Man Up: Sport Fishing In The Florida Keys

Above: Reel in the catch of your life in the Florida Keys (Photo courtesy of: Bud N’ Mary’s Sportfishing Marina)

Florida is a destination where many Canadians will fly south to escape heavy snow fall and ice storms; most will plunk themselves along the state’s eastern shoreline to soak up the sun’s UV rays and venture to hotspots like Fort Lauderdale, Miami or Orlando where they’ll let loose on the local beaches and in bars. However, for the manly man looking for high seas adventure and who is itching to yell “Arr” like Captain Jack Black we dare you man up and venture south, way south, to the Florida Keys; specifically to the Village of Islamorada popularly known as the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World.”

Islamorada is perfectly situated between the saltwater wilderness of the Everglades National Park, the U.S.’s only coral barrier reef and the deep waters of the Florida Straits. According to the International Game Fish Association, more saltwater angling world records than any other destination in the globe have been set here, making it a prime location to snag Jaws or the real-life relative of any character from the movie Finding Nemo. And yes, beer and bait is included.

Getting there: the easiest way to get to the Keys is to fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FLL) or Miami (MIA) International Airport, then rent a car and drive approximately 45 minutes to 1.5 hours south (depending on where you land) along U.S. Route 1. Another option is to touchdown at Key West International Airport (EYW) and drive north approximately 90 minutes to Islamorada.

Staying there: sorry guys, all-inclusive resorts are scarce in the Keys but like a can of cold lager in the Beer Store you’ll have a myriad of B&Bs, as well as hotels, to choose from when booking your accommodations – half the fun of staying in the Keys is trying out the delicious local fare!

What to pack: sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a light jacket or rain coast, non-marking deck shoes and a camera. Some fishing charters will supply you with food and beverages but check with the company first, you may have to supply your own. Get fancy and download the FishRules, it will give you information on saltwater fishing regulations, as well as help you log and identify the game you catch on your trip. Most importantly, if you or your boys don’t immediately grow sea legs as you hit the open water bring Gravol or speak to your doctor beforehand for a remedy.

Be prepared for: be prepared for an early morning departure from the marina, some charters will depart as early as 6:00 a.m. Aye matie indeed!

Fishing charters to consider: from backcountry, offshore, patch reef, tarpon and shark fishing there’ll be no shortage of aquatic creatures to catch and reel in. Most charters will supply you with tackle – including rods, reels, lures, live bait – and fishing licenses. Check out our list of recommended fishing charters in Islamorada.

  • Bud N’ Mary’s Sportfishing Marina – Established in 1944, Bud N’ Mary’s Sportfishing Marina is home to more than 40 fishing captains and guides, and is the oldest and largest fishing fleet in the Florida Keys. The location is a fishing microcosm offering a myriad of marina services such as boat rental, bait and tackle shop, café and lodging that includes – wait for it – free Wi-Fi! Fishing packages are custom tailored per individual/group but can last from two to five nights and cost between $725 USD to $4,350 USD per person.
  • J & A Charters – Captain John Oughton, owner and operator, and his team “want to catch fish worse than you do” and has collectively logged more than 5,000 days of fishing in the Atlantic. J&A offers three to five night packages ranging from $850 USD to $2,125 USD; the price includes the crew, fuel, bait and tackle, meals and drinks. Unfortunately, beer is extra – hey you can’t have it all! The company’s multi-day excursions will have you fishing the Dry Tortugas, Marquesas Keys and surrounding waters where you can hook yourself yellowtail snapper, grouper or king mackerel.
  • Robbie’s of Islamorada– Whether you’re a beginner or advance angler those looking for variety can book their next man up adventure with Robbie’s of Islamorada. This company is highly rated; it earned TripAdvisor’s 2013 Certificate of Excellence and received more than 600 positive reviews online. Robbie’s prides itself on catering to their customers’ needs with more than 15 captains at their disposal, each with their own specialty from back country to sword fishing. Plus, once you’ve reeled in the catch of the day your captain will clean it and have the company’s five-star chef prepare it dockside for your dinner. Can you say yum?

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