Key West Fishing On Your Own
Key West offers some opportunities to fish from land near the bridges and off the south side of the island. I’d say you would have a good chance of catching grunts, smaller snapper, barracuda and the occasional shark. In season there may be some opportunity to fish for tarpon from shore or off the outer mole pier near Ft. Zachary. The mole is on Navy property so gaining access may be limited to those with a military ID.
Key West Pier Fishing
The White Street Pier is a good place to start if you just want to do some casual fishing. Spin fishing or hand lining might be your best bet. There are a few local fishing shops to get supplies. Probably the most reasonable is K-mart in New Town. They will have rods and reels, hooks, leader material and bait buckets. For bait you can use frozen bait and all our grocery stores have squid and shrimp. Live bait will of course work better. The Key West Bait and Tackle will carry live and dead frozen bait and its a cool shop to grab some other supplies or souvenirs. The shop is located at the Historic Seaport next to Dante’s and in the same parking lot as the Half Shell Raw Bar.
Fly Fishing from shore in the Keys
For fly rodders there are two local fly shops in town. The Angling Company at 333 Simonton St on the corner of Eaton. There is parking and the shop owner Nat and the staff can give you the best advice on flies to use and maybe even a few places to go hit the shore for some fly fishing action. The shop carries fly tying materials, a variety of tropical clothing, fly rods, reels, push poles and literature on fishing and the Florida Keys. The Saltwater Angler is at 240 Front Street on the waterfront at the Westin Hotel and Marina. Look for the big red Customs House and the shop is just past that on the left. The Saltwater Angler has a lot more merchandise and if you forgot anything clothing related for fishing this is a good place to stop and look. They do have a fishing section and knowledgeable and friend staff.
Rigging a rod for use of bottom fishing is easy. Many light spin fishing outfits come with 10-12 pound test line. If you are able to tie a leader on directly you can do so or just use a barrel swivel to tie on some leader material. Fluorocarbon works well and it becomes nearly invisible underwater to the fish. In shallow water and where the current is not moving too fast, a small egg sinker or a few split shots will work well.