Tarpon season is here and in full swing! We have good numbers of fish moving through the area along the ocean and through the backcountry. We are having a lot of success with live bait and we are getting action on Hogy soft baits as well as on fly.
Sight fishing strings of tarpon on the beach is an incredible way to spend the day. The fish are traveling along the shore in strings and the opportunities present themselves in good numbers. Patience goes a long way here. These fish can be a little spooky and hard to feed; but when you make it happen it is awesome. A well placed fly presented in the correct manor can yield explosive results that end with holes in the ocean and big runs. If you prefer spinning gear, we can use artificial baits like Hogys and hard plugs.
We are also finding quite a few fish out back. These fish are laying up along the edges of flats or piled up in the channels. A live bait presented with the current can be very effective on channel fish. They stage up nose into the current waiting for the conveyor belt of current to bring an easy meal. Circle hooks are the method of choice for live bait.
The baby tarpon are also a potential target in the backcountry. While they aren’t as big, they are still loads of fun. These little guys love to jump and have big fights in their smaller bodies. They can easily be targeted on fly, or with spin gear.
Other targets this time of year include bonefish, barracudas, Permit, and sharks. Stalking bonefish and permit during the high sun of the mid day can be very productive this time of year. Casting plugs along channel edges can also produce barracudas. We have plenty of sharks around and after catching a few fish to use for bait, chumming them to the boat can be done.
Overall this is a great time of year that can be really fun out on the water. The tarpon fishing is going to keep getting better and the summertime patterns will also improve. The weather is improving and things are looking great.
There are still a few days open in May and June, but not many. Give me a call and we can get you out there.
The fishing the last couple of months has been increasingly improving. The “winter” has been very mild and temperatures have been fairly steady for the majority of the last two months. With the exception of a few cold fronts moving through quickly the environment has been consistent and the fish become more predictable and responsive. With consistent temps, water temps have been hovering near 80 degrees which is a great temperature for most fish.
We had a chance to fish the Cuda Bowl the first week of February during Super Bowl Weekend. I got to fish with Cody Miller who is a great angler and incredible fly tier. The fishing was really good during the couple days leading up to the tournament as well as the first day of the tournament. There were plenty of fish out there and we had more than our share of chances. We stuck to throwing flies for the entire tournament and we able to turn in one fish at 41″ in length. There were 49 boats and 69 anglers participating in the tournament. Over two days, we all managed to catch over 9,200 inches of barracudas. While we weren’t able to capitalize on most of our opportunities, we had an incredible tournament and really enjoyed the time on the water. Congrats to all the winners and participants for a great showing. Also, big thanks to Loren Rea and co. for putting on an awesome tournament. We will be back next year.
Fishing in the Backcountry is producing great numbers of sea trout, pompano, large jack crevalles, snappers, barracudas, and sharks. We fish artificial lures primarily and regularly find multiple species on the same lure. The trout bite in particular has been the best we have seen in years.
Flats fishing is rolling into the spring time patterns with good numbers of bonefish around. These fish are a blast on fly or light spinning gear. This fishery will only get better as the year progresses. There are still plenty of big barracudas on the flats as well. These toothy guys make awesome runs and can come flying out of the water during the fight. There have been some large fish taken on artificial lures up to 20 lbs in the last few weeks.
Tarpon fishing is starting to pick up as well. The resident gulf fish are moving into the local cuts and areas we like to fish in decent numbers already. We are getting a wide range of sizes from 15 lbs up to 60lbs at this point. This warm water may speed up the migratory fish, but we haven’t seen them here just yet. Stalking tarpon on flats and channel edges with flies can produce a lot of excitement and a great challenge. We can also use live bait or other artificial lures on spinning tackle to get the job done.
Overall, it has been a great winter. Things are getting busier by the day and it’s shaping up to be a great year all around. Prime Tarpon dates are filling up, but there are still a few available. If you’ve never done any fishing in Key West, you should do yourself a favor and take the plunge. You won’t regret it.
Captain Brian Stilley is a Florida native who has fished all over the waters of his home state. He started Low Key Angling to provide top quality fishing charters with a focus on customer service, teaching techniques that catch fish, and providing an experience of a lifetime. Key West is a small island with a lot of fishing guides. Low Key Angling aims to set the standard with top of the line equipment, a new boat that is meticulously maintained, and the experience to put anglers on fish consistently.
Some of Captain Brian’s favorite areas to fish include Key West, Palm Beach County, The Tampa Bay Area, Pensacola, and the Lower Keys. Low Key focuses mainly on inshore fishing in and around Key West, FL, specializing in backcountry and flats fishing. Primary targets include tarpon, permit, and bonefish. There are numerous other species in the backcountry that can also be targeted like barracudas, snappers, sharks and many more. All of these fish can be taken on artificial baits, flies, and live bait.
Captain Brian is very passionate about what he does and it shows on his charters. He knows a ton of information about the different fish and various sea life. He knows about the local environment and the different islands. Captain Brian even knows about the different sea birds that call the keys home.
Captain Brian Stilley is an easy going guy that focuses on creating the best experience for his clients to provide a lifelong memory. He is willing to go the extra mile no matter what it takes.
Our 2018 Cayo 180 was cutom built by Cayo Boatworks for Captain Brian to be right at home in Key West. This boat was built to be simple and effective. It does not have an abundance of bells and whistles, but has exactly what you need for a successful day on the water.
At Low Key Angling, we bleed black and only trust Mercury Marine for our power. The 115 Pro XS pushes this boat past 55mph.
