Florida Keys Tarpon Fishing Guide - Flats Fishing Charters


with flats & backcountry fishing guide Capt. Luke Kelly

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Whether preferring fly or light-tackle tarpon fishing. First priority is providing a pleasant, memorable, and successful Florida Keys tarpon fishing charter.

Explore the Florida Keys inshore flats and backcountry while sight-fishing for tarpon in a clear and shallow depth of water. A unique Florida Keys fishing experience, second to none!

Phone: 305-304-3152      Email: keyflat@mac.com

Florida Keys Tarpon Fishing

Without understanding the true nature of this fish and where its found; it might be hard to understand why so many fishermen are hooked on Florida Keys tarpon fishing. Truth is, flats fishing for tarpon has enough substance to write a book about, some have. With so much attention geared towards tarpon fishing, one thing will always remain true, tarpon are the “mega”, when in shallow water. Strengthening runs that don’t quit, spectacular aerial displays, tarpon set themselves apart from any other fish when caught from the flats.


Often romanticized, the remote inshore waters tarpon occupy each spring are what make Florida Keys tarpon fishing so special. Watching a 100+ pound tarpon swim through crystal clear shallow water is downright intimidating when attempting to catch one. It’s certain, sight-fishing for tarpon in the Florida Keys “gin-clear” water provides untouched excitement.

Flats Fishing for Tarpon

Considered by many as the ultimate gamefish, tarpon are also known as “king of the flats”. High on the food chain, tarpon go where they please when on the flats. Large in nature, and often grouped together in a shallow depth of water, tarpon can easily be seen from a distance. An angler’s true dream fish, flats fishing for tarpon in the Florida Keys has been driving a charter fishing industry for decades now.


Today, allot of tarpon fishing takes place near bridges and other industrial locations where chumming, cut bait, and bottom fishing methods are common practice. You can and will catch tarpon this way, but that is not considered flats fishing for tarpon. Flats fishing for tarpon in the Florida Keys takes place far from humanity, using a more hunt style approach to catch tarpon in the wild. You’ll never be staring at a bridge while flats fishing tarpon with Key Flat Charters.

Flats Fly Fishing for Tarpon

Tarpon can be ferocious eaters within a close range of a quiet flats boat. This plain and simple fact makes them great opponents for novice saltwater fly fishermen.


The double-haul casting technique should be exercised when fly fishing for tarpon, as well as all other saltwater gamefish for that matter. Tarpon can and will eat a fly very close to the boat at times; yet a 30 to 50 ft cast from a 12 wt rod should be common practice for an angler who is fly fishing for tarpon in shallow water.


Tarpon fly fishing holds a special place in the Florida Keys. Calm pre-dawn mornings with fly rod in hand, awaiting the tarpon’s roll, need more be said.

Light-Tackle Tarpon Spin Fishing

Not all tarpon of the flats need be targeted with a fly rod. Straight forward methods for the angler wishing to target tarpon with a light tackle spinning rod/reel can easily be achieved from the flats.    


Live bait tarpon fishing is best during particular points of a day’s given tide. Being in the right spot, during the right tide, with the right live bait; will provide unmatched action when live bait tarpon fishing. Producing the explosive hit one would expect from such a large fish.


Key Flat Charters specializes in a wide array of tarpon flats fishing techniques. It’s all about the angler and how they wish to hunt their tarpon.

Best Time of Year for Keys Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon are found in the Florida Keys year round. That being said, tarpon fishing consistency is seasonal in the Florida Keys and should be fished accordingly. In other words, there is a best time of year to witness great tarpon fishing during a relatively short season. This “tarpon season” begins with the annual warming water temps which follow winter. Sometimes early, sometimes late, each year is different. March is always a solid bet when predicting their first arrival. April, May, and June are seen as the best months for Keys tarpon fishing. Each of those months offer differing tarpon fishing potential, it’s hard to say which is best. March is best for live bait tarpon fishing charters. While April, May, and June are best for tarpon fly-fishing charters, or live bait tarpon fishing for that matter.     


So if it’s a fight your looking for then you’ve found your fish, adult tarpon are much stronger than any man. Moving through south Florida each year long before the fishing rod has, tarpon are known to use the Florida Keys as one of their first stops during their seasonal migration. This means we get first shots at these tarpon in an area they know to be full of life. 


Today, most all fishing guides and anglers alike practice safe methods ensuring the survival of tarpon once caught and released. As long as we continue to practice new and proven methods in conserving these and many other fish and their environments, we can continue to enjoy the sport in tarpon flats fishing for generations to come.    

Capt Luke Kelly