Tropical Fish in a Tropical Oasis

by: Caitlyn Gatrell

If saltwater fishing is your cup of tea, then you most likely know all about popular gamefish like snook, tarpon, redfish, and more. Beyond the gamefish of saltwater fishing, there are other cool species you can catch while fishing for the ocean’s creatures.

One of my favorite not-so-common saltwater species to catch is the parrotfish, and one of the best locations to find these guys is the Florida Keys. Their beautiful colors and unique build are what catch my attention. We visit the Keys yearly, so we see quite a few each time we’re down there. I don’t really fish for these guys, but there’s been a couple times where they just so happened to be interested in my bait.

This beautiful blue fish you see in the photo is a parrotfish that decided to bite my hook while fishing off a bridge in Marathon. We were using shrimp on circle hooks, with a sinker attached due to the fast-moving current. We tend to walk the bridge until we reach deeper points, and we cast our bait along the pilings.

This hungry parrotfish was in a little group with other colorful parrotfish, just nibbling along the piling, on the search for some food. Once I felt that little tug and saw my rod tip bend down, I began to reel in and sure enough a flash of blue was seen below the surface.

It’s always fun fishing along the brides of the Florida Keys because you come across so many different types of marine species. In just one trip we had sharks, turtles, stingrays, tarpon, and various fish species stroll by us. That was only an hour or two trip too!

You can find plenty of tropical fish while visiting the Keys, whether you’re in Key Largo or you’re all the way south to Key West! The Keys is a global fishing capital after all, so there’s a very diverse ecosystem present.

Areas you can expect to find tropical fish in the keys consist of piers, docks, jetties, bridges, pilings, reefs, wrecks, and even some mangrove islands. You can reach these areas by land or by boat, so you have plenty of opportunities to get out there and get your eyes on some beautiful fish.

There are also numerous aquariums and research centers throughout the Keys that allow visitors for hands-on opportunities and viewing experiences with many, various marine species. Instructor-led shows are often held for visitors to learn about the critters, which is especially fun for the young ones.

Whether you’re interested in fishing, or you just enjoy being by the ocean, you’ll love every minute you spend in the waters of the Florida Keys. And if you’re an inshore angler like me, sometimes it’s fun to have a unique species on your line!