Key West Shark Fishing

Key West is home to some of the best and most diverse shark fishing in the world. With such a vast area of reef and tons of wrecks, the sharks are always lurking. We see bull sharks, hammerheads, lemons, tigers, sandbar, caribbean reef, and even from time to time we see mako sharks. We often see and land fish well over 200lbs. Shark fishing is by far one of my favorite trips I personally offer. Most sharks are just catch and release but some can make great table fare or that once in a lifetime trophy.

Sharks have earned themselves a nasty reputation in the minds of many. When hearing the word ‘shark’

most people will think of blood-thirsty eating machines, not so much game fish.

However, Key West shark fishing is one of the most exhilarating and satisfying experiences an angler can enjoy. The reason is that sharks put up a thrilling fight and give a fantastic photo opportunity once caught.

There are many species of sharks in the waters off of the Keys and they can be found almost everywhere. The largest animals live in anywhere,  and they can be found near wrecks, reefs, mangroves.

Shark fishing is generally catch and release only. This is due to the fact that most shark species are endangered and protected because of past overfishing.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time shark fishing in Key West. Despite the fact that they are endangered, worldwide there are still lots of really big sharks in the waters of Key West waiting to be caught.

Key West Shark Species

Key West is home to some of the world’s biggest sharks, but these creatures come in all different shapes and sizes. The largest and probably most well-known species inhabiting the Keys is the tiger shark, which can grow to 13 feet and over 1,000 pounds.

Hammerhead sharks are also found off Key West and are known for their distinctive head shape which earned them their name. There are also lots of bull sharks in the Keys, which are smaller than tigers or hammerheads, but very aggressive.

The shortfin mako is the fastest shark in the waters off of Key West. These animals can swim as fast as 30 miles per hour and have been known to leap up to 20 feet out of the water when hooked. These are very rare.

While most sharks are solitary creatures, the lemon shark can be found in schools. It is a large shark, reaching ten feet or more in length, and is therefore popular for shark fishing.

Nurse sharks are probably the most common species in Key West, making them a popular target. There are also many other, smaller sharks in the Keys including spinner, black-tip, silky, bonnethead, sharp nose,  and sandbar

Shark Fishing Techniques

There are a few ways to go shark fishing in Key West. The most popular technique is to go offshore to deep water where the largest sharks are found.

However, many anglers enjoy fishing for shark nearer to shore in shallow water. It may be counter-intuitive, but there are a lot of sharks who make their home in five feet of water or less.

Either way, heavy tackle is generally preferred especially when angling for the larger sharks. This is because the animals are more aggressive than regular game fish and are prone to snapping lines and getting away.

As far as bait goes, most anglers like to catch their own bait just before casting for sharks. Jacks, bluefish, ladyfish and barracuda are the preferred when catching your own bait.

One useful technique is to hook a barracuda and keep it on the line. Then, begin trolling over your fishing ground and you will find that sharks can’t help but chase your bait. Many anglers also use chum to draw the fish in close.

Another way to enjoy Key West shark fishing is to use lighter tackle and go sight fishing. This means that the angler casts to try and land one specific fish instead of throwing out some bait and waiting to see what happens.