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Variety is the spice of life!

Read More About Florida Keys Reef Fishing Charters

Florida Keys Reef Fishing Charters

Reef fishing charters don’t require going far offshore to hunt for fish which is great for 4 hour trips.

Located in Marathon Florida, Captain Jeff can often have you on the reef in 20 minutes or less. Less travel time, means more fishing time! Reef trips have you anchored closer to shore in calmer waters which is a great choice for families with children or elderly.

Reef fishing is a great option for beginners of all ages as well. More experienced anglers often like to fish the reef first thing in the morning to get their “guaranteed” meat and then head offshore to hunt for pelagic species.

Review the different species you can catch and the different types of reef fishing offered below. Give Captain Jeff a call to put together the perfect trip for you, your friends, and family.

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There is a wide variety of species you can catch on the Reef in the Florida Keys, much more than we can list here. Below are some examples of the species Captain Jeff can most commonly help you catch on the Reef. The direction and speed of the wind and current play a major role in what you should target on any given day. Additionally, the time of year has a major impact on what is most likely to be available. If you have a specific species in mind feel free to visit the Seasons Calendar or Contact Captain Jeff for more information on what might be available.

Yellowtail Snapper

Yellowtail Snapper are a staple in Florida Keys Fishing and for table fair. They are a popular go to when it comes to reef fishing during the cooler months but they can be caught all year round. Not only are they  delicious to eat but they are also lots of fun to catch! Captain Jeff uses light spin tackle for Yellowtail which allows for them to put up a good fight.

Mangrove Snapper

Mangrove Snapper are very similar in flavor profile to Yellowtail and just as wonderful to eat. They are often targeted in the summer months when they spawn in great numbers on the Florida Keys Reefs. Mangrove Snapper are usually caught near the bottom using a hook and lead and a wide variety of fresh cut bait.  If you plan to visit the keys in the summertime ask Captain Jeff’s to help you catch these in the morning and go offshore to hunt for Tuna and Mahi in the afternoon.

Mutton Snapper

Mutton Snapper can be caught on the reef especially when they are spawning in the summer. They are a highly desired catch because not only do they have Delicious flavor  like Yellowtail and Mangrove they also have a beautiful firm texture similar to American Red Snapper. Captain Jeff can also take you wreck fishing if you want to catch Mutton Snapper  in larger sizes anywhere from 15-25lbs.

Grouper (Black and Red)

Sometimes while you are catching Yellowtail a predator shows up and starts to eat your Yellowtail! That means it’s time to drop a bait down to the bottom and find out what it is. Often it is a big tasty Black Grouper! Grouper put up a great fight and are pros at breaking you off in the rocks so you need to wind fast before they hunker down in the closest cave they can find.

Mackerel (King and Cero)

When reef fishing typically in the late fall through early spring, it is not unusual for an aggressive school of Mackerel to be in the area looking for food.  Captain Jeff will throw live bait behind the boat to chum them up until they come storming in to attack the baits. King Mackerel are often caught in sizes as large as 30-75lbs. King Mackerel are usually eaten fresh and the rest is smoked to make fish dip. Cero Mackerel are typically smaller but have a really great sushi-grade meat.


Barracuda are not typically harvested for their meat in the Florida Keys but some anglers love to catch them! Kids are always amazed to see their long prehistoric looking teeth and long sleek bodies in person. Captain Jeff can catch these on the troll, opportunistically on the reef, or by pitching larger live baits near structures that he knows are a home to these fish.

Lane Snapper are often compared to Yellowtail Snapper in texture and flavor. They even look a bit similar except they are usually smaller and in addition to the yellow color they also have a pinkish hue on their skin. Young children love catching them!

These fish taste absolutely amazing with their mild flavor and flaky white texture. Most Captains will laugh if you ask them to catch Hogfish! They will tell you that you need to spearfish to catch them. Not with Captain Jeff! He will take you to the Hogfish to catch them on hook and line.

While Reef trips in the winter often yield King and Cero Mackerel, catching Spanish Mackerel is pretty infrequent. In hawks channel however, Captain Jeff can help you catch plenty of Spanish Mackerel! Spanish Mackerel have yellow dots on their skin while Cero have yellow dots and dashes. Fresh Spanish Mackerel is absolutely wonderful to eat and has a much better texture and color to the meat of a King Mackerel.

Grouper need no introduction, their taste and texture is world famous and highly desired. When targeting Grouper in Hawks Channel you get to see a wide variety of them that you don’t see on the Reefs, Wrecks or Offshore.

The key ingredient in the Florida Keys famous dish Grits N’ Grunts! These smaller fish make very tasty fillets, perfect for breading and frying. Kids love catching Grunts and get a kick out of the little grunting sound they make when you get them in the boat.

Lionfish, Florida Pompano, Wrasses, Porgies, Porkfish, Parrot Fish, Blue Runners, Jack Crevalle.