Of all the thrills an angler can experience, few, if any, match the excitement of casting to a tailing bonefish or permit and watching anxiously as the fish eats your bait and screams across the flat.
Florida Keys flats and backcountry fishing are two of the most popular and gratifying types of sport fishing. You and a guide will actually hunt for, and sight cast to, the Keys' most sought after game fish using fly or spinning gear.
Your inshore Florida Keys charter experience will fish the clear shallow flats around Duck Key, where you'll target bonefish, permit, tarpon, sharks and barracuda. Or journey into the pristine backcountry waters of Everglades National Park, where you'll catch snook, redfish, tarpon, snapper, jacks, trout and more.
Flats and backcountry fishing is ideal for both advanced anglers looking for a shot at landing a Florida Keys Inshore Grand Slam (bonefish, tarpon, permit); as well as for beginner fishermen and women who prefer fishing in calm, shallow waters, as opposed to heading offshore.
Backcountry trips are also popular with wildlife enthusiasts looking to witness nature in its purist and most untouched form. On any trip into the Everglades you may spot porpoises, manatees, saltwater crocodiles, sea turtles, a variety of bird species, as well as a collection of plants, trees and flowers seen nowhere else in the world.
Hawks Cay Resort is home to some of the best Florida Keys flats and backcountry guides, and offers a complete fleet of flats skiffs and bay boats that can accommodate two to three anglers per trip.
Just a few of the offshore species you will catch in the Florida Keys:
Common from three to five pounds. Recent Florida record 15 pounds, six ounces. Caught March through October, best August through October.
Common to 25 pounds. Recent Florida record 56 pounds, two ounces. Caught year 'round.
Common from 40 to 50 pounds, big fish of 100 to 150 pounds in some areas. Recent Florida record 243 pounds. Best February through June.
Red Drum (Redfish)
Up to 30 inches/eight pounds inshore. Larger adults offshore. Recent Florida record 52 pounds, five ounces. Best in summer and fall.
Most catches three to 15 pounds, 16- to 30-pounders also common. Recent Florida record 44 pounds, three ounces. Best in spring and summer
Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)
Common to four pounds. Recent Florida records 15 pounds, six ounces. Best in the winter.
Bay Fishing Boats
The bay boat is small enough to fish the shallows for bonefish, permit and tarpon, and stable enough to venture out to the reef on calm days. Bay fishing boats range in length from 20 to 24 feet and can accommodate up to four anglers.
Flats/backcountry Fishing Boats
Specifically designed for sight fishing the shallow Florida Keys flats and the backcountry, flats skiffs allow you to fish where most other boats can't. Most flats boats come equipped with a poling platform (on which the guide stands and poles you across the flat) and an open casting deck where you will cast for bonefish, permit, tarpon and more. Flats/Backcountry fishing boats range in length from16 to 24 feet. While some of these boats can fish up to 4 anglers for general Backcountry action, if you really want to be stealthy on the Flats, limit your numbers to 1-3 anglers.