Best Times to Fish the Florida Keys (5 Best Islands)

The Florida Keys are a group of islands that stretch from the southern tip of Florida to Key West, and are composed of over 275 islands. The islands are separated from the mainland by the Florida Straits, and extend approximately 60 miles south of Key West. It is home to one of the largest coral reef systems in the world.

As a Florida-based outfitter, we know the best times of year to fish the Florida Keys. We can help you plan your fishing trips and budget them for the best experience. We provide you with what are the best times of the year to fish the Florida Keys.

The Florida Keys are a unique destination for anglers who are looking for a diverse array of fishing experiences. No matter where you fish in the Keys, you’re bound to catch a variety of fish species. Whether you’re a spear fisher, fly fisher, or an inshore angler, there are places to fish that will suit you!

(Photo courtesy of Jolly Roger II Charters (Key West) & FishingBooker) Whether you are interested in charter fishing or shore fishing, the Florida Keys offer plenty of opportunities to have a great time and a great fishing experience. With hundreds of seasonal and permanent fish species, the Keys are truly a dream destination for anglers that should be on their wish list. Although most tourists come to the Florida Keys in the spring, the best fishing season is actually from January to May. From June to October it is also possible to fish well for different species of fish with smaller crowds. The landscape of the Keys includes reefs, long bays, coves and islets that are home to fish such as bonefish, jackal, barracuda, sharks, tarpon, trout and generally anything you want to catch in warm weather. In this article, we’ll look at how and where to book a charter, what fish to expect, the best times of day and year to fish, and local offshore fishing spots – all to help you plan the perfect fishing trip to the Keys.

Florida Keys Seasonal Fishing Guide

Season Best fishing for
Winter Fish – Fish, tuna, wahoo, grouper, redfish, king mackerel
Spring Grouper, Tarpon, Snook, Snapper, Mahi Mahi
Summer Mahi Mahi, Tarpon, Snook
Autumn Goldfish, king mackerel, pike.

The best time of day to fish the Florida Keys is usually early morning or late evening, with late evening recommended for exceptional fishing and the island’s legendary sunsets.

The best times to fish the 5 best fishing spots in Florida Key

1. Islamorada

Islamorada is one of the best places to fish in the Keys. From Islamorada to Big Pine, inshore and charter fishing offer great views and excellent opportunities to catch everything from pinfish to cobia to barracuda, plus all the usual seasonal fish found in the Keys. With the excellent scenery and number of charters available, Islamorada should be one of your first places to fish in the Keys. Recommended location for fishing in Islamorada: Dauntless Fishing Charters and Kekoa Fishing Charters The best months for fishing in Islamorada : From January to August

2. Marathon

Marathon is a great place to fish for tarpon and sharks. There are many boats in these areas and swimming from the piers is prohibited, so there are fewer tourists in the spring and summer. Marathon is also closer to the reefs, so you can expect a wide variety of inshore fishing and a variety of charter services during your fishing trip. The 7 Mile Bridge in Marathon also offers great opportunities to fish and meet experienced anglers away from the charter boat. Recommended charters for fishing in Marathon: Callion Fishing Charters & Captain Buddly LaPointe The best months for a fishing marathon: From March to September

3. Key Largo

Since there are almost no beaches in Key Largo, you will mainly find rental boats there. If you move away from the crib, you can find many lucias and mangrove jacks in the areas around the bogies. The Boggies area is also home to snakes and trout, making it one of the best places to fish in Key Largo. Although fishing from shore is not as practical, live bait can land California grouper and several firefly species near bridges and shorelines. Recommended fishing charters in Key Largo: A-Squared Charters & Just Ducky Charters Best months for fishing in Key Largo: From November till May

4. Key West

Key West offers some of the most experienced and recognized fishing charters in the Florida Keys. Key West is probably one of the best places to fish close inshore for mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, yellowfin tuna and even the occasional shark. If you want to catch big fish in the Keys, the best months for charters are spring and summer, although most charter captains are busy in advance. Featured fishing boats in Key West : Fishing in Key West – Krenks and Jolly Roger II The best months for fishing in Key West : From December to September

