Key West Fishing Calendar
Here in Key West we look at fishing with the calendar. People call in to book fishing charters with us and they ask. "What is good to fish for in July".. We point them to this page for a reference they can use all the time.
Our Key West fishing calendar is a general look at what is traditionally available throughout the calendar year here in Key West fishing.
For local events Check out: Key West Events Calendar
Look over the months that you would like to be here and then decide based on the Key West fish species that you would like to target. Often times folks use our Key West fishing report to learn more about what is happening up to the minute and our Key West fishing seasons for a general guideline of seasonal fishing here in Key West.
Lets start off the year in the height of winter Key West fishing. One of our cooler months January holds an incredible bounty of fish to go fishing for out of Key West. Winds from the North during cold fronts with warm ups coming from the South and South Easterly directions.
Starting the month off lets go to deep sea fishing where the blackfin tuna, and kingfish bite is generally rock solid in January just out past the reef making easy runs to get in front of them. Sailfishing can be good in January with consistent catches. The bonus fish are the dolphin (mahi Mahi). A shift of South Easterly winds will certainly ring the bell here but expect them to be out there most days, dolphin are like gangsters cruising the reef this time of the year for easy feeding.
When reef fishing anglers will be able to take advantage of the incredible snapper fishing (grouper season Atlantic closed till May). With Yellowtail snappers and mutton snappers. With cooler water temps the snappers come in close and feed heavily on the massive amounts of bait on the reefs. Patch reef fishing can be outstanding.
inshore the flats fishing is weather dependent. Permit don't mind cooler water temps and they can be found feeding on the flats. Barracudas are a fun target on the warmer days and a little dormant on the cold days. It's not unusual to have a shot at bonefish on the flats with a warmer winter.
For some real fun catching fish and bending rods in Key West without so much consideration on the weather the backcountry fishing is outstanding. Trout, Snappers, ladyfish, pompano, mackerel, jacks some tarpon on warmer days, sharks and barracudas. A great way to get out and enjoy the day fishing with amazing scenery.
Consistently the coldest month here in our Key West winter fishing. A nice time to be here and the fishing can be epic. Consistent cold fronts ushered in from the North bringing brisk northerly winds and temps into the 60s for a low warming up to75 most days and warmer on occasion. Mid February is the kick off to our tourist season here in Key West with the start of spring break and folks wanting to get out of the snow up North.
Being a winter month one can expect the deep sea fishing to see good blackfin tunas and the kingfish bite will still be going on. A nice surprise is the wahoo bite on the full moons and the steady stream of sailfish and dolphin moving down the reef lines from time to time.
On the reefs the bait is everywhere making the reef fishing continue to be great for yellowtail snapper and mutton snappers. the patch reef will also be a great haven for good fishing for tasty fillets in the cooler months as the water temps stay lower. Grouper fishing season will be closed till May 1 in the Atlantic
Lots of people really enjoy the inshore backcountry fishing in February. With the amazing cooler weather its fun to get out there after some trout, pompano, lady fish, jacks, sharks, barracudas and the occasional tarpon.
The flats fishing will hold shots at permit and warmer water barracudas. I also enjoy the shots that my anglers get on the sides of the flats for mutton snappers feeding behind the rays.
In the Gulf the wreck fishing will hold some good cobia and snappers with huge jacks and some permit orbiting the wrecks. North winds often hamper these runs making anglers want to pick their day.
The windier of the months starting off our Key West spring time. As the temps start to rise and cold fronts stall out before reaching us most of the time. Mid March we get a pretty consistent breeze from the East. Spring break and tourist season is in full swing with lots of Key West activities.
The blue water can be rough but very active for deep sea fishing. Some larger dolphin (mahi) make their way into our fishing but our consistent bite is blackfin tunas, kingfish, some sailfish and wahoo on the full and new moons. Trolling can be challenging in the rougher conditions but very productive.
Kite fishing with live baits is hugely popular this month for sailfish, dolphin, tuna, wahoo and kingfish.
The reef is a solid bet for an enjoyable day of fishing. Yellowtail snappers with Mutton snappers on the reef with mutton and mangrove snappers on the patch reefs. The water temps are still cooler so the fish don't mind being shallow to feed on the bait.
Inshore once again is a great place to be to avoid high winds and a beating. Backcountry fishing starts to really heat up with the addition of tarpon fishing getting strong mid March with big tarpon laying up in the channels feeding hard. In addition to the tarpon fishing we also have some monster sharks spawning in the shallows. Shark fishing is very popular in the backcountry in March. Add all that to amazing fishing for trout, ladyfish, jacks, barracudas and snappers and I would say our most popular fishing is backcountry fishing in March.
My favorite month for flats fishing for permit is March. The larger permit taking advantage of our big tides in March making some great targets for our flats fishing charters fishing with spin fishing or fly fishing. We hold one of the more prestigious fly fishing tournaments in March called the March Merkin.
Officially Key West is coming out of winter patterns. The weather gets a little more stable during this dry period. Things start to warm up with temps up to the high 80s on some days as we make the rapid shift into summer. Tourist season is in full swing and Key West fishing is amazing.
