Keys Flats Fishing: Welcome!

Welcome to Key West, a truly year-round and world class fishing destination. Whether you came here for the party on Duval Street or to relax with friends and family, one thing is for sure: A trip to the Back Country of Key West to catch some of the most sought after fish the ocean has to offer should not be missed.


What is the Back Country?

Back country fishing in Key WestThis area to the North of Key West is known as The Great White Heron and Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Many visitors to Key West never get to experience this area that still looks today like it did hundreds of years ago. In the Back Country you are surrounded by living mangrove islands, beautiful white sand flats only inches deep and calm, narrow channels all filled with amazing wildlife.

» Schedule a charter with Captain John today! «


Your guide: Capt. John J. Smouse

Keys Flats Guide Captain John J. SmouseUpon graduating from the University of Georgia, Captain John settled in Key West and has been guiding his customers to trophy fish since 1997. As the owner and operator of the Shadow Caster he insists on delivering a personalized fishing adventure. With Captain John you can expect Professionalism, Preparation and Performance, qualities that Capt. John has learned from the best in the business and keys to his continued success.

On the Shadow Caster you can rest assured that Captain John will always have a well-thought-out fishing plan and the appropriate bait and tackle to handle any situation. Whether you are the seasoned angler or the beginning fisherman, Shadow Caster is about catching fish and enjoying what makes the Florida Keys such a great place.


Recent letter from longtime Customer

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This is why I love what I do everyday:

“One thing Key West has in abundance is flats fishing guides. Here’s why I fish with John:

The short of it is: John does whatever he can to make your experience outstanding. First, John finds out what you want to do. Then he customizes your trip to meet your desires and your skill level. If you don’t know what you want, or how good you are, John will design a trip to give you a broad experience, and adjust the day as conditions and ability come clear.

Sure, John is experienced, knowledgeable and always ready early. He uses the best bait and his tackle is in pristine condition. You