lower keys

Welcome to Florida
Location, Type of Fishing:

Flats Hunter Charters is an outfitter and guide service based out of Big Pine Key, servicing all of the Lower Keys from Marathon to Key West and the Marquesas. South of the Long Key Bridge, you’ll find some of the best fly fishing that The Keys has to offer, with a great variety of spectacular inshore flats and channels to explore. Mudflats of sand and turtle grass, mangrove shorelines and shallow-water lagoons characterize the waters around The Keys. With significantly more land mass than the Upper Keys, the Lower Keys offers anglers more shoreline for flats fishing and a greater diversity of fishing area. A beautiful fishery filled with all kinds of scenery, inshore fly fishing takes place on both the oceanside and in the backcountry of the bay from Dolphin-style super skiffs. There are also some good areas that afford anglers the opportunity to wade the flats on the oceanside where the bottom is hard. The impressive marine habitat of the Lower Keys combined with the variety of inshore gamefish present, means there’s always something to fish for during every season of the year. Come explore these great waters, and let the guides of Flat Hunter Charters put their knowledge and experience to work for you, quickly and easily putting you in front of the fish.


  •  Season: Year-round
  • Species: Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Redfish, Barracuda and Shark
  • Rods: 8-12 wt. Saltwater, Fast-Action
  • Rates: $650.00/day



What Makes It Special:

In the fly fishing world, nothing could be more romanticized than the life of a Florida Keys fishing guide. These guys are legends in the industry. Outgoing and professional, the guides of Flats Hunter Charters are experts in offshore and inshore fly fishing, and they give you the best opportunities by trailering boats anywhere in the Lower Keys to put you into fish. Hawk-eyes that see the fish coming long before you do, these knowledgeable instructors and friendly advisors have a wonderful sense of humor and provide great value for the services they render. Exclusively guiding the waters of the Lower Keys since 2006, Brandon Sharpe, owner of Flats Hunter Charters, has always had a passion for fly fishing, and he gladly shares that passion with anglers of all ages and skill-levels. His easy-going personality works well with everybody he fishes with, because he appreciates what it means to live and work in such a wonderful place, doing what he loves. Not only a top fly fishing outfitter, he can custom tailor trips to suit your individual needs. Imploring a wide variety of fishing techniques to ensure a good day on the water for everyone in the boat makes him an excellent choice when bringing along a non-fly fishing angler. Understanding the importance of having a good time and creating lasting memories, the guides of Flats Hunter Charters are up for the challenge of making your fishing trip one so memorable, it just might become legendary.



Sight fishing for inshore flats species in shallow water is a truly thrilling experience. Being able to watch these fish move gracefully across a flat is an experience that stays with you for a long time, and having one inhale your fly is one of the most rewarding sights you’ll ever experience, but it is not without its challenges. While you can find the “big three”, tarpon, permit and bonefish, on flats year-round, there are a lot of factors involved in targeting each one. Whether you fish on the oceanside or the bayside depends a lot on which species you’re after, the time of year, tides and weather patterns, including wind direction. Tarpon, permit and bonefish can be found just about anywhere on flats around the islands, but for additional shots, head out into the backcountry for barracuda and shark. Flats Hunter Charters not only is an expert in inshore fishing, they are also well-equipped to take you offshore fly fishing for dolphin and sailfish as well, if you have the inclination. The fishing opportunities in the Lower Keys are as varied and diverse as the waters themselves. If stalking inshore and offshore gamefish with a fly rod is something you’ve dreamed about, let the guides of Flats Hunter Charters show you what makes this incredible place so exhilarating.



The friendly communities of the Lower Keys have a relaxed vibe, more akin to life in the Caribbean with their laid-back mentality, and the security of being right at home with all the amenities of the mainland. There’s easy access to banks, medical services, restaurants, bars, nightlife, shopping and (sometimes) cell phone coverage just about everywhere you go in The Keys. There are plenty of accommodations from which to choose, ranging from high end, luxury resorts to plain and simple motels, with just about everything in between. Flats Hunter Charters suggests the following Little Torch Keys hotels: Parmers Resort, Dolphin Marina and Cottages, and Little Palm Island. For Big Pine Key: Old Wooden Bridge Cottages and Marina. For Marathon: Hyatt Place Marathon. For dining in Marathon, we recommend Burdines Waterfront for a very casual, delicious meal served on paper plates. In Big Pine Key, stop by the No Name Pub, for a drink after fishing or dine on their fantastic pizza. A stop in Key West wouldn’t be complete without a relaxing meal at Blue Heaven for fine dining in a rustic setting with entertainment provided by wild roosters. A 2Salt Travel specialist will be happy to help you plan your stay and book any accommodations with which you may need assistance.


