Fishing Reports

How To Choose a Key West Deep Sea Fishing Charter Captain


good catch of dolphin

Good catch of dolphin for dinner!

Choosing a Key West Charter Captain

Whether you’re an angling aficionado or a fun-seeking Key West tourist, heading out to sea on a charter fishing boat is the ultimate tropical vacation adventure. Find the right boat to suit your needs using this handy guide to choosing a Key West charter captain.

Have fun out there and here’s to a day filled with tight lines!

Set Your Expectations

Not all charter fishing experiences are created equal. A clear idea of what you’re hoping to get from your trip is vital.

Here are a few questions to answer before beginning your search:

  • Are you looking for a more serious or relaxed fishing environment?
  • Would you prefer to catch more smaller fish or fewer big fish?
  • Is there a particular species you want to catch?
  • What kind of trip are you looking for? Deep sea? Wreck, reefs?
  • How long do you plan to fish? Half-day? Full-day?
  • Are there specific amenities you’d like to have on the boat? Bathroom? Fridge? Fighting chair?

An experienced angler hoping to knock a specific species off their bucket list will have different priorities than a first timer just looking for a good time.

A concrete vision of what you’re after makes it easy to ask find a captain who has the experience and gear that matches your idea of a great fishing charter.

Decide on a Realistic Budget & Don’t Cheap Out

Automatically going with the cheapest boat is generally not the best strategy. More expensive captains often own newer, larger, more comfortable boats with included “extras”, added amenities and more advanced gear & tackle.

Additionally, cheaper boats are prone to underpay their staff – leading to a disinterested crew.

There’s an old saying in the charter fishing industry: “The cheapest charter boat is just the most expensive cruise.” You get what you pay for and you ought to be paying to catch fish!

Research Captains Online

big dolphin

Nice dolphin!

Due diligence goes a long way when researching charter outfits.

You’ll want to find out how long the captain’s been in business. How often he (or she) goes out and whether the boat has a history of success. Does the boat have up-to-date navigational & safety equipment? For example, if you look at Southbound Charter Fishing’s home page, you’ll find out I’ve been fishing in Key West waters for more than 25 years on my boat, a 40-ft custom Key West charter boat, that we target sailfish, wahoo, tuna, dolphin (aka mahi mahi or dorado), barracuda, shark, tarpon, grouper, snapper – and many more species, of course, If you check out the Catch of the Day,  you’ll find we catch ’em and that we post our photos almost every day.

The Southbound has a range of gear and tackle to accommodate both beginners and seasoned anglers — everything from 80 lb. trolling rods to 15 lb. spinning reels.  When trolling we prefer to use  30 lb. test line – it’s not too small for the big fish and still light enough to allow smaller fish to put up a great fight. We’ve landed both white and blue marlin, sailfish, wahoo, dolphin, barracuda, tuna, grouper and snapper using 30 lb. tackle. Of course, 15 and 20 lb. spinning tackle is available for the more experienced angler.

If you’re booking locally, take the time to meet with a captain in person before making a final reservation. We love to have folks come down to the docks when we get back from a charter. Just give us a call, (305) 747-3668, and we’ll let you know when you can find us For those out of town, a quick phone call goes a long way towards guaranteeing a fantastic day out on the waters of Key West, Florida.

Do remember to ask for what you want. We had a charter this past week and the customers wanted to experience the sunrise, and it was totally worth getting up a little early:

sunrise over Key West waters

A sunrise worthy of an early start!

Find us on Facebook.

If budget is an issue, we offer a special Key West fishing accommodations package. If  you fish multiple days you can enjoy our Old Town fishing cottage —  all the comforts of home and just blocks from all the nightlife in the Southernmost City.


Hook ‘em Early! Sparking Your Kids’ Love of Fishing


The Action of Deep Sea Fishing Lures Young Anglers



Whether it’s Angry Birds, Pokemon GO or the newest online craze, prying your kids away from their handheld device these days is like pulling teeth. Whatever happened to building forts, playing in the mud or swinging across the jungle gym?

Get your kids outside (and loving it) by instilling a fiery passion for the action of a rod and reel – believe it or not, it’s a lot easier than you might think!

Here are a few pointers to help you power down screens and wet some lines.

Go for the Gold

goliath grouper

A Goliath Grouper – Big Enough!

Little ones don’t have the same level of patience when the fish aren’t striking. For you, a day out on the lake  beats the office a million to one even if you don’t get so much as a nibble – but to a kid, a few hours without a bite feels like an eternity.

If you want children to fall in love with fishing, they need to catch fish.

And the bigger the better.

We’ll worry about teaching the reality that sometimes you come home with an empty cooler later.

Forget about plunking bobbers at your local watering hole. Get them out on a professional charter fishing trip where the action is sure to ignite a healthy dose of adrenaline.

Once they’re hooked on the excitement of hauling in a real beauty, the transition to more fickle fishing spots like lakes, rivers and streams becomes easier.

Bait with a Hands-On Approach

Kids hate to be told, “this is for grownups.” As much as possible, get your children involved in every step of the process.

family fishing catch of day

Family Fishing Charter – Catch of the Day

A  day or two before the charter take them down to the docks around the time the boats are bringing in the catch of day – let them see what others are catching and watch as the mates clean and fillet the catch.  They will also get a chance to see the charter boat and meet the mate and captain of the boat they’ll be on.

Take them to local outfitters or bait shop  and let them touch the rods and reels, and learn about the live baits and other lures. If you’re driving to Key West from the mainland, be sure to stop at World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada  – they can look at the rods and reels and other saltwater gear, they can climb aboard a beautiful old wood charter boat,  sister ship to Ernest Hemingway’s “Pilar,” and there is a large glass tank with snook, tarpon, bonefish and other local fish.