5. Big Pine Key

On the Atlantic side of Big Pine Key Island, there are many reefs where you can catch ballyhoo, Spanish and green mackerel, and lots of yellowtail. Offshore, Big Pine Key also offers plenty of opportunities to fish for mahi-mahi and tuna at the right time of year. This area is also less crowded than other parts of the Keys because it’s further from the highway, so you’re more likely to book a great charter near your visit. In fact, you can book as early as a few days before your fishing trip. Recommended charters for fishing on Big Pine Key: Kingfisher Backcountry Charters & Reel Therapy Fishing Trips Best months for fishing on Big Pine Key: From December to September

Florida Keys Charter Reservations

The Florida Keys offer a wide variety of charters and are a great way for both novice and experienced anglers to make a good catch. Charters are generally offered for about $500 for a 4-hour visit, $700 for a 6-hour visit and $900 for an 8-hour visit. All fishing gear and bait are usually included in the charter, and you won’t spend much time on the boat before casting, as most good fishing spots are close to shore. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and ask your captain for food and water, as water is especially important during the hot season. Remember to bring cash to tip the sailors, as many charter companies do not pay them directly.

Best season for booking a charter

Fishing in the Florida Keys is guaranteed to be fun, but there are certain times of the year when you can expect better fishing than others. Depending on your needs, the four seasons offer different experiences.


Spring is probably the best time of year to catch big fish. During the spring months, the Keys really come alive and you can catch a lot of fish. Cobia, tarpon, mahi-mahi and yellowtail tuna are just some of the catches you can expect this spring. The downside, however, is that spring is usually the most difficult time to book a charter. The beaches and waters will be filled with fun-loving students, and most charters are booked in advance.


In the summer, when it’s less crowded, there are more opportunities to book world-class charters, and the fishing in the Florida Keys is still very good. Summer in the Keys is a beast, with long, hot days that allow for a full 8-hour day of travel. Although the weather is more unpleasant than in spring, there are relatively fewer people on the water and more opportunities to book tickets with an experienced captain. Deep-sea fishing is at its best at this time of year, and tarpon and mahi mahi are welcome catches in July.


In the fall, the Florida Keys offer very good fishing for tarpon, snapper and mackerel, with the pressure easing when most tourists leave the islands. Autumn offers milder weather and fewer tourists. Fishing is less active during these months, but you can still expect to catch tarpon and a variety of fish found year-round in the Keys. Snapper and mackerel are also tasty fish that can be caught in late fall.


Winter is the quietest time in the Florida Keys and offers some of the best fishing for yellowfin tuna, cobia and many other species. Yellowfin tuna are most plentiful at this time of year, so book a charter that focuses on deep-sea fishing. If you’re not a fan of chaotic crowds and are looking for a more relaxed fishing experience, book your charter in late November or early December, before the tourists arrive in the Keys. (Photo courtesy of Callion Fishing Charters (Marathon) & FishingBooker) word-image-3481 If you are looking for a particular catch, you need to know what time of year and what time of day is best to increase your chances of catching a big fish. In this section, we will look at the different common types so you can get a better idea of when to book a charter. Grouper: Black grouper is one of the most sought after fish in the Florida Keys. Gag and red grouper are also abundant in the Keys and are also in high demand. Spring is the best time of year to catch these deep-sea predators, but they can be caught year-round. The best time to fish for grouper in the Florida Keys is from January to May. Snooker: At this time of year, most pike live in bays and inlets, then migrate to rivers and marinas, so this is the best time of year to catch big pike. The best time to fish for grouper in the Florida Keys is from April to September. Goldfish: While there is no specific time of year that is best for catching redfish, you will have better luck during the cooler months when they begin to avoid the shallow water. The best time to catch redfish in the Florida Keys is from September to February. Tarpon: Tarpon stay in the Keys year-round, but this time of year you’ll have better luck as they begin to form large migratory schools to feed and spawn. Since tarpons are the real attraction in the Florida Keys, book a charter during these months if you’re comfortable with the crowds. The best time to catch tarpon in the Florida Keys is from April to August. Snapper: During these months the ramshank migrates to warmer shores. So if you want to catch trophy snapper, this is the best time to fish.  This time of year is also when the yellowtail snappers start to leave the reefs, so it’s a great time to catch a variety of snapper species. The best time to fish for Lucian in the Florida Keys is from March to May. King mackerel: Mackerel is more prevalent during the winter months, and with the onset of cold weather, you can catch much larger fish. The best time to fish for king mackerel in the Florida Keys is from November through February. Mahi-Mahi: Dolphins (Mahi Mahi) are often seen in greater numbers during the warmer months. Since they tend to swim closer to the surface, it’s best to head out in early June when the weather is not yet too warm. The best time to fish for mahi-mahi in the Florida Keys is from May through July. Seafish: The winter months are the best months for fishing for bass, tuna and wahoo. These fish migrate closer to shore during the cold season, providing an opportunity to catch big fish during what may be the Keys’ best fishing season. The best time to fish for crappie, wahoo and tuna in the Florida Keys is from December through February.

