Flats Fishing: What It Is

The thought of fishing usually conjures up thoughts of a big boat out at sea, floating a good way from shore carrying fishermen waiting for a bite from grouper, tuna, marlin or other large species. Fishing in Key West, Florida offers an entirely different way to practice the hobby called flats fishing.

What is Flats Fishing?

“Flats fishing” is a term used for fishing inshore, or in shallow, protected saltwater. Flats fishing is typically done out of a skiff, a shallow, flat-bottomed open boat with a sharp bow and square stem. Key West flats fishing can result in catching tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook, jacks and other large species, depending on the spinning or fly-tackle size used i.e. redfish and spotted trout may be lured with medium action spinning rods while larger species like tarpon will require tougher gear.

There are many benefits to flats fishing in Key West Florida. Anglers can hover close to their targeted fish before casting, and much larger fish can be snagged in saltwater than in freshwater. Moreover, anglers can begin fishing in just minutes since there is no need to wait for the boat to sail far out to sea – and on that note, seasickness is typically not a concern.

In many cases, a boat need not be used at all; some fishermen enjoy flats fishing in Key West just as much by simply wading in water. Of course, this method makes catching fish a little more difficult - and takes longer - as you’d be waiting for the fish to come to you as opposed to seeking them out on your own. Typically, the best way to participate in this craft is by designating someone as “captain” whose job it is to look for shallows swarming with fish and to then cue the “fisherman” who will anchor the skiff and cast a line.

Luckily, fishing in Key West Florida offers many options. Key West Fishing Charter is a good place to begin for old-time fishermen who want to get back into the water, or for those just learning the art.

Staring at a vast, still, featureless expanse of water that is supposed to hold fish but hasn’t even rippled in an hour can be quite discouraging. “Where are all the fish?” you may ask yourself. You may even move around a bit, looking for a spot of water that shows any kind of life at all...a bubble maybe? The population of fish and the number of species swimming around in the aquamarine waters of the Florida Keys is too extensive to list, but just a few hours flats fishing could land you some of the most exotic fish you've ever heard of including jack crevalle, ladyfish – and even sharks and barracuda.