The Cayo 180 can do a lot for a flats skiff. It floats in six inches of water so that we can chase our targets in the skinny. This feat is very impressive for an 18 foot skiff. It takes rougher water as well so that we can cross over Boca Grande channel to get to the Marquesas. The hull was designed to be quiet so that sneaking up on spooky fish like permit can be done. It is a very stable fishing platform. Most flats skiffs are known to be tippy, this is not one of them.
The Barracuda, also known as the water wolf, is a top tier predator of the flats and open ocean. These fish can reach speeds of almost thirty miles per hour in two times their body length. Their speed is crucial to their hunting techniques. Usually, they disable their prey’s ability to swim away with the first bite. The fish can then come back and finish eating it.
The Barracuda can be taken by a variety of different methods from live bait to flies. One of the most popular methods is throwing hard plugs and reeling them back to the boat at speed. The aggressive nature of cudas lends itself well to the reaction strike. With the “chuck and wind” method, you can get away without using heavy wire leader.
These fish are also known to learn about boats and fisherman. Once in a while they will come and wait for you to throw a dead bait out or hook another fish they can steal. If you get lucky, you can hook the offender and get what we call an “Upgrade.”
Barracudas come in all different sizes in the keys. We can find a few bigger fish on the flats and around underwater structure. The islands in the backcountry are a great place to find good numbers of cudas ranging from a pound up to twenty pounds. Out on the reef the chances of finding a cuda over twenty pounds increases.
Barracudas are a regulated fish down here in Monroe County. The regulations state the any fish to be harvested must be between fifteen and thirty five inches. You are allowed to keep one per person over the thirty five inch mark. Otherwise you are allowed to keep two per person, and six per boat max.
Call today and lets go chase some of these incredible predators on spinning tackle, or even on fly!
The Goliath Grouper is known as one of the true giants of the ocean. They can grow up and over 600lbs and are voracious eaters. Goliath groupers inhabit shallower waters for the most part and can be found around a lot of different types of underwater structure. These structures can be natural, like rock ledges, or man made wrecks. Interestingly enough, they aren’t actually groupers, but are part of the wrasse family.
The goliath grouper was given the endangered species designation in 1990 due to over fishing. They are pretty territorial and usually unafraid of people making them an easy target for divers. They have made a good comeback and numbers continue to grow. These fish are sometimes considered to be trouble makers when they steal other fish from anglers.
Due to the regulations on them, the goliath grouper is a catch and release only fish. They are an absolute blast to try and pull up, but most of the time they win. We use the heaviest tackle we have when targeting these beasts. A good strong drag and some determination are needed to turn these fish to the boat. Baits of choice include anything that we can catch. The bigger the better as far as they are concerned.
These fish can be fed fairly easily, and in some cases we can sight fish them. Feeding them is the easy part. The work starts as soon as it turns and starts heading home. With one stroke of their huge tail the fish will start taking precious line away from you. You might even feel like you could get pulled out. If you can withstand the first few surges and get it turned, you have a chance.
This can be a very intense fight that is not for the weak. If you are up to the challenge, contact us and let’s go get one!
The Key West Backcountry is an area that we fish almost every single day. This area is made up of shallow flats, channels, mangrove islands, basins, and beaches. The backcountry is home to numerous different species of fish both big and small. The shallow flats provide foraging grounds for fish like permit and bonefish. The channels make a great funnel for tarpon and other larger fish to feed in. The mangrove root systems make an excellent place for small fish to grow up without predators being able to reach them. The basins make large bowls and contain different types of structure like ledges and coral heads.
The backcountry makes up a huge area that provides an abundance of different types of fish and fishing methods. You can challenge yourself on the flats sightfishing for the slam. You can have a fun day of rod bending with multi species catches in the basins. There is no other place like the keys backcountry for fishing.
The Marquesas Keys are a small island chain about 30 miles West of Key West. It is a world renown fishery and a fishing destination on most anglers’ list. The islands form a ring, also known as an atoll. These islands are unique because while most atolls are formed by volcanic activity, this atoll was formed by a meteor strike. This chain is a beautiful sight and a real treasure of the Florida Keys.
The main targets inshore in the Marquesas are tarpon, bonefish, and permit. These are three of the most challenging fish to target and provide anglers with incredibly high highs, and low lows. There are plenty of other fish to target as well if those guys don’t feel like playing.
The Marquesas are built up of mangrove islands, shallow flats, and channels that run into and around the ring. There are also shallow water wrecks and patch reefs scattered all around. These different types of structure provide a huge variety of types of fishing and fish to target.
If you are looking for one of the roads less traveled, you can find it on our Marquesas trip. This is a secluded place that not everyone gets to see and experience.
This page is all about the Tarpon. Tarpon are also known as Megalops Atlanticus, Silver King, Chrome Cow, and a hundred other nicknames. One of the most exciting fish that swims in the ocean. Average fish in the lower keys ranges from forty to sixty pounds. We get them smaller, but we also get them bigger.
These fish make one of the best inshore adversaries because of the skill it takes to successfully hook and land one. The jumps, long runs, and sheer determination that these fish display are truly a sight to see.
We use the lightest tackle that we can when targeting these fish. It makes it more fun and challenging for everyone involved while giving the fish the respect it deserves. Tarpon can be caught using flies and a variety of artificial lures. They can also be had using different live baits like pinfish, crabs, and shrimp.
Tarpon are migratory fish and move around quite a bit. They are regularly found on deeper flats, channels, and also along the beaches. The big migration begins sometime in March and fish continuously move through into July. While we can find tarpon most of the year, the migration brings large numbers and concentrates them for us.