We will do fishing the Dry Tortugas on multi day trips only. Call 1-888-GOT-Bait for information
The Tortugas are 70 Miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, where it borders the Atlantic Ocean.. The Tortugas are considered part of Monroe County , Florida and is subject to FWC regulations for the Gulf, however fishing on the Atlantic side is governed by Federal regulations.
It is made up of 7 islands composed of coral reef and sand. The water in this area is so clear you can usually see a great distance down in the water. This is called The Dry Tortugas National Park
It is famous for marine life, birds, pirates and sunken gold.
There is a fort known as Fort Jefferson on GardenKey.
At times there have been as many as 11 islands, but hurricanes and other events cause some to become submerged. The 7 islands that are there now are really big sandbars. The Tortugas were names by Ponce DeLeon because of the turtles there. The name dry was added to indicate there was no fresh water there.
The names of the islands are:
- Loggerhead Key : The Dry Tortugas lighthouse is on this island.
- Garden Key, Fort Jefferson is located here along with an inactive lighthouse. It is the 2nd largest island.
- Bush Key, was formerly known as Hog Island. Hogs were raised there to provide fresh meat for Fort Jefferson. It is the 3rd largest island and sometimes joins Garden Key by a sandbar. There is also a large tern rookery on the island.
- Long Key, Located 150 feet from the south end of Bush Key
- Hospital Key, The hospital for Fort Jefferson was on this key. It used to be known as Sand Key or Middle Key
- Middle Key, Sometimes disappears due to storms or other weather.
- East Key, 2 km east of Middle Key,
None of these islands are very big. The highest one has a height of 10 feet above sea level. Most of the others hare around 3 feet above sea level. The islands that no longer exist are Southwest Key, Bird Key, North Key and Northeast Key.
There is another set of Islands in that area known as the Marquesas Keys.
The Tortugas are surrounded by pristine coral reefs, both shallow and deep water reefs, and wrecks. The are far enough offshore that they receive very little fishing pressure. There also is no commercial fishing in the surrounding waters.A Florida Saltwater fishing license is required.
This region is a crossroads of Ocean currents. It is close to the Gulf, the Carribean and the Atlantic. There could be as many as 400 species of fish there. It is also speculated that some tuna species spawn in the Tortugas
The fishing there is exceptional. Species caught there are all species of grouper, wahoo, sailfish, King mackerel, Cobia, porgies, tilefish mahi-mahi and snapper. Many of the fish are trophy size.
About 8 to 12 miles out from the Tortugas, you have 200-300 foot depths and often will find weedlines depending on where the Gulfstream is. This will often produce mahi and sailfish.
Inshore you can find tarpon, permit, barracuda and snappers.In the cooler months many pelagics like wahoo and king mackerel are there along with cobia. There are also many species of sharks in the area.
Because the Tortugas lie on the dividing line , you must be careful to know the limits on both sides. If you dock at Garden key, you must be following Gulf regulations. You also can only possess one days bag limit even if your are there for 2 or 3 days. The Tortugas are close enough to the Gulfstream that you can spend a night there swordfishing.
There are new laws restricting fishing in certain areas of the Tortugas. The Dry Tortugas Research and Natural area was started by Florida and the National Park Service. This closes about 46 sq miles of the park to fishing. You can fish in the 1 mile radius around Garden Key. There is no fishing at all at Loggerhead key.