Key Largo Fishing Charters

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Fishing in Key Largo, Florida

Key Largo, the longest island and most northern archipelago in the Florida Keys, is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. Surrounded by the wilderness of Everglades National Park to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, it offers a unique blend of diverse ecosystems. The convergence of warm Caribbean waters with the outflow from Everglades National Park's shallow-water nurseries create a prolific food chain, nourishing a rich diversity of marine life. Key Largo's warm and nutrient-rich waters are home to over 600 native fish species, meaning there's always something biting no matter the season.

Key Largo Fish Species

Key Largo's ideal location, positioned close to the Everglades, Florida Bay, and the Atlantic, means abundant fish species. Fishing around Key Largo provides opportunities to target some of the most revered game fish in saltwater. Here are a few species highlighted:


The bonefish, also known as ‘the grey ghost,’ is appropriately named for its ability to blend seamlessly into the shallow waters with its mirrored, silver and blue-green coloring. On average, bonefish range between three to five pounds — although the waters around Key Largo boast a healthy population of much larger bonefish weighing upwards of 8 pounds. When fishing for bonefish in Key Largo, the best time of the year is around October and November. Use small crabs or live shrimp as bait, or flies and jigs that mimic those and other small crustaceans. Fishing locations near Key Largo include Tavernier Key, Rodriguez Key Oceanside, and the areas around Snake Creek Bridge and Whale Harbor Bridge.


Tarpon are known for their surface rolling and gulping of air that allows them to survive in stagnant, brackish waters with low oxygen levels. Typically, they can grow between four to eight feet and 60 to 90 pounds in season. Catch tarpon in Key Largo is from April to July, when water temperatures remain above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Common baits used by anglers are shrimp, pinfish, mullet, and crabs. For more on tarpon fishing the Florida Keys, check out our latest article.

Yellowtail Snapper

Yellowtail snapper travel in schools and are some of the most abundant fish in the Florida Keys. They are known for their silvery bodies and distinctive yellow stripe down their back and tail. These slender fish typically measure about a foot in length. The optimal time to target yellowtail snapper in Key Largo is from May to August. When fishing for yellowtail snapper near Key Largo, it's best to use small filets of ballyhoo, shrimp, or cut threadfin as bait. When targeting yellowtail snapper, fish structure at depths ranging from 30 to 90 feet — focusing on areas with rock and coral formations rather than sandy or grassy bottoms.


Grouper are highly sought-after game fish. They can average weights around 10 to 15 pounds. Grouper can be found in various habitats, including reefs, wrecks, and rocky structures. There are many species of grouper in the waters around Key Largo, including black, red, and gag grouper. The best time of year to fish for grouper is during February to April. They will readily bite a variety of live bait, such as pinfish, pilchards, and threadfins. If you're looking for a prime fishing spot, consider trying the Tavernier Key Reefs.

Speckled Sea Trout

Speckled sea trout, also known as spotted sea trout, are highly sought-after inshore fish in Florida and can be found abundantly on the flats around Key Largo. They prefer habitats near grass flats. The best time to fish for sea trout in Key Largo is from January to February and November to December. Consider using a popping cork with a live shrimp or a Berkley Gulp shrimp. Check the areas around Trout Creek, and John Pennekamp State Park.

Key Largo Inshore Fishing

Get ready to explore a maze of mangrove-lined channels, flats, and grassy areas, which serve as habitats for various game fish. Anglers can utilize various techniques, including fly fishing and other light tackle approaches. Inshore fishing near Key Largo primarily targets snook, redfish, tarpon, and spotted sea trout. Inshore fishing also enables anglers to sight fish and experience the famed Florida Keys flats fishing in the region's crystal clear waters. For more information on the flats, fishing in the Florida Keys, check out our latest Ultimate Guide.

Key Largo Offshore Fishing

Key Largo is an ideal location for those interested in offshore fishing as it sits at the eastern edge of the Gulf of Mexico at its confluence with the Atlantic Ocean. The area around the island is home to coral reefs, wrecks, and offers quick access to the Gulf Stream. Get ready to encounter marlin, sailfish, tuna, mahi mahi, and wahoo. For more information on deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys, check out our latest article.

Fishing Seasons in Key Largo

If you're planning a fishing trip to Key Largo, Florida, knowing the best times to fish for your desired species is crucial to success. Generally May to August offers the most favorable window for fishing conditions near Key Largo. Research the species you intend to target before booking your fishing trip — or simply consult your captain to nail down an optimal timeframe. Below is an abbreviated overview of fishing seasons around Key Largo:

Between May and September, Key Largo offers excellent opportunities for catching sailfish, tarpon, sea trout, mahi mahi, and cobia. During these months, the warmer waters and better weather create fishing conditions best to catch such species.

For those targeting amberjack, grouper, and king mackerel, the period from November through March, traditionally the low season for most species, presents the most promising prospects. WIth cooler temperatures, these species become more active in the area.

Each fishing season in Key Largo holds its own unique regulations. Florida saltwater recreational fishing seasons in the Gulf of Mexico differ from those of the Atlantic Ocean. Remember to stay updated with fishing regulations and check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for open seasons and regulations specific to your targeted species. 

Fishing Regulations and Licenses in Key Largo

It's important to go over fishing regulations and licensing requirements that protect fish populations and habitats before you go on your trip. Visit official resources and websites for detailed information on licenses and current regulations as they can change year-to-year. Anglers must have Florida saltwater fishing licenses to fish in saltwater (Children under 16 are required to have one). If you are fishing with a licensed charter captain, you do not need to purchase your own fishing license while fishing on their vessel.

Planning Your Key Largo Fishing Trip

Hire a local captain who is expert in the area. Fishing guides or charter captains are great resources to help you improve your angling skills, and offer a deep understanding of the waters and ecosystems they work on.

Be prepared to deal with weather. Bring proper attire such as sun protection, polarized sunglasses, and rain gear. If you have questions about fishing near Key Largo or the gear you should bring, you can always go to a local fly shop, or if you’ve hired a guide, reach out to them.

Key Largo Fishing FAQ

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