Fishing in Dry Tortugas: Everything You Should Know

Studying Time: 9 minutes

Wealthy historical past, wonderful pure life, unbelievable climate – what extra can an individual ask for? Fishing in Dry Tortugas is an expertise of a lifetime, and in case you embark on this journey, it’ll certainly change you. The sensation of being one with nature will awaken as you expertise these gorgeous views. You’ll by no means be the identical once more!

Heading 68 miles west of Key West will see you on the route of Juan Ponce de León, the Spanish conquistador who first found this pure gem in 1513. He named it “Las Tortugas” (turtles) as a result of abundance of sea turtles within the space. Nevertheless, the title was later modified to “Dry Tortugas” to check with the absence of floor recent water on the islands.

What’s so attention-grabbing about Dry Tortugas? Effectively, in the present day it’s a 47,125-acre nationwide park comprising of seven islands. However one factor’s distinctive – aside from the wildlife, it preserves Fort Jefferson, the most important masonry construction within the West, composed of greater than 16 million bricks!

Throughout and after the Civil Warfare, it was used as a jail. You may need heard of Dr. Samuel Mudd, imprisoned for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, who is likely one of the most well-known prisoners of Fort Jefferson.

For this reason Dry Tortugas is the right mixture of historical past, tourism, and pure surprise! You may spend your morning studying about enjoyable info, solely to go to one of many fishing spots within the afternoon and have a blast. The abundance of pure life on this fairly remoted space is unbelievable, and your line gained’t be lonely for too lengthy. Learn on to seek out out all the pieces about fishing in Dry Tortugas.

Prime Catches

“What can I catch?” might be what you’re questioning by now. Relaxation assured, these waters are so wealthy that your bait gained’t be hooked for lengthy. The Tortugas reef advanced is jaw-droppingly lovely, and it holds some wonderful reef fish, amongst different marine life. We’ve got a listing of species coming proper up!


Black, Gag, Purple, and the long-lasting Goliath Grouper are all inhabitants of those waters. With loads of reefs and wrecks, you’ll discover fishing for Grouper in Dry Tortugas a enjoyable expertise. And also you’ll get an astonishing combat out of it, with some trophy rewards on the finish of your line. All that you must do is locate construction, after which you’ll be able to simply watch them chew left and proper.

Fishing for Grouper may be very rewarding, and the waters round Backyard Key can get fairly deep. Sink a line from one of many docks and anticipate to be wooed by the sheer pressure of those prized species.


This one’s a no brainer! Dry Tortugas is likely one of the most dependable locations on the earth for Mutton Snapper fishing. There’s sufficient to go round, and also you’ll have the ability to catch some trophy specimens of this bright-colored species. You may simply hook it utilizing mild sort out, however fishing for Muttons on the fly right here is an expertise it’s best to undoubtedly check out.

And talking of Snapper, is there a extra sought-after one than the Purple selection? You’ll be completely satisfied to know that the Tortugas reefs maintain nice numbers of this lovely bright-red fish. So anticipate to have a number of work in your fingers, as they get large in these waters. Lure them out of the depths and break some information!


One other reef fish that’s enjoyable to focus on. These predatory fish are opportunistic feeders, they usually’ll chug any type of bait, making it straightforward to get their consideration. With some abilities in presenting the bait, they’re pretty straightforward to catch. With their good, delicate meat, you’ll get to reap the rewards again at residence with a pleasant household meal.

In the event you’re trying to hook Amberjack as shortly as attainable, utilizing stay bait yields some nice outcomes. Check out vertical jigging as properly, as this tends to lure them out of the depths, making it simpler so that you can reel them onto the boat.


That is one you’ll be able to’t actually keep away from in Florida. And sure, we’re nonetheless in Florida! Although Dry Tortugas is probably the most distant nationwide park within the US, fishing yields all of these Florida favorites, together with the beloved Snook. You’ll discover them across the docks, in addition to the boat pier, or you’ll be able to strive your luck from the seashores. 

This recognizable creature provides you with a run on your cash, as reeling Snook in requires some talent. The prize you’ll get on your efforts may be very a lot value it although – you’ll get again residence with a scrumptious meal on the desk!

Mahi Mahi

Dry Tortugas makes for some astonishing pictures, and the reminiscences that go along with them are invaluable. Take your digital camera to snap the coral reefs, the Jefferson Fort, but additionally – to get a selfie with probably the most photogenic fish there’s. The gorgeous Mahi Mahi could be discovered circling the nationwide park, so in case you’re gonna be fishing offshore, don’t miss it!

Reaching some nice sizes, it’s the sport fish everybody’s speaking about. This inexperienced and yellow monster can have you preventing ‘til you drop, however getting it on board is an expertise you need to stay to imagine. And don’t be camera-shy, a photograph is value a thousand phrases anyway!


Ah, the mighty Tarpon. The Silver King has lengthy been hailed as probably the most prized sport fish in all of Florida. Sure, together with the secluded Dry Tortugas! Sink a line from the finger piers by the primary dock on the proper time, and also you’ll have the ability to name your self an actual Florida angler. Tarpon are likely to cross by these waters in the summertime, so don’t hesitate to place it in your record.

Whereas they are often ferocious if you’re reeling them in, the enjoyment of getting that sport fish everybody’s speaking about is stronger. Really feel the soreness in your arms after all of the leaps this beast will make making an attempt to defeat you. That’s the ache each angler loves – and it’s value it! This majestic creature will keep in your reminiscence lengthy after you’ve launched it again into the water.

