A big king mackerel from Key WestFantastic fishing, occasional shipwrecks, and spectacular sunsets are synonymous with Key West, Florida, and visitors often experience the complete trifecta! When most fishermen think of coming to Key West, however, they immediately picture battles with huge, acrobatic tarpon, speedy bonefish, or powerful permit. In winter, most of those fish have migrated to warmer climates or deeper water. Nevertheless, the fish that replace them during the colder months are also excellent fighters and much better to eat.

The waters near Key West are teeming with marauding schools of mackerel at this time of year. Most anglers can easily catch their daily limit of three to five pound cero and Spanish mackerel, and many king mackerel exceed forty pounds. In addition, one may find huge schools of redfish that range from ten to twenty-five pounds, and tuna are often abundant in the twenty pound class.

Bottom fishing near Key West will net a variety of fish including several types of grouper, snapper, and grunts. The majority of these fish are also very palate pleasing.

With more than five-hundred species of fish inhabiting the blue-green waters of the Florida Keys, fantastic fishing is experienced daily. Winter visitors experience a kaleidoscope of flora and fauna, including white herons, loons, pelicans, ospreys, and numerous small animals.

Real adventurers often bring or rent a small skiff, canoe, or kayak, which allows the exploration of many of the uninhabited keys or the opportunity to fish shallow flats within sight of Key West.

Cypress House at XmasIn order to experience the history and true essence of Old Key West, I would highly recommend the immaculate Cypress House (800-525-2488) which was built in 1888. This Grand Conch mansion is one of the purest examples of Bahamian architecture in Key West, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Best of all, this gorgeous inn is located at the corner of Caroline Street and Simonton in the heart of the historic district, and within walking distance of all the main sights in Key West.

At the Cypress House, the hearty, complimentary breakfasts and the nightly complimentary cocktail hour on a covered patio beside the outdoor swimming pool are complete with the finest beverages and a plethora of mouthwatering foods. Combine this with excellent service throughout, spacious, air conditioned rooms with high ceilings and ceiling fans, old fashioned porches, lush tropical gardens, and secluded sunbathing around a 40′ heated lap pool, and no lodging can be better in Key West.

The Mardi Gras-style experience in the old downtown section of Key West every night, and the circus atmosphere along the wharf at Mallory Park during the “Sunset Celebration” at the end of each day makes Key West a warm, electrifying destination away from our cooler weather. This final island at the tip of the Florida Keys is certainly a fabulous tropical paradise, but it also ranks among the best places on the globe to get away from the cold, catch plenty of fish, and escape reality for awhile!

Shipwreck at Key West

For additional information about reservations or directions, contact the Florida Keys Visitors Bureau through Stewart Newman and Associates at 1-800-FLA-KEYS. Questions about Cypress house can be answered online at: .  For fishing information, contact Capt. Larry Cohen at (305) 294-7670 or (305) 923-7100.

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