Key West Fishing Report for The New Year

January 5th 2024 – Happy New Year from Key West. December weather truly sucked. Worse I have seen in my career with consistent wind rain and just over all non fish-able conditions. We are happy to see things improve over Christmas week and into January for a great New Years fishing report and forecast.

Fishing Report

Inshore fishing has been solid with some trout, snappers, plenty of lady fish and Spanish mackerel making rod action to keep our clients fishing here at Dream Catcher Charters. Our backcountry fishing charters are doing really well on all of them. Winter is here and this is without a doubt the most popular way people go fishing in Key West. Calm water and lots of action keeps them coming.

On the flats fishing front the barracudas have acclimated to the cooler water temps and started feeding again. I really love sight fishing this time of the year for the explosive strike. There is always a chance to see a permit when flats fishing this time of the year as well for a solid shot. Flats fishing is weather oriented. Sight fishing can be a bit challenging when the winds have stirred things up. Not a bad Idea to wait and see what the weather does before you book.

The deep sea fishing we will start off by saying kingfish and dolphin! Christmas week we were crushing the kings here in Key West. Kingfish up to 30lbs were being caught on the regular just over the reef edge South of Key West making them easy targets for the short 4 hour deep sea fishing charter that wanted to catch some smokers. This worked out great. Add to that the cero mackerel bite was on fire too. Eating just about everything that was passed in front of them. The sailfish bite was meager till these last couple of days where some fish were caught chasing bait in the shallows. We hooked a nice one today on the troll but lost it. The big ticket item this past few days has been the dolphin bite. The last two days we have been whacking the dolphin (mahi) just out past the reef. The INXS landed a nice 16lb bull mahi mixed with several others on their Wednesday morning deep sea fishing trip. The bite stayed steady throughout he afternoon as well where they had a 7 year old reeling them in like a champ. Today things were pretty good again for the crew on the INXS with a dolphin bite and sailfish. Some sail fish were caught by the live bait guys way to the West of Key West today also.

Pro Tip
Look for the frigates.. They are holding all the cards. Leave the lures in the box, natural bait is winning.

Kingfish fishing report
Some nice kingfish were landed Christmas Week on the reef in Key West deep sea fishing on board the INXS.

See The Top Ten Key West Fish Species

On the reef fishing trips as I mentioned the cero mackerel were doing work on the endless bait. Mixed with some great mutton bite as well this is an amazing time of the year to fish the reef. I was on the reef to the West of Key West on Tuesday the 2nd of January the water was gin clear so the snapper fishing was tough. Just past the reef to the west I got into some nice blackfin tunas. Working the wrecks earlier that day I was able to get my clients into some great cobia fishing. Landing 6 of them and keeping two really nice ones for the grill. After I got done with the wrecks we did a little bottom fishing and managed some out of season red groupers and a nice deep water red snapper as a by catch fishing in 240 ft. He hit a speed jig intended for the blackfin groupers. As an added bonus on my reef fishing trip we also landed a decent bull dolphin. A really fun day.

Pro Tip
Fish are hungry. The cobia are not super sharp. Don’t over think it. Have live bait and cut bait. Bally hoo is great but bonito strips and blue runner strips also work.

Mutton snapper
Large mutton snapper like these are not uncommon on the reef off Key West.

Fishing Forecast

Looking forward the weather forecast is the most important part of our fishing this time of the year. The nice perfect days are a real blessing and a treat. Looking at the extended forecast Looks like rain Saturday night and Sunday followed by Monday and Tuesday looking sporty to nautical with the winds up over 25. Then… things get nice again the rest of the week. I expect more of the same inshore and offshore.

Fishing Charters

The last couple weeks have been slammed for us here at Dream Catcher charters but the industry as a whole has really slowed. January looks pretty grim for many and it’s a great time to go fishing. Calling us direct is the best way to get on the fishing charter you want. DONT be fooled by charters that offer deep discounts, I promise that will result in a bad experience. Book direct with us as fishing guides. Talk to us on the phone so we can learn exactly what you are looking for. Island Genn handles over 2500 fishing charters a year for folks she will get you hooked up with the right trip. Call her..

Happy New Year everyone. We hope 2024 is a great one.

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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