Islamorada, Florida is located directly in the middle of Key West and Miami on five islands in the Florida Keys. It is positioned between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the migration route for many of the large species of fish and is informally called the Sport Fishing Capital of the World.
Best Fishing Spots in Islamorada, Florida
This reef is located on the Atlantic Ocean side and is a unique combination of artificial and natural reefs. Some of the fish you can find here are grouper, hogfish, blackfin tuna, barracuda, and mangrove snapper. This reef is located a few miles south of Key Largo. The name comes from the Pickle Barrel wreck. It was sunk during the Civil War and is made of cement-filled pickle barrels.
This is a “must visit” fishing spot if you want a shipwreck to fish. It was intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef, located near Lower Matecumbe Key. The wreck formerly served the Eagle Tire Company. Around the wreck, you can find many baitfish schools that attract Florida game fish like grouper, shark, mahi mahi, barracuda, and sailfish. When you position your boat over the wreck you can fish for any of these giant game fish.
This is also located on the Atlantic Ocean side and is also a mixture of artificial and natural reefs. They are found in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. You can find the same game fish here that you would find at Pickles Reef. It is southeast of Plantation Keys. Just past the center, there is a deep wall reef called Conch Wall that lies just beyond the Research only zone.
The USCG Bill was a vessel in the United States Coast Guard Treasure Class and is now sitting 130 feet below the water off Key Largo. Here you can find many fish like grouper and others.
This is another wreck that is located off Key Largo. The USS Spiegel Grove was a dock landing ship that was decommissioned in the ’80s and in 1998 it was sunk to create an artificial reef. It is a hotspot for fishing and diving. You can find mahi mahi and grouper along with other common fish you would find at other reefs and wrecks.
Islamorada Reef Bridge
This is where you want to fish if you do not want to go out on the water. You can fish along the bridge. Here you can also find a wide assortment of fish.
This is another wreck that is great for fishing and is located on the southeast side of Plantation Key. It has been an artificial reef since 1984 and here you can find lobsters, barracuda, and grouper plus other larger fish.
Strategies for Fishing in Islamorada, Florida
Whether you are fishing by wreckage or near the Atlantic, you may be able to capture a barracuda on your line. One of the biggest benefits of catching a barracuda is that after it is caught it does not struggle. The larger solitary fish are tough to catch so you will not be able to reel them in as fast. To reel these in, you will need a strong, durable fish rod and patience. Here in Islamorada, you can catch many types of saltwater fish.
Fishing on the Hump
One way to really experience sports fishing in the Florida Keys is to head out to Islamorada Hump, fifteen miles out. It is a popular fishing spot because it seems to always yield great fishing results. At certain times of the day, it can become very congested so you should get there early in the morning to get in some great fishing. Fishing here is always great, especially if you are using live bait.
The most effective way to fish here is to troll using ballyhoo or pilchard hooked onto your line. If it is crowded with other boats it is not advisable to troll as you can get snagged up on other lines. When you fish deeper you should use live bait and vertical jigs. The best way to put on your live bait is to cut up pieces of fresh fish before you put them on your hook. They work well with amberjack, barracuda, and snapper.
Fishing on the Atlantic Ocean Side
On the Atlantic, Ocean side is where you can do wreck and reef fishing along with deep-sea fishing. This is where you will find Pickles Reef and Conch Reef where you can fish for barracuda, blackfin, yellowtail tuna, mangrove snapper, hogfish, and grouper. You can fish from the shore or charter a boat and go out farther for deep-sea fishing. The main difference between where you fish is the size of the fish. The ones that are closer to the patch reefs will generally be found in schools and of a smaller size.
Going farther out to the deeper water near the wrecks and the edge of the reef is where you will find sailfish and mahi mahi, who are chasing the bait fish out to water that is deeper. The live bait is trying desperately to get away from the predatory fish so they swim to the surface and as they struggle to survive, they will even leap into the air. This makes the water appear to be boiling and is referred to as spraying bait. The reason is that it looks like they are spraying or erupting into the air. Catch some of these small baitfish to add to your live bait supply. It will help the rest of the fishing day be productive.
This is the sport fishing capital of the world which is why many fishermen flock to this region to go saltwater fishing. Here you can learn to fly fish or if you know how this is the perfect area to do so. It is a great place to target and bring in some of the better fighting fish you find in the Florida Keys.