National Parks 5 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing in Biscayne National Park

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

January 20, 2022

Biscayne National Park in Florida

A short drive south of Miami lies Biscayne National Park. It’s 173,000 acres of salt water, coral reefs, mangroves, islands, and parts of Biscayne Bay itself. The area is best known for its massive coral reef network, which one of the largest found on Earth.

Both scuba diving and snorkeling are popular sports in the area, and you can spot many dive boats and buoys if you are out on the water. What draws fly fisherman from all over the world though are the massivepopulations of tarpon, bonefish, and permit that roam these waters.

The water isn’t the only part of the park that teems with life either. Aquatic fowl, raptors, alligators and crocodiles also call the shores and islands of Biscayne home. Vast mangrove swamps and salt flats can be found here, as well as shallow bays and inlets. Mosquitos are thick in the summer, and both thunderstorms and hurricanes are frequent in the region.

About Biscayne Bay

The best part about visiting Biscayne National Park is how close it is to Miami and Homestead, Florida. It’s easy to get in and out of the park without having to take long deserted stretches of road, and most every part of the park is accessible by boat if you prefer boating to driving.

There are plenty of places to fish, though if you are looking to land bonefish and tarpon you may want to hire a boat to take you out into the bay to try your luck there. Fly fishing from the shallows can yield decent results, but the largest fish roam further out onto the water.

Come prepared to land some big fish, as the tarpon in the area can weigh as much as 180 lbs. Despite their large populations and massive size, these fish are anything but sluggish, and even skilled anglers may find themselves with a serious fight on their hands. If you are seeking to test your mettle and skill against some of the fiercest fighting fish on the North American Coast, Biscayne National Park is the place to go.

Biscayne National Park Fishing Map

map of best places to fish in Biscayne National Park

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish in Biscayne National Park

Many of the best fly fishing spots are only accessible by boat, but don’t let that stop you. You can still find marinas, docks, and trails leading down to some prime fishing territory if you are persistent and know what conditions to look for. Here’s our picks for the best fishing spots in and around Biscayne National Park:

Blackpoint Marina

With a 1.5 mile jetty extending into Biscayne Bay, this is a prime fishing spot for snook, barracuda, bonefish, red drum, and bonefish.

Blackpoint is surrounded on all sides by immense forests thick with vegetation and wildlife, and the fishing here is exceptionally good.

To get here, head toward south Miami-Dade and take the Ronald Reagan Turnpike a little southeast of Goulds and Cutler Bay.

Safety Value/Featherbed Bank/Cape Florida

Anglers looking to land some permit around Biscayne National Park should start here. Midway between the northern edge of the park and Key Biscayne is where the permit love to feed, and may be tempted to strike at shrimp and crab flies. 

Featherbed Bank is home to large schools of bonefish in and around the edges of the banks. They are fond of shrimp flies, especially when you make them skitter across the surface. 

Finally, Cape Florida a little west of south Key Biscayne is likewise an excellent spot for landing bonefish.

Follow the coastline down, and you should have no trouble pulling in some larger bonefish for trophy pics before releasing them.

Indian Grass Flat

A little to the southeast of Biscayne National Park is Indian Grass flat home to large populations of sea trout. Shrimp flies work best here as well. Try to visit first thing in the morning or late in the evening when the waters are colder and more trout friendly.

Best Time to Fish in Biscayne National Park

The most important part of planning your trip is making sure you know when hurricane season begins and ends.

From June to November the weather can be rough around Biscayne National Park, and you may arrive in Miami or Homestead only to discover you can’t get out on the water or jetty due to high winds and violent thunderstorms.

Peak season for fly fishing in and around Biscayne National Park is ideally between December and April, as the big fish swim to warmer waters in the south from their summer playgrounds along the northern east coast of the United States.

As for what time of day to fish Biscayne National Park, that largely depends on the species you are looking to catch.

Snook, for example, strike better at night, whereas the local trout tend to be more active in the cooler hours of the morning or the late evening.

Tarpon, red drum, and other saltwater fish tend to be active in deeper water as the day draws on, so you may have better luck in the shallows earlier, and then you will want to follow them out by boat later in the day.

Biscayne National Park Fishing Tips

For smaller and medium game fish, you will want a 9-foot fly rod with a matching fly reel and 9-weight line. 20 lb. tippet is a must, and intermediate full sink fly line is what you need if you are fishing with artificial shrimp or baitfish flies.  For larger game fish, like tarpon, you’ll want a 10- to 12-weight rod and 40 lb. tippet.

Also, mosquitoes are everywhere in Florida, and if you are headed into Biscayne National Park, you need to go with the strongest insect repellent you can find.

Be prepared for intense heat and humidity too, especially if you are visiting in the spring and summer

Biscayne National Park Fly Box

Here are some recommended flies that have proven effective for fishing in the Biscayne National Park region:

  • Merkin Crab (#2)
  • Skittal Mantis Shrimp (#2)
  • Malzone’s Black Death (black/purple #1/0)
  • Simon’s HoverCrab (green #1)
  • Clousergreen and White (#2)
  • Clouserbrown and White (#2)

Biscayne National Park Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and guide services that can provide an update on current fishing conditions in and around Biscayne National Park. A few to check out are listed below.

Biscayne National Park Fishing Regulations

  • Fishing in Biscayne National Park does require a Florida State Fishing License for anyone over the age of 16. Licenses are issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • Only non-offset hooks and circle hooks are permitted
  • Anglers must have a dehooking tool in their possession while fishing
  • Bonefish are C&R only
  • Spotted Seatrout Limit 5 per day per angler
  • Permit is 2 per day per angler
  • Tarpon limit is 1 per angler per year
  • Red drum (redfish) limit is 2 per angler per day, off water possession limit is 6
  • Black drum limit is 5 per angler per day (must be longer than 14” and not more than 24”)

Trip Planning Tips

Flights to Miami are generally inexpensive, though there are many local and regional airports in and around the Miami-Dade area with cheap flights available if you don’t mind the car rental and drive.

As accommodations go, you have plenty of choices. There are plenty of budget motels and hotels all around the park itself right down to the beaches of Biscayne Bay.

If you are feeling fancy, you can even book a stay at the skyscraper resorts in Miami and be a quick boat ride from the best fishing spots in the park.

Several of the major hotels there even have jetties and marinas that lead right up to the hotel entrance.

For those who prefer to travel by RV or prefer to rent one after flying in, there are plenty of RV parks in the area to choose from as well.

As always, be sure to check for local private listed vacation rentals or timeshares in the area. Sometimes you can score a bargain on your stay that puts you right next to the prime fishing spot of your choice.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in America and Best Fly Fishing in Florida

Feature image by Catholic 85