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Fly Fishing in Key West

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Fly fishing Key West’s more than 7,500 lakes and rivers, and 1,800 miles of coastline lures fly fishers from all over the world.

Florida–the Sunshine State–is well known for its freshwater and saltwater catches.

Approximately 90 miles from Cuba and 150 miles from Miami lies Key West–a small island approximately 3.5 miles long by 1 mile wide. This was home for many years to author Ernest Hemingway, who did more than his share of fly fishing Key West. (You can now visit his home–a popular tourist attraction.)

Key West enjoys sunshine year-round, and its waters are warmed by the Gulf Stream. Still surrounded by shipwrecks from centuries ago, it is home to almost 25,000 Floridians.

Key West’s temperate climate and tropical waters make fly fishing Key West a dream, allowing for a steady supply of bass, crappie, blue gill, tripletail and catfish.

Fly fishing Key West requires the purchase of a Florida Fishing License, available at county tax collectors’ offices, as well as tackle shops, fish camps, hardware and sporting goods stores.

The largemouth bass is Florida’s most popular freshwater game fish, and you can find it statewide. Catching an extremely large bass is not uncommon, and many fly fishers leave with a trophy fish. March and April are the best months for bass, as the fish move toward shallow waters to spawn.

Move inland, and you’ll find sunfish and blue gills along the St. Johns River–the longest in Florida and great for black bass and snapper (a better catch in the winter).

Bluegill is also plentiful in lakes, ponds and rivers, spawning throughout the summer in large beds.

Black crappie are more populous when the weather turns cool, and some reach 2 pounds. When fly fishing Key West fly fishers generally find them offshore, where they feed on small fish, so wade through deep water to locate a school. (Use 1/16 oz. to 1/8 oz. feathered or curly-tail jigs: white, yellow, pink and chartreuse).

At the 730-square-mile Lake Okeechobee (the second-largest freshwater body completely contained within U.S. borders), you can reel in red ear sunfish, giant catfish, crappie, bass, snook and Oscar (usually found in marshes).

Fly Fishing in Key West

Catfish is a Florida fly fishing staple, found in holes and crevices in flowing water. Most weigh in at around 5 pounds, but some have been know to hit 40 pounds.

This lake was made famous by bass fishing pro Roland Martin and is seen frequently on his fishing shows!

For saltwater fly fishing on beaches, piers, bridges or in boats, you have year-round access to

* blue marlin
* tuna
* cobia
* king mackerel
* kingfish
* pompano
* and tarpon

–the biggest in the country, and often considered the world’s greatest game fish.

As esteemed author John Cole states in his book “Tarpon Quest” (Lyons & Burford, 1991): “Even if [people] have never seen fish before, especially wild fish, swimming free, even if they are in the Keys on a trek from Duluth to escape that city’s barren cold, they are as impacted when their first tarpon rolls as they would be at their entrance to the Sistine Chapel and the immortal presence of a Michelangelo.”

Not the most tasty fish in the sea the Key West tarpon is released when caught–but bragging rights are forever!

Fly fishing Key West can provide your chance at catching a trophy sail fish. A feat rarely accomplished on a fly rod!

I have been there many times and have always had a blast. You can fish all day and then go out to Duvall street at night for some fine “fresh” sea food, cold beer, street shows and dancing if you like.

There are many beach bars and I am sure you can find one with music that you like.