Just off the beaten path, far from the lights and excitement the main drag, and a world away from the crowded beachfront is an area in the north reaches of the island known as the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. The locals refer to the area as the "Back Country" because this patch of land on the northern expanses has been mostly untouched by the hands of man for hundreds of years.
It is the home of living mangrove islands, native plants and animals, and some of the best fishing on the island. The water is only a few inches deep in most spots, which makes it easy to see the activity below the water's surface. The water is also teeming with fish and other catches, making it a very nice way to spend an afternoon. This article will take you through some of the things to expect when Key West fishing the flats.
The Nature Of The Flats
The flats are shallow waters, usually less than three feet deep. There is also a pronounced drop off signaling the flats' end and the beginning of the larger more expansive ocean. Fishing in these waters has been compared by anglers to a safari because of the diversity of flora and fauna living around the flats.
Because of the shallow nature of flats, they have also been compared to hunting. While fishing in this destination, you will be able to actively pursue your fish, which will give you ample opportunity to hone your skills as an angler. Because of the challenge, many experienced anglers consider the flats on the island to be among the best spots in the United States.
What You Can Expect To Catch
One of the first questions asked by fishermen before they set off on an excursion is, "What can I catch?" The answer to that question is simple, yet hard to pinpoint. For the most part, you are guaranteed to find bone fish, tarpon, and permit. At times, you may see lady fish, or even red fish. Predator fish like shark and barracuda have also been known to frequent the shallows of the Back Country.
How To Make It Count
Of course, none of the great spots and good recommendations in the world can help if you simply can't catch any. In this situation, it might be helpful to hire a guide. Unless you are a professional fisherman, an experienced instructor will be a great addition to your party. Most have been on the island Key West fishing the flats for many years.
You will also want to make certain you have the right boat for the situation. As mentioned earlier, the waters around Back Country are very shallow. Because of this, you will need to take a flat skiff to navigate the area. You can usually kill two birds with one stone by chartering a flat skiff and captain to help you for the day.
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