Long considered an angler’s paradise, the sandbars, flats, channels, and reefs in the Florida Keys provide year-round opportunities for anglers who dream of catching a “fish of a lifetime."
Long considered an angler’s paradise, the sandbars, flats, channels, and reefs in the Florida Keys provide year-round opportunities for anglers who dream of catching a “fish of a lifetime.” These lush habitats support charter fishing captains and guides whose livelihoods depend on a healthy, productive ecosystem.
The Blue Star Fishing Guide program recognizes charter fishing captains who are committed to sustainable fishing practices and educating their customers about resource protection in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The voluntary training and compliance program seeks to increase fishing guides’ knowledge and, ultimately, that of their clients, to conserve the mangroves, seagrass meadows, and reefs that are the foundation for world-class fishing in the Florida Keys.
“Becoming a Blue Star Fishing Guide is not only a step towards conserving the Florida Keys, but also protects the fisheries we rely on each day for charters,” says Tony Young, owner of Forever Young Charter Company in Islamorada. “It is in each operator’s best interest to go Blue Star and educate their clients on sustainable fishing practices.”
In 2017, 41 percent of visitors participated in recreational sport fishing, according to the Monroe County Tourist Development Council’s visitor profile survey. Florida Bay, edged by the inner curve of the Keys and the Florida mainland, is referred to locally as the backcountry. It is home to five of the most sought-after game fish among recreational anglers: bonefish, tarpon, permit, redfish (red drum, and snook. Off the Keys’ outer curve and the nearby Gulf Stream lies the Atlantic Ocean. Blue and white marlin, sailfish, and swordfish inhabit these deep-sea areas.
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Image via NOAA.