Here is a note cobbled together from several sources:
Shore fishing is not easy for Bones and I would guess near impossible for
Permit & Tarpon. The few places that you can wade for are not heavily fished
but they get good traffic, so Bones and the others are well seasoned and a
little shy. Permit because you need to see them at nearly 100 ft in order to
maneuver to within casting distance, they are to quick when your on foot.
Tarpon are easy enough to get close to, but you need deeper water, 4-6 ft,
again not easy when your wading. You may luck out and see some near channels
or cuts, but if you were to hook one of any size u b in deep dodo......
Sidebar, the Key's are strung along US 1 and in the old days all mail was
delivered via mile markers(mm), They start in Key West(MM 0) and end in
Florida City (MM 126). The Key's run from the east to the west and if you
include the Tortugas, stretch for almost 200 miles.
Now as for wading the flats, yes, there are lots of spots. Most of the
productive fishing is going to be in the early mornings at around sun set.
Tides also are a
major factor, but because of their complexity, it's not worth getting into.
Starting at the Mile Marker 126, just south of Florida City, if you see
shallow water, there are fish... There are Snook, Red's, Tarpon, Permit,
Bones, and just about anything you can cast to, available most of the year,
just not a lot... If you have never tried a fly on a barracuda or shark, I
strongly suggest you give them a shot. They are just as fast and spectacular
as the Slam fish. You can go after the smaller Bonnet(2lb-6lb) with a 6wt,
Cuda(3lb-15lb) with a 8wt-10wt, up through the Bull/Nurse/Lemon shark with
your 12wt, and they are all on the flats. You can wade to them. The only
adder is a small piece of wire to ward off sharp teeth,, if you want your
fly back... There are also Jack's, Grunts, Ladyfish, Spotted Trout, and to a
lesser extent just about everything else. I have caught King Mackerel to
35lbs in 12 ft of water between the old and new Bahia Honda bridges. Bull
Shark's up to 250lbs.
There is a gap in road side fishing between upper Key Largo(mm 107) and
Lower Matecumbe(mm 74) because most of the area is commercial or private and
The Highway Flat a mm 74 on the ocean side. This is a great flat located
across the street from the Rodus Building, 74560 Overseas Highway. Hurricane
Georges stripped away what used to be a lovely stretch of sand dunes covered
with sea oats bordering this flat. The flat is still fishable, just not as
pretty. You can park across the street from the Rodus Building, a square
white multi-story building. This flat runs east and west for approximately
1/2 mile, good hard bottom and GREAT bone fishing. Do not park at the East
end of the flat as that area is private property and was marked as such the
last time I was there. This flat has no rest rooms or any facilities, just
very good fishing. Don't pass it up.
Anne's Beach is a favorite wade fishing spot. A fabulous flat approximately
1/2 mile long with good hard sand bottom. Anne's beach is located just West
of the Calusa Marina on the ocean-side. Anne's Beach has two entrances about
1/2 mile apart. There are rest rooms at the East end and hard, marked
parking areas at the East and West ends. Each entrance is connected by a
great boardwalk, which runs
right along the shoreline and has access walks going down to the water
interspersed along the boardwalk making access to the flat very easy. There
are also covered picnic areas along the boardwalk with tables and benches,
just right for lunch. The bone fishing here is very good with an excellent
chance of seeing a permit on the West end of the flat where it butts up to a
deep-water channel. This is a public park and is very popular with bathers.
Avoid the weekends and fish early or late. There is usually plenty of room
for fishing particularly in the middle area of the flat.
Long Key State Park Recreational Area Long Key State Park is located just
West of MM 68, on the ocean-side. This park has an entrance fee of $3.00 per
car and is well worth it. The park features camping areas if you are a
camper and you can pitch a tent or back your trailer right up to the beach.
It also has shower facilities and rest rooms as well as picnic tables. A
paved road runs the length of the park and makes access that much easier. I
usually turn right after paying my entrance fee and drive about half way
down the park to the West and park facing the ocean. A very short walk,
15-20 feet, and you are fishing. On a high tide watch the shoreline, as the
bonefish will get right in on the beach and tail. I like to start wading in
the middle of the flat and work my way slowly up to the East end in close to
the shore line and if the light and the wind are right, move out a little
and work back to the West. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Excellent facilities and very good fishing.
On Vaca Key(downtown Marathon), you might try Sombrero Beach. It is public,
has sand, it right next to a really good cut, might be worth a try in the
early am or at dusk.
Veterans' Memorial Park This park is located at Mile Marker #40, right on
the West end of the 7-Mile Bridge. Turn left and go down the hill where you
will find a good
parking area with rest rooms and concrete pavilions which cover picnic
tables and benches. A great flat with a nice hard sandy bottom. Excellent
bone fishing with a
chance of a permit on a high tide near the edge of the channel. The family
can sit and burn in comfort while you hunt world records...
Bahia Honda State Park Located on Bahia Honda Key between Mile Markers 36
and 37. This is very large Park, over 2 miles in length and offers some of
the best wade
fishing available for bonefish. This flat borders a deep water channel on
the East end where there is always the chance of coming upon a permit. It
has a good hard bottom and a variety of types of bottom from clean white
sand to mottled with some grass. Bahia Honda offers camping, picnic
facilities as well as rest rooms and showers and even a concession stand if
your tastes run to a hot lunch [hot dogs and hamburgers]. This facility
requires an entrance fee of $3.00 and well worth it. It is very nice at the
end of your fishing to be able to take a shower and change into some dry
clothes. For up to date information you can call the park at 305-872-2353.
Just after the new Bahia Honda bridges, is Spanish Harbor Key(it's labeled
West Sugarloaf Key). About 100ft after the bridge ON THE RIGHT is a small
side road the
leads down to a parking area. Wonder out to the north and you will find a
pit dug by the rail road for fill, it's 35ft deep but is quite shallow on
the outsides. Try the area between the pit and the bridge. Also, on the
south side of the road there are some shallows, but they drop off quick..
Current is also very fast and strong, up to 7mph. You don't want to be
caught in it, kills 1 or 2 each year...
Further west are still more spots, going all the way to the beaches of Key
Caution::: Always be sure of where you are wading. Do not attempt to cross
areas that are green or dark blue in color-these colors indicate deep water,
or soft mud bottoms. I very seldom wade deeper than my knees. Be aware of
what the tide is doing and do not get caught far off the beach with a fast
rising tide or you may have to swim part of the way back. This is very
difficult with an expencive fly rod & reel.
The following is a list of equipment you might consider for wade fishing
FLY ROD - a fast action, 9ft., 8wt.
FLY REEL - GOOD DRAG & a floating line and 200 yds. of 20lb. test backing.
FLIES - a mix of Clousers, Deceiver's, Shrimp, Crab, in tan, brown, green,
sizes 4, 2, 1/0 BITE TIPPETS: Other than Bones and maybe Permit, our fish
have teeth, I use 12"-15:" of 20lb up to 80lb mono for Tarpon, wire for cuda
WADING BOOTS or hard bottom dive booties - a must have piece of equipment
for safe wading, always wear them no matter where you are wading
STRIPPING BASKET - optional
POLARIZED SUNGLASSES - another must have item
SMALL, FLAT fly box - carry different patterns and a few extra leaders
SUNSCREEN - another must have item, even in winter
WATER BOTTLE - put on your belt, it will save you a trip back to shore
LONG-BILLED HAT - make sure the underside of the bill is a dark color so it
won't reflect the glare back into your eyes .
Long Sleeve shirts & pants if your light skinned.
Now all you need is a soft breeze, a cloudless sky.....