And the enjoyable doesn’t finish right here – Barracuda, Allow, Sharks, Mackerel, Jacks, Sailfish, Tuna… simply take your decide!

Tips on how to Fish

As Dry Tortugas is fairly remoted, the one method to attain it’s on a ferry, a constitution, or by seaplane. That is an journey it’s best to put together for, because it takes round 2 hours to get there from Key West by boat. When you’re there, there’s a wide range of methods to discover the water, so preserve studying to seek out out extra about them.

Constitution Fishing

Relying in your ambitions, this may be the right method to head out and fill the baggage. You’ll find Key West charters that may take you fishing in Dry Tortugas, however you ought to be prepared for a protracted day. If you wish to go to the open waters and reel in some large pelagics, that is your finest likelihood.

One benefit of hiring a constitution vessel is that you simply’ll have the captain on board, so that you gained’t have to fret about something moreover the precise fishing. The captain will be sure that to plan your journey, and also you’ll have the ability to cowl a number of floor because the waters round Dry Tortugas are as prolific as they get.

Kayak Fishing

When you step foot on these islands, you’ll fall in love with a few of the most lovely pure views on the earth. What higher method to discover these than hopping in a kayak and getting actually up shut and private with the wildlife? Why not paddle out and make some wonderful reminiscences?

You may take your kayak with you, or you’ll be able to lease one in Key West in case you’re coming by way of the ferry. Be sure to make a reservation for it, because the variety of kayaks allowed on the ferry is restricted. Observe that kayak fishing will restrict you to a one-mile circle of the campgrounds on Backyard Key. Nevertheless, this is sufficient to catch some trophy Snapper, Allow, Tarpon, Grouper, Snook, and Jacks. 

Shore Fishing

On the subject of fishing from shore, there are fairly strict rules in Dry Tortugas. It’s a distant nationwide park dedicated to essentially preserving the distinctive ecosystem of the world. So when you’re there, there are just a few locations you’ll be able to sink a line at and simply flip off the background noise, enjoyable in isolation from the actual world. Sounds fairly candy, proper?

So how is it? What that you must know is that fishing from the shore in Dry Tortugas may be very prolific. Whereas it is possible for you to to unwind, don’t anticipate lengthy stretches of time with out the fish biting. They chew! This a part of the world isn’t typically fished, so the fish numbers are excessive.

The place to Go

On the subject of fishing in dry Tortugas, this one’s a chunk of cake! Fishing is forbidden inside the Analysis Nationwide Space, which encompasses all of the keys. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to fish from a ship inside one nautical mile from the Historic Use Space (marked by yellow buoys). Within the infographic beneath, we’ve outlined all related components of Backyard Key. Maintain scrolling for a listing of scenic fishing spots!

  • Seaplane Seaside: You are able to do some good surf fishing right here. It’s positioned east of the primary dock, and also you’ll don’t have any points reeling in some good catches. Simply observe you could fish right here solely when there’s no seaplane current.
  • The Most important Dock: The principle dock is the place the ferry from Key West will drop you off, and it’s among the best fishing spots on Backyard Key. You may sink a line proper then and there and luxuriate in a day of hassle-free fishing. Observe that if the Yankee Freedom ferry is docked, you shouldn’t be fishing.
  • The Finger Piers: You’ll see the finger piers proper subsequent to the primary pier, and these are largely obtainable for public use. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to fish from the 2 westernmost finger piers. Solid your bait from these and benefit from the view, however do it solely once they’re unoccupied.
  • Dinghy Seaside: Get pleasure from a enjoyable day within the solar, soaking within the pure views, in addition to all of the historical past proper behind you. You may fish on both Dinghy Seaside so long as you don’t do it inside 50 ft of the concrete wall of the historic coal dock ruins.
  • Offshore: We all know, this isn’t precisely a spot – however hear us out. As fishing just isn’t allowed contained in the RNA, in case you’re boating, there’s nothing stopping you from fishing exterior of it. And the waters are wealthy! Grouper, Snapper, Amberjack, Mackerel, Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish… you title it, it’s there!

Guidelines and Laws

So what’s the deal with regards to fishing rules? Dry Tortugas is a chosen nationwide park. A really distant one, however a nationwide park nonetheless, and as we stated, fishing is prohibited all through the Analysis Pure Space. Nevertheless, there are some fishing spots inside the world, so try the infographic within the paragraph above for extra data.

Spearfishing and lobster accumulating is prohibited, and personal boaters are required to file a ship allow at Backyard Key earlier than fishing (which is allowed one mile exterior of the Historic Use Space marked by yellow buoys). And because the park is technically in Florida, you’ll want a Florida saltwater fishing license. 

You may go to the FWC web site to get probably the most up-to-date data on the present guidelines and rules. Additionally, go to our information for invaluable catch-and-release data.

Why Dry Tortugas? It’s a distant tropical paradise!

There’s nothing extra to say, actually. Wealthy historical past, a tropical local weather, full isolation – it has all of the makings of a must-visit bucket record vacation spot. It’s a fishing paradise, with plentiful marine life held collectively by gorgeous coral reefs and a scarcity of human contact. Visiting Dry Tortugas is like visiting the previous – it’s a novel expertise and an actual pure gem. And it’s positive to steal your coronary heart!

Have you ever ever visited Dry Tortugas? Was it a once-in-a-lifetime journey? Don’t hesitate to inform us all about it within the feedback beneath. And be happy to ask any questions you may need, we’re completely satisfied to listen to from you!

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