Thinking of planning a fly fishing trip to the Florida Keys in November? Look no further for a paradise that offers not only an escape from the winter chill, but also pristine fishing grounds teeming with a variety of species. With its crystal-clear waters, breathtaking sunsets, and endless opportunities to reel in trophy-sized fish, the Florida Keys is a haven for anglers. Whether you are a seasoned fly fisherman or a beginner looking for an unforgettable experience, November is an ideal time to cast your line in these stunning waters. So grab your rod, pack your sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure on the picturesque Florida Keys in November!
Choosing the best location
Understanding the Florida Keys
When it comes to fly fishing in November, the Florida Keys provide an unparalleled experience. The Florida Keys are a string of islands located off the southern coast of Florida, known for their crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and tropical charm. With numerous fishing hotspots throughout the keys, it’s crucial to choose the best location for your November fishing adventure.
Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States, is a fly angler’s paradise. Known for its diverse fish species and vibrant fishing community, Key West offers opportunities for targeting a wide range of fish in November. From flats filled with bonefish and permit to the majestic tarpon, Key West guarantees an unforgettable fishing experience.
Located in the middle of the Florida Keys, Marathon is another excellent choice for November fly fishing. This vibrant destination offers a mix of both shallow and deep-water fishing options. Here, you’ll find opportunities to chase after bonefish and permit on the flats, as well as venture further out to target offshore species like sailfish and mahi-mahi.
Known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World,” Islamorada lives up to its reputation. This fishing haven, situated between Key Largo and Marathon, offers outstanding opportunities for anglers in November. With its vast mangrove-lined shorelines and legendary flats, Islamorada is a prime location for pursuing bonefish, permit, tarpon, and snook.
For those seeking a serene and picturesque fly fishing experience, Key Largo is an ideal choice. This northernmost island in the Florida Keys is home to the expansive and ecologically diverse Everglades National Park. Key Largo offers anglers the chance to explore the backcountry flats, searching for bonefish, permit, redfish, and trout. Its proximity to the Everglades allows for an abundance of unique fishing opportunities.
Weather conditions in November
In November, the weather in the Florida Keys is typically pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (21-29°C). It’s the perfect climate for outdoor activities, including fly fishing. The mild temperatures create a comfortable environment for anglers to enjoy their time on the water without excessive heat or cold.
November marks the tail end of the rainy season in the Florida Keys. While the chance of rain exists, it generally diminishes compared to the previous months. Brief showers are possible, but they usually don’t last long and rarely disrupt fishing plans. However, it’s always a good idea to pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho just in case.
November typically brings mild to moderate winds in the Florida Keys. The average wind speed ranges from 5 to 15 mph, providing a pleasant breeze on the water. However, occasional stronger gusts are possible, especially during cold fronts. These cold fronts can generate stronger winds, making fishing conditions challenging. Keeping an eye on the local weather forecast will help you plan accordingly.
Tides play a crucial role in fly fishing success, and understanding them is essential for a productive trip in the Florida Keys. November experiences both incoming and outgoing tides, creating favorable feeding conditions for various fish species. In general, the best fishing times coincide with tidal changes, as they trigger increased fish activity. Consulting a local tide chart or seeking advice from experienced anglers will help you make the most of these tidal patterns.
Target species during November
Bonefish are an iconic species in the Florida Keys, and November presents an excellent opportunity to target them. Known for their speed and challenging nature, bonefish are considered the “gray ghost” of the flats. Key West, Marathon, and Islamorada are prime locations for pursuing these elusive fish. Look for them on shallow flats during incoming tides, and be prepared for an adrenaline-pumping fight when you hook into one.
November is a peak time for permit fishing in the Florida Keys. These prized gamefish are notorious for their wariness, making them a challenging target for fly anglers. However, the thrill of landing a permit is unmatched. Flats near Islamorada and Key West are known for their healthy populations of permit. Careful presentation and accurate casts are key to entice these stealthy creatures.
The Florida Keys are synonymous with tarpon fishing, and November is no exception. Tarpon, known for their impressive size and acrobatic jumps, are a top target for many fly anglers. Key West and Islamorada are prime locations for targeting tarpon in November. Whether you choose to fish the iconic flats or the deeper channels, be prepared for an unforgettable battle with these majestic creatures.
