Fly Fishing in the Florida Keys is like nowhere else in the country. The variety of available species is better here than most realize.
The flats of the Florida Keys back country is where the majority of fly fishing occurs. Here we can sight cast to the fish that we are targeting. To help anglers prepare for the challenges of fly-casting on the flats of the Florida Keys here are a few things to expect and how to help prepare for success.
Every fish that we target will require different tactics to accurately present your fly. The top of the list in the Lower Keys includes the three species needed to produce a flats slam; they are the tarpon, bonefish, and the permit. While these are by no means the only species available to the fly caster, they are definitely the most requested. Other popular species include the barracuda, several species of shark (lemon, bonnet head and black tip are the most encountered), snapper (including mangrove and mutton), and several species of jack (including crevalle, blue runner, yellowjack, and horse eye jack).
There are many ways to practice for your trip. One popular method is to measure out a course on a field. With a center starting point marked out in four directions, 35, 45, 55 and 65 feet. That way you can practice casting to all of the directions that the wind might be blowing. Practice casting to each of these distances in quick succession.
Some other things to think about, are that each fish reacts differently to a fly. For example the bonefish is very wary of any splash or motion, so you should lead the fish by four to five feet. On the other hand the permit, which is possibly the hardest of all flats fish to catch on a fly, must have a close presentation to avoid giving the fish too much time to study the fly. For the permit any way, closer is better. No flats fish reacts well to having the fly line land on top of them. We refer to that as “lining the fish.” With this information in mind, practice casting to your marks with four to five foot leads on some and to within a foot on others in the direction of where you imagine your fish to be moving.
There are fish to target in the Keys year round. Some seasons there are more of a certain species than others. The temperature of the water often has more to do with availability of a species than other factors. For other species, seasonal migrations come into play. Bonefish for example, are a temperature sensitive species. While they are here year round they do not like temperature extremes. When a cold front passes the water temperature can drop more than ten degrees overnight. In those instances the fish will not move into the flats to feed until the water re-warms. Fortunately in the Keys cold weather is usually short lived and the re-warming usually occurs within a few days. The inverse can be true during the late summer where the water temperature can be uncomfortably warm for fish in the middle of the afternoon. On the other hand, permit are much more tolerant of temperature extremes.
The seasonal migration of the largest tarpon occur during the spring lasting into the early summer. For the rest of the year there are smaller residential tarpon to be found.
Contact FUNYET Charters and ask for Captain John Sahagian
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18′ KNOTYET – Full Day (8 hours) $600.00
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