The elusive and hard fighting bonefish is a year-round target in the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay. We find them both on the backcountry and ocean sides of the Keys, and often find them feeding in just inches of water. Bonefish are wary and always challenging. They are a prize catch demanding stealth and casting accuracy. In the waters around Islamorada and Biscayne Bay, we often cast to fish over 10 pounds with occasional opportunities for record breaking fish. When you see a school of big bonefish tailing in skinny water, it gets any angler’s heart pumping.
Permit are another gamefish that is renowned for it’s hard fight and great stamina. We sightfish for permit the length of the Keys, from Key West to Biscayne Bay. The flats of Key West and the lower Keys in particular arguably provide the greatest permit fishery in the world. They are a true prize on a flyrod. Permit are great fun on light tackle too. They have difficulty passing up a well presented crab. As large as they can get, they blend in with their environment so well that they still require sharp eyes and great concentration. Pinpoint casting will win the day.
In the Florida Keys we are fortunate to have both resident and migratory tarpon as targets. That allows us to target these behemoths anytime that conditions turn favorable for them to show up cruising the shorelines, or resting on the flats and in the backcountry basins. Fish from 40 to well over 100 pounds are common. Occasionally you may get to throw a fly, a bait or lure at giants over 150 pounds. They are great jumpers and test your skill and your tackle. That first jump immediately after hookup is electrifying and makes anglers into tarpon addicts.
Snook are found in many places and different types of habitat up and down the Keys, but the greatest concentration is in the backcountry waters of Evergades National Park around Flamingo, as well as in Whitewater Bay, Hells Bay and the waters around Cape Sable. These hard fighters often jump providing lots of excitement. Backcountry days will often include shots at snook, redfish and tarpon, both babies and the big guys.
Redfish have been extending their territory in the Keys, but similar to snook, the backcountry waters of Everglades Park and environs provides the best and most reliable fishery for them. Sometimes spooky and sometimes very aggressive, they make great targets for fly and light tackle anglers. They manage to get into seemingly impossibly skinny water requiring specialty boats and knowledge to effectively chase them. On a calm day in the backcountry, sneaking up for a cast at a redfish tailing in slick calm water is a special joy.