We have the Fishing Trip for You!
The Florida Keys are truly a world-class fishery. They present a multitude of options and a broad array of experiences.
Types of Fishing Trips
The type of fishing you wish to pursue may be best thought of in terms of area fished, gear used and species targeted. While Captain Mark Cockerham can customize your fishing experience to meet your exact specifications, here are a few of the most popular options.
The trips are subject to modification due to weather or where the fish happen to be hanging out at the time of your trip.
Where the Action Is
If there is not a specific species of fish that you are after or a specific type of gear that you wish to use, letting Captain Mark put you on the action is a great approach. With more than four decades of experience fishing these waters, Cockerham has an intuitive sense about where to find fish.
Armed with jig heads and a few dozen baits, you can literally catch six, eight or even 10 species of fish in the same day. This is a great option when bringing the kids fishing.
Whether it be wrenching big goliath grouper out of a hole some place or hanging into a seven foot lemon shark in three feet of water, there is nearly always action here. This is a great, stress free trip option.
Family Fishing Adventure
The Florida Keys are among the best places in the world to fish with kids. No matter what direction the wind blows out of, there is always a sheltered place to catch some fish in calm water.
No kid in the history of fishing has ever not been excited to catch a fish larger than he or she is. The thousands of sharks swimming around and the Florida Keys are more than gracious when it comes to accommodating this.
The family adventure can include some snorkeling, a trip to a deserted beach or lunch anchored near an uninhabited mangrove island. To cap things off, the kids can hand feed the tarpon at the marina before going home.
If you would like to put a trip together for the family, call Captain Mark ahead of time. He can bring the appropriate tackle for the kids and make the day about their enjoyment.
Flats Site Fishing
This is the iconic Zane Grey type stuff. It is preferred method for targeting bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook and redfish on fly and light tackle.
It is a highly specialized and stealthy way of fishing. Captain Mark uses the pole (instead of the boat’s motor) to maneuver the Hell’s Bay Marquesa or Hell’s Bay Whipray over shallow water flats to intercept fish as they feed or travel across shallow seagrass or sandy areas.
Though it requires an angler’s ability to see and cast to fish, do not be intimidated by the process. Captain Mark is an excellent and patient teacher who uses his experience and knowledge to improve the skills of light tackle and fly anglers alike.
This area of the Florida Keys are the best place in the United States (and of the top places in the world) to flats fish. In addition to the tarpon, permit, redfish, and snook, you are likely to see lemon sharks, bullsharks, stingrays, speckled trout and even sea turtles on your day of fishing.
Florida Bay is the body of water that lies between the Florida Keys and the southwest coast of the mainland. It is an incredible, remote area marked by thousands of uninhabited islands.
Florida Bay has many channels and deeper pockets, even some ship wrecks. The fishing opportunities here are as endless as the wildlife.
Captain Mark Cockerham grew up fishing and exploring these islands and waterways. He has an intimate understanding of the seasonal fishing opportunities here and understands where to go to target the fish that you are after when it is time for your trip.
Flamingo and Everglades National Park
Flamingo is an area of southwest Florida where the Everglades spill into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a wild and wonderful place marked by extremely productive fisheries.
The Everglades—Cape Sable and East Cape—are about an hour’s boat ride from Islamorada. The area is as remote as it is ruggedly beautiful.
Beyond all of the redfish, snook, tarpon, tripletail, black drum, speckled trout, and sharks (and more) that you can catch, there is the chance to see American crocodiles, roseate spoonbills, and more. The endless mangrove lined channels and oyster bars are incredible fish habitat.
In addition to know where to go to catch fish, Captain Mark Cockerham can also take you to isolated beaches that are accessible only by boat. These beaches are great places to collect shells, have lunch, spot the prehistoric-looking sawfish, or cast plugs off the beach.
The experience of a day in the Everglades is one that ever person should enjoy. It is such an incredible place that words or pictures do no suffice to describe it.
Fishing By Species
Each of the following species are available in great number at certain times of the year.
- Flats Slam: These are the headliners. Tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook, redfish. The waters we fish are perhaps the best place in the world to target this combination. They also provide great trophy fisheries, especially when it comes to tarpon and permit.
- Other Notable Gamefish: Speckled trout, jack crevalle, barracuda, black drum, barracuda
- For the Frying Pan: snapper (mangroves, muttons, and yellowtail are the most plentiful, but there are other species), Spanish mackerel, and tripletail. Slot snook (when in season) and redfish are also quite good to eat, but we practice conservation in terms of number harvested.
- Brutes and Rod Benders: goliath grouper (the big ones get to 500 pounds, but you can target 60-80 juveniles on in channels around the flats), barracuda, jack crevalle, and sharks (lemon, bull, nurse, bonnethead, great hammerhead, and others).
The spring tarpon season in the Florida Keys has been attracting anglers since the early 1900s. Migratory waves of big tarpon roll through—some of them upwards of 180 or 200 pounds.
Depending on the time of year you come to Islamorada, you can target tarpon with live bait fished beneath bridges and local channels, sight fishing schools over sand, or casting lures or flies on the flats.
Tarpon are incredible, acrobatic gamefish. They jump when hooked and run like cut snakes.
They are stubborn, willful fighters. Catching a tarpon is angling achievement that leads to the desire to do it again (and again).