The more chance they have to explore the ‘world of saltwater sport fishing’ the more they’ll take ownership in the experience.

Keep Fishing Fun


Catch of the Day – Mackerel!

As an experienced angler, you know that some days fishing go better than others. Whether it’s bad weather, choppy water or simply stubborn fish – when the goin’ gets tough, it’s time to go home early.

As your kids get more into it, they will let you know when they’re ready to “tough it out” and get in a couple more hours fishing in less than ideal conditions. Until then, focus on keeping it fun – because as soon as fishing feels like a chore they’ll lose interest.

A World of Benefits For Anglers

There are a lot of great reasons to introduce your kids to the great sport of fishing:

  • Fishing buddies for life. Given that you’re never too old to fish, grooming your children to be avid anglers means you’ll always have something in common and a fantastic excuse to spend time together.
  • A fisherman has a greater appreciation for nature than the common man. Boys and girls who grow up fishing are more likely to develop a conscience for protecting our seas and conservation.
  • Impart a healthy lifestyle. Why raise couch potatoes when there’s so much life to be lived out there? A love of fishing will lead to interest in hiking, camping and other outdoor activities, too.

Aboard the Charterboat Southbound

Both the mate and I (Capt. Rich) have lots of experience teaching youngsters to fish. We love the chance to show them not just how to fish, but why we love and respect the ocean and the fish that live in it. We’ve taught tons of kids to love fishing over the years and we’re excited to teach yours!

Check our Key West fishing catch of the day and like us on Facebook.  Don’t miss out: we offer a fishing accommodations package for anglers who fish multiple days – stay in our Old Town fishing cottage and enjoy all the comforts of home just a few blocks from the action of Key West’s Duval Street.

More Photos of Kids Fishing


A barracuda is a great first fight – and catch for this young angler.

Landing a barracuda put a smile on this young angler’s face!



Summer Fishing – Key West! Dolphin Are Biting


We’ve had a terrific few weeks with great dolphin action. Anglers are going home with plenty of mahi mahi for dinner!

Great day of fishing for the whole family – released a couple of barracuda and then brought home dinner!

dolphin, mackerel, bnonitos, key west

Some Dolphin and a nice Cero Mackerel for Dinner
& Some Bonitos for fun

dolphin, mahi mahi, bonitos

Great action with some big Bonitos and dolphin for dinner!

Found a school of dolphin and broke out the spinning tackle. Great action on the lighter gear and great eating sized fish.

bull dolphin

Nice bull dolphin!

dolphin, mahi mahi

Another nice one!

Anglers got their limit on Dolphin, some big Bonitos and a Black Fin Tuna:

dolphin, mahi mahi, bonitos, black fin tuna

Dolphin, Bonitos and Black Fin Tuna! Great Day!

Still plenty of fish around. Plenty of action and a lot of fun on lighter spinning tackle.

schoolies, dolphin, mahi mahi

Mostly smaller “schoolies” but all good eating size.

We ran across a great video clip of flying fish being chased by dolphin and frigate birds:

Check our Key West fishing catch of the day on our website or find us on Facebook.

The Southbound offers a special Key West fishing accommodations package for anglers who fish multiple days in our Old Town fishing cottage, all the  comforts of home and close to all the action in the Southernmost City.

A 4-year-old boy became a fishing wonder during a recent charter boat trip in Key West


Fishing Fun aboard the Charter Boat Ramerezi


Still Catching Fish aboard the Charter boat Ramerezi


Fishing is still going strong. We are still catching black fin tuna and wahoo in our waters. Reef is still active with Mutton Snapper and grouper action. Can’t keep the groupers though. The season is still closed.

Mutton Snapper aboard the Ramerezi

Mutton Snapper aboard the Ramerezi

Gulfstream Fishing Party Boat


As we enter in the new year, we say goodbye to the grouper until May 1.  Our last day of grouper was epic!


Ending the season well

Ending the season well

Check this out! Next time you fish with us, ask the crew about Gray Taxidermy fish tag research program~


Bill – Gray FishTag Research
ANGLER: Jack Norman TAG ID: GFR8128 SPECIES TAGGED: Red Grouper (Epinephelus morio) IF OTHER: LOCATION: Offshore of Key West, Florida, USA. DATE: 11/19/2015 RESEARCH CENTER: N/A BOAT NAME: Gulfstream IV CAPTAIN NAME: Dan Bursma MATE 1 NAME: Cristi DeLeo MATE 2 NAME: Ray Catch Data OCEAN: Atlantic L…
More info @
Automated post from Gulfstream Fishing, Inc. –
November 27, 2015 at 06:28PM

GULFSTREAM IV party boat #grouper #atlanticocean #fishing #keywest #keywestfishing #keywestpartyboat


from Instagram:

Gulfstream IV Party Boat season passes! $950 for 20 tickets #keywest #keywestfishing #gulfstreamkeywest #keywestcharter #keywest #fisherman #partyboat #captjamiej #keywestpartyboat


from Instagram:

Grouper caught aboard the Gulfstream IV the weather is awesome! #gulfstreamkeywest #keywestfishing #fisherman #keywest #keywestcharter


from Instagram:

Check this out: Hate the snow? Well guess what? We don’t have any. Ever! #noshowhere #snowshovelnever #ke… Gulfstream Fishing, Inc.


Check this out: Hate the snow? Well guess what? We don’t have any. Ever! #noshowhere #snowshovelnever #ke…

Compass Rose Charters Having fun


Light Tackle Dolphin fun

Light Tackle Dolphin fun

Mahi Mahi in Key West


Dolphin (Mahi Mahi) are still off shore.  You need a 3/4 to full day to get out to the deep blue water where they are being caught!

We are still catching them!