What Is Flats Fishing In Key West?
For a minute, just imagine an open clearing in a forest. It is loaded with deer, raccoons, rabbits and squirrels. Imagine the critters grazing the green grasses, the seeds and nuts, which have fallen from the trees. Now, let your imagination cover this clearing with water and turn the animals into fish. What you now have is pristine shallow water flat loaded with lots of fish. As in the example of the open clearing in the forest, they are all in search of food.
Key West, Florida is host to miles and miles of protected marine sanctuaries. In the confines of these protected waters are thousands of such flats each waiting to be fished. Whether you are an experienced angler or just a beginner, the Flats have something for you. Just watching the marine life alone is worth the investment of a day’s trip. Some of the marine life you might see on your fishing adventure to the Flats that surround the Florida Keys include Sea Turtles, Dolphin, Manatee, Sharks, Stingrays, Star fish, Sea Urchins, Queen Conchs and of course the fish we will be searching for like Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Barracuda, Sharks, and a host of others surveying the Flats.
Now that you understand a little more about the fish and marine life on the pristine Flats, lets continue by defining what a flat is, and the type of boat used for flats fishing.
For starters a flat is a shallow area of ocean less than three feet deep. Each flat has a well-defined edge that borders a fairly sharp drop-off into a deeper part of the ocean. If you can picture it, a flat is a type of shelf or, if you will, an underwater mesa which is a flat plateau on a mountain peak.
The flat skiff or flats boat is a shallow running modified “V” bottom boat designed to go into very shallow areas, such as the Flats The boat is maneuvered with ease by a professional guide using a long pole or a “push pole” to move the boat along without the use of a motor. The “push pole” can range from 18ft to 22ft in overall length, and most are made from fiberglass, graphite or some similar composite material. The use of a “push pole” assures a quiet approach in searching for fish on the shallow water Flats.
Flats’ fishing is sometimes referred to as “sight fishing” for the simple reason that you are searching for fish you can actually see before you attempt to catch them. The whole stalking process is very similar to a safari, and provides all anglers a outstanding chances to see the vast creatures of the ocean up close and personal in their pristine environment.
The poling platform is located directly over the outboard motor of a flats skiff. The poling platform, used by the guide to quietly push the boat through the Flats while searching for life, enables the guide to be able to spot fish at a greater distance than the anglers. While each platform may vary in height from one boat to another, all will aid in the ease of peering down into the water in search of fish.
So when you put all of those ingredients together, you have the recipe for flats fishing. Unfortunately flats’ fishing is considered by many as being technical because they are unfamiliar with its terms or skill levels. I assure you that a day on the Flats is as exciting for a beginner as it is for the most seasoned veterans. Fishing the pristine Flats is straight-forward fishing anybody can enjoy. It’s you, your guide, the Flats, the fish, the wildlife and the peace of no motor noise or rough water.