Scooters rule the island. $45 a day. tons of parking everywhere for the scooters and I highly recommend them. You are stuck on the island is the only thing.
Taxi cost $14-$15 per one way trip to where ever you want to go.
Who knows how much a car rental is. Parking is a B if your in a car
About 2 weeks ago I hit Key West for a week. The first day I went out with ShowtimeFishing guide Alex. Caught Yellow Tails, Bonito, and Barracuda on the fly rod. The fish below peeled all my fly line off, and, all my backing off before I knew it, within seconds. I now own a 7 piece, 4 piece fly rod after that one.
The next day I walked out to the beach and hit the end of the rock jetties and picked up Mangrove Snappers every cast but they were small guys.
After the trip with the guide I hit the 2 fly shops on the island and asked them, " where can I find some Bone Fish, Tarpon, Permit, or anything to keep me busy while on the island." Every single one of them said there are no fish to be caught by a fly rod from the banks of Key West. They said you have to have a boat or head East to the other Keys. I looked at a map and decided that's what I am going to do then. I quickly realized that option is not a good option seeing as, we rented scooters for the week that top out at 35 mph. The HWY that connects the islands is 55 mph. So I was stuck on an island. So I pouted all day thinking im out of luck on fishing anymore and would have to hire a guide everyday to get my fix.
As you walk from restaurants to shops along the island, there are fish freaking everywhere. Every slip on the island is full of charter boats. 100's and 100's of them. So when they come back in from a trip, the fish know. The canals and slips are full of Tarpon, Snapper, Tropical Fish, Jacks...etc. They are just waiting for the guide boats to throw the waist over board and turns into a frenzy of gorging fish. And im not talking about small fish, lol. At one restaurant called Conch something, they have a Tarpon feeding at 4 pm. 40-200 lb tarpon swimming around there all day. It was killing me to see this majestic fish within touching distance and there was nothing I could do but watch them. Your not allowed to fish in the shopping areas for some reason! lol.......
Now what I am going to do, is, take all the scouting & recon out of picture for whomever decides to go there. Its a 2 mile island and I put 86 miles on my scooter. So I literally went everywhere on the island that was not private property.
So that night, I decided to go and see if I could find any lights shinning in the water near the beach and the sides of the roads. 11 pm at night the second night I was there, I loaded up my back up fly rod and headed out on the scooter to see what I could find. I noticed a pier in the distance and it had light on it! So, I hopped on the scooter and took me a whole 2 mins to get there. I walked out and started to stare in the water looking for targets. I got half way out there and I see a 5 ft shadow cruising the wall of the pier. It was a Tarpon! Made a cast and it quickly shot out into the deeper darker water. Walked about 10 more feet and saw another one. I shot the fly way out in front of the fish, about 30 feet in its cruising lane. This all happened within 10 mins of me getting there. 10 seconds later the arrives to where my shrimp fly landed and I gave the fly a small strip. BAM, the Tarpon hit it harder than I have ever been hit on a fly and shot str8 up in the air 4-5 feet, shaking its head and threw the fly right at me, and hit me in the chest. I still have a small welt from that one. I was using 20 lb fluorocarbon, so it had frayed my line up bad. I tied on another leader and walked another couple feet and then I saw 10-15 Tarpon cruising the lights, to 50 lbs or so. For the next 2-3 hours, I missed a dozen fish and only jumped 4 more Tarpon. On the 4th Tarpon, he broke my leader and took my only shrimp fly. They wanted nothing to with streamers or clousers, just that one shrimp fly I got from the fly shop. So I gave up and went back to the resort and took a nap. Got up at noon and went to the fly shop and grabbed 4 more flies, and cruised around the island eating stuff. The best seafood place is called the RAW BAR. Cheaper than all the others, but man the food is greatness. The Caesar salad was amazing, boiled beer shrimp, raw oysters, fresh catch of the days, poboys, and everything else I ate there was perfect. We ate at all the top places and this was by far the best for the money.
The above fly is what I was going into battle with. $7 fly. I will be tying up a lot of those before I go back.
That night I decided to go look for an easier place to land a fish. I left the Resort and turned left and drove for a whopping 2 mins till I hit a bend with street lights shinning in the water. The light went over the sea wall and casted a shadow, and I could see 20 or so baby Tarpon to 20 lbs smashing shrimp left and right 3 ft from the wall. Every night I hit this spot, I would hook a Tarpon on the first cast. These guys would hang out here till 730 am and then all the fish went out to deeper water where I couldn't access them.
Every fish here looked like the one above. I couldn't get them over the seawall due to no gloves and they were to strong when they would shake so I didn't want to break my fingers. Make sure u bring pliers to remove the hook and a flash light head lamp so you can see what you are doing. This spot is the easiest spot to fly fish and target the little guys. You really need good vision to see the fish in the shadows. 3 ft cast in front of their path is all that is needed for the babies.
Now, the next spot is impossible to catch them from the bank using a fly rod. So here at the bridge, you have to use 25 lb braid and 30 lb shock leader with a white fluke on a jig head.
At the bridge, the tide has to be running from south to north for them to show up. Otherwise you are wasting your time at this spot. If the water is going the opposite way, catch some grunts or pin fish. Cut them in half and chunk them out. snapper and sharks are thick here with beautiful reef fish swimming under the rocks you are standing on. While I was tring to catch bait, I would catch a fish that I have in my Reef Tank at home. Irritating seeing as to how I would spend $80-100 for that fish and I just caught it on some small pieces of free cut bait I just had caught. Anyways, at this bridge there are 10-80 lb fish smashing shrimp within casting distance of a spinning rod.
On the sharks, mostly Lemons and Nurse, they would come right up to the bank next to the bridge, looking for the cut bait I would toss in that was not need anymore. Very easy to catch. After the 1st 4 sharks, I was done with them. Not worth the hassle.
3-4 lb mangrove snapper here as well. They are closer to the pylons.
Just cast and slowly retrieve the fluke. Just reel it in slowly, no need to make it move. The snapper here smash it. When you hook into a tarpon, it just a hit, then when you rear into it on the hook set, all hell breaks' loose and the battle is on. I jumped 87 Tarpon on the this trip and only landed 26. Or 26 that I got to unhook or at least touch. There is no way your landing one without a big net. The rocks, seawall, and pier are just to high up to safely do it without breaking your fingers off.
Seeing a 6 foot Silver King ( AKA Tarpon) jump out of the water is freaking greatness!
I tried the GoPro thing at night, thinking maybe one would jump and I could see it on film, but all you can hear is a jump jump splash, and then a curse word. Just to dark.
The last night I started at 1130 pm and stayed out till 8 am. I went to the seawall spot and hooked on the first cast. Somehow my face time was working on my IPhone so I dialed my buddy Mike and he got to see the fish peeling line off the reel and could hear it jumping and thrashing around! Fun stuff.