Seasonal Guide to Fishing in Sugarloaf Key, FL

Seasonal Guide to Fishing in Sugarloaf Key, FL

The variety of species, mild climate and various fishing waters make the Keys a fishing paradise. Here is a seasonal guide to fishing in Sugarloaf Key, Florida.

What Is the Best Season to Fish Florida Keys?

Available fish vary from season to season, but don't let this stop you from planning your fishing trip — although one species may be scarcer in the month you visit, others are abundant.

Many fish are inactive when cold and retreat deep into the water when it is hot. They generally bite more during early mornings, late afternoons and evenings, and some are more active just before it rains.

Seasonal Guide to Fishing in the Florida Keys

No matter the season, the Florida Keys offers the following opportunities:

  • Flat fishing in shallow saltwater.
  • Backcountry fishing at the coastal islands and area flats.
  • Reef fishing by dropping bait near a reef.
  • Deep sea fishing offshore for deep ocean species.
  • A variety of excursions and fishing charters in Sugarloaf Key.

Sugarloaf Key Fishing Guide by Month

Each month in the Keys offers exceptional fishing. 


In January, you will benefit from cooler temperatures and pleasant days. Fish you can expect to reel in include:

  • Flats: Snooks and permits. 
  • Backcountry: Barracudas, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, grouper, snapper, sharks, snook, cobia, redfish and trout.
  • Reef: Kingfish, jacks and mackerel. 
  • Deep sea: Dolphinfish (mahi-mahi), tuna and wahoo.


During February, the weather is cool and, at times, stormy. Fish prevalent at this time are:

  • Flats: Permit, snook, barracudas, redfish and sharks.
  • Backcountry: Mackerel, bluefish, snapper, sharks, cobia, barracudas, trout, redfish, snook, grouper and jacks.
  • Reef: Mackerel and jacks.
  • Deep sea: Kingfish, sailfish, wahoo, blackfin tunas and mahi-mahi.


Fishing is good across the board in March. You can target:

  • Flats: Permit, redfish, snook, barracuda and shark.
  • Backcountry: Tarpon, snapper, jacks, mackerel, bluefish, sharks, barracudas, trout, redfish, snook, grouper and cobia.
  • Reef: Yellowtail and mutton snapper, kingfish, mackerel mixed, jacks and sailfish.
  • Deep sea: Sailfish, kingfish and mahi-mahi. 


April is a popular season to visit the Keys and fish. Anglers can expect to reel in: 

  • Flats: Redfish, snook, barracudas, sharks, tarpon and bonefish.
  • Backcountry: Tarpon, jacks, snook, grouper, sharks, cobia, barracudas, trout, snapper, mackerel and redfish. 
  • Reef: Kingfish, yellowtail and mutton snapper, mackerel and jacks. 
  • Deep sea: Sailfish and mahi-mahi. 

May to June

May is a favorite time for anglers to flock to the Keys. In June, the temperatures rise, crowds are less and fishing remains excellent. Fish to target are: 

  • Flats: Tarpon, redfish, snook, barracudas, sharks and bonefish
  • Backcountry: Snapper, jacks, redfish, sharks, barracudas, mackerel, snook, grouper, cobia and trout.
  • Reef: Grouper, mackerel, jacks, yellowtail and mutton snapper.
  • Deep sea: mahi-mahi, tuna and wahoo.

July to August

July is all about clear waters and the occasional thunderstorms. August is quiet and humid with the start of commercial lobster season. Fish common at this time include:

  • Flats: Tarpon, redfish, bonefish, snook, barracuda and shark.
  • Backcountry: Tarpon, jacks, sharks, cobia, redfish, snook, grouper, barracudas, snapper, mackerel and trout. 
  • Reef: Snappers, mackerel, jacks and grouper.
  • Deep sea: Marlin, mahi-mahi and wahoo.

September to November

Tropical storms, seasonal rain and hot and humid weather make flats fishing ideal in September. Temperatures cool in October and November, but anglers remain spoiled for choice. Fish you can target:

  • Flats: Tarpon, redfish, snook, barracudas and sharks and bonefish.
  • Backcountry: Tarpon, jacks, sharks, cobia, redfish, snook, grouper, barracudas, snapper, mackerel and Trout. 
  • Reef: Snappers, jacks, mackerel and grouper. 
  • Deep sea: Marlin, wahoo and mahi-mahi.


Cooler temperatures are expected in December. Fish in Keys' waters include:

  • Flats: Snook, redfish and trout.
  • Backcountry: Mackerel, jacks, Trout, redfish, sharks, barracudas, snook, grouper and snapper.
  • Reef: Grouper, snapper, mackerel and jacks.
  • Deep sea: Marlin.

Fishing Tournaments in the Florida Keys

The Keys have numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year: 

Winter Tournaments

The Key West Fishing Tournament is an eight-month-long competition, making it the longest and largest tournament in the area. The kick-off weekend offers $5,000 in prizes, with a separate event open to the general public in the following eight months.

The Cuda Bowl happens yearly, two days before the Super Bowl. Anglers are given two days to catch the highest total inches of barracuda, with three catches allowed to be submitted per day.

Spring Tournaments

“Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!” is an ideal competition for novice anglers or if you want to up your fishing skill. The tournament requires no membership, experience and equipment, and everyone is welcome.

Summer Tournament

The VFW Fishing Tournament is a family affair and awards $15,000 in accumulated cash and prizes. Win $5,000 for catching the heaviest dolphinfish or mahi-mahi (fish type). The proceeds are donated to veterans in need. 

Fall Tournaments

Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge is an annual fishing tournament with a great cause. Cast a line and reel in snook, redfish or Trout. Proceeds benefit local vocational scholarships.

Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is part one of three triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series. It is the only tournament offering a junior division for anglers 16 or younger.

Enjoy the Best Fishing Months in the Florida Keys

Sugarloaf Key / Key West KOA Resort is the perfect place to stay to enjoy fishing! You will enjoy private beach access and a full-service marina with boat rentals. Book your stay at an RV or Tent Site, and plan your fishing adventure

Share This: