Don't forget your Keys - 24 reason to love fishing the Florida Keys

The only fly fishermen that don’t love flats fishing are those who haven’t tried it yet. It is one of the greatest things in the sporting world, and just what the Dr. ordered on the heels of another Montana winter!

In recent years most of my friends have been taking salt trips to Mexico, Belize, Bahamas and now Cuba. I am fortunate to have traveled extensively in all of these places many times (except Cuba) and they are all wonderful destinations for flats fishing that offer plenty of angling opportunity in addition to a cross-cultural experience.  

But don’t forget your Keys!

The birthplace of flats fishing and once the holy grail of saltwater fly fishing, the Florida Keys are now being passed over for these, and other foreign destinations. But having just returned from “old
 home week” in the Keys, I was reminded again just how awesome the Keys are. The in-shore marine environment there is beyond compare in my humble opinion. And best of all, it’s the United States of America!!

Make no mistake about it, the fishing in the Keys can be tough and subject to the wrath of Mother Nature. Cold fronts sweep down from the North causing winds to howl, water temps to plummet and the game fish to run for cover in the deeper and warmer offshore waters. But even in these conditions you can still have fun and catch fish if you’re flexible. And when conditions come around and turn favorable, you can experience some of the very best and most varied flats fishing action to be had anywhere.

I rolled in last week right on the heels of a particularly brutal couple months of cold and windy weather. But timing is everything in life and fishing! Permit fishing was Plan A for the week, but I am always ready to degenerate quickly to Plan B if necessary. There’s a lesson there. “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em”. In many ways it’s the art of poker, life, and fishing.

My good friend Capt. Kris Suplee and I were hoping to find Permit up in the shallows doing Permit things, but we were prepared for anything else that happened our way. And boy did it!! Sure we found some Permit to throw at, but not many and in the end we didn’t catch one. But we had a ton of other action, casting to and catching an impressive list of species over several days. Here’s the complete list of what we saw out on the flats in just a couple of days:

  1. Permit
  2. Tarpon *
  3. Bonefish
  4. Snook
  5. Redfish
  6. Cobia *
  7. Spanish Mackerel *
  8. Bonita *
  9. Blue Runner *
  10. Jack Crevalle *
  11. Mangrove Snapper *
  12. Jewfish
  13. Barracuda *
  14. Sawfish
  15. Black Tip Shark *
  16. Bull Shark
  17. Lemon Shark
  18. Nurse Shark
  19. Bonnethead Shark *
  20. Box Fish
  21. Eagle Ray
  22. Stingray
  23. Loggerhead Turtles
  24. Porpoise

There is simply an amazing variety of life on the flats in the Keys. I cannot ever recall seeing this kind of variety in other locations I have fished. Not to mention the Tarpon fishing, which is arguably
 the very best in the world for giant fish.  I just love fishing the Florida Keys! There is no place like it.

Next time you want to go flats fishing, don’t count out the Keys. It is still a great place to visit and fish. And you won’t find a better guide than Capt. Kris Suplee.