» Charter Boat Fishing
Charter Boat Fishing
The warm currents of the Gulf Stream come very close to the Keys and the Key West area shores. Fishing in these warm water is very exciting as you can catch an incredible range of fish within just a mile or two of shore. Because of the short distance to the fishing grounds you can always find great prices for a half day and full day trips. Some can be as low as $65 per person for half day trips.
There are a few basic types of trips I have had the pleasure of trying so far:
- Drift fishing – This was a new one to me as I’m used to trolling or bottom fishing. Just as the name implies you simply find a starting point that current and wind will blow the boat across some bottom structure like a reef. I have managed to catch a few nice King Mackerel and seen a lot of snapper and tuna brought on board. These trips are usually pretty inexpensive, $30 – $45, per person for a 4 hour trip. On one such trip, the crew was great with baiting and unhooking your catch. The down side is these trips are very popular with the tourist and you can often end up on a boat packed with 60 other people and tangles become an issue. But for the price you can’t beat it.
- Trolling – This is my personal favorite way to target larger fish. I have seen this done with down riggers and more commonly with planers that will drag your bait at different depths underwater and the captain will just drive the boat back and forth over reefs until you locate the fish. Most captains on this type of trip will limit patrons to 6 people. The smaller group allows for more personalized services for the group. It is common to charter these boats for $450-$600 a half day, up to 6 guests total. Or choose a random group for $150 or so. It is a little more expensive, but you will typically catch more fish trolling than drifting.
- Bottom fishing – This is my favorite way to catch snapper. The boat will anchor on a reef and start putting chum in the water to attract fish. I personally prefer to go at night because it is not as hot and there are a lot less people on the water. Most of the boats will provide rods and bait, but I quickly learned that unless you bring your own light tackle gear you were not going to do very well with snapper, but instead catch mostly grunts and other less desirable fish.
- Kite fishing – This is a technique used to target sail fish. The boat will anchor up and use kites flown behind the boat to suspend live bait close to the surface. My understanding is the sail fish are biting the best through the winter month, especially with a hard NE wind pushing bait closer to shore. I haven’t had a chance to try Kite fishing yet, but I am looking forward to seeing my first sail fish jumping behind the boat.