Outside the reef the blue water it typically pretty far offshore but that does not stop our palegics from moving through the area hungry and ready to fight. Let's call April our best month to target sailfish. Most of our larger dolphin are caught off Key West in April deep sea fishing. A few of our fishing tournaments are in April and our biggest sailfishing tournament is held in April. The weather is good the bite is hot April is a great time for deep sea fishing for many species of fish such as dolphin, wahoo, tuna, sailfish and white marlin.
Kite fishing is very popular for sailfish, dolphin, tuna and some wahoo.
The reef fishing goes to another level, grouper season is still closed till May 1 but the yellowtail and mutton snappers are starting to set up for the spawn. Many large yellowtails are caught in April yellowtail snappers up to 5 lbs are not uncommon on the reef this month. A great time for food fishing. All of our reef fishing charters let you keep 100% of your legal catch. Permit fishing will be great this month on the reefs and wreck fishing as they do the yearly spawn.
Tarpon fishing season is almost here with many tarpon in the backcountry still in the channels. Some are up on in the shallows laid up and ready to eat. Backcountry fishing is mostly about tarpon fishing in April with a side bar of fun fish such as snappers, jacks, trout, barracudas and sharks.
On the flats anglers can expect to see the start of bonefishing with the warmer water temps. The permit are on the reef spawning. Toward the end of the month of April occasionally the tarpon migration will start.
Summer like conditions start to prevail. Winds are moderate and the fishing is on fire. May is an amazing month for Key West fishing. More Key West fishing tournaments and lots of things to do in Key West See: Key West calendar of events.
We start off with deep sea fishing for good reason. Its amazing in May. Great dolphin (mahi) fishing with sailfish, wahoo and shots at Marlin and some tuna. Not a huge run offshore to target these fish and the weather can be amazing.
Reef fishing is peaking this month with the snappers spawning and grouper season open now in the Atlantic. For anglers that like to fill the box with fish to eat this is your month. Wreck fishing in the gulf expect to see the last few cobia and permit as well as some amazing blackfin tuna fishing behind the shrimp boats.
Inshore fishing is equally amazing. Anglers from all over the world come to Key West every year to pursue the tarpon fishing in the shallows. The yearly tarpon migration has loads of fish sliding up through the shallows to do their thing. On the flats, in the channels the tarpon fishing is amazing in May. On top of that the permit are back on the flats with some bonefish making a Key West grand slam (all three fish tarpon, permit, bonefish) even more of a possibility.
Lets dive deeper into summer time with June. While the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season we rarely ever get a storm in June but we do have Calmer winds, thunderstorms and hot temperatures that prevail as we move into summer season. The crowds start to thin out in Key West but there are still some fun things to do here including fishing.
June means dolphin (mahi) to many Key West fishing enthusiasts with a mix of wahoo and marlin. Trolling is a great way to spend the day on the calm seas of June.
Reef fishing is fantastic in June for some keeper fillets for the dinner table of yellowtail snappers, mutton snapper, mangrove snapper and grouper. Visit one of our local Key West wrecks for light tackle sport fishing for permit, amber-jacks and African pompano.
Inshore fishing is on fire with tarpon fishing season in full swing. Huge schools of tarpon are moving and migrating through the Florida Keys and Key West. a great way to scratch your bucket list of a tarpon while fly fishing or spin fishing with light tackle. The flats fishing is amazing with bonefish and permit on the flats making the Key West grand slam a possibility.
The dog days of summer start in July where the winds are super calm and the tropics start to heat up. The crowds in Key West have started to thin out and Key West accommodations rates slide into off season prices. A fantastic time to go to Key West for fishing.
Deep sea fishing for dolphin is really good, for smaller fish but there are lots of them. Great fun for the whole group catching "schoolies" behind the boat. A good bit of a run is needed to get far enough out to find dolphin with a possibility of surprise marlin showing up in the trolling spread.
The reef fishing is good with yellowtail snappers on the edges of the reef and mutton snappers a little deeper. For a really nice treat deep dropping is fun in depths of 350 - 1000 ft of water for tasty tile fish and groupers. Then there is daytime sword fishing which is very popular in July with the calmer waters.
Tarpon fishing is still red hot with the end of the tarpon migration while backcountry fishing. Flats fishing is incredible in July with the Key West grand slam of tarpon, permit and bonefish on the flats for Key West fishermen to try their luck.
Snorkeling and fishing combo trips become quite popular to offer a two for one approach and a way to cool off on a long summer day of fishing.
The last Wednesday and Thursday of every July is the sportsman's weekend for lobster. A good time to not come to Key West to go fishing in the backcountry as there are boats everywhere. See: Key West Lobstering
Officially the end of tourist season and the beginning of the height of our tropical season. Hot summer days with summer downpours are part of the daily drill here in Key West in August. Many folks come this time of the year for our Key West lobsterfest
The Gulf Stream flows in and out like a snake bringing palegics through our deep sea fishing frequently. Numerous smaller dolphin are caught with the occasional marlin and wahoo.
