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A Florida Keys Kayak Fishing Guide: 3 Things You Should Know

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There’s nothing quite like kayak fishing in the Florida Keys. You can drop your kayak practically anywhere and have a fishing excursion or hire a guide.

The Florida Keys have long offered kayak fishing rentals and tours. 

In our guide, we’re showing you where you can find the best spots, what’s the best gear and when’s your best opportunity to bring home a great catch.

Best Spots For A Florida Keys Kayak Fishing Adventure

There are excellent kayaking and boating options in the Florida Keys. You can go kayaking in several locations, including Key Largo, Key West, Islamorada, and Marathon.

Almost all locations in the Florida Keys are accessible by kayak. 

Key Largo fishing experience – Catching a snook

The Florida Keys state parks, hotels, and most kayak launches provide additional kayaking amenities.

A saltwater fishing license is required to fish in the Florida Keys. You need a fishing license if you are 16 to 65 years old. 

For more information about hunting or fishing licenses or permits, you can read through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s regulations here.

Sugarloaf Marina

sugarloaf marina

Sugarloaf Marina is located in Sugarloaf Key, about halfway down the Overseas Highway between Key West and Islamorada.

It’s a full-service marina with everything you need for a day on the water, including:

  • Kayak rentals (single or double) 
  • Paddle boards 
  • Bait and tackle shop
  • Fuel dock
  • Restrooms and showers
  • Restaurant and bar

Sugarloaf Marina is one of the last “old school” marinas in the Florida Keys. The Sugarloaf Marina, situated next to the iconic Sugarloaf Lodge, has long served as the center of the neighborhood.

It has hosted fishing competitions over the years and served as a popular hangout for locals and top-tier fishing guides.

A short paddle from the marina will take you to the tranquil mangrove creeks. Kayaking is an excellent way to get a close-up view of the many marine life and see a wide variety of fish, rays, sharks, birds, and horseshoe crabs. 

Other things to know:

  • Parking: There is plenty of free parking available at Sugarloaf Marina.

  • Fee: There is no fee to use the marina or launch your kayak. However, there may be fees for renting a kayak or using other amenities.

  • You can launch your own kayak at the Sugarloaf Marina.

Blimp Road

Blimp Road on Dashcam by OurRetiredLife

You can launch a kayak from Blimp Road. The ramp itself is 20 feet wide and made of concrete, but the incline is very shallow

This means you might need to back your vehicle further into the water than usual, especially at low tide.

Conditions to Consider

 

Depth: The water depth at the launch can be quite shallow, especially at low tide. This can make it tricky to launch and land your kayak, especially if you have a larger or heavier one. Be sure to check the tide chart before you go.

Bottom: The bottom at the launch can be muddy and uneven, so be careful not to trip or slip while entering or exiting your kayak.

Parking: There is a large parking area with space for up to 40 vehicles with trailers, but it can fill up quickly during peak season.

Amenities: There are no restrooms, showers, or other amenities at the Blimp Road launch.

Cudjoe Gardens Marina

Cudjoe Gardens Marina, located on mile marker 21 in Cudjoe Key, is a family-run, eco-friendly marina renowned for its convenient location, excellent facilities, and access to prime fishing and diving spots. 

It’s perfectly situated halfway between Key West and Marathon, offering easy access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Facilities

The boat ramp is 100-foot, paved, with ample depth at low tide.

The marina store is well-stocked with live and frozen bait, tackle, fishing gear, marine supplies, snacks, beverages, souvenirs, and more.

Amenities include restrooms and picnic area with grills and kayak rentals.

Fish for tarpon, bonefish,  permit,  snook,  redfish,  spotted seatrout,  sharks,  and lobster (with a fishing permit of course).

Charters and guide services are available.

There is a launch fee.

Spanish Harbor Wayside

Prospecting Spanish Harbor Bridge Launch by Key West Kayak Fishing

  • Location: 33767 Florida A1A, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

The Spanish Harbor Wayside boat ramp, located on Mile Marker 34 in on Big Pine Key, Florida, offers access to both the Spanish Harbor channel and the Atlantic Ocean.

There’s a variety of fish to catch depending on your target species and preferred fishing method.

Inshore species include, snook, which thrives in the channels and mangroves, redfish, spotted seatrout, and tarpon.

How To Pick A Good Kayak For Fishing

Select a stable kayak. Sight fishing is made simpler by standing in the kayak. A skilled kayaker can stand up and fish if their balance is good since they are stable. Outriggers are available on some kayaks to increase stability. 

