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Deep Sea Fishing Florida Keys: Best Seasons and Species

Whether you want to catch yellowtail snapper on the reefs or troll the weedlines for mahi mahi, a deep sea fishing Florida Keys adventure rarely disappoints. Of course, it's always best to do some research on seasons and species to help ensure that your Florida deep sea fishing trip is all you hoped it would be.

Spring through late summer for mahi mahi

The spring through summer months are prime if you want to go deep sea fishing for mahi mahi. Look for floating mats of sargassum weed because mahi can often be found feeding beneath these mats. Larger fish are generally caught while trolling natural baits like ballyhoo or cigar minnows, but they can also be caught on artificial lures or jigs.

Winter through early spring for sailfish

During the period from January to March, cold fronts often equate to a good Florida Keys sailfish bite while trolling along the reefs with natural baits such as ballyhoo or goggle eyes. Look for experienced charter captains who specialize in deep sea fishing Key Largo or Islamorada.

Summer through early fall for yellowtail

Yellowtail snapper are often found on the edges of reefs, in approximately 50 to 70 feet of water. While yellowtail snapper can be caught on Florida Keys fishing charters throughout the year, the best bite is generally from June through September. Cut baits like ballyhoo, sardines, squid, or shrimp are usually the most effective.

Spring through summer for grouper

If you are planning to fish the Florida Keys in May, this is when season opens for black, gag, and red grouper. Plan to fish the wrecks, reefs and ledges from late spring through summer using squid for bait on Florida deep sea fishing trips when targeting grouper.

Now that you know a little bit more about the best time to plan your deep sea fishing Florida Keys trip, decide on some dates and check into fishing licenses.


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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.