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March 2023

Fishing forecast for the Lower Florida Keys

Lower Florida Winter Fishing Report


We have entered peak season here in the Keys.  The snowbirds are here and spring break is in full force.  Thankfully, one can find some solitude on the water. It’s quite the duality.  This is also the time of year that I bounce between the bay boat and the flats boat depending on weather.

    I’ve been winding down kind of early from the typical backcountry programs this year.  The basins are still producing some fish, but location and tides have been critical to success.  Pilchard have thinned out, but are available if you are willing to put in the time. There have been some very large jacks around.  I hope they will stay for a while.  Barracuda have also been around in good numbers.  It offers a great opportunity to mix it up during the day.

    Tarpon season seems to have been here for a while.  Consistently warm weather has brought decent numbers of fish. If you find them, they have been biting.  I’m hoping for a good tarpon season and looking forward to putting my clients, many whom have become friends, on some happy fish. Thank you to those who have filled up my calendar. I do have a few days in June if anyone is looking to chase tarpon and bonefish.

    If you held my feet to the fire and made me pick my favorite fish i’d probably tell you bonefish as long as I hadn't caught a permit in the last 48hrs. Bonefishing has been one of the great comeback stories of the Keys. During my guiding career, both bonefish and barracuda have experienced steep declines and major rebounds. They are a fantastic break from hunting migratory tarpon and should be active over the coming months.

    Permit seem to have been moving out early this spring.  It’s not a surprise with as warm as it has been. Hopefully, they will have a productive spawn and contribute to the local population.  The Keys guiding community has done a lot of work over the past years to help protect this mysterious and unique fish.  Some smaller fish, more akin to those in other permit destinations, can be found while bonefishing over the coming months. Good luck and good fishing.