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Here in the self-proclaimed "Sportfishing Capital of the World," sailfish is the prime catch in the winter and dolphinfish in the summer. Buchanan Bank just south of Islamorada is a good spot to try for tarpon in the spring. Blackfin tuna and amberjack are generally plentiful in the area, too. The Hump at Islamorada ranks highest among anglers' favorite fishing spots in Florida because of the incredible offshore marine life.
Captain Ted Wilson. Go into the backcountry for bonefish, tarpon, redfish, snook, and shark aboard a 17-foot boat that accommodates up to three anglers. For two people, half-day trips run $400, full-day trips $575, two-hour sunset bonefishing $250, and evening excursions $400. There's a $100 charge for an extra person. MM 79.9 OS, 79851 Overseas Hwy., Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, FL, 33036. 305/942-5224 or 305/664-9463. www.captaintedwilson.com.
Florida Keys Fly Fish. Like other top fly-fishing and light-tackle guides, Captain Geoff Colmes helps his clients land trophy fish in the waters around the Keys ($450-$550). 105 Palm La., Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, FL, 33036. 305/853-0741. www.floridakeysflyfish.com.
Florida Keys Outfitters. Long before fly-fishing became popular, Sandy Moret was fishing the Keys for bonefish, tarpon, and redfish. Now he attracts anglers from around the world on a quest for the big catch. Weekend fly-fishing classes, which include classroom instruction, equipment, and daily lunch, cost $695. Add $1,070 for two additional days of fishing. Guided fishing trips cost $450 for a half day, $600 for a full day. Packages combining fishing and accommodations at Islander Resort are available. MM 81.2, Green Turtle, 81219 Overseas Hwy., Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, FL, 33036. 305/664-5423. www.floridakeysoutfitters.com.
Hubba Hubba Charters. Captain Ken Knudsen has fished the Keys waters for more than 40 years. A licensed backcountry guide, he's ranked among Florida's top 10 by national fishing magazines. He offers four-hour sunset trips for tarpon ($450) and two-hour sunset trips for bonefish ($200), as well as half- ($425) and full-day ($600) outings. Prices are for one or two anglers, and tackle and bait are included. MM 79.8 OS, Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, FL, 33036. 305/664-9281.
Miss Islamorada. This 65-foot party boat has full-day trips for $65. Bring your lunch or buy one from the dockside deli. Bud n' Mary's Marina, MM 79.8 OS, 79851 Overseas Hwy., Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, FL, 33036. 305/664-2461 or 800/742-7945. www.budnmarys.com.
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