Best Time For Kayak Fishing In Florida Keys

The best time to go fishing in the Florida Keys depends on the specific fish you’re hoping to catch, as different species have their own peak seasons and preferred water temperatures. 

Year-Round

  • Bonefish: These elusive fish can be caught year-round, but the best conditions are typically from February to May and September to November.
  • Yellowtail snapper: This delicious bottom fish is available year-round, but bites are usually best from April to June.
  • Grouper: Various grouper species can be found throughout the year, with peaks in January-May and December.
  • Lobster: Spiny lobster season runs from July to March, with the peak catching happening in July and August.

Spring (March-May)

  • Tarpon: This iconic game fish arrives in the Keys as water temperatures rise, offering the best fishing from late March to June.
  • Snook: Snook season starts in March and runs through November, with peak months being May to October.
  • Permit: This challenging fish starts appearing in the Keys in late March and stays until November, with the best bites in May and June.
  • Blackfin tuna: These fast-swimming fish migrate through the Keys from February to June and October to December, offering exciting trolling opportunities.

Summer (June-August)

  • Mahi-mahi (Dolphin): These colorful beauties arrive in the Keys in June and stick around until November, with peak season in July and August.
  • Sailfish: Sailfish migrate through the Keys from late spring to early fall, with the best fishing opportunities in June and July.
  • Barracuda: These aggressive fish are present year-round but are most active in warmer months.
  • King mackerel: King mackerel migrate through the Keys from January to April, offering fast-paced fishing for experienced anglers.

Fall (September-November)

  • Bonefish: Fall offers another window for targeting bonefish, with good conditions from September to November.
  • Tarpon: Some tarpon linger in the Keys until early fall, especially in October.
  • Redfish: Redfish bite well throughout the fall months, making them a fun target for inshore anglers.
  • Spotted seatrout: Like redfish, spotted seatrout offer consistent action throughout the fall season.

Winter (December-February)

  • Grouper: While not the peak season, grouper fishing can still be productive in the winter months.
  • Cobia: These migratory fish arrive in the Keys in January and stay until May, offering exciting sight fishing opportunities.
  • Sharks: Various shark species can be targeted by experienced anglers throughout the year, with winter offering good chances for encounters.

 

Check out the Florida Keys Fishing Season Species Calendar to learn when and where to catch your favorite species.

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Need a place to stay while you’re in town but don’t have your camping gear?  Learn more about glamping in the Florida Keys here

Related Articles

Kayaking in Key Largo is one of the most exciting ways to explore the waters in the Keys. As you kayak across the pristine waters, you’ll learn about mangroves and their importance to the environment there. Discover more about the fish, turtles, manatees, and birds that call these places home.

Islamorada fishing charters help retain the island’s “Sportfishing Capital of the World” title, as it caters to anglers of all skill levels. All saltwater charters in Florida involve fishing licenses, and it’s crucial to understand that certain species can only be caught at particular times of the year.

Florida Keys Kayak Fishing FAQs

There are excellent kayaking and boating options in the Florida Keys. Almost all location in the Florida Keys is accessible by kayak. Here are the best Florida Keys kayak fishing spots:

  1. Big Pine Key
  2. Boca Chica Channel Bridge
  3. Florida Bay
  4. Islamorada
  5. Key Largo
  6. Key West
  7. Marathon

Fishing in the Florida Keys is influenced by hurricanes and temperatures, among other things. The majority of hurricane season typically lasts from June until November. 

On the other side, from May through October, the heat continues. The temperature rises above 30 C in the interval between these months.

Therefore, it would be best to go kayak fishing from November to April.

A saltwater fishing license is required to fish in the Florida Keys. You need a fishing license if you are 16 to 65 years old. In addition, if you have a physical disability, you wouldn’t require a license.

For more information about hunting or fishing licenses or permits, you can read through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s regulations here.

You can fish for tuna, kingfish, grouper, mutton snapper, yellowtail, and many other fish during the fishing season.

You may also access this Florida Keys Fishing Season Species Calendar to learn when and where to catch your favorite species.

You can kayak the mangroves in Islamorada. The Kayak Shack is located near the renowned Robbie’s Marina, where guests may feed the tarpon and take self-guided trips through the enormous mangrove tunnels.

From Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic coast to the southernmost point of the Florida Keys, mangroves can be found along the shore as far north as Cedar Key on the Gulf coast.

Janelle
Author: Janelle

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