Islamorada Fishing Calendar
Different Species Require Different Techniques
We Use Proven Methods of Fishing for What Works Best Right Now
Local Fishing Calendar
What's Biting & When in Islamorada, Florida

About Capt. Rex Witkamp

Capt. Rex is an avid offshore fisherman who owns and operates the ONE LOVE and 3rd Alarm Fishing in the AWESOME Florida Keys. Capt. Rex is one of very few NOAA Blue Star Fishing Guides.
  •  USCG Master 50-Ton License: License #4551406
  •  Firefighter/Paramedic (ret.): Former Firefighter/Paramedic CPR Certified
  •  NOAA Blue Star Guide: Local Guide for Local Environment
Our unique approach to charter fishing was joined with our love for teaching others the joy of the hunt and the catch. In an effort to find the most up to date, most futuristic cutting edge fishing techniques and fishing platform we have kept up-to-date with winning and proven techniques that are currently working right now . 
Types of Fishing


No one claims that Islamorada is a world's hotspot for Marlin, but they are here. Usually we don’t target Marlin specifically, they just sort of happen while offshore fishing for Dolphin and Wahoo. Here in Islamorada we find White and Blue Marlin. The White Marlin are smaller ranging from 50 to 100 pounds, where as the Blue Marlin can grow much larger. An average Blue Marlin for the area is between 150 and 175 pounds but on occasion we see fish up to 400 pounds. The boat is fully rigged with tackle and a fighting chair to help ensure you that if you’re lucky enough to hook one, your chances of catching and releasing it increase. Marlin are normally caught in depths of 600+ feet.


When live baiting I usually only run 4 baits at one time. If you can’t get their attention with 4 you won’t get it with 10. Using lighter set ups we will bump the boat in and out of gear moving very slowly, I call it a power drift. In the Winter and Spring time there is a large migration of Sailfish and Tuna to the area and we target them from depths of 80 feet to 200 feet. Sailfish jump and put on quite a display during fight. We even offer custom taxidermy service to immortalize your trophy catch with us.


Wahoo are strong near the full moons in November, December, and January. We also get a strong Wahoo presence during the late summer way offshore in deep water. Known for their incredible speed this fish with range from 15 to 70 pounds and are one of the most powerful fighting fish you can find in the ocean.

Mahi Mahi

Dolphin are normally fished for in the Summer, although each year changes a little depending on the water temperature. Fish are caught from 250 feet to 1500 feet of water trolling a combination of dead baits and lures. The average size of a nice Dolphin is 12-15 pounds. They can be caught up to 65 pounds but the smaller ones school. Once you have located a school you can normally “bail” Dolphin catching 10 to 50 over a 15 to 45 minute period.


Cobia make appearances in December thru April, with January and February being the hottest months to target.  Cobia usually like to stalk other prey from underneath migrating rays. These fish are seen from the tower and can be targeted using live bait as well as casted to using custom cobia jigs. Anglers can work in pairs with a surface jig to entice the Cobia closer to the boat, while the second angler pitches a live bait once close. Cobia fishing is usually opportunistic fishing when encountered as these fish tend to challenge the readiness of the anglers aboard.

Blackfin Tuna

Blackfin Tuna are our most common Tuna, but we do also see Yellowfin Tuna mixed in. The average Blackfin is around 15 pounds and anything over 20 is considered a big fish. These fish are great to eat and put up a great fight. Commonly if you catch one Tuna you can catch 3 or 4 or 5 at the same time because they tend to school up and look for food. Tuna can be caught year round but late fall through early spring are peak seasons.

Black Grouper

I use some deeper reef systems in the winter to find Black Groupers. Actually not as much the reef but the sand adjacent to the reef. Fish use this sand almost as a high way to travel to and from different bottom. Because you are nearly on top of the reef though fishing can be associated with it due to the overlap of species you can catch. Common catches also include Mutton Snapper, Triggerfish, Yellow Jacks, Bar Jacks, Kingfish, as well as Cero Mackeral and Sharks.. It is an absolutely amazing ecosystem and fishery.

