Beat The Wind Go Backcountry Fishing

March 28th 2023 – Beat the winds and go backcountry fishing this week if you are in Key West. Winds will be up on Friday and Saturday but that does not mean you cannot go fishing. Our backcountry fishing options are fantastic here in Key West even when the winds are over 20. Calmer conditions are always found inside the many islands North and West of Key West. The flats stay relatively clear this time of the year, even in the winds. Backcountry fishing is a great way to avoid the big seas and still go catch some fish.

Permit fish
A beautiful Key West permit caught in the backcountry. Fishing with Dream Catcher Charters.

Fishing Report

I mentioned the warmer weather staying with us in my last backcountry fishing report and that it did. None of these pesky little wind events dropped our water temps but they do drop our humidity when the winds are from the North and North East making things nice.

In the last week here in Key West the captains here at Dream Catcher Charters have been getting into the tarpon which is a norm for this time of the year. Of course just like tarpon fishing can be the bite is up and down with the tides but we do what we can to make sure our anglers are in front of them when they might be eating.

With the warmer water temps have also brought some tropical species up on the flats and they can make a fun target for our more patient anglers. Fish such as bonefish, permit, jacks behind the rays, mutton snappers on the edges and barracudas. In the basins our daily grind of Jacks, snappers, lady fish, trout and mackerels are around for the cast and catch folks, the popping corks have been killing it.

Pro Tip: Barracuda fishing is really great this time of the year as they smash the hell out of any little bait fish imitation that swims by. My best success on larger barracudas for sport is by using 40lb Fluorocarbon leader to the lure on a light spinning rod loaded with braid that casts really well. They don’t care for wire so try to avoid it. Sight fishing makes this a good bit of fun in the shallows. Keeps the rods bent and they absolutely haul the mail when hooked up with unpredictable jumps. A great way to fill the gaps for a day of flats fishing.

mutton snapper
March April hold some great snapper action in the backcountry and on the close patch reefs.

Fishing Forecast.

Friday and Saturday this week look a little nautical with 20 plus mph winds from the East that will make the offshore fishing pretty “adventurous”. This may usher in a good color change as mentioned in my deep sea fishing report that might bring a good shot at sailfish, but the less adventurous may want to take cover in and among the backcountry islands.

We are between the new and full moon this week which will offer us some decent tides coming up for the tarpon bite. Fishing in April and March are typically great for large tarpon holding up in the channels and the shallower basins I think our anglers will have some good shots when tarpon fishing.

The rest of the cast of characters found in the backcountry will all be there throughout this week and next. I just love fishing the closer patch reefs this time of the year, if the winds allow me to, and have my anglers cast artificial lures for mangrove snappers, yellowtail snappers, mutton snappers, jacks and barracudas. Just about anything can happen in the shallows of the backcountry this time of the year.

Fishing Charters

Backcountry fishing charters are easy to book. We offer 4, 6, and 8 hour trips that head out daily. This time of the year its not super important as to what time of the day and because Key West has a ton of flexibility in our tides we can find a tide to work pretty much at any time. This time of the year we use our bay boats that are equipped with trolling motors and can get in some pretty shallow waters.

Just give Island Genn a call. Find out what she has available. She has been helping folks find fishing charters for over 20 years here in Key West. She can also help with activities and accommodations recommendations.

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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