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Fishing Report

April Fishing Report 2020—For today's live action call 866 259 4205

Our KEY WEST Fishing is Exploding!

April is full on Tarpon and Sailfish season in Key West. Here are some helpful insights to anglers interested in targeting these iconic sport fish.

Sailfish are spawning well offshore. These are elusive nomadic sport fish that remain in constant motion. Time is the number one tool for success for the angler and guide as they work in concert to pursue these “bucket list”  impressive fish.

Tarpon are pursued in shallow waters primarily in our "Back Country" although the "Flats" angler can target them as well. Night Tarpon charters begin around April 1. We do not recommend more than 3 anglers to a back country boat with Tarpon as a primary target. Tarpon feed nocturnally therefore early morning and sunset are the most productive time frames...Let's go fishing!

April arrives and we enter into a period of outstanding action. Over the next few months some of the best fishing of the entire year comes to us. The huge schools of migrating Tarpon have arrived and are flooding into the shallows of the back country. Key West is now one of the most prolific Tarpon fisheries on the planet. Impressive schools of Bonefish are feeding heavily on the challenging flats. We expect to experience an outstanding Sailfish seasons this year possibly one of the best in the last decade. Now comes Mahi Mahi time to dominate the blue water. The reef and wrecks are holding massive populations of true heavy weight gladiators ready to go head to head with the willing angler plus table fare species, the first choice of bottom fishers, become super aggressive. It's a time of exceptional action when fishing the waters of Key West! You may have the fishing rod knocked out of your hand over the next few months friends.

April Weather Averages:

  • Temperature—82/74 average
  • Rainy Days—3/6 average
  • Wind Speed—12 mph average

Deep Sea/Offshore:

As we enter April conditions improve for the anglers looking to fish deep. The iconic Sailfish is in high gear! Our Sailfish action so far this year overshadows recent past years easily and we look to an exceptional April and May...always elusive however the recent success rate for Sailfish day to day has remained quite high. April does signal the end for our Kingfish action unfortunately but Kings typically go out with a bang. April sees an explosion in the aggressiveness of Black Fin Tuna which have consistently plentiful and of quality size for some time already. There are few species of pelagic fish capable of the total chaos when a school of big Black Fin show up. Mahi action enjoyes a huge upswing during April and will rapidly become the angler's bread & butter species. Mahi (Dolphin fish-Dorado) are plentiful, schooling fish that provide excellent action at a blistering pace while keeping things non-technical for the angler. High leapers when hooked up, beautiful colored fish that are also a favorite for many on the dinner plate. When the Mahi are biting, businesses close on the island...it gets that good!

The predators remain aggressive with April being an awesome month for large Barracuda. We have moved into an exciting period for offshore angling however, we always believe a ½ day charter still has some challenges with ever changing travel times between marina and fishing grounds. Best bet book at least the ¾ day (six hour trip) especially if you are a party of three or four or more. 

No more than 4 passengers recommended for the ultimate fishing experience-maximum 6 passengers per vessel. 6 passenger vessels are limited availability and it is understood when larger groups are aboard it may affect the experience.

No more than 4 passengers for all “Specialty Charters” (Shrimp Boats, Gulf Wrecks, Towers, Tortugas, Mutton Spawn)

April Deep Sea/Light Tackle Offshore .............Target Species:

  • Barracuda...”Excellent”
  • Blackfin Tuna...”Excellent”
  • Dolphin (Mahi-Dorado)...:”Excellent”
  • Kingfish...”Slowing”
  • Marlin...”Excellent” ( However the Marlin population is small in our waters therefore very hit or miss for the angler’s success)
  • Sailfish...”Excellent”
  • Swordfish...”Good” (Specialty Charter)
  • Shark...”Excellent”
  • Spanish Mackerel...”Excellent moving to Good”
  • Wahoo...”Slow”

Light Tackle/Reef & Wreck:

April brings calmer winds and smaller seas typically yet still the conditions on the reef verses further offshore will remain far more comfortable for the angler concerned about motion discomfort. Outstanding Cobia action continues throughout the month. Cobia typically slow slightly over the next few months. Amberjack explode to a frenzy for April most years and so far the bite on large “Reef Donkeys” has been outstanding. The Snapper family continues to produce and with April we can count on steady action targeting the Mangrove and YellowTail action. The larger Mutton Snapper will continue to provide some exceptional days on the reef especially as we move towards their spawning time. The Grouper family as always provides outstanding action however the harvest of Grouper ended January 1 with the season now closed until May 1 in Monroe county waters (all of the keys). Our elusive Permit is always challenging, the Permit is a sought after sport fish and prized by anglers from around the planet. April typically shows a marked improvement from the last few months and we are on the way to excellent Permit action over the next few months. The predator action with Barracuda and Sharks continues to be crazy good.

