Winter Time Fishing in Key West

February 3rd 2020 – Winter time in Key West can have some pretty dramatic temperatures shifts, so the fishing can change day to day due to the weather. One day we may have a north wind and the winter species will prevail both inshore and offshore. A sudden wind switch from the south can bring some summer species in to the mix. Below is what we can typically expect during these winter months. But keep in mind that a lot depends on the wind direction and the fluctuating temperatures.

dolphin, mahi mahi,
Go deep sea fishing for Dolphin in the winter. Mahi Mahi make great fried fish.

Winter Deep Sea Fishing can be great for sailfish. Sailfish in the 50 pound range come right down the reef line when conditions are right. Black fin tunas and kingfish (aka king mackerel) are a staple of Key West deep sea fishing in the winter months. On days with a southerly wind, dolphin (aka mahi mahi or dorado) will show up.

Winter Reef and Wreck Fishing is a great time for yellowtail snappers and mutton snappers. Grouper season is closed, but they can still present a good fight is caught; they just need to be released. If it gets very cold, our wrecks can hold some nice cobia. 

Winter Flats Fishing is great for the avid hunter. Permit don’t mind the cooler water temperatures, but anglers need to be patient as these are the most technical fish on the flats. Big barracudas can be found on the flats as well. And when it gets nice and cold the cobia will show up. If you like the challenge of fly fishing, or if you want to stick to spin fishing tackle, we can do it all on the flats in Key West!

Permit and Capt Steven
Permit fishing on the flats can be great in the winter months for those that like to hunt.

Winter Backcountry Fishing is the most popular of all of the charters in Key West during this time. This is mainly because the winter months can be very windy, and the inshore waters are shallow, calm and protected making just about any day a good day. People with seasickness issues can always enjoy this type of charter without fear of turning green. In addition to the calm waters, the action in the shallows is very consistent. Jacks, spotted sea trout, ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish, pompano, snapper and sharks are just a few of the many other species that we find in the shallow backcountry waters off of Key West in the winter months.

Winter is an amazing time of the year for food fish. Many of the fishing charters I recommend come in with edible fish to eat. What better way to completely enjoy your Key West fishing experience than our Hook and Cook restaurants where the restaurants prepare and cook your catch.

Check out my Hook and Cook Restaurants

I have been putting fishing charters together for visitors to Key West for over 15 years. There are many great options for fishing here in Key West. The captains and crews that I recommend are the best that the industry has to offer. Feel free to call me direct and find out more about our great fishery here in Key West.

I’m Island Genn.
My office number is 1-305-292-7212.
Or Text Me at

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Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge

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