Fishing Key West waters can be broken down in to four basic groups: Harbor, Reef, Wreck and Off Shore.
Harbor Harbor fishing in Key West is primarily for tarpon however, permit, cobia and snapper can be found between early March and mid-July. The harbor is also a great alternative when the weather is poor. Tarpon are extremely strong fish and hunt in schools. They can be aggressive feeders, yet have a light bite. This makes for a challenging hook set.
Once the fish is hooked the battle can range from 20- minutes to over an hour. A typical catch is between 60 and 100 pounds. Tarpon will usually jump 5 to 10 times clearing the water and shaking their heads violently in an attempt to dislodge the hook. The jumps usually increase as the fish approaches the boat, making for an exciting battle. Tarpon are not a suitable eating fish, so all are released after a quick picture.
Reef The waters surrounding Key West are full of reef spots ranging in depth from a few hundred feet to overa mile. They provide for both bait fish and the large game fish which feed on them including black, red and goliath grouper, barracuda yellowtail tuna and mutton snappers.
Reef spots are 20-minutes to one hour off shore. They are so numerous and are seldom fished resulting in great fish numbers and non-stop action. These are the perfect trips for the novice angler and the family. Everyone will catch fish and learn how to set the hook. Do not be surprised if you hook a bill fish or king fish while at a reef as they often cruise these waters in search of an easy meal. If you are interested in keeping a few fish for the table, this is the trip for you.
Please keep in mind that the fishing in Key West has been getting better each year due to Catch and Release practices. Twenty years ago all fish caught were kept. This eventually resulted in a decline of fish populations. While the ocean is large, Maintaining this beautiful and productive fishery is up to all of us. Please help to do your part.
Wreck Due to drastic changes in water depth, numerous reefs and temperamental weather, many ships have sunk on both the north and south sides of Key West. These wrecks offer perfect artificial cover for snapper, cobia, permit, grouper, and sharks. When fishing a wreck, the water will be 50 to 350 feet deep. As with reef fishing the goal is to draw the fish away from the cover of the wreck and induce a competitive feeding atmosphere. It is often possible to attract the fish close enough to the boat to see them. It is hard to put in words just how exciting it is to watch your line get inhaled by a 40 pound cobia or 60 pound amber jack as your reel screams off the line. As with all of Ryon's charters, catch and release is practiced, but you are welcome to keep a few fish for the table.
Off Shore Most off shore fishing entails trolling for sailfish, wahoo, dolphin, tuna and the occasional marlin. Captain Ryon uses medium tackle to get the best fight possible from the fish. Drifting live bait for sailfish, tuna, bonita, mackerel, and dolphin can be an exciting adventure. A mix of fishing can be accommodated. An ideal family day at sea may include a half day off shore trolling for Dad in search of a sailfish, followed by a few more hours of wreck fishing for the kids ensuring that everyone gets some fishing action.