Snook, a popular inshore species, can be found throughout the Florida Keys in November. These aggressive predators are famous for their explosive strikes and powerful runs. They thrive in the mangrove-lined shorelines and canals of Key West, Marathon, and Islamorada. Target them during early morning or late afternoon hours, and work your flies near structure to entice a hungry snook.
November offers excellent opportunities for targeting redfish in the Florida Keys. These copper-colored brutes can be found in the shallows, as well as around oyster bars and mangrove shorelines. Key Largo and the Everglades National Park are fruitful areas for redfish. Keep an eye out for tailing redfish during low tides and be ready to present your fly accurately for a chance at a hookup.
While trout might not be the first fish that comes to mind when thinking of the Florida Keys, they are present and provide a fun and rewarding fishing experience. The cooler waters of November attract trout to the grassy flats and channels of Key Largo and the Everglades. Target them with small shrimp or baitfish imitations, and enjoy the excitement of catching these tasty fish on the fly.
Essential fly fishing gear
Fly Rod and Reel
When it comes to fly rods for the Florida Keys, a 7 to 9 weight rod is a versatile choice. It provides the necessary backbone to handle powerful fish like tarpon, while still maintaining the sensitivity required for delicate presentations to species like bonefish and permit. Pair your rod with a quality reel that provides smooth drag and enough line capacity to handle long runs.
Having a well-stocked fly box is crucial for success in the Florida Keys. In November, popular fly patterns include shrimp, crab, and baitfish imitations. For bonefish, go for lightweight and natural-colored flies that imitate small crustaceans or shrimp. For permit, choose crab patterns with realistic movement. Tarpon often respond well to large baitfish imitations, while snook and redfish can be enticed with streamers and shrimp patterns.
Leaders and Tippets
When targeting wary fish like bonefish and permit, it’s essential to use long and stealthy leaders. Opting for leaders in the range of 9 to 12 feet, with tippet sizes between 8 to 12 pounds, will minimize the chance of spooking these elusive fish. For tarpon, a shorter and stronger leader in the 60 to 80-pound range is recommended to withstand their brute force.
Waders and Boots
While wading is not always necessary in the Florida Keys, having a reliable pair of waders and boots can be beneficial. In certain locations, such as Key Largo’s flats or the Everglades’ backcountry, wading might improve your chances of getting closer to fish. Opt for lightweight and breathable waders, paired with sturdy boots with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain.
Polarized sunglasses are an essential piece of gear for any fly angler in the Florida Keys. They not only protect your eyes from harmful UV rays but also allow you to see into the water and spot fish more easily. Opt for sunglasses with a good polarization filter and lenses that enhance contrast, enabling you to spot subtle movements and shadows beneath the surface.
Fly fishing in the Florida Keys can be a physically demanding activity, and having a pair of non-skid gloves can greatly enhance your grip and protection while handling fish or casting in windy conditions. Look for gloves specifically designed for fishing, with added grip and flexibility for maximum control of your fly rod.
Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
When spending extended periods under the Florida sun, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is essential. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and apply it generously to exposed areas. Insect repellent is also a must, as some areas in the Florida Keys can have biting insects, especially during dawn and dusk fishing sessions.
Organizing and storing your flies is essential for effective fly fishing. Invest in quality fly boxes that are water-resistant and have compartments for different fly sizes and patterns. Organize your flies based on species or type, so you can quickly access the right pattern when you spot your target fish.
Fly Fishing Accessories
A variety of accessories can enhance your fly fishing experience in the Florida Keys. Carry a lightweight waterproof backpack or sling pack to keep your gear organized and easily accessible. Other useful accessories include line clippers, forceps, a landing net, and a retractable measuring tape. Don’t forget to bring a camera or waterproof phone case to capture those memorable moments!
Techniques and tactics
Sight fishing is a key technique in the Florida Keys, as it allows you to spot and target fish with precision. Polarized sunglasses are essential for this technique, as they enable you to see beneath the water’s surface. Scan the flats and shallow areas for signs of movement, such as tailing fish, wakes, or shadows, and approach them cautiously to avoid spooking the fish.
To increase your chances of success, proper fly presentation is crucial. When casting to fish, aim for accuracy and stealth. Practice your casting to ensure precise and delicate deliveries. When presenting your fly, factor in the fish’s movement and direction to intercept their path and entice a strike. Avoid false casting too much as it can spook the fish.
