Winter Is Coming? The Key West Chill

Key West Fishing Report and Forecast for the first week in December

wahoo, dolphin, mahi, fishing charter Key West fishing anglers hold up a dolphin and wahoo for their catch off Key West deep sea fishing

Saturday November 30 – While the rest of the country is bracing for yet another dose of wet winter I sit here today looking out my office window and see 5-10 Mph winds and 75 degrees first thing this morning. I know my team at Dream Catcher Charters will have a great day on the water today with their fishermen. How long will this last? This amazingly perfect weather pattern we have been gleefully stuck in for over a week? The answer is – Two more days. Then the weather starts to become normal December weather for us here in Key West. 

Mutton snapper mixed with yellowtail snapper and grouper key west fishing
This is a bountiful catch over Thanksgiving. Mutton snappers, yellowtail snapper and grouper

As a cold front approaches form the North West pressures will change and so will the winds. By Monday afternoon we are looking at NW winds at 20-25 here in Key West and the air temps will drop to the low 60s for the first time this winter. The front will be a fast one and the conditions on the backside look great. What do I think this will this do to the fishing? Stay tuned (keep reading). 

First let’s talk about what’s been happening in Key West fishing.

Key West Fishing Report

Staring off with Key West backcountry fishing there is lots to talk about. The winter species we are custom to seeing once the water chills are already here. With the incredibly nice weather we have been super busy here over the holiday week. The captains here at Dream Catcher Charters have been putting their anglers on some nice trout with a mix of larger jack crevalles and some nice tasty snappers for a lunch treat after the fishing charter. Flats fishing the permit and bonefish are still a part of the cast of characters with the warmer waters the big fun has been sight fishing for barracudas on the flats. Tarpon fishing has been decent with some Baby tarpon still in their little secret spots.

juvenile, baby tarpon, key west, fishing
Key West tarpon fishing lives on thourgh the warmer parts of Decmeber here in Key West.

As we move offshore in this fishing report we look at the reefs for food fish. Just one more month of grouper season here in the South Atlantic with a great snapper bite and the weather (as I mentioned) has been perfect for it. My anglers on Wednesday released over 20 18-20″ mutton snappers and yellowtail snappers after they bagged 4 muttons around 10 lbs with some nice yellowtails and a grouper to boot. All this was filling their food fish needs for the holiday. I might add all this was done in less than 25 ft of water, so that tells me the fish are moving in for winter.

Deep sea fishing has been the roll of the dice for this season. Typically November can be fickle for deep sea fishing Key West with high winds and unpredictable conditions for setting up on a pattern of fishing. This November has been very mild and warm keeping the dolphin around with a mix of wahoo, the occasional sailfish, kingfish and blackfin tunas. Like I said.. Hard to put your finger on what was going to happen from day to day so a roll of the dice first thing in the morning was needed before heading out.

Key West Fishing Forecast

The coming first week in December has a front starting it off on Monday. Winds and cooler temps will be a thing through Tuesday, then becoming mild again and unseasonably warm for the rest of the week.

The backcountry fishing always gets affected by a temp drop first due to less water to cool. BUT>> by Wednesday it will be GAME ON! with the backcountry fishing as the species acclimate and start to feed. Flats fishing will be tough till Wednesday with higher winds and turbid waters but expect the permit to stick around as the bonefish start to pack for winter becoming more scarce. The tarpon fishing will get tougher for the juveniles but still around.

Backcountry fishing charters are the most popular way to go fishing out of Key West these days. I am pretty excited about doing some backcountry fishing in my new Yellowfin Carbon Elite 24 Bay boat powered by a Mercury Racing 450r. I especially like to do my Marquesas Keys Fishing trips this time of the year, weather permitting.

Heading offshore the reef fishing bite will only get better. Yup.. Better.. As it gets cooler finally the baitfish such as ballyhoo will start to show up on the reef, then all hell will break loose.. I am predicting a bountiful reef fishing bite in December for mutton and yellowtails on the patch reefs.

Booking a reef fishing charter in December will be easy till Christmas week when we all get super busy, you might be able to play the last minute game till then to pick your weather.

Deep sea fishing will remain a mystery. The trolling bite will be affected daily by the wind directions more than the air temps like the backcountry. East to Southeast there will be some dolphin, wahoo with possibility of Marlin, full moon the wahoo and North, North Easterly winds look for Sailfish and blackfin tuna.. I also feel the kingfish bite is better on our Northerly winds that push the bait off the reef. (I like an outgoing tide for that too but thats a whole other article)…

Pick your weather if you are heading out Key West deep sea fishing. Don’t be affraid to wait till last minute to book and get your best day.

There you have it.. The Key West fishing Report and forecast brought to you by Me.. Capt. Steven Lamp and Dream Catcher Charters.

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About Capt. Steven Lamp
Dr Catcher Is - Capt. Steven Lamp - Owner of Dream Catcher Charters is a veteran Key West fishing guide for flats fishing, deep sea fishing, wrecks and reef fishing, and fly fishing. An expert waterman and licensed captain since 1986. A Veteran of the United States Coast Guard Heavy Weather Search and Rescue, I.G.F.A. Certified Captain and Standing regional board member of The Florida Fishing Guides Association