If you are traveling to Key West Florida and want to take in all this island has to offer, bar hopping and fishing should be on top of your list. Surrounded by reefs and deep blue water, this island at the Southern most point, sits in the perfect position for many different fish species and fishing opportunities. Whether you are a DIY type of person or you want to enlist the help of a professional guide, the Key west fisheries are loaded with trophy fish and fun for all.
Top Fishing Charter Services in Key West Florida
There are many charter fishing companies operating on the Key West island. Most of these boats also offer regularly scheduled group fishing trips throughout the week. They leave from the docks or marinas throughout the island. If you are looking for a fishing guide in Key West, the list below is a good start with some of the most popular.
- Compass Rose Charters
- Dream Catcher Charters
- Far Out Fishing Charters
- Boo-Ya Fishing Charters
- Seize the Day Charters
- Key West Pro Guides
- Seaborn Charters
- Too Lethal Charters
- Rampage Fishing Charters
- Cowboy Cowgirl SportFishing
- Adventure Watersport Charters
- Salty Goat Fishing Charters
- High Stakes Charters
- Wild Bill Charters
- Wares the Fish Charters
How much does a fishing charter cost in Key West?
Fishing charter rates vary from boat to boat. Most operators offer half day and full day rates for groups and individual fisherman. Boats going to the deep sea or off-shore tend to cost more since they are traveling longer distances to the fishing grounds. Reef fishing and near shore guides are usually less cost and have smaller boats.
Usually the bigger the boat, the higher the cost. This is due to a few factors.
- Bigger boats need more gas which is very expensive
- A large boat can hold more people and bigger groups
- Big sportfishing boats need a full crew to operate
Do you tip the crew?
Yes, it is customary to tip the mate for helping with your fishing activity all day. They usually earn most of their income through tips. Most times they will clean and fillet your catch if you want. We recommend around 10% for tipping the mates, especially if they were hustling all day making sure you were hooking fish.
Types of Fishing in Key West
You have many options when it comes to fishing in Key West. You can walk, swim and boat to your fishing spot and all have equal opportunity to catch fish.
Shore / Surf Fishing
Off-shore or Deep Sea Fishing
Fish Species in Key west
Key west Florida has an abundance of fish species throughout it’s clear blue waters. The types of fish you can seek for some sport fishing depends on the area you fish in. We’ll break down the species below based on the type of water fished in.
Near Shore Reef Fish
Off-shore Deep Sea Fish
- Mahi Mahi
When is the Best Fishing Season in Key West FL?
Key west is a year round fishing destination, Winter and Spring tends to be the peak season for most trophy fishing. Many of the off shore fish are considered migratory and consistently enter the Key West waters around the same time each year as they pass through the Florida Straights and up the Gulf Stream.
Annual Fishing Tournaments in Key West
There are a few fishing tournaments that take place in Key West each year. Here are the most popular:
- Key West Fishing Tournament
- Key West Kingfish Mayhem
- Cuda Bowl
- March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament
- The Final Sail
- Key West Co-Ed Mahi Masters
- Del Brown Permit Tournament
- Havana Club Key West Marlin Tournament
- Robert James Sales S.L.A.M. Celebrity Tournament
Rules and Regulations
Before you hit the water you should always get familiar with the local fishing rules and regulations. Size and catch limits can come with a hefty fine if broken, so check out the Florida Fish & Wildlife website for full details on all the rules.
Do you need a fishing license in Key West?
Visitors to Key West do not need a recreational hunting, freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing license if…
- You are a child under 16 years of age.
Key West visitors do not need a saltwater fishing license or a snook or spiny lobster *permit if…
- Fishing from a (guide, charter, party boat) that has a valid vessel license
- From a boat, of which the operator has a valid recreational saltwater vessel license issued in the name of the operator of the vessel.
- Saltwater fishing during Free Fishing Days. Not a Mobile-Enabled Link
- For recreational purposes from a pier with a valid pier saltwater fishing license.
If you plan to fish without the above, find the Florida saltwater fishing license fees here
Can you keep the fish you catch?
Yes, you can keep and eat most of the fish in the Key West waters. Many of the restaurants in the Keys let you bring in your catch and they will cook it for you. Make sure you check out the catch limits and size restrictions here before keeping a fish.
What are the Florida fishing record catches?
If you want to see the full list of Florida fishing records. Check out the current list here