Summertime fishing in the Florida Keys

by Capt. Rick Stanczyk

Summertime fishing in the Florida Keys

Summertime is upon us and I couldn’t be happier. Traditionally, by the end of May, the harsh winds of spring usually let up as temperatures stabilize and stay warm. While on those flat, glass calm days it can feel like an oven out there, luckily, throughout the Keys, we usually have a slight ocean breeze which makes all the difference in the world. 

June, July, and August are some of my absolute favorite times to fish here. I like to get an early start in the dark to beat the heat of the day, and it also is usually a much more productive time for fishing, catching bait, etc. I, myself, am still heavily focused on tarpon fishing here through August. A lot of people don’t realize that the later summer is sometimes the best time for fishing tarpon here in the Keys. While most of the bigger migrating fish have moved on, we still have tons of resident fish that stay here all year long. With the winds calming down and the temperatures staying warm, those fish get in much more predictable patterns and you can really have some fun with them. While last year was a little more up and down since it was a weird year and the wind seemed to never quit, even late in the summer, normally those patterns make fishing very consistent and easy. It’s nice when you can find a group of fish that only a handful of people are fishing, and you can go there for days, sometimes weeks, and get bites just about every time you go. 

Snook fishing is also a big summertime favorite of mine. Last year, we had some of the best summertime snooking since the cold snap of 2010. The whitebait (pilchards) were plentiful, and, with a few dozen of those in your live well, just about every snook spot where conditions looked good, had some fish. You could also find big packs of fish out on the shorelines, where sometimes you could catch well into the double digits on a good day. Just recently, I had made my first attempt on finding the whitebait in some of the usual backcountry spots and we had good luck. The snook were biting also, even though it wasn’t a great day with a hard south wind that they usually aren’t fond of in the areas I can fish. We landed seven, with four of them being nicer fish in the seven to 10 lb. range! 

Summertime can also be a great time to look out in the Gulf for permit. With the calmer winds, the water usually gets nice and pretty, and that is usually a good recipe for fishing Gulf wrecks. It’s a nice ride out there and you aren’t getting beat up in the open water. Fishing with small crabs or large shrimp can work wonders on wreck permit. Beware of the bull sharks though, as many of those wrecks are infested with larger predator fish, so you usually have to land your permit pretty quickly. 

As you can tell, I really love the summertime fishing that Islamorada has to offer. If you are planning to be in the area definitely talk to some guides and see what they have to say. It’s not as busy, so you can often plan a trip with just a few weeks’ notice, rather than having to book months in advance.




Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Capt. Rick Stanczyk

Author

I fish a 1977 20’ SeaCraft open fisherman offering backcountry, gulf, and shallow reef trips catching everything from tarpon, permit, redfish, snook, sharks, cobia, goliath grouper, mackerel, snapper, and more. You can find me at Bud ‘n Mary’s (www.budnmarys.com) if I’m not out fishing, or call me at 305-747-6903 or email me at rick@seethefloridakeys.net



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