1. Fishing From A Bridge
Bridge fishing is by far the easiest option for boatless visitors to keys to catch fish. Why bridges? You only need a fishing rod and some bait and you’re in business. If fact, the fishing rod is even questionable. Many opt to use hand reels also called “Cuban Yoyo Rigs” which are plastic spools wrapped in line that are used to hand fish from the bridges. You can buy a hand reel and all of the line and tackle you need for less than $20 in a local bait store.
If you, like most, opt for a traditional fishing rod, you still need little else to enjoy a day fishing on the bridges in the keys. Grab some 1/2oz to 2oz egg sinkers, some 1/0 hooks, and frozen shrimp or ballyhoo and you’re all set. Depending on the time of year, you can expect to catch mangrove snappers, grunts, small sharks, jacks, groupers, and lots more. The whole family can join in, even if it’s just to enjoy the sunshine and good weather. The downside of the bridges is that it’s usually loud with cars zooming by on the adjacent bridges and the bridges can sometimes be crowded. This higher usage means that the fish, especially the larger ones, tend to be well educated and are very selective on the baits they choose to take.
Access to fishing bridges is likely available within a few miles of where you are staying in the keys. With the exception of Key Largo, fishing bridges are located in or near almost all of the major populated areas of the Florida Keys. A map of the fishing bridge system is available through the state park system.
2. Fishing From The White Street Pier In Key West
Key West is the most popular destination for vacationers in the Florida Keys. With many people opting to fly into the local Key West airport, there’s no opportunity to bring any kind of boat along with you and you may not even have a car. However, for the price of an inexpensive fishing pole or hand reel, you can enjoy a little fun fishing from the free White Street pier.
The Edward B. Knight Pier, locally known as the White Street pier is also a short scooter, bike, or even walk away from the tourist centers of Key West, so there’s a good chance it’s close to where you’re staying. It’s also open 24 hours a day and is free to use, giving you the flexibility to use it on your own schedule.
3. Renting A Kayak
Renting a kayak is the least expensive way to get access to the water and to near shore fishing. For only $30-$50 per day, you can access some world class fishing spots in the near shore hard bottom areas and mangroves surrounding the Florida Keys.
Kayak rentals are available nearly every place frequented by tourists, but some are better than others for fishing. Choose a location that has access to some deeper channels, mangrove trails, or hard bottom.
Check out our article on how to catch mangrove snapper from a kayak for more information.
Florida Keys Kayak Rentals:
- John Pennekamp State Park (Key Largo)
- Robbie’s Marina (Islamorada)
- Florida Keys Kayak & Paddleboard (Marathon & Big Pine Key)
- Lazy Dog (Key West)
4. Renting A Boat
While you might not have access to your own boat, you can opt for the next best thing and rent one while you’re in the keys. Renting can be done by the day which typically costs between $200-$500 per day depending on the type of boat plus fuel costs. You can also choose to rent by the week if you know you’re going to use the boat frequently, you typically save 10-25% of the daily cost by renting by the week.
Boat rentals are available from Key Largo to Key West, and everywhere in between. If you’re staying at a hotel, you can often choose to have the boat delivered to the hotel’s dock for a small upcharge. Hotels typically will require dockage fees to keep a boat docked for the week.
5. Party Boat or Head Boat
Let someone else do the driving and do some reef fishing for close to the same cost as renting a kayak or buying your own fishing pole. For $50-$80 per day you can join a group of fellow visiting anglers for a day or half day of fun fishing out on the reef.
Florida Keys Party Boat Information: