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Capt Scott Collins - Fishing Guide in the Florida Keys
Florida Keys Fishing Guide - Fishing Report

Fishing Report

After a record-breaking cold winter, where the cold weather (and water) drug into early March, the warm spring air finally returned and brought the flats of the Florida Keys back to life. Cold winters usually mean great fishing during the following springtime, and this year was no exception.


March is one of the prime months for chasing Permit in the Lower Florida Keys and comprises the majority of my fishing during this month. The weather held strong for most of the month allowing my clients to get a good number of shots and catch a lot of great permit.

Tim Wilhelmy with an early March Key West permit.

Jim Carter with 30# fly-caught Key West permit.
One of the first fish tagged in the new Permit Tagging Research initiative.

Joe with a nice Lower Keys permit. Shark at tail off at the boat.

The annual March Merkin Permit Tournament is held every March. A brief cold snap (and rain!) during the 3-day event made the fishing extremely difficult. The permit fishing was great leading up to the tournament before the front rolled in and shut the fishing down. My angler Greg Smith and I were fortunate to carry our great pre-fishing into the first morning of the event. Early on the first day we had a few shots. Then Greg made a phenomenal shot at a mudding fish which inhaled the fly and allowed us to land the fish. As the conditions deteriorated, so did the shots. Over the next two and half days we saw only a handful of fish, which hardly gave us another quality shot. It was just as tough for everyone as our one fish turned out to be larger than the only one other fish caught in the tournament. Congratulations to Greg for becoming the 2010 March Merkin grand champion!

Greg Smith with his champion permit.


As the water continues to warm during April, the annual flood of giant tarpon begin to fill the Florida Keys backcountry waters. Many areas of the Keys were holding fish throughout the month.

Greg Smith puttin the wood to a huge poon.

One of many for Smitty.


The annual tarpon migration through the Florida Keys is in full swing during this time. No doubt, itís some of the best fishing in the world, and this year was no exception.

There are three fly fishing tarpon tournaments, and all take place during May and June.
Competition in these events is fierce, but they are a lot of fun. My anglers and I had great fishing and took third place in all three events. Congratulations to David Dalu for placing third in both the Golden Fly and Gold Cup Tarpon Tournaments. Also congratulations to Greg Smith for taking third in the Don Hawley Tarpon Tournament.

David Dalu lands a giant tarpon in the 2010 Golden Fly tarpon tournament.
The girth of the fish is measured with a large strap.

Dalu gets a surprise while casting to a pod of tarpon and lands this 15# Mutton Snapper. Yep, we released it! ;-)

Reviving a large tarpon during the 2010 Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament.


Early July rounds out the annual tarpon migration here in the Keys. Tarpon will continue to populate all the waters of the Keys and Everglades into the Fall, but July is when the majority of the fish spread out and move beyond the Keys. So, we take advantage of the great tarpon fishing while it lasts.

John Klar with a large July tarpon taken on fly.

July is another peak month for permit. Actually, the great permit fishing begins in June as the permit return from spawning in deep water. Itís often tough to break away from the large tarpon to chase permit. So as July rolls on, I look forward to getting back to concentrating on permit. July also offers excellent fishing for bonefish, small tarpon, redfish, and snook. With so many choices, itís hard to decide what to do!

Greg Smith with a July permit on fly.


September and October offer the best all-around flats fishing of the year. Large tarpon frequent the backcountry in certain areas, small tarpon are common, bonefish and permit are at their peak.

The bonefishing in the Lower Keys has been great, as well as the permit. The small tarpon have been a little harder to find this year, but they are around. Redfishing in Florida Bay has been great as we move into October.

September has been good for the large tarpon in Florida Bay as they chase mullet. Weíve also been running into a fair amount of tarpon around Key West as we permit fish.

David Dalu with a September fly caught 11# Islamorada Bonefish.

Rob with a nice September Marathon permit.

Mike with a typical September Big Pine Key small tarpon.


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Capt. Scott Collins

Phone: 305-304-5965