The possibilities in the Lower Keys are year round, but springtime is for tarpon. Starting as early as April in certain years, tarpon begin to show up on the flats of the Lower Keys, signaling the start of their migration by working their way around the waters of these islands. It doesn’t take long before there are many large tarpon on the flats, as their numbers quickly escalate to their peak in May and June. There is no better place in the world to fly fish for giant tarpon than the Florida Keys, and the Lower Keys offer great opportunities to feed these powerful beasts with well-presented flies. The summer months are an excellent time of year to try for a grand slam, as all of the inshore slam species are active on the flats, with bonefish and permit being particularly active in the warm water. Fall fishing can be some of the best fishing of the year if you can you get in and fish between the storms, as tropical depressions and hurricanes are a distinct possibility. The backcountry tarpon fishing can be fantastic, as can be the bonefishing, if you time it right. Winter months bring opportunities for redfish, snook, barracuda and shark on the fly in shallow water. Winter fishing can be a bit of a crapshoot as occasional cold fronts can send all of the fish on the flats into hiding. Between cold fronts, you’re likely to find resident tarpon, permit and bonefish on the flats as the water begins to warm into the upper 80’s. February and March are excellent times of year to stalk the flats for permit.


How to Get There:

It is easy to get to The Keys by flying into either Miami International Airport (MIA), Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport (FLL) or Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). From any one of those airports, you can book commercial air to Key West International Airport (EYW) on a number of different carriers, arrange to have a private air charter fly you to Marathon, or rent a car and drive yourself to the Lower Keys. There are private shuttles and limo services available, as well. From Miami, the drive to Big Pine Key takes just over 3 hours, 3 ½ hours from FLL, and about 4 hours from Palm Beach. In The Keys, the Overseas Highway, or US 1, is the two-lane stretch of road that runs the length of the island chain, passing over the many keys and bridges. It is advised that you make your travel arrangements, so that your drive through The Keys takes place early in the morning or later in the evening when traffic is at its lowest. You’ll notice when you get to The Keys, addresses are designated by mile-markers (mm) and are sometimes referenced by the oceanside to the east or bayside to the west. Travel in the Florida Keys is perfectly safe, but use common sense by locking your car when you’re out fishing and don’t leave valuables out in the open.


Typical Day:

It’s difficult to say at what time or where you will meet your guide on the morning of your trip, as Flats Hunter Charters caters to the individual needs of each client differently. The night before your trip, however, you can plan on being contacted by the guide over the phone or in person to talk about your expectations for the next day’s fishing, and what you’d like to accomplish on the water. If you have your own car, he’ll tell you when and where to meet him in the morning and give you directions to the launch. You will need to bring your own lunch, snacks and drinks with you in the morning. The guide will provide a cooler with ice and bottled water in the boat. You do not need to provide lunch for the guide, but if you would like to have lunch at one of the local restaurants instead, that can be arranged. Plan on taking lunch in the boat between spots or on a nice flat with a good view. Full day trips last 8 hours. Flats Hunter Charters use Dolphin-style super skiffs equipped with Yamaha 70 HP outboards. The boats include GPS locators, poling platform, casting deck platform and lean bars for additional comfort and safety while fishing. We recommend you bring polarized sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, rain jacket, bug spray and a waterproof camera to record the memories. If you wear shoes in the boat, please use sandals or boat shoes with non-skid soles, so you don’t mark up the deck.


What’s Included:

½ day, ¾ day and full day guided fishing trips. You do not need a fishing license, as you are with a licensed guide.

Not Included: Airfare to/from one of the International Airports of Southern Florida, lodging, ground transportation to/from your hotel as well as the marina where you will meet the guide, and all meals, including lunch and drinks in the boat.


Non-angling Activities:

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Crane Point Museum and Nature Center in Marathon, the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum in Key West, snorkeling at Sombrero Key Sanctuary Preservation Area, the Key West Aquarium, shopping and watching the sunset from Mallory Square in Key West are all excellent ideas for spending a day off the water in the Lower Keys.



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