Key West fly fishing : Key West FL flats fishing guide Capt. Peter Heydon - tarpon fishing charters - night tarpon fishing

shallow water flats & fly fishing

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Flats fishing at sunset in Key WestFishing in the Florida Keys is not like any other place on earth. The waters here are blue and clear and one can get out on the water in two different bodies of water, sometimes in the same day. The Florida Keys extend south and west of the southern tip of Florida out into the Gulf of Mexico. The Keys almost create a dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf and extend out about 120 miles to Key West. Key West is the last island you can drive to but beyond Key West there are many islands that we shallow water fish on a daily basis. Twenty two miles from Key West Harbor lies the Marquesas, a three mile wide atoll that is teeming with wildlife and marine life. The Marquesas also offers safe harbor for traveling boats. For some charters is offers an extention of the fishing grounds and some of the bottom fishing around the Marquesas is spectacular.

Key West tarpon fishing on the flats, night tarpon fishing available!I have been fishing in the Key West area for more than a decade and have had the pleasure of fishing with many families and anglers. I started fishing on an offshore trolling boat with Captain Ralph Lennon. He runs Sailfish Charters out of Conch Harbor in Key West. If you are interested in fishing offshore for something for dinner definately visit his website He runs a great trip for any group up to 6 people.

I found my love for shallow water fishing extended past just fishing for fun with fellow guides and eventually I got my USCG license to charter and started flats fishing for a living. It was helpful to have a few years under my belt and actually gave me the opportunity to study the fish and the tides and patterns they travel. Now I guide full time on the flats and love every day out on the water.

I run a 16ft. Maverick Mirage with a 90 hp motor. I have equipment for light tackle spin fishing and fly fishing and am an avid fly tyer.

For those who want to reach me to find out more about the fishing report around Key West please call me at 305-923-1892.

what is shallow water flats fishing

Maverick HPX boatThe shallow waters of the flats surrounding the Florida Keys are the perfect fishing grounds for some of the most sought after gamefish in the world. In our waters of the Lower Keys, Key West and the Marquesas there are tarpon, bonefish, permit, sharks, jack crevalle, barracuda, snook, snapper and cobia. Although all these species are not all available at the same time, please ask about the best times for any given fish and I can usually give you a good idea of when they are most active.

Flats fishing is done from a skiff. My skiff is 16ft. in length and weighs around 700lbs. While we search for fish on the flats I will pole the boat quietly while my angler stands on the front also looking for fish. I stand high on a platform and can usually see a bit farther than the angler and most often I will instruct you on where to look and spot the fish as they move across the flat closer to the boat. In flats fishing we use the clock as a reference for directions to look. I might tell an angler to look at eleven o'clock and have them point their rod to help us both get focused on the incoming fish. When the fish gets close enough I will help instruct your cast and help you judge how far to cast.

Flats fishing is not just fishing in my opinion though, it's a whole experience. I try to make every angler from novice to experienced feel comfortable and I have a lot of patience and always make it a fun experience. There is so much to see on the flats besides our gamefish too. Wild birds, turtles and dolphins also enhabit the areas we fish.

I can take up to two anglers on board by skiff and we depart out of Garrison Bight Marina in central Key West right near the Charter Boat Row off Palm Avenue.

key west fishing rates & reservations

Flats fishing rates are as follows for up to two anglers. The cost includes all licensing, use of tackle, bait, flies and a professional guide. You only need to bring your lunch and personal items and a camera too!

Flats Fishing Rates
Half Day Flats Fishing (4 hours)
3/4 Day Flats Fishing (6 hours)
Full Day Flats Fishing (8 hours)
Night Tarpon Fishing

Please call me at 305-923-1892 or 305-293-9474 for availability. Please leave a message and I will return your call as I am out on the water and sometimes am out of cell phone range.

Tarpon fishing in Key West, migrating tarponOne of the most acrobatic fish on the planet is the tarpon. Also known as the Silver King, these prehistoric looking fish are sought after by most every fly fisherman or serious light tackle angler. They jump high in the air when hooked and put on quite a show. Tarpon generally are around the Florida Keys from late February until November but the annual Tarpon migration is slated for April through June, and may last into July if the season gets off to a late start. Tarpon are sensative to the temperature of the water and they migrate from the south caribbean up the Florida Keys and partially up both coasts of Florida.

Tarpon really love to eat and during their migration is one of the best times to get them on fly, plug or bait. These tarpon range from 20lbs to well over 100lbs with some tipping the scales near 150lbs. There are truly a great game fish and I love fishing for them.

I do offer night tarpon fishing trips if the weather is right. We generally would head out before dusk and get a great view of the sunset as well as some rolling fish. Tarpon fishing can be excellent a night and there are several spots within a short distance of the marina that I fish.

For information on fishing the tarpon migration please inquire well ahead of time as the schedule gets full prior to the actual season most of the time.

Key West permit fishing

Key West permit fishingPermit are part of the Jack family of fish. Most often anglers that are new to saltwater fishing don't know what a permit is but have probably seen some of it's close relatives. A permit is one of the most sought after gamefish for fly fisherman. To catch a permit on a fly could be equaled with getting a hole in one in golf. They are truly amazing and on the flats they are careful and aware of everything and every noise. A perfect permit fishing day there might be a light wind up to 10 knots to allow us to get closer to the fish. Permit love to eat crabs and shrimp and dig in the flats for crabs.

Permit are on the flats almost year round with the exception of their hiatus offshore to spawn on the wrecks and reefs around the Keys. Even then we can still find a few permit but one of the best times to fish for permit would have to be in March. March can be windy at times but if you can get a bait or fly to a permit he will most likely give it a good look or eat it.

Permit fly patterns include a classic merkin pattern or many variations. Shrimp patterns will also work well at times but need to be stripped a little differently and a little faster. I have a few patterns of my own that have proven to be successful and have caught fish.

bonefishing in Key West

BonefishingUnlike the Bahamas, Florida Keys bonefish tend to be larger and more difficult to catch. It is a great reward to land one of these silver streaks and it's some of the most fun fishing you can experience.

Fishing for bonefish requires a good eye since we don't always fish on white sandy bottom for them. They often blend into the surrounding waters and their backs are darker with stripes. They are not called the ghost of the flats for nothing!

Once these fish are hooked they scream drag from your reel and send your heart pounding. Bonefish can be found on the flats of the Lower Keys from February until November unless we get cooler temperatures. Bonefish have a threshold for warm water and will leave the flats if the water is too cold. The Upper Keys see bonefish more on a year round basis as they are protected by the Everglades.

For more information on fishing the Lower Florida Keys and Key West please email me or if you plan to travel to the Keys and want to get out fishing it is best to call to make arrangements.

Captain Peter Heydon

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