FISHING THE FLORIDA KEYS ON YOUR OWN
If you are coming to the florida keys and want to fish alone or on your own boat, my first recommendation would be to get a guide the first day to show you the ropes and help you understand the area that you can access. Let your guide know that you want to learn to fish the area and are looking for help learning your way around.
The area around the Keys can be tricky to navigate and mistakes can damage the fragile flats or your boat. I will give you some tips for those wanting to fish on foot, in a kayak, or by boat.
By foot there are many places that can be accessed and give you the ability to stalk fish. The best places to start are the state parks. These give you access to many flats and undeveloped shorelines. Get there early to beat the crowds of swimmers. Many of the areas are flats and has a soft bottom so be prepared. Night time fishing around the bases of the bridges can also be a great place to jump tarpon. Your best tool will be google earth. Do a little exploring and you may find some good fishing.
A kayak gives you access to other area flats. I would avoid large channels that will have alot of current. All of the wadeable areas will be even better from a kayak. Try all the areas around the state parks, but also try launching at boat ramps that have nearby flats or undeveloped shoreline.
The Florida Keys are a difficult area for a newcomer to navigate by boat and I really suggest booking a guide. The backcountry area including Florida Bay and the lower keys has as much shallow water as it does deep and running aground can do serious damage. Focus on the flats nearest the boat ramp first. As you familiarize yourself with the area slowly work your way out. The bridges are a great place to start and hold tons of fish. Some of the keys can be very crowded. Steer clear of crowds or other anglers and be courteous to other anglers and guides.
ARTICLE BY CAPTAIN SHAFTER JOHNSTON