Kayak Fishing 

By: Randy Morrow 

June is a terrific time for kayak anglers to pursue the most well-known inshore fish species in the Lower Florida Keys – tarpon, bonefish, and permit! Winds are usually much lighter, tides are moving nicely, and water temps are perfect.

Tarpon fall into two basic categories: smaller, “resident” fish, and large, migratory fish. The resident fish, generally 10-30 lbs., are tremendous fun on medium-light spinning gear or 9wt fly tackle. They collect around the bridges and are also scattered throughout the backcountry. Sunrise, sunset, and nighttime are the best times to target them as they roll on the surface. In the middle of the day, they don’t roll as much though they are certainly catchable. These smaller tarpon will be active through summer and fall and generally respond well to lures and flies – you really don’t need bait for them. The large fish, ranging from 50-150 lbs. or more, roam in similar areas as their smaller brethren, but are sometimes harder to feed. Additionally, the big tarpon will run along edges on the Atlantic side of the Keys, sometimes in large schools. May is considered peak time for these big beasts, and there should still be some around in June as well. By July, most of the big fish have moved on.

Bonefish should be plentiful and agreeable throughout June and will surprise you with their speed as they sizzle the drag on your spinning or fly reel! A shrimp-tipped jig or weighted, shrimpy fly will should get their attention. An incoming tide is a great time to target these speedsters as they move across our hard-bottomed flats looking for their next snack. A depth of 1-3 ft. seems ideal. If the water isn’t moving, you are unlikely to see fish until the tide picks up.

It’s hard to say for sure when the permit will reappear in numbers on the flats, though they should be fishing well by June as they return from their spring spawning event. Tailing permit are one of the most exciting sights in flats fishing, and a fairly common sight in the summer, especially early and late in the day during calm conditions. Stealth is critically important as you approach these wary fish.

Warm weather in the Keys also brings thunderstorms, and the lightning that accompanies them. Operating under paddle power makes us kayakers particularly vulnerable since we generally can’t outrun the weather. The ubiquitous mangroves, however, provide us an option if lightning is getting too close. Simply paddle into any opening in the trees and wait it out. The one place you DON’T want to be is out in the open. There is a silver lining to this situation though since many times the period just after the passage of a storm cell can be excellent fishing.

As always, ring, text, or email if I can help you maximize your kayak angling in the beautiful Florida Keys!

— Randy Morrow, Kayak Fishing Guide
LowerKeysKayakFishing.com  |  (305) 923-4643

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