About South Florida flats and fly fishing in Miami and Fort Lauderdale
Tarpon, known as the “Silver King,” are the most spectacular and physically challenging fish to catch. Their size, speed and agility make them unmatched to any other species. In South, Florida tarpon over 200 pounds can be caught during the prime season. Once hooked, tarpon speed off and without warning jump completely out of the water, shaking and flipping out of control in and attempt to throw the hook.
Although tarpon can be caught year-round in South Florida, larger migrating tarpon are on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, December through June, due to large amounts of food available and moderate water temperatures. They are found from Palm Beach County South through Miami and throughout the Florida Keys in the protected waters of northern Biscayne Bay in Miami as well as the Intracoastal Waterway and the New River in Fort Lauderdale. During the warmer days of February, tarpon begin to migrate into the backcountry bays.
As the northernmost key of the Florida Keys, Key Biscayne, just southeast of downtown Miami, is a great location to leave from for catching big tarpon from December through July due to its proximity to prime tarpon fisheries in Biscayne Bay. They will remain in Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and Whitewater Bay in Everglades National Park until late April, when they begin their annual migration. April, May and June are when the highest concentration of tarpon can be found. This time of the season is best for fly fishing for tarpon in South Florida.
By the beginning of June, most tarpon are leaving the bays and heading north along the oceanside flats and beaches. By the end of July, the last of the migrating tarpon have passed by Biscayne Bay. At the same time, the smaller, resident tarpon are in much of the same areas from Miami to Key West, and in the backcountry of Flamingo in Everglades National Park. In mid September, Fort Lauderdale sees the first schools of mullet on the beaches, inlets, intracoastal and New River, signifying the fall mullet run. Smaller and medium-sized tarpon are much obliged to see them. You can find large schools of mullet with tarpon crashing through them. This also signifies the southern migration of the larger 80lb+ tarpon from as far away as North Carolina. They arrive on the beaches of South Florida in the beginning of December, thus repeating the cycle.
Given the fact that tarpon are primarily night feeders, nighttime fishing can
also be good for catching tarpon in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. As the mullet run winds down through November, the tarpon start to feed primarily on shrimp and crabs but will also eat flies and artificial lures.
Tarpon can be caught using three different methods – live bait, artificial lures, or by flies, depending on the angler’s skill level or preference of challenge. Typically, sight fishing encompasses the use of artificial lures or by fly fishing. There are times, however, when a properly presented live bait can draw a strike from one that is in your sights. Bait fishing is generally preferred by anglers who want to increase their chances of getting a bite. Those who seek a greater challenge prefer to entice large tarpon using artificial lures and flies. This type of fly fishing is not for your average fly fisherman, as tarpon are known to be one of the most difficult species to catch on fly. Fly fishing for tarpon in Miami/ Key Biscayne is best starting in Feb and running through June.
Sight fishing for permit is the ideal method of permit fishing. To maximize the thrill of catching this prized fish you want to cast your crab or fly and watch the permit eat. The three main elements of permit fishing are the same as bonefish; stalking, presentation and catching. As with any sight fishing, seeing your prey is important for increasing your success. Making the proper presentation with your crab is the most difficult hurdle. If all goes well, catching this hard fighting silver disk will give you one of the best light tackle fights possible.
Permit fishing is confined to the tropics. South Florida is one the most popular permit destinations because of its proximity to a large metropolitan area. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach provide easy access to flats fishing and fly fishing for permit in the Florida Keys chain of islands from Key Biscayne to Key West. Local residents and visitors from around the world enjoy flats fishing for permit in this pristine shallow water paradise. A 45 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key Biscayne/Miami makes Biscayne Bay the most convenient flats fishing in South Florida.
Permit can be caught year-round in the local waters of Key Biscayne and on the flats of Biscayne Bay, around Stiltsville and into Biscayne National park. With a moderate winter and the proximity of the Gulf Stream, South Florida flats fishing for permit remains consistent all year. Permit fishing in Miami is most productive however, during the summer months. Although permit can be found on the flats any time of the year, February through November are the best months, with May through September being the prime time. Permit like the warmer water and the higher summer sun will make spotting them much easier. Spawning occurs primarily in April in the offshore waters of the Florida Keys
Then they return to the flats and channels in larger numbers during the peak summer months from July to November. February though June would be my second choice, if you can drag yourself away from the tarpon.
Permit are generally caught using live bait such as shrimp and crabs. However, for those anglers desiring a greater challenge and are skilled at casting a fly rod, fly fishing for permit is the ultimate test of skill. Weather bait or fly fishing for permit accuracy of the cast is crucial. Fly fishing for permit in Miami is best from June through September.
Bonefish are the “Grey Ghost“ of the flats. They are the grey bullets you see streaking across the white sandy bottom just in front of you. Hopefully, your hook is impaled in one of their mouths. Your line comes tight, and 100 yards of line does warp speed across the flat within seconds that seem more like minutes. The whole time you are praying your line doesn’t come in contact with a sharp obstacle.
Leading up to the catch can be equally heart pounding. Sight fishing for bonefish is the quintessential method of bonefish fishing that maximizes the thrill of catching this prized fish whether bait or fly fishing. The three main elements of bonefish fishing are; stalking, presentation and catching. As with any sight fishing, seeing the bonefish is considerably important for success. Making the proper presentation with your offering is the most difficult hurdle. If all goes well, catching this speedster will give your adrenaline time to return to normal levels before taking your picture.
Bonefish are located nearly everywhere in the tropics. South Florida is one the most popular bonefish destinations because of its proximity to a large metropolitan area. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach provide easy access to flats fishing and fly fishing for bonefish in the Florida Keys chain of islands from Key Biscayne to Key West. Local residents and visitors from around the world enjoy flats fishing for bonefish in this pristine shallow water paradise. A 45 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale to Key Biscayne/Miami makes Key Biscayne the most convenient flats fishing in South Florida.
Bonefish can be caught year-round in the local waters of Key Biscayne and on the flats of Biscayne Bay around Stiltsville and into Biscayne National park. With a moderate winter and the proximity of the Gulf Stream, South Florida flats fishing for bonefish remains consistent all year. Fishing for bonefish in Miami is best in February through June and September through November when water temperatures are optimal.
Bonefish are generally caught using live shrimp. However, for those anglers desiring a greater challenge and are skilled at casting a fly rod, fly fishing for bonefish remains high on the list. Keep in mind, Miami bonefish prefer the windiest days as they are best for concealing your presence.