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Fishing Report

March Fishing Report
For today's Live Fishing Report 866-259-4205


KEY WEST "Fishing…Its On"

With March's arrival the fishing action explodes in Key West! We are entering a time of some of the best fishing action of the entire year. Tarpon have begun to arrive and are flooding into shallows of the back country. This becomes our fastest paced action trip with a wide variety of sport fish and predators for the light tackle angler to pursue. Sailfish are offshore, Permit are cruising the flats and the bottom dwellers of the reef and deeper wrecks are gathering in numbers. It's a time of exceptional action when fishing the waters of Key West!

March kicks off our Tarpon season in Key West. See "Back Country" helpful insights to anglers interested in Tarpon fishing.

March Weather Averages:

  • Temperature—78/70 average
  • Rainy Days—3/4 average
  • Wind Speed—12 mph average

Deep Sea/Offshore:

The iconic Sailfish bite is on! March remains an excellent period for Kingfish action as well. Big "Smoker" Kingfish continue providing excellent action offshore and recently nearer the reef. March sees an explosion in the aggressiveness of Black Fin Tuna. There are few species of pelagic fish capable of the total chaos when a school of big Black Fin show up. Mahi action for early March remains slow but towards the end of March seemingly overnight they will come to life as there are more and more Mahi around in our waters every day. The predators remain super aggressive with March being an awesome month for large Barracuda. We have moved into an exciting period for offshore angling however, we 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. We do not recommend more than 4 anglers for the ultimate light tackle offshore 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.

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)

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

  • Barracuda…"Very Good"
  • Blackfin Tuna…"Very Good"
  • Dolphin (Mahi-Dorado)…:"Fair to Good" improving vastly by months end.
  • Kingfish…"Excellent"
  • Marlin…"Fair" ( Marlin population is small in our waters)
  • Sailfish…"Excellent"
  • Swordfish…"Good" (Specialty Charter)
  • Shark…"Excellent"
  • Spanish Mackerel…"Excellent"
  • Wahoo…"Slow"

Reef & Wreck: "Light Tackle"

March typically has some wind with it, therefore the waters on the reef verses further offshore will remain far more comfortable most days. This continues to be a good time for the angler with concerns about rough sea conditions to head out to the nearer shore wreck sites as well. The Cobia action continues to be outstanding. Cobia should remain excellent for the next few months and always provides hard fought battles with great yields for the table fare anglers. The Snapper family continues to produce and with March we expect steady action targeting the Mangrove and Yellow Tail action. The large Mutton Snapper provide some exceptional days on the reef now. 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 (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. March typically shows a marked improvement from the last few months and we are on the way to excellent Permit action always by April. 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…"Slow" improving greatly by months end.
  • Barracuda…"Very Good"
  • Cobia…"Excellent"
  • Grouper…"Very Good" (season closed to harvest during March)
  • Mangrove Snapper…"Very Good"
  • Mutton Snapper…"Excellent"
  • Yellow Tail Snapper…"Very Good"
  • Permit…"Excellent"
  • Shark…"Excellent"

Some "Pelagic Species" possible on Reef & Wreck trips:

  • Blackfin Tuna…"Very Good"
  • Kingfish…"Excellent"

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…"Good" (season closed to harvest during March)
  • Permit…"Very Good"
  • Snapper…"Very Good"
  • Shark…"Excellent"
  • Snook…"Slow" Improving towards months end.

Back Country:

Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year easily moves into the "excellent" range and becomes our first recommendation. The ½ day to ¾-day trips continue to produce well however the afternoon water temperatures remain cooler so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. 

Back Country fishing in March is all about fast paced action while pursuing a very wide variety of species that include sport fish, predator, table fare and schooling fish. March in the back country brings renewed interest in Tarpon. We typically think of March as the kick off to our Tarpon insanity that takes over with anglers from around the planet traveling to our island home in pursuit of their "bucket list" Tarpon. A truly iconic sport fish in every way. Key West during the spawn cycle and migration becomes a prolific Tarpon fishery where the angler’s success rate soars! 

March is also about transition from these newly arriving, migratory Tarpon to an upswing in the Redfish activity, Cobia become a preferred target for the light tackle angling that enjoys sight casting. Speckled Sea Trout remain in the bays for most of March and the Jack population remains large providing some outstanding family fun trips. The tasty Pompano (a locals favorite table fare species) remains in the heavily mangrove areas of the back country for those willing to search them out. More easily found Snapper is a great choice for "keepers" for the dinner table. Albeit early some years, Snook can get fired up late in the month. Predator fishing for the adrenalin junkie remains impressive with multiple species of larger sharks moving into the shallows during March. Many anglers believe the Bull Shark spawns in the early spring and it has been my experience that the sheer numbers of larger Bull Sharks in the bays and basins of the back country does seem higher in March and into April than the remainder of the year. 

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

Back Country …..Target Species:

  • Barracuda…"Very Good"
  • Cobia…"Excellent"
  • Permit…"Very Good" and improving daily.
  • Pompano…"Excellent"
  • Redfish…"Excellent"
  • Shark…"Excellent"
  • Snapper…"Excellent"
  • Snook…"Slow" early but better by months end
  • Tarpon…"Very Good" improving to "Excellent" by mid-month.
  • Trout…"Excellent"
Flats:

Flats fishing in March is challenging no question. Early in the month can be slow in the extreme shallows however as the month progresses the activity levels most certainly improve. Bonefish are not plentiful on the flats yet but stay tuned it won’t be long. With the winds of March do come the Permit. Our most elusive sport fish in the shallows now makes its presence known to the shallow water anglers and fly fishers beginning in March. Still too early for any real Tarpon activity near the flats really. For Tarpon head to the back country.

One notable event takes place every March that should be a tip off for the serious flats/fly fisher…the annual Merkin Permit Fly tournament takes place…a great indicator of promising Permit action! It would be fair to say that fishing the flats in early to mid-March is a Permit fishing trip and not much else beyond the resident Barracuda and some shark action most days.

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

  • Flats …..Target Species:
  • Barracuda…"Very Good"
  • Bonefish…"Slow" early but improving vastly by month’s end
  • Cobia…"Excellent" (on the rare days when Cobia are sighted following Rays on the flats)
  • Permit…"Excellent"…(a reminder of just how elusive this sport fish can be)
  • Redfish…"possible on the flats on a given day but the Back Country is home to Reds)
  • Shark…"Excellent"
  • Tarpon…"Slow" (Look to the back country for Tarpon action in March)
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. Our legendary guide team is always in high demand. 
We look forward to your call!

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