Food fishing on the reef can be good during the stronger moon tide phases. the dog days of summer will make the reef fishing crystal clear and someone still. A great time for deep dropping and daytime swordfishing. Evening trips for yellowtail snapper are quite popular.
The inshore fishing is almost as good as it gets for sport fish such as the Key West flats fishing grand slam of tarpon, permit and bonefish. backcountry fishing is very good and August is a great time to mix backcountry fishing with snorkeling on a snorkel / fishing trip so everyone can get cooled off from the summer heat.
Tourist season comes to a stand still here in Key West in September. Key West accommodation rates go down and the chances of a tropical storm heat up as it is the height of hurricane season for us here. No crowds and hot humid nights with days full of hot sun and intermittent rain showers.
The dog days of summer are in full effect in September with the deep sea fishing focusing on smaller dolphin and long runs to get them. Amazing days on the water seeing flat calm conditions and incredible water.
The reef is generally crystal clear with the better tides during the new and full moon phases offering the current to make a good day of snapper and grouper fishing.
The shallows hold the key to the sport fishing in September with amazing flats fishing for the Key West grand slam of tarpon, permit and bonefish. A light tackle spin and fly fishing paradise on the flats and in the backcountry with crystal clear water and amazing fishing. One of my favorite months for bonefishing.
The Dry Tortugas are just 65 miles away and hold cooler waters for grouper and snapper fishing. A fantastic trip that holds lots of surprises along the way with a good bit of food fish at the end of the day. September is a great month for Dry Tortugas fishing.
As the humidity starts to get lower and things dry off a bit October is generally the last month Key West has to worry about tropical systems hitting us. While it happens, just not very often making October one of my favorite months to go fishing in Key West. The last part of the month is VERY busy with the Key West Fantasy Fest, a week long festivity of partying. See: Key West calendar of events.
The blue waters hold many surprises for those who venture out. Dolphin and the occasional wahoo with shots at blue marling are all part of the bounty.
On the reef during the better moon phases with good flowing tides are the best times to try for snapper and grouper. The Dry Tortugas Trips are a great idea in October for some great snapper grouper fishing.
The Key West grand slam of tarpon permit and bonefish are a real possibility. Bonefishing is absolutely amazing out of Key West in October. Double digit days of flats fishing are well within the realm of possibilities fly fishing or using light spinning tackle.
As things wind down from Fantasy Fest we slide into a slow tourists month. We always hope for early cold fronts in November to cool things off from our brutal summer conditions. November is what I call a transitional month where summer and winter compete to take over the weather patterns over us. This can lead to high winds and rough conditions. Or Not..
Deep sea fishing reflects the changes of the seasons. Traditionally Key West gets massive amounts of baits inshore and offshore putting on the feed bag for all the fish. Blackfin tunas start to show up along with some great wahoo fishing on the moons, marlin fishing is also in tune with the seasonal changes. Often times we get a push of sailfish through Key West making some great kite fishing opportunities.
On the reef consider it FIRE. with the turn of the season and the water getting turned up by the weather there are tons of ballyhoo baitfish thats congregate on the reef line making easy prey for cero mackerel turning the little bait fish into chum and bringing on the snapper bite. Its eat or be eaten either way the reef fishing is great.
Fishing inshore is really interesting. Warm November we are still flats fishing chasing the grand slam of juvenile tarpon, permit and bonefish. Cold November Key West brings in the winter crew of rod bending characters such as trout, ladyfish, sharks, barracudas, jacks, mackerels and snappers.
Get ready, anything goes in December. We hardly ever know what the weather will do therefore it is hard to put our finger on anything exact. The month starts off pretty slow with few visitors and lower Key West accommodations rates. The weather is perfect for anything. As the month wears on Christmas week gets super busy and the Key West events calendar heats up.
What a great month for a suprise by just about anything offshore. Deep sea fishing is usually consistent with blackfin tunas. On the moons wahoo are here and December can hve a bit of a sailfish run. If the conditions are right we also get dolphin with and outside possbility of a white marlin. The weather conditions and position of the Gulf Stream dictate whats biting in the blue waters off Key West in December.
Just inside the blue water the reef line is full of life with lots of bait on the reef making Key West reef fishing in December really good with mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper and the last month of Grouper season. A real bounty. The wrecks in the Atlantic will hold some good amberjack fishing, mutton snappers and vermillions.
Head to the North and West of Key West and get into some great wreck fishing for cobia and the start of our kingfish season.
Stay inshore and experience great fishing for jacks, lady fish, mackerel, trout, barracudas, snappers and sharks. Get up on the shallows and go flats fishing to experience some permit fishing that will really impress. The coller Decembers will see a lack of bonefish and tarpon but a nice warming trend will bring them up.
The Year In Closing
its not hard to see after reading that whole month by month list of fishing here in Key West that we have a fantastic year round fishery and we are very proud to be a part of it.
- Capt. Steven Lamp