Florida is truly the Gamefish capital of the United States. There is so much inshore, offshore and backwoods fishing available that we had to break it up into sections to give each a fair mention. The species available range from well known species like Bonefish, Permit & Tarpon to lesser known species like False Albacore & Snook. What many do not realize is the Florida fisheries are amazing almost any time of the year. Florida even has Amazon species like Peacock Bass and Chichlids in the many canals and waterways. If you are thinking about traveling to Florida to fish, you almost can’t go wrong.
Check out these 4 distinct fishing regions in Florida that bring fly anglers from all over the world, they are listed individually on the map:
Albula vulpes is one of about 15 different species of bonefish found in the world, but is the most prolific in the Caribbean and surrounding Atlantic. The information here can be applied to nearly every species.
The members of the Albulidae family of fishes, or Bonfish, as they are more commonly known, are one of, if not the most sought after species on the flats with a fly rod. The silver torpedo shaped fish with variably colored vertical stripes ranges in size from 2-19 pounds, with the average fish caught being between 3 and 16 pounds (depending on location).
Migrating Tarpon...This is what we dream about. A school of Tarpon 20-30 strong each weighing about 130 lbs. swimming across the flats. It's a fly anglers dream! These are the large adults that have been in deeper waters reproducing and are traveling in search of warmer waters and a new source of food. They're hungry, aggressive and will destroy your rod and reel in no time if you let them SEARCH TARPON FLIES IN OUR SHOP
There are many other words often associated with fly fishing for Permit but they will be excluded to keep profanities off the site. To quote a professional fly fisherman in the Miami area who's name and expletives are intentionally left out "after all these years, I'm done with that fish". He literally quit fishing for Permit after over 7 years of frustration but he really didn't. He caught his first Permit on a fly in July 2012.
Quitters never win and winners never quit. One of the flyfishbonehead staff members fished for 3 years and spent over $10,000 before landing his first Permit on a fly. Many ask how this can be if there are so many photos and instruction on how to fly fish for Permit. Actually many Permit are caught on live crabs with a spin rod and a much of the published information is just speculation, propagated rumor and scuttlebutt. There is some good information out there and fisherman that have significant success, but much information is hear-say and rumor.
Unlike most other species that fly angler's target, Redfish are really not that well known. If you talk to an angler that targets Redfish regularly and with success, they might say it's the best species to fly fish for. That debate will rage on for ages, it's preference really, but Redfish definitely have a lot going for them and are certainly gaining popularity among salt water fly fisherman. Redfish are also known as a channel or spot-tail bass, Red drum, or just plain "Reds."
So what makes Reds so special?
First and foremost, they are a strong fighting fish that have a broad distribution from the panhandle states to northern Mexico and as far north in the Atlantic as Massachusetts. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars flying to the Caribbean or Central America to catch them.
SNOOK! The snook is a very desirable target on the fly for many reasons; the abundance of energy & fight despite the subtle strike (well sometimes anyway) but and much to our dismay, they apparently are incredibly tasty as well. We can say that we have never killed a snook, and never will. We encourage you to catch and release as this species is in trouble in Florida and the Gulf states.
There was a very cold season which included a freeze of 2009 which killed and chased off most of the species there. Bonefish, permit and tarpon disappeared but we think they just went south because they did gradually come back. The snook there are still not quite back and not where they used to be. The number and size of the snook in southern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is still significantly decreased. The commercial and recreational harvest of common snook was prohibited throughout Texas and Florida (USA) until August 2013.
Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) (aka Dorado, Dolphin, Lampuga, Lampuki, Lapuki, Maveriko) If you're interested in catching super-strong, beautiful, not-too-choosy, leaping fish, here ya go. These are the saltwater equivalents of bluegills, except they jump, and they get big. Like as big as your aging retriever. The common English name "dolphin" causes much confusion and lots of hand-wringing. Let's be clear: this fish is not related to the marine mammal also known as dolphin (family Delphinidae).
