Key West Flats Fishing Charters

with Capt. Nick LaBadie

Key West Flats Fishing

Key West has a truly incredible flats fishery. Once you get a taste of sight fishing in shallow water, there really is nothing else like it. Bonefish and barracuda patrol the skinny water followed by hungry lemon sharks and sting rays. Big mean tarpon cruise the edges of channels and get up on the flats when the time of year gets right while the ever elusive permit is always on the prowl. 
Tranquil mangrove islands, gin clear sandbars, and pristine grass flats make up an endless playground here in the Lower Keys. Book a flats fishing trip today and come see what the rage is all about!

Poling skiff on the flats of Key West looking for tarpon
Casting at rolling tarpon as the sun comes up

Finding a Flats Fishing Guide in Key West

A great flats guide lives by the ever-changing conditions. Based on what’s going on in the area (weather, tides, water temperature, moon phase, etc) you never know where a flats fishing trip is going to take you. Your guide should be dedicated to the trip at hand and customize it based on what you would like to target and the angler’s experience. Whether you are the avid fly fisherman wanting to chase down glory or this is your first time fishing in saltwater, or even in Florida. Your guide should do his best to instruct the angler as the day goes on and work hard to deliver the most successful experience possible.  
Here at Tailing Water Expeditions we provide nothing but the best service and fishing equipment available. There are no shortcuts to success and there is no such thing as luck. Getting lucky is as simple as preparation meeting opportunity and it is up to your fishing guide to provide you with both of these elements. I have been been blessed to spend a lot of time on the water from Big Pine to the west of Key West and all of which have shown me some epic fisheries. Give us a call today and set up your flats fishing adventure!

Florida Keys Flats Fishing Seasons Calendar

Fishing the flats here in the Lower Keys and Key West is an incredible experience. The pristine crystal clear waters provide us with sight fishing opportunities that are out of this world. The first time you find yourself face-to-face with a laid up 100lb tarpon in two feet of water I promise that you will forget to breath. Your knees start to shake and all that time you have spent practicing casting your fly rod in the backyard goes out the window and that is the fun of it all! If that does not get you excited you need to find something else that does!

Wading to Tailing Permit
There are some times of the year that are better than others depending on migrational patterns and weather conditions. Make sure to get in touch and I will let you know what’s hot and what’s not!
Wintertime Flats Fishing is a great time of year to target the explosive barracuda on the flats. These big toothy critters reach over 20lbs and are a blast to catch on light tackle. We sight fish them on shallow flats as they soak up the sun and wait for prey to sweep by them in the current. Wintertime permit fishing can also be epic on warmer days. These days are hard to time out, but if you find yourself here I would recommend giving it some time out of your charter to take a look.
Spring Flats Fishing starts to get good as the water warms up. Bonefish can be found with some consistency on warmer days and the permit fishing is great until they head offshore to spawn in April and early May. The annual tarpon migration kicks off in the spring as well- and it’s off to the races. Book your charters in advance because these dates fill up fast. 
Summertime Flats Fishing is an absolute blast down here in Key West. We still have good numbers of big migrational tarpon around and start to walk into my favorite time of year to target our juvenile tarpon on the flats. Permit start to come back from spawning offshore and fill up the shallows in search of snacks. Bonefish are here and in good numbers on both the Atlantic and Gulf side flats. 
Fall Flats Fishing is hands down my favorite time of year to go hit the flats here in the Florida Keys. It is “slam season” baby! We start off our day chasing tarpon around in the morning as the sun comes up, and then move on to hit the shallows in search of our permit and bonefish depending on the tide. The fall provides us with those glass calm days where you can spot a permit tailing from a mile away. Bonefish are officially crawling all over the flats and eager to eat a properly presented fly or shrimp. Juvenile tarpon (10-30lbs) are all over the place and targeting them in the early mornings and late afternoons can lead to some epic adventures. 
Depending on what style of fishing or species you are trying to target, your flats fishing trip will be customized to fit your desired experience whether you are a hardcore fly fisherman or you just want to experience what the rage is all about.
Choose to dedicate a trip to chasing the big three in hopes of a Key West Inshore Slam (tarpon, permit, bonefish). Or hit the shallows after the explosive barracuda and some angry sharks. Just let your guide know what you are trying to get into.
A fun sized tarpon is jumping out of the water next to some mangroves after being hooked on a fly rod.
"Fun size" tarpon on fly
Take a peak at our fishing seasons page for some insider info
One of the most remarkable and attracting parts about the flats fishing here in the Lower Keys is that the water is always calm and almost always crystal clear. No need to worry about getting sea sick on a flat fishing trip. Just bring some sunscreen and a good pair of polarized sunless. No Dramamine required.