Mutton Snappers

Some of the best eating and hardest fighting fish are the MuttonSsnappers. These are usually found around the reef edge and around the wrecks. The have a keen eye for your hook and tackle, and will not bite if unless your rigging is just right. We have found the most ideal way to target these fish using proven tactics and methods for success. Common catches also include Black Grouper, Triggerfish, Yellow Jacks, Bar Jacks, Kingfish, as well as Cero Mackeral and Sharks.

Yellowtail Snappers

Some of the most prevalent species of reef fish are the Yellowtail Snappers. These are usually found around the reef edge and around the wrecks. The are usually chummed up with our special chum slick combination.  "If we chum, they will come."  We have found the most ideal way to target these fish using proven tactics, coupled with the appropriate size tackle and methods for success. Common catches also include Bermuda Chubs, Barracuda, Yellow Jacks, Bar Jacks, Kingfish, as well as Cero Mackeral and Sharks.

African Pompano

APs are usually a surprise catch when targeting other species, and since they are good to eat, it is usually a welcome surprise! Sometimes these fish can be caught using smaller blade jigs, and the larger ones usually take the live bait over the jig. Larger jigs will work if they are found deeper in the water column. As these fish make for a strong fight, taste great, and make for a great photo, they are a delight to every angler. 


Different times of years there are some unique things we can do on the reefs and wrecks. My favorite is sight fishing for Permit. Using my tuna tower for a better vantage point I can locate schools of Permit circling wrecks and instruct the charter or my mate where to cast a live crab. Permit range from 15 to 35 pounds and are one my favorite fighting fish. We try to release all caught permit back into the water, though they are legal to catch and harvest. Permit are one of Florida’s last great sport fish and many people wait many years to finally catch one on their own.


If you are looking for a serious fight, targeting sharks may interest you. Not only do they make for an unforgettable memory, they make awesome trophies too. Shark fishing in the Keys can be pretty extensive. There are numerous species you can fish for ranging from 30 to 1000 pounds. Ill try to categorize them by size starting from small and working to big. The first that comes to mind is the Black Tip or Spinner shark. They range from 30 to 75 pounds and are a blast on light tackle. They are called Spinner sharks because they leap from the water and spin while you fight them. If the weather is right you can chum them up and catch them non stop some days. In the 100 to 200 pound class range you have Nurse sharks, Caribbean Reef, and Sandbars. These can be targeted on the shallow reefs or out on some deep wrecks by drifting them with whole dead bonitos. Bull, Lemon, Tiger, and Hammerheads fall into the 200-350 but the Tigers and Hammerheads can exceed those numbers easily. The Bulls and Lemons are most commonly found in deeper water near large structure. Drifting wrecks works well for these species too. Tigers can be found a lot of different places and they are a little more rare for Islamorada. In the winter we see a lot of large Hammer Heads on the surface. Its hard to mistake a 15 foot black object cruising through blue water. We can pitch a bait in front of the fishes path and actually watch him eat. Hammerheads are not uncommon to reach 500 pounds. This shark that has the most potential for size is the Mako. A lot of times we catch these while sword fishing in deep water. Either way these fish can range from 200 to 1000 pounds. Another time you see a Mako is while trolling for other fish. Makos are fast and will chase down dolphin or tuna while you are hooked into them. Here we can pitch a rod rigged for the fish and watch him eat as well.