Choosing the Right Fly
Selecting the right fly is vital for enticing fish to strike. Consider the species you are targeting and the food sources they prefer. Match the color, size, and movement of the fly to imitate their natural prey. Being observant of what the fish are feeding on, such as shrimp, crabs, or baitfish, will guide your fly selection.
Reading the Water
Understanding the water’s characteristics and identifying potential fish-holding areas is fundamental. Look for changes in depth, varying bottom structures, and current flows. Shallow flats, drop-offs, channels, and areas with mangroves or oyster bars often attract fish. Take note of tidal movements and how they influence the fish’s behavior, positioning, and feeding patterns.
Working with the Tides
Tidal movements significantly impact fishing in the Florida Keys. As the tides change, they create shifts in water depth, temperature, and flow, ultimately affecting fish behavior. During incoming tides, fish tend to move onto the flats, feeding in search of prey. Outgoing tides can concentrate fish along channels and deeper holes. Understanding these patterns will help you strategically plan your fishing trips.
Guided vs. DIY fishing
Benefits of hiring a guide
Hiring a guide can tremendously enhance your fly fishing experience in the Florida Keys. Guides possess invaluable local knowledge and expertise, increasing your chances of successful fishing. They know the best locations, optimal tides, and effective fly patterns based on their experience and daily observations. Guided trips also provide access to specialized boats, equipment, and years of skillful instruction.
Fishing on your own
For those with experience and knowledge of the area, fishing on your own in the Florida Keys can be rewarding. It allows for more flexibility and independence, giving you the freedom to explore different locations and experiment with various techniques. DIY fishing can be a great option if you prefer a more casual and self-directed fishing experience.
Local regulations and permits
Regardless of whether you choose to fish with a guide or on your own, familiarize yourself with local regulations and permit requirements. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulates fishing in the Florida Keys, and there may be specific rules for certain species or protected areas. Make sure to obtain the necessary fishing license and be aware of any catch limits or seasonal closures.
If you’re seeking a luxurious and all-inclusive experience, resorts in the Florida Keys offer a perfect blend of comfort and convenience. Many resorts have their own fishing charters and guides, making it easy to access the water and take advantage of professional services. Resorts often provide an array of amenities, including pools, spas, and on-site dining options, ensuring a memorable stay.
Hotels are a popular accommodation choice in the Florida Keys, catering to a range of budgets and preferences. Whether you prefer a boutique hotel or a well-known chain, there are numerous options to suit your needs. Hotels offer comfortable rooms and often provide amenities such as restaurants, bars, and concierge services to ensure a pleasant stay during your fishing trip.
For those seeking a more independent and homely experience, vacation rentals are an excellent choice. The Florida Keys offer a wide range of rental properties, including houses, condos, and villas. Renting a vacation home allows you to have more space, privacy, and the convenience of a fully equipped kitchen. It’s a great option for anglers traveling with a group or looking for a more extended stay.
For the adventurous angler who loves the outdoors, camping in the Florida Keys can be a unique and immersive experience. Several campgrounds and recreational areas offer tent and RV camping facilities. Wake up to the sounds of nature, enjoy picturesque sunsets, and have easy access to fishing spots. Just be prepared for the basic amenities and make sure to check the availability of electric hookups or other essential services.
Other activities in the area
Snorkeling and Diving
The Florida Keys are renowned for their vibrant coral reefs and underwater ecosystems. Take a break from fly fishing and embark on a snorkeling or diving adventure. Discover the remarkable marine life, encounter colorful fish, and explore iconic dive sites like the Christ of the Abyss statue in Key Largo. Snorkeling and diving experiences in the Florida Keys are sure to leave you in awe.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
Embrace the calmness of the Florida Keys’ waters by exploring them via kayaking or paddleboarding. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and navigate the mangrove forests, meander through serene channels, or paddle along the coastlines. These activities allow you to immerse yourself in nature, observe wildlife up close, and marvel at the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
Boat trips and Excursions
The Florida Keys offer a plethora of boat trips and excursions that cater to various interests. From sunset cruises and dolphin watching tours to eco-tours and snorkel safaris, there are options for everyone. Join a guided boat trip and gain insights into the local ecosystem, witness breathtaking sunsets, or take a leisurely cruise through the picturesque keys.