Looking to test your 12-weight rod? Want to check out the acoustics of your new reel? Head to Jupiter for false albacore. False Albacore are more accurately called little tunny (latin name: Euthynnus alletteratus). They are often referred to as bonito, but albies are not the same fish as the true Atlantic or Pacific bonito.
General Information If not already fishing for tuna on the fly, we'll just ask....Why not? This is a serious Saltwater fly fisherman's target. It's big, hits your fly at 40 mph (75 kph) and is found in just about every fishing destination you could possibly think of. Tuna are incredibly beautiful and powerful predators that come is many many different flavors too: Bluefin, Blackfin, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Longtail, Dogtooth
This is the fastest fish in the ocean!
Individual Sailfish have been clocked at speeds over 70 mph which is the highest speed reliably reported in any water creature. Sailfish are two species of billfish, the Atlantic Sailfish and the Pacific Sailfish and live in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world.
There is no fight like the fight of a Marlin. This is the prized fish of most saltwater anglers all over the world. They span almost all of the waters of the globe and can be caught by a variety of methods at various times of year in many diverse places. Marlin fishing is considered by some game fishermen to be the pinnacle of offshore game fish, due to their power, size and the relative rareness. It is an expensive hobby, requiring considerable money to pursue on a regular basis, single day of Marlin fishing can cost over $1000. They are possibly the most well-known fish in the entire world which probably accounts for millions of dollars in commerce spent hunting them. The novel by Ernest Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea" chronicles the struggle of a Marlin fisherman who after 85 days of failure, ventures out to sea to change his luck and catch a Marlin. Hemmingway frequently fished for Marlin, quite successfully with his family. The Marlin is the largest of the billfish and comes in many variations: Pacific Black Marlin Pacific Blue Marlin Atlantic Blue Marlin White Marlin Striped Marlin
Barracuda may be the most underrated saltwater species to catch on a fly. After hooking one, imagine this scenario: the fish is on the end of the line thrashing and running, suddenly the line goes slack. You think the fish is off but he's not because you stand in amazement as you watch a 5 foot barracuda leap 15 feet into the air like a missile being launched from below the surface of the ocean.
One of the best kept secrets in all of salt water fly fishing is the Spinner Shark migration in late winter through early spring in. It happens in a place where you least expect it...West Palm & Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Really, we aren't kidding. This is spring break for sharks. They migrate to the beaches off of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach chasing fish (snook, blues and false albacore & other tuna species) that are breeding & feeding in the surf or just beyond the surf. You can sight fish for a 100+ lb. powerhouse in just 8 feet of water. Flyfishbonehead had so much fun that we went out twice in 2012, hooked 9 and landed 5 on our first trip and landed 5 of 6 on the second. Considering the fight and how hard it is to subdue this beast that was pretty darn good.
Bonefish can be caught on a 6-9 weight. Most commonly used an 8 or 9 weight because most anglers have one, many prefer a 6-7 weight because its more fun to use little tackle in general. Again as long as wind is not an issue this is certainly ok. Use a floating line with at least 200 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9-15 feet with at least a 10 lb. tippet. (we use 12-15 lb) The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Fishing for Permit requires a 9-10 weight rod. We almost always use a 10 weight, mainly because it is very rare that there is no wind. You don’t want to miss a fish because you couldn’t punch your fly through the wind. Why take a chance. The extra lifting power of a 10 weight will also give you an advantage when trying to keep a hooked fish from getting into coral or diving into a deep channel. Anglers need a floating line and at least 300 yards of backing on your reel. Leader should be 9-15 feet with at least 12 lb tippet (we use 16-20 lb). The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which simply means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular Flies: EP Permit Crab, Epoxy Permit Fly, Turneffe Crab See all of the permit fly tying videos & fly recipes
Tarpon usually require a 10 -12 weight. Most anglers prefer a 12 weight for the lifting power and usually gives the angler more control when trying to land the fish. Wind is usually not an issue when casting a 12 weight. Use a floating line or what we prefer is the intermediate sink line with at least 300 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9-12 feet with at least a 20 lb tippet. (we use 20 shock tippet) The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which simply means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular Flies: Coker Smoker, The Gurgler, Toads & Paolo worms See all the tarpon fly tying videos & fly recipes
