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Islamorada Fishing

Florida is famous for amazing for fishing and Islamorada has as some of the best fishing in Florida. In Islamorada you can fish Offshore in the Atlantic Ocean or inshore in the back country of the Florida Bay and the Everglades National Park.

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Tarpon Jump

A Tarpon Jumping in Islamorada


Florida Saltwater Fishing Regulations

The entire area of the Florida Keys is a National Marine Sanctuary and within that area are National Parks such as the Everglades and several state parks including John Pennekamp - the worlds first underwater park. This means that the entire area is under a variety of restrictions for the fish you can catch, how big they are, when you can catch them, and how many fish you can catch or keep.  First and foremost you will need a Florida fishing license unless you are with a professional fishing guide.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

You must be aware of the Florida fishing regulations as set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are specific rules for almost every species of fish and crustacean you can catch in Florida waters. Florida state waters extend out 3 nautical miles into the Atlantic Ocean and 9 nautical miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Federal fishing rules apply beyond state boundaries.

Tarpon
An example of Florida fishing regulations is that you cannot posses a Tarpon unless you pay $50 for a Tarpon Tag and even with a Tarpon Tag you are only allowed to posses two Tarpon.

Offshore Fishing in Islamorada

Offshore fishing in Islamorada means fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and getting out into deeper water for fish such as:

  • Sailfish
  • Tuna
  • Dolphin (the fish not the mammal)
  • Swordfish
  • Kingfish
  • Mackerel
  • Grouper

 

Bonefish

A Bonefish caught in Islamorada




Offshore fishing requires a bigger boat and more time to get out into deeper water. The ocean waters in the Keys are crystal clear and on many days you’ll have a nice breeze. It’s a great experience to get out on the ocean. Depending on the conditions and kind of fish you are going for you will cruise out into the ocean a short distance or several miles.

You will be fishing in water anywhere from 30 feet deep up to 1500 feet deep.  If you want to catch Tuna for example you’ll have to get off shore a good distance. But if you want to catch a grouper you will fish over the patch reefs or wrecks in 100 to 200 feet of water.

Inshore and Back Country Fishing in Islamorada

The west side of islamorada is Florida Bay a vast expanse of shallow water teeming with fish you can only find in south Florida such as Snook. Florida Bay is part of the Everglades National Park. It’s characterized by shallow waters, thick mangrove trees, muddy canals and a variety of wildlife from the American Crocodile and 27 different kinds of snakes to a huge variety of birds and of course fish. Lots of fish.

Fish in Florida Bay

Within Florida Bay there are different environment that have different fish.  The fish most pursued in Florida Bay are:

  • Snook
  • Red Fish
  • Trout
  • Tarpon
  • Snapper
  • Black Tip Sharks

These are just a few of the fish you can catch in Florida Bay off Key Largo. But there are many other species of fish in the Bay.

 


Redfish

A Redfish caught in Islamorada




Fishing in Florida Bay requires a boat that has a shallow draft, which means it can run in very shallow water. To get to many places you will cross areas that are 2 to 3 feet deep. The maximum depth of Florida Bay is about 9 feet.

Back Country of Florida Bay

The back country of Florida bay is a series of small islands with canals that weave between them and have an abundance of fish such as Tarpon and Snook as well as other wildlife.

Flats Fishing Boats

To fish in the back country you will need a flats boat - a boat designed for really shallow water that is typically 16 feet to about 20 feet long. These boats draw less than a foot of water, have a platform for polling, and live wells for bait.

Much of the fishing in the flats of Florida Bay is sight fishing - where you spot fish and try to cast to it. Having a platform makes it easier to spot fish and is crucial for polling.

Florida Fishing Guide

The Inside Florida team recently spent a day fishing the back country and flats with professional fishing guide Eric Herstedt. Having a pro like Eric meant that we did not have to worry about navigating the shallow waters or getting lost in the back country.  Eric supplied all the rods, reels, bait, and expertise necessary to find fish fast.

Our team caught Snook, Redfish, Trout, a Jew Fish, and a large Black Tip Shark. All the fish were released. We saw Tarpon but they were not biting. We also saw a Crocodile and a variety of birds including spoonbill, blue heron, great egret, sandpipers and two flamingo.

Professional Fishing Guides
If you are visiting Islamorada and want to fish we highly recommend hiring a professional fishing guide for the day. Hiring a guide will dramatically improve your experience.  When you fish with a Florida fishing guide you just show up at the dock with your food and drinks for the day and the guide supplies everything else. You might want to bring your guide a sandwich and drink as well - it’s a nice a gesture.

Your fishing guide will supply the boat, rods, reels, bait, and take you exactly where you need to go to catch fish.

Hotels and Resorts in Islamorada

There are big hotels and small quaint resorts in Key Largo. Rates vary based on the time of year. January to April is considered the season and room rates are higher. June to December is considered out of season and room rates are less expensive. If you are bringing your own boat then look for a hotel with a marina or a dock where you can keep your boat during your stay.

The Inside Florida team has stayed at Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada on several occasions and can highly recommend the resort. Situated on the Ocean side, Cheeca has a dock where you can keep your boat, and has several local fishing guides that will pick you up at the dock.

Restaurants in Islamorada
Islamorada is one of the nicer areas of the Florida Keys. From about mile marker 85 down to mile marker 79 there are many restaurants and hotels. There is even an Outback Steakhouse on the Ocean.




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