Is Key West fishing any better than fishing in Marathon Key? Not really. But each of the islands and its unique ecosystem has something a little different to offer, and all lay claim to some of the best Florida Keys fishing of one sort or another. These waters are legendary, made even more desirable for anglers because of the exploits of literary legends such as "Papa" Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey. One plied the Florida Straits between Cuba and Key West seeking the giant blue marlin, and the other cruised the shorelines and backcountry waters looking for the prize of landing sailfish and giant tarpon. These are only three of the 225 types of sport fish found in the water that stretch from the shores of the vast Everglades to Dry Tortugas National Park.
Whether you are fishing in Islamorada or enjoying leisurely cruises through uncharted waters off any of the other Keys, you will find a vast array of species in shallow flats, on the shores of backcountry mangrove islands, around coral reefs, and in the deep blue Gulf Stream waters. When you go fishing in Islamorada you'll be in the Key that boasts it is the Sportfishing Capital of the World. This is a unique place, one of the few locations anywhere where you can catch a sailfish in the morning and in the afternoon look for bonefish, tarpon, and redfish as you venture in the backcountry in mere inches of water. You'll find that fishing in Islamorada and Big Pine Keys also puts you in the ideal location for flats fishing in Florida Bay and exploring the backcountry water of the nearby Everglades. You can even combine kayaking with flats and backcountry fishing.
There are probably more Key West fishing outfitters than anywhere else in the islands because this is the most-visited town and has a heavy concentration of attractions all within walking distance of one another and of many Key West hotels. This is where the Hemingway Home and Museum is located, where Papa Hemingway lived for ten years and penned the novel A Farewell to Arms. From here, he and his cohorts, known as the Key West Mob, set out on fishing expeditions to Cuba, Bimini in the Bahamas, and what is now Dry Tortugas National Park. You can relive these epic journeys while enjoying Key West fishing as well as visiting the museums in town and participating in its vibrant nightlife.
Most Florida Keys fishing charter boats accommodate only a small number of anglers, with few exceptions. This can be fairly expensive. One way to save money and enjoy the beautiful waters is to consider party boats. These larger boats, carrying from 20 to 60 anglers, go out on half-day and full-day fishing trips. You will find them for fishing in Key Largo as well as elsewhere in the islands, especially in Key West. These are excellent for corporate events and other groups, especially families, because children are welcome and no fishing experience is required. They can even be a unique way to celebrate weddings if the wedding party includes people who enjoy fishing and other activities on the water. Key Largo and Big Pine Key fishing also use party boats quite a bit.
The Keys have a long seafaring history, from Spanish explorers to swashbuckling pirates, and the waters were once notorious shipwreck graveyards. Wrecks are ideal spots for fishing, as schools of permit and amberjack flock to the wrecks covered in coral. In the dark interior crevices are grouper and snapper. Shipwrecks are also good environments for sharks and barracudas, and this kind of Florida Keys fishing can be combined with other popular things to do, such as wreck diving and snorkeling.
Image: Visit Florida