Species

Best Months to catch different fish:

Atlantic Sailfish - Year Round, November - February
Probably the best known gamefish in the keys, this fighter can reach a weight of 100 pounds; but averages around 50. Fall and winter are the best times of year to tangle with a sailfish, but they are caught year-round.

Sword Fish - Winter Months, November - March
Swordfish are large, highly migratory predators that generally migrate between colder waters in the summer to warmer waters in the winter for spawning. If they live long enough (perhaps 25 years), they can reach 2,200 lbs. Like other billfish, all the large ones are females since male swordfish rarely exceed 200 lbs.

Blue Marlin March - October and April - July
Found in the Gulfstream and in the open ocean this granddaddy of gamefish averages 150-250 lbs. (Florida Record: 980 lbs., 8 ozs.) Spring and summer are the best time to hook up with one, and be ready for a battle.

White Marlin March - October and April - July
Some say white marlin, which can reach a weight of 200 lbs. and more than 9 ft. in length, are a perfect gamefish - fast, powerful, hard to subdue and very acrobatic. The color of body is dark blue to chocolate brown, shading to silvery white underbelly. It is an offshore, blue water fish and is usually around 8 feet long. The *Florida Record is 161 lbs. It uses its bill to stun fast-moving fishes, then turns to consume them.

Cobia November - April, January - March
This sleek and extremely strong fish is an exciting catch. They range in size up to about 135 pounds. The largest Cobia ever caught in Florida USA weighed about 104 lbs. An average size fish will weigh 20 to 40 pounds. Along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, Cobia spend the winter (December – March) in the harbors and around the wrecks and reefs of the south Florida Keys.

Dolphin - April - September; April - July
Also a schooling fish, the dolphin is found in all warm waters usually 250 feet or deeper. Caught all year in the keys, summer is the best, and it is not unusual to catch a dozen 10 - 12 pounders, and a good 35 - 50 lb. bull. Delicious.

Grouper - Year Round, November - March
There are several types of grouper - Nassau (protected), Black, Gag, Snowy, Red, Goliath (protected). Many can change their colors and patterns making identification difficult. Size and limits vary. Groupers are usually found over hard bottom such as coral reefs. Some species prefer shallow water, while others inhabit deep, dark regions far offshore. Snowy's are deep water species found on the bottom 300' to 800' deep. During the summer when the shallow waters are warmed, groupers in shallow waters move to deeper reefs and holes.

Kingfish (King Mackerel) - September - April
Winter is the best time to catch a king. Traveling in schools they average 12-20 lbs. but can exceed 50 pounds. Caught in waters offshore, they are an excellent eating fish and are considered by some the best for smoking.

Snapper - Year Round, March - March
This edible delight is found all year round mostly inshore or around reefs. Averaging 1 to 4 pounds, they can be found in holes, channels, bridges, pier areas, mangroves and shorelines.

 

 

Tarpon - Year Round, May - July
This Backcountry fighter may be found along the entire Florida coast in estuaries and among mangroves. Tarpon can be caught year round but summer is the best time of year to catch the big ones by casting on the shallow flats. Typical catch is 50 to 70 pounds. Edibility is poor.

Tuna (Blackfin Tuna) - Year Round, December - February
Tuna is a hard fighting fish that is delicious. You can usually catch the larger Tuna in Islamorada during the winter months . The average blackfin weighs up to 30 lbs.

Wahoo - Year Round, April - May October - December
The Wahoo is another good eating fish that is fun to catch. Since it is one of the fastest fish in the sea, the best way to catch it is to use live bait at a high speed. They can weigh up to 60 lbs.

Yellowtail - Year Round, April - June
The Yellowtail often has a yellow tint but over all a uniform gray color. Its name comes from the forked tail that is a dark yellow in color. The Yellowtail will feed along the bottom of the sea floor on crustaceans and small fish. The meat is tender with a pinkish tint and can be smoked, baked, or fried.

Bonefish - Year Round
Bonefish are primarily inshore fish inhabiting Florida Key shallows. They can be found in shallows often less than 1 foot deep, usually over lush grass flats, occasionally over white sand. Size: 3 to 5 pounds. *Florida Record: 15 lbs., 6 ozs. The travel in loose schools looking for shrimp, shellfish, crabs, and fish from the bottom.

Snook - Year Round
They are found from central Florida south, usually inshore in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings near shore. Size: most catches 5 to 8 pounds. *Florida Record: 44 lbs., 3 ozs. They cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees F.