Sailfish, Marlin & Mahi Mahi
Offshore fishing for billfish usually involves a 12 -15 weight. Here you will have a chance at blue & white Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi-mahi & Tuna. We prefer a 14 weight and there are some which even have a butt suitable for gimbel use. Again because we are all about control of the fish and landing the fish quickly which decreases mortality and injury after release. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular Flies: Baitfish, Poppers for Billfish & Mahi. See all of the fly tying videos & fly tying recipes
Shark & Barracuda
Barracuda & Shark usually require a 12 weight. A 12 weight for the lifting power and usually gives the angler more control when trying to land the fish because they fight! Wind is never an issue when casting a 12 weight either. Use a floating line or what we prefer is the intermediate sink line with at least 200 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9 feet with a metal tippet material. (we use 30 lb metal tippet) The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular Flies: Poppers, Baitfish, Great Pumpkin See all the fly tying videos & fly recipes
Tuna & False Albacore
tuna & False albacore Require a 12 wieght despite being under 25 lbs (11 kg) most of the time. False Albacore & Tuna will test your gear everytime. They are non-stop and once hook won’t quit even after they are already on the boat. We use an intermediate sinking line or a full sinking line depending on conditions. Tippet needs to be on the lighter side in the 15-20 lb range as these species have excellent vision especially in clear water. At least 300 yards of backing is also recommended. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular Flies: Surf candies, pseudo-pop, small minnows
Chaos Theory Charters – Rob KramarzKey West, Florida
Chaos Theory by definition states that complex natural systems obey rules but are so sensitive that small initial changes can cause unexpected results. Now my interpretation, Chaos Theory states that the complex natural system known as the Florida Keys obey the simple rule that fishing in gin-clear water for a species of a life-time changes every person for the better with results being far from unexpected.
My name is Captain Rob Kramarz and I am glad you stopped by to look at the site. The Lower Keys and Key West are some of the most beautiful flats I have ever fished. The Bahamas, Mexico, Belize and so on hardly compare to the valor of hooking up to a Keys Bonefish, Permit or Tarpon. Granted the previous mentioned islands might have big number days but the Keys offer bigger size, numbers and possibly the fish of a lifetime. The fish down here are so much smarter and wearier than in other places. That is what makes them so highly sought after.
Gin-clear water, white sand and turtle grass flats, pushes of Bonefish at dawn, tailing Permit on an incoming tide, and Tarpon rolling along channel edges. That's what it's all about down here. The experiences that abound on the flats below Marathon Key all the way to the Marquesas and everywhere in between is what draws the attention of the most seasoned of anglers. They wouldn't call the Keys the “Sportfishing Capitol of the World” for nothing. So if you are planning on fishing in the Keys, give me a call and let's see what we can do to get the rods bent with tight lines. You never know it could be a fish of a lifetime.
Private: Sting Rea Charters – Justin ReaSummerland Key, FL 33042
About Captain Justin Rea
Captain Justin Rea has been providing guide services since the early 90s. He has experience as a river guide in the High Sierra mountains and throughout the Northwest, guiding on the South Fork of the Snake river for five years. Justin has been fly fishing since he was a young boy and had the experience and patience to guide and assist fly fishing enthusiasts and also be sure they have a great experience that they will remember.
Captain Justin is a licensed United States Coast Guard certified captain. He has been guiding in the Florida Keys since 2001. After spending a few summers in Idaho while guiding on the South Fork, he decided to make the Florida Keys his permanant home. Justin now guides year round and spends any free time he has out on the water finding new places to fish or inventing new fly patterns and fly tying.
Captain Justin lives in Sugarloaf Key with his family. He guides anglers of all abilities and because he trailers his Maverick HPX skiff, he has the ability to fish anywhere from Key West to Key Largo, but most of his fishing is in the Lower Florida Keys, Key West and the Marquesas.
If you would like to know more about fishing with Captain Justin please email him or call in the evenings at 305-744-0903.
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