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Flats & Backcountry Fishing Reports

Key West Pro Guides - Flats/Back Country Report - January 2020
By: Capt. Paul Tryon

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January Fishing Report—For today's action call 866 259 4205

As January arrives we ramp up towards some of our most productive periods for offshore angling. The back country remains fast paced with the widest variety of sport fish to predators for the light tackle angler to pursue. It's a great time to fish the waters of Key West!

Flats: January is a challenging time to fish our extremely shallow waters due to our winter time cooler water temperatures. Short periods of "decent" Bonefish action continue for the patient angler in January and February. Permit typically will have moved off the flats for the most part and Tarpon are completely out of action on the flats for now. The flats angler should now include Barracuda and sharks on his hit list. Just a remainder that we provide a true "flats fishing experience" and this should not be confused with the back country fishing. These are two totally different experiences and if you are unsure of the differences call us at 866 259 4205 for more insights. For the shallow water angler the Back Country will be a far more productive charter.

Flats Species:






Notable: We highly recommend fishing to the tide tables for the flats anglers. Fly fishing will be challenging at best as January is a time of wind here. The flats for the most part are open and exposed. Novice fly fishers will want to consider the back country as our better recommendation.

Back Country:

Always a fun and productive trip the back country this time of year moves into an excellent time for fast paced action while targeting a very wide variety of species. Anglers will appreciate our calm, crystal clear waters. The overall population of fish in the back country continues to grow with several sport fish species, edible fish, and predators to target but also numerous schooling species have now arrived to provide non-stop action most days.

The 1/2 day to 3/4 day trips continue to produce well however the afternoon water temperatures are not as high now so the later part of the day with good tides can be awesome. The Redfish action during January is as good as we enjoy in Key West. Good Cobia fishing continues and can produce some quality fish and action in the back country. Snook are certainly not super active with our cooler water temps but we do have those rare days of mild air temperatures and calmer winds that can bring the Snook to life in the back country. This is a time of fast paced "excellent" action in general from the schooling species such as Jacks including some huge Yellow Jacks, Sea Trout, Pompano and more. The Mangrove and Yellow Tail Snapper fishing can slow in January even in the back country. For serious "table fare" harvest we definitely recommend the reef & wreck trips now but to include a few "keeper" fish for lunch or dinner will not be a problem in our shallows. The predator fishing continues. Giant Barracuda and several species of Sharks in the shallows are on the hit list. Our Monster Shark charters are awesome and continually produce multiple larger sharks even on the 1/2 day trips. January is predator time especially in the Marquesas so anglers can count on these aggressive species to be ready to go “head to head”. We "highly recommend" a back country charter this time of year and especially for those guests looking for a shorter than full day trip in calmer waters. Just a few of the schooling species in our bays now are Trout and Pompano, Jacks, Lady Fish, Blue Runners, Grunts, Porgies...the list is nearly endless in January. Tarpon time is slow generally in the back country during January but on the given day the bonus Tarpon shows up. Remaining is our small resident population of juvenile Tarpon and the angler needs to keep in mind these fish are super sensitive to changing conditions and become very "hit or miss". A small Tarpon populations remains here but we typically do not target them for the next few months. A perfect trip for the hard core light tackle angler to the novice angler or the family or groups numbering up to 4 anglers. The back country is also a fly fishers dream come true with protection from the wind for casting and plentiful fish which will readily pursue a fly.

Back Country Species:











Notable: This is a time of more stable water temperatures so fishing conditions in general will settle in, friends. We still recommend fishing morning trips if going shallow as they remain the most productive over the later afternoon hours for the serious angler but again the afternoon trips are good. The PM half day trips have improved and can be quite enjoyable especially for those people just looking to stay in calm waters and enjoy a fun few hours catching fish. Reef trips in the afternoon fishing slightly deeper waters along with the patch reefs can be very good trips for later in the day departure times. Sharks are plentiful and active. Pursuing these heavy weight monsters on light tackle is challenging to say the least and talk about something you cannot do at home!

Let's go Fishing! Call Key West Pro Guides today to book your charter 866 259 4205 daily 8 AM to 9 PM. We look forward to your call!

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