Exploring the Keys’ cuisine
Indulge in the delectable flavors of the Florida Keys by exploring its unique cuisine. Sample fresh seafood delicacies like conch fritters and Key West pink shrimp, or try the world-famous Key lime pie. Dine at waterfront restaurants, seafood shacks, or casual beachside cafes, and savor the tropical ambiance while treating your taste buds to a memorable culinary journey.
Visiting local attractions
The Florida Keys offer a range of attractions worth exploring during your fishing trip. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, where the renowned author wrote some of his famous works. Discover the fascinating history of the keys at the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada or explore the intriguing underwater world at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters in Marathon. Immerse yourself in the unique culture and heritage of this extraordinary destination.
Recommended fishing charters and guides
Top-rated charters in Key West
XYZ Charters: With a team of experienced guides and top-notch equipment, XYZ Charters offers memorable fishing adventures in Key West. Their knowledge of the local waters and passion for fishing ensures an exceptional experience for anglers of all skill levels.
ABC Charters: ABC Charters is known for its professionalism and commitment to customer satisfaction. Their knowledgeable guides will take you to the best fishing locations in Key West, ensuring an exciting and successful day on the water.
Experienced guides in Marathon
XXZ Guides: XXZ Guides specializes in fly fishing in Marathon, offering guided trips tailored to your preferences and skill level. Their friendly and experienced guides will help you target a variety of species, guaranteeing an unforgettable fishing experience.
YYY Charters: YYY Charters provides expert guides who know the waters of Marathon like the back of their hands. They will share their knowledge and techniques to maximize your chances of hooking into the fish of a lifetime.
Trusted options in Islamorada
ZZZ Charters: ZZZ Charters offers professional and knowledgeable guides who are well-versed in the waters of Islamorada. With their guidance, you’ll have the opportunity to target a range of species and learn valuable techniques from experienced anglers.
PQR Guides: PQR Guides is a reputable outfit in Islamorada, known for their expertise in fly fishing. Their guides have a deep understanding of the local fishery and will provide you with an exceptional fishing experience in this angler’s paradise.
Professional services in Key Largo
RST Charters: RST Charters in Key Largo is dedicated to providing high-quality fishing charters. Their experienced guides will put you on the fish and ensure a productive and enjoyable day on the water.
WXY Guides: WXY Guides is a trusted name in Key Largo, offering personalized fishing experiences tailored to your preferences. Their guides are experts in targeting a variety of species, and they will go the extra mile to make your fishing trip a success.
Tips for a successful fishing trip
Research the area beforehand
Before heading to the Florida Keys for a fly fishing adventure in November, conduct thorough research on the specific locations you intend to fish. Familiarize yourself with the local fish species, their habits, and preferred habitats. Research local fishing reports, weather patterns, and tidal information to optimize your chances of success.
Be prepared for changing weather
While November offers generally pleasant weather in the Florida Keys, it’s important to be prepared for potential changes. Keep an eye on weather forecasts leading up to your trip and pack accordingly. Bring lightweight layers, a rain jacket, and clothing suitable for warm and cooler temperatures. Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun with hats and UV-protective clothing.
Book accommodations and charters in advance
To secure your preferred accommodations and fishing charters, it’s advisable to book in advance, especially during the November fishing season. The Florida Keys are a popular destination for anglers, and availability can be limited, particularly with reputable guides. Planning ahead ensures you have the best options and guarantees a seamless and enjoyable fishing trip.
Practice your casting skills
Casting accuracy is crucial in fly fishing, and it’s worth dedicating some time to practice your skills before your trip. Work on your double haul, accuracy, and distance casting techniques. Familiarize yourself with the specific flies you’ll be using and practice presentations in different wind conditions. The more comfortable you are with your casting, the more successful your fishing trip will be.
Observe and learn from local anglers
When you arrive in the Florida Keys, take the opportunity to observe and learn from experienced local anglers. Strike up conversations at fishing spots, tackle shops, or with guides. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek advice. Locals can offer valuable insights into the best fishing techniques, fly patterns, and locations based on their firsthand knowledge and experiences.
By following these tips and immersing yourself in the unique fly fishing experiences the Florida Keys offer in November, you are sure to have an unforgettable and successful angling adventure. Enjoy the beauty of the keys, the thrill of the chase, and the joy of hooking into some incredible fish species amidst one of the most picturesque settings in the world. Happy fishing!