.55214, -81.76871
Cayo Agua KeyRegion of flats surrounding Cayo Agua Key ideal for kayak and flats boats fishing
Common fish species: Permit, Bonefish, Jacks
Coordinates: 24.63347, -81.74557
Key West BightWaters off jettie on north side of Key West Island
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Blue Runner, Croaker, Crevalle Jack, Sharks, Tarpon, Ladyfish, Pompano
Coordinates: 24.56160, -81.80273
Man of War HarborCommon fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Blue Runner, Croaker, Crevalle Jack, Sharks, Tarpon, Ladyfish, Pompano
Coordinates: 24.58021, -81.80644
Garrison BightInland harbor
Common fish species: Crevalle Jack, Snapper, Grouper, Ladyfish, Shark, Grunt, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.56221, -81.78295
Safe HarborCommon fish species: Scamp, Snapper, Grunt, Barracuda, Amberjack, Mackerel, Catfish
Coordinates: 24.56389, -81.73297

Geiger CreekShallow creek
Common fish species: Amberjack, Grouper, Snapper, Hind, Shark, Crevalle Jack, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.57096, -81.66900
Rockland ChannelShallow channel off Hwy-1
Common fish species: Snook, Snapper, Barracuda, Grouper
Coordinates: 24.59281, -81.66705
Jack ChannelCommon fish species: Permit, Snapper, Barracuda, Crevalle Jack, Grouper, Tarpon
Coordinates: 24.60574, -81.81182

West Harbor Key ChannelCommon fish species: Tarpon, Blue Runner, Great Barracuda, Mangrove Snapper, Bull Shark, Yellow Jack, Yellowtail Snapper, Sheepshead, Cero, Crevalle Jack, Grouper, Mahi Mahi
Coordinates: 24.64546, -81.74486
Offshore Fishing

The only experience that could possibly compare to fishing the flats and backcountry in Key West is deep sea and reef fishing in Key West’s deep blue offshore waters. Offshore fishing in Key West is an unbeatable experience.

From Key West all the way to Dry Tortugas, Key West offers some the most productive reef fishing anywhere in the world. And if you want to experience the definition of deep sea fishing, just head south of Key West to the blue waters of the Gulf Stream to troll for some giant Marlin or fiesty Swordfish.

There are some many deep sea fishing spots in Key West’s offshore waters that I couldn’t list them all. Below I’ve include several of what I would consider the most productive fisheries, fishing reefs and wrecks near Key West. For most of these locations target fish species are going to be similar.

Woods Wall ("The Wall")20 miles south of Key West. Sheer ledge drops 2,000 feet.
Common fish species: Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish
Coordinates: 24.24922, -81.59552
Dry Tortugas70 miles west of Key West. Requires a multi-day trip
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Blackfin Tuna, Yellowtails, Jack, Sharks, Sailfish, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Swordfish
Coordinates: 24.71265, -82.86300
Adolphus Busch Sr.Steel Ship, 100' deep
Common fish species: Permit, Large Jewfish, Eels, Large pelagic fish
Coordinates: 24.53088, -81.46147
Joe's Tug90' Steel Tug Boat, 65' deep
Common fish species: Goliath Grouper, Yellowtail, Barracuda
Coordinates: 24.46444, -81.73787
Hoyt Vandenberg522' Steel Ship, 145' deep
Common fish species: Black Grouper, Amberjack, Grunt, Cero, Snapper, Redfin
Coordinates: 24.46017, -81.73645
Key West Tournament Reef100' Steel Barge, 184' deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Pelagic fish
Coordinates: 24.46107, -81.77014
Key West Tournament Reef 2260' Steel Ship, 180' deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Pelagic fish
Coordinates: 24.45438, -81.77082
Cayman Salvage MasterSteel Ship, 92' deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Pelagic fish
Coordinates: 24.45370, -81.76633
Stargazer ReefSteel Structures, 13' deep
Common fish species: Grouper, Snapper, Pelagic fish
Coordinates: 24.45914, -81.86649
Gunvor WreckGreat spots for targeting large gamefish
60 feet depth
25 north of Key West
Common fish species: Bull sharks, Goliath grouper, Gag grouper, Blue runners, Bluefish, Permit, Pompano, Snapper, Barracuda, Amberjacks, Cobia
Coordinates: 24.94874, -81.77648
Bosilika WreckArtifical reef
Common fish species: Bull sharks, Goliath grouper, Gag grouper, Blue runners, Bluefish, Permit, Pompano, Snapper, Barracuda, Amberjacks, Cobia
Coordinates: 24.97005, -81.88006
LuckenbackArtifical reef 30 miles north of Key West
Common fish species: Bull sharks, Goliath grouper, Gag grouper, Bluefish, Blue runners, Permit, Pompano, Snapper, Barracuda, Amberjacks, Cobia
Coordinates: 24.98955, -81.77657
USS Sturtevant WreckArtificial Wreck. 65' depth. About 8 miles northeast of Key West
Common fish species: Goliath grouper, Gag grouper, Cobia, Snapper, Kingfish, Permit, Shark, Tarpon, Pompanos, Bluefish
Coordinates: 24.78831, -82.02023

Marquesas Keys, also known as “Marquesas Atoll”, is a circular chain of islands located 25 miles west of Key West that offers a diversity of inshore and offshore fishing. Fish the flats and shallow water wrecks for Tarpon, Permit, Cobia and Bonefish. Venture into deeper offshore waters for Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Sailfish and Marlin. Other fish that inhabit Marquesas Keys include barracuda, grouper, bluefish, ladyfish, snapper, snook and redfish. Bottom fishing the rocky bottoms around Marquesas will produce large numbers of snappers and groupers.

Marquesas is known as one of the top spots in the world for Permit fishing. If Permit is at the top of your fish list, then Marquesas should be too. The flats inside and around Marquesas Atoll is where you’ll find the best Permit fishing. You’ll also find ample numbers of Tarpon, Bonefish and other species throughout the flats.

It takes a bit more time and planning to fish Marquesas Keys, but it’s worth the effort. This small island chain sees a lot less pressure from anglers than other keys. Marquesas is one of the first keys that Tarpon and other migratory fish pass through as they head up the coast of Florida. Fish Marquesas at the right time of year and you’ll have first shot at getting your lure or fly in front of some hungry biters.

A well-planned trip to Marquesas is truly a epic fishing experience. Most of the best fishing is going to occur in the flats and shallows near Marquesas Keys. However, there are a few wrecks and reefs a few miles off shore that can also provide some good fishing. Cosgrove Shoal and Coalbine Rock, USCGC Arbutus, Valbanera, USS Weber and Barley Wreck all reportedly offer good fishing.

Marquesas Keys25 miles west of Key West, Multiple fishing options
Common fish species: Permit, Tarpon, Bonefish, Greater Amberjack, Barracuda, Sharks, Gag and Red Grouper, Mutton, Red and Yellowtail Snapper, Cobia, Bluefish, Snook, Ladyfish, King Mackerel
Coordinates: 24.57825, -82.11603

Note: For complete list of Florida Key fishing spots with common and confirmed fish species, review the Florida Keys Fishing Map at the top of this page.

Brian Walters is an avid angler that has been fishing since he was old enough to pick up a rod. With over 40 years of experience fishing all over the country for.... read more
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