We do not recommend more than 4 anglers for the ultimate light tackle reef and wreck experience. Remember light tackle boats operate without a deck-mate. Regardless of experience, talent or effort one pair of hands may assist only so many anglers timely. We do have six passenger licensed vessels in our fleet with guides willing to accommodate these larger parties however it should be understood more than 4 anglers aboard will have some affects and likely will lessen the experience. Rarely do conditions allow for more than four anglers to be fishing simultaneously.

No more than 4 passengers recommended for the ultimate fishing experience-maximum 6 passengers per vessel. 6 passenger vessels are limited availability and it is understood when larger groups are aboard it may affect the experience.

No more than 4 passengers for all “Specialty Charters” (Shrimp Boats, Gulf Wrecks, Towers, Tortugas, Mutton Spawn)

Light Tackle Reef & Wreck .....Target Species:

  • Amberjack...”Excellent”
  • Barracuda...”Excellent”
  • Cobia...”Excellent”
  • Grouper...”Excellent” (season closed to harvest during March)
  • Mangrove Snapper...”Excellent”
  • Mutton Snapper...”Excellent”
  • Yellow Tail Snapper...”Very Good and improving”
  • Permit...”Excellent”
  • Shark...”Excellent”

Some “Pelagic Species” possible on Reef & Wreck trips:

  • Blackfin Tuna...”Excellent”
  • Kingfish...”Slowing”

Near Shore:

Anglers take note: We have recently added a number of Hybrid Back Country boats to our fleet. Hybrids are the next generation of leading edge technology and design for the shallow water enthusiast. Hybrid boats retain the back country experience yet provide additional "creature features aboard such as an enclosed marine head (potty), T top for shade, some carry additional seating and a second elevated station for the captain so helpful when sight casting to elusive sport fish in the shallows. These larger vessels have the ability to comfortably fish our slightly deeper "patch reef areas" as well depending upon the conditions of the day. Rates are slightly higher for these larger vessels that can accommodate families from 4 up to 6 total. We do not fish 6 adults from these vessels. 

“A new charter fishing option” which essentially combines “some” back country and “some” reef & wreck type action yet remains in calmer waters. We target “Patch Reefs”, natural formations away from the land mass about half way to the coral reef offshore. These patch reefs remain in more protected waters keeping everyone comfortable, and within sight of land (very important to many people). You are fishing deeper waters than in the back country pursuing a different variety of fish species than you would typically find in the bays and mangrove areas. The techniques remain very non-technical for the novice angler however we can easily take things up a notch to challenge more experienced anglers. 

No more than 4 passengers recommended for the ultimate fishing experience near shore-maximum 6 passengers per vessel for “families with children”. We do not offer Near Shore charters for more than 4 adults on Hybrid vessels. It is possible to fish larger groups of adults aboard Light Tackle Center Console vessels in Near Shore waters.

Near Shore ......Target Species:

  • Barracuda...”Excellent”
  • Cobia...”Excellent”
  • Grouper...”Excellent” (season closed to harvest during March)
  • Permit...”Very Good”
  • Snapper...”Excellent”
  • Shark...”Excellent”
  • Snook...”Slow” Improving towards months end.

Back Country:

Anglers take note: We have recently added a number of Hybrid Back Country boats to our fleet.

Hybrid's are the next generation of leading edge technology and design for the shallow water enthusiast. Hybrid boats retain the back country experience yet provide additional "creature features aboard such as an enclosed marine head (potty), T top for shade, some carry additional seating and a second elevated station for the captain so helpful when sight casting to elusive sport fish in the shallows. These larger vessels have the ability to comfortably fish our slightly deeper "patch reef areas" as well depending upon the conditions of the day. Rates are slightly higher for these larger vessels that can accommodate families from 4 up to 6 total. We do not fish 6 adults from these vessels. 

Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year remains an excellent choice for fast paced action while targeting a very wide variety of species. Anglers will appreciate our calm, crystal clear waters now filling with behemoth Tarpon. The overall population of Tarpon in the back country continues to grow throughout the month joining with several additional sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target. Redfish are all but done by months end as our water temperatures begin a seasonal rise. Snook are a bit "hit or miss" in early April but are improving so better targeted in later April. The numerous schooling species will continue to provide non-stop action most days and the list is nearly endless again in April that keeps the younger anglers happy with the super fast bite of schooling fish. It remains a productive time to pursue Speckled Sea Trout and several species of larger Jacks. A perfect trip for the hard core light tackle angler to the novice angler or the family. 

Tarpon time is exploding. The population of Tarpon will continue to increase daily until about mid-April. The spawning migration that brings adult Tarpon to Key West is well underway and the activity and productivity on Tarpon is rising towards seasonal highs. Tarpon fishing in Key West by April is becoming prolific. These behemoth sport fish should be on every saltwater angler's "bucket list" and rightfully so. Key West now offers the angler a high level of success to landing possibly the largest fish of a life time. We begin seeing the sunset Tarpon feeding activity increase in early April most years so we begin offering our Sunset Tarpon trips . These trips are spectacular when conditions (primarily the tides) are optimal. We do not recommend more than 3 anglers as a max on our Tarpon bay boats for night trips. If you have more than three anglers understand the time restraints in catching multiple Tarpon and the need for larger vessels to accommodate the chaos that comes with a 100 pound plus fish going berserk at boat side.  

