fly fishing the Marquesas Keys at sunset

Marquesas Keys Fly Fishing


Marquesas Keys fly fishing is unlike anything else. This island atoll west of Key West is a place made of magic. I have made some of my fondest memories here. Once you have fished the Marquesas, and seen it at it’s best, it will stay with you forever. It is a land where permit tail with reckless abandon, schools of tarpon¬†still eat big fly patterns with gusto, and fly fishing dreams still come true. It is one of the last places man hasn’t gone and screwed it all up.


The islands are inside the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, and are home to a staggering amount of aquatic life. Lush turtle grass and beautiful coral make the perfect habitat for all this life to flourish. It is a place where the food chain is still completely intact as evidenced by the giant hammerhead sharks you see in mere feet of water. The Marquesas Keys are surrounded by shallow wrecks of unfortunate ships that lay silently on the sea floor. The wrecks are loaded with snapper, grouper, permit, and barracuda. The Spanish galleon the Atocha was found here by the famous treasure hunter Mel Fisher. I told you the Marquesas were magical.

Marquesas Keys Fly Fishing For Permit


The fly fishing for permit in the Marquesas Keys¬†might be better than anywhere else on earth. Loads of big permit live in the Marquesa Keys, because it is a near perfect environment for permit. It has miles of shallow grass flats adjacent to deep water channels, lots of current and structure. You would be hard pressed to design a better home for the black tailed devil. If I had to catch a permit on fly to save the human race or the world from certain destruction, I would start in the Marquesas. It’s simply that good. Any serious permit fisherman must try fly fishing in the Marquesas.


Fly Fishing The Marquesas Keys For Tarpon


Tarpon swim the waters of the Marquesas year round. They can be found here on all but the coldest days. Some of the best fly fishing for tarpon of my life has taken place here in early February. There are baby tarpon, full size resident fish, and during the migration this is Grand Cental Station. They eat flies with gusto on most days in the Marquesas. They will eat big flies in outlandish colors too. On glass calm mornings large pods of tarpon can be found rolling around the perimeter of the islands. During the Florida Keys tarpon season the Marquesas are the first spot they show up in the Florida Keys, and is the last place they leave. Tarpon seem to like to swim in a circular fashion, so the landscape here is near perfect. Tarpon are a staple of any Marquesas Keys fly fishing trip.


Marquesas Keys Fly Fishing For Bonefish


The bonefish population in the Marquesas Keys is as good right now as I have ever seen it. On most days I see tailing bonefish now. The bonefish here aren’t as big as the bones in the Lower Keys, but still put up a great fight. They help round out a grand slam too. Speaking of grand slams, I have slammed more in the Marquesas than anywhere else. Once in less than 30 minutes believe it or not!


Barracuda and sharks are very abundant in the Marquesas. During winter cold snaps this is fantastic fishing. Big barracuda will sun themselves in white spots on winter days. A fast retrieve and a long cast are a must to tangle with these beasts. Sharks of all shapes and sizes can be found in the Marquesas. BIG sharks get up in skinny water here in search of food. We often see massive sharks sharing the flat with permit. I am convinced the world record hammerhead shark on fly is waiting to be caught in the Marquesas.


If you want to fly fish the Marquesas please let me know in advance. I love sharing this place with my guests and will be more than happy to take you there weather permitting. It truly is a place unlike any other.


Key West is the closest jumping off point to the Marquesas.



Marquesas Keys fly fishing during the tarpon migration
Marquesas Keys fly fishing for barracuda in the winter
Marquesas Keys fly fishing guide for permit
tarpon fly fishing guide in the Marquesas Keys
fly fishing bonefish at sunrise in the Marquesas

Marquesas Keys Fly Fishing Guide


When you choose a fly fishing guide for your trip to the Marquesas you want someone who knows it intimately. My wife would say I know it a little too well. A lot of guides in Key West seldom cross over to the Marquesas Keys. They either don’t want to burn the extra fuel or deal with crossing Boca Grande channel. I love the fly fishing there so much I try to find reasons to go to the Marquesas! I love the feeling of being out of cell range and away from other boats. Not to mention the crazy fishing things that only happen out west. So if you choose me as your Marquesas Keys fly fishing guide you can rest assured you are in good hands my friend.

Marquesas Keys Fishing Charters


No need to worry if you don’t fly fish. The flats fishing in the Marquesas is legendary. One of my favorite species to target here are barracuda. The islands and surrounding wrecks are loaded with big toothy critters that are an absolute riot on spin tackle. We use plugs or tube lures and the strikes are violent! Once hooked barracuda in the Marquesas scream line and leap across the flat. We will encounter permit as well so I always have a rod rigged with a live crab. The permit fishing is fantastic here and there are days when we see hundreds of the black tailed devils. Marquesas fishing charters for permit are one of my specialties.


Flats fishing for tarpon in the Marquesas is extremely good. Many deeper channels cut through the flats that hold baby tarpon year round. On the deeper edges of the flats larger resident tarpon can be found. Using plugs and soft plastics we have stellar action as long as water temps are right. The Marquesas Keys are the ideal place for those new to flats fishing to do battle with the silver king. Due to the areas isolation the fish tend to be more relaxed.


Sharks show up all over the flats out here. Black tips, bulls, lemon, and hammerheads are all found in the Marquesas Keys. They are also great fun on light tackle. For obvious reasons kids absolutely love shark fishing. There simply isn’t a better place in Florida to catch big sharks than the Marquesas Keys. Sharks on the flats is definitely a Marquesas fishing charter to consider.

Other types of Marquesas Keys fishing charters available include spear fishing, wreck fishing, and bottom fishing charters for snapper and grouper. I work with a lot of other light tackle and offshore key west guides who I can highly recommend if you are interested in these. The Marquesas offer a little bit of everything and that is what makes it such an incredible fishery.