Swordfish are, in my opinion, Florida’s last great sport fish. After decades of commercial fishing bans the fish stocks have rebounded to an incredible level. Swordfish can be targeted two different ways, day and night. Each way presents you with pros and cons and each style has its own difficulties. Day time swordfishing has become very popular in South Florida and here in the Florida Keys. During the day Swordfish stay in deep depths, 1800 to 2200 feet of water. The difficulty here is obviously dropping baits down to their depths and getting them back up. With recent improvements on the tackle electric reels have made this issue almost go away. Electric reels come in handy when you want to check your bait or make a short move and fish different grounds. Before electrics it would take over a half hour just to bring up a bait, now its a matter of minutes. Another positive to sword fishing is you drift in deep water where other pelagic species live. It is not uncommon to catch 40 and 50 pound dolphin while drifting for swordfish, you also may spot a Blue Marlin you get to pitch a bait to. It seems that the daytime swords are larger than the ones caught at night as well.
Night time sword fishing is done in the same depths but you don’t have to drop your baits all the way to the bottom. At night the swordfish come near the surface to chase squid. We set out a large underwater light and drift with a 2 or 3 baits waiting for the bite. Sometimes you have swordfish and dolphin swim right up to the boat and you can watch them eat your bait, there isn’t much more exciting than that.
Other Fishing Techniques


Trolling is the most diverse style of fishing in some senses. While trolling the boat always keeps moving at a speed between 6 and 14 knots and adjust course and depth in relation to the fish. We will fish with anywhere between four to eight lines at a time. You can catch everything from Yellowtail Snapper and Black Groupers on the reef to 50 pound Mahi Mahi and 400 pound Blue Marlins in the blue water. Depending on the time of year, conditions, and targeted species we will troll in depths of 60 to 1500 feet of water. The main species we target on the troll are Dolphin (fish), Wahoo, Tuna, Sailfish, White Marlin, and Blue Marlin.

Wreck Fishing

Another thing to do is jig the deep wrecks. Certain months are better than others and I prefer to fish wrecks from 185 feet of water to 400 feet of water. Using long lead jigs with hooks we drop them near a wreck and drift past it while the mate or charter works the lure. This is very, very productive. I have caught Wahoo, Tuna, Dolphin, Grouper, Snapper, Jacks, and Cobia using this method.

Patch Reef Fishing

A common 1/2 day fishing excursion is to fish the nearshore patch reefs that are out to the ledge. These patch reefs often hold a variety of different species of fish including, yellowtail, mangrove, and mutton snapper, grouper, barracuda, kingfish, cero mackeral, and with the right conditions, even sailfish are seen shallow.

Live Baiting

When the conditions allow, live bait fishing can be very productive here in the Florida Keys. Every type of fishing has its time and place, pros and cons. If you are looking for Sailfish and Tuna, a majority of the time live baiting can be the most productive route.  Common baits used live are Pilchards, Thread Herring, Ballyhoo, Goggle Eyes, Blue Runners, and Speed-O’s. For Sailfish I prefer Goggle Eyes or Pilchards, and for Tuna I prefer a lot of Pilchards.
What Do I Do Now?..

Step #1:  Book a Charter

First, ONE LOVE will come to your rescue and do an initial assessment to locate the exact source and cause of your emergency vacation fishing problem.

Step #2:  Salt Therapy Treatment Plan

Next, Capt. Rex will give you an honest, straight-forward, no-pressure salt therapy fishing plan designed to get you out of your rut as quickly as possible and to ultimately help you get back to your normal sane mental health and life.

Step #3:  Long Term Strategies

Last but certainly not least, Capt. Rex will provide you with long term strategies that will allow you to keep on top of your mental health and allow you to remain stress free and fully functional by introducing our Client Loyalty Program.
Islamorada, Florida - ⭐️The Sportfishing Capital of the World🌎
You Are GUARANTEED to experience an unbelievably FUN time aboard the ONE LOVE! Treat yourself to Islamorada's Premier Luxury Fishing Charter. 
  •  USCG Master 50-Ton License: License #4551406
  •  Firefighter/Paramedic (ret.): Former Firefighter/Paramedic CPR Certified
  •  NOAA Blue Star Guide: Local Guide for Local Environment
  •  Kids & Families Welcome: No high pressure yelling, just a relaxing & fun trip
  •  Create Lasting Memories: Trip photos featured on our social media channels
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