Tarpon are pursued in shallow waters primarily in our "Back Country" although the "Flats" angler can target them as well. Night Tarpon charters begin around April 1. We do not recommend more than 3 anglers to a back country boat with Tarpon as a primary target. Tarpon feed nocturnally therefore early morning and sunset are the most productive time frames...Let's go fishing!

We do not fly fish from back country bay boats. Fly fishers interested in pursuing Tarpon are welcome on our flats skiffs designed with the fly caster in mind. Note Flats skiffs are two passenger maximum vessels and we will fish one flat caster at a time with the second angler "backing up" with spin gear if they choose too.

The ½ day to ¾ day trips continue to produce well as the afternoon water temperatures are still far from high so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. Good Cobia fishing continues and can produce some quality fish and action in the back country. The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing continues to be very good in the back country in April. For serious "table fare" harvest we certainly recommend the reef & wreck trips now but to include a few "keeper" fish for lunch or dinner will not be a problem in our shallows. The predator fishing continues. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the hit list. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple larger sharks even on the ½ day trips. Remember where you find large Tarpon schools you find feeding sharks. April remains predator time especially in the Marquesas so anglers can count on these aggressive species to be ready to go “head to head”. We "highly recommend" a back country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip in calmer waters.

April is a spectacular time frame to make the 28 mile run to the west to fish the fabled Marquesas Atoll. The arriving Tarpon brings with is the apex predator sharks and the biggest of Giant Barracuda can be counted on for memorable days in the atoll. You may refer to our very concise “Marquesas” page on www.keywestproguides.com web site for more information.

4 passenger maximum on all Back Country boats.
2-3 passengers recommended for Tarpon Charters

Back Country .....Target Species:

  • Barracuda...”Excellent”
  • Cobia...”Excellent”
  • Permit...”Excellent”
  • Pompano...”Good but slowing”
  • Redfish...”Good early to fair by months end”
  • Shark...”Excellent”
  • Snapper...”Excellent”
  • Snook...”Fair early but better by months end”
  • Tarpon...”Excellent”
  • Trout...”Good but slowing”

Flats:
Our Bonefish action kicks in big time for April...April is the first of a few months that typically produce those Grand Slam events where the anglers successfully lands a Bonefish, a Permit and a Tarpon in the same day...a rare feat at the very pinnacle of flats fishing accomplishments. Permit are venturing on to the flats more so now and the action is improving. Tarpon are still primarily found at home in the back country but we begin seeing them nearer the deeper edges of the flats in early April. The flats angler should certainly be including Barracuda and sharks on his hit list. Just a remainder that we provide a true "flats fishing experience" and this should not be confused with the back country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866 259 4205 for more insights. If you are a serious saltwater fly fisher you should be fishing the flats. To include a little fly fishing while in the back country is one thing but if you are seeking a hard core fly only trip...fish the flats.

Fly fishers are welcome on our flats skiffs designed with the fly caster in mind. Note Flats skiffs ate two passenger maximum vessels and we will fish one fly-caster at a time with the second angler "backing up" with spin gear if they choose too.

Just a remainder that we provide a true "flats fishing experience" and this should not be confused with the back country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866 259 4205 for more insights. 

2 passenger maximum on all Flats Boats.
1 Fly-Fisher maximum casting at any time.

Flats .....Target Species:

  • Barracuda...”Excellent”
  • Bonefish...”Excellent”
  • Cobia...”Excellent” (on the rare days when Cobia are sighted following Rays on the flats)
  • Permit...”Excellent”...(a friendly reminder of just how elusive this sport fish can be especially on fly)
  • Redfish...”Possible” on the flats on a given day but the Back Country is home to Reds in Key West
  • Shark...”Excellent”
  • Tarpon...”Excellent” (there are always far greater numbers of Tarpon found and caught in the back country)

Notable:
This is a time of more stable slowly rising water temperatures so fishing conditions in general will settle in and improve, friends. We still recommend fishing morning trips if going shallow as they remain the most productive over the later afternoon hours for the serious angler but again the afternoon trips are good. The PM half day trips have improved and can be quite enjoyable especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. Reef trips in the afternoon fishing slightly deeper waters along with the patch reefs can be very good trips for later in the day departure times. Sharks are plentiful and active. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home!

Let's go Fishing!
Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter 866 259 4205 daily 8 AM to 9 PM. Remember 2-4 weeks in advance is recommended for peak fishing season dates December through June. April and May are the busiest months of our entire fishing calendar! Our legendary guide team is always in high demand. We look forward to your call!  

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