Best time of day for charter fishing in the Florida Keys

A full-day fishing trip is the best option in the Florida Keys, but if you choose a half-day trip, opt for the afternoon, as you will see beautiful sunsets and enjoy fishing. You need to take into account the time of day when you will be chartering. While a morning charter may seem more convenient for getting through the day and having time to spare afterwards, charter companies that book both morning and afternoon charters will likely interrupt your charter if you are late, as they will be leaving with another group later in the day. An early morning walk can be a great experience (albeit shorter) and gives you the chance to get up early and get out when it’s less crowded. The best time to fish is from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm for morning charters. Fishing in the middle of the day can be a bit grueling in warm weather. So, if you want to take a longer trip, you can book a charter that also offers snorkeling or scuba hunting. With an afternoon charter, you’ll have more time to relax and also enjoy one of the Florida Keys’ legendary sunsets while on the water. Late evening is most productive in spring, summer and fall. If the water cools down after a hot day, more fish will be active later. Therefore, it is best to book a longer trip if you want to leave in the afternoon.

If you didn’t book your charter on time, or if the charter boats are docked due to high winds, you’re out of luck. Locals know the fishing is great under the bridges on both sides of Indian Key. You’re mostly hunting Lucians here, so it’s best to fish closer to dark and bait with chopped sardines. There is no real surf in the Keys, just shallow areas, so fishing from the deck would be ideal, and you can meet many experienced fishermen who can show you around. If you are looking for another great place to catch yellowtail, you can also try trolling near Annie Beach. Of course, if you wade, you have to wait for the tide to come in. Night fishing in the Florida Keys area is excellent. There are fewer people and the atmosphere is generally more relaxed. A fascinating activity at night is casting nets in search of various sedentary fish. There is also always the option of joining a bottom fishing boat, which usually costs about $80. You will need to do some research to determine which ones are active depending on the time of year. Bottom fishing from a boat can be very exciting and you can catch anything from yellowtail and mangrove snapper to grouper, mullet and many other fish that you will not be able to catch from shore.Finding the best time to fish out on the Florida Keys can be a difficult task. For many people, the best time to fish out on the Florida Keys is based on weather conditions, but there are also other factors that are important to consider.. Read more about florida keys fishing report and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to fish in the Florida Keys?

While it’s difficult to predict when the bite will hit the fan to the point that it becomes a regular occurrence, there are certain times of the year when the ocean is better able to provide the bite you’re looking for. These times are usually determined by the time of year you plan on fishing in the Florida Keys. The best times to fish the Florida Keys vary from year to year. In the winter, the Keys can experience some of the highest water temperatures in the U.S., which drives fish to deeper areas. In the summer, fish tend to gather in shallow, protected areas along the shoreline. The best times to fish the Keys are when the water temperature is between 72 and 79 degrees, when the air temperature is between 72 and 79 degrees, and when the sun sets after 6:00 p.m.

Where is the best fishing in the Florida Keys?

The Florida Keys are a group of islands located in southern Florida. They are the southernmost of the chain of keys, and the largest group of islands in the United States. It is the signature archipelago of the Sunshine State and the southernmost part of the continental United States. Although a lot of people who live in the Florida Keys won’t admit to it, most of them do enjoy a little bit of the Outdoors every now and then. If you plan on trying your luck at catching a fish or two, you should keep in mind the peak times of the year to do so.

What is the best island to visit in the Florida Keys?

The Florida Keys are a chain of islands that stretch from Key Largo to Key West. Located about 80 miles off the coast of Florida, these islands are the perfect place for novice anglers to get their first taste of saltwater fishing. [Link] The Florida Keys is a collection of small islands off the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. The islands make up the southernmost point in the continental United States and are part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Keys are also the southernmost part of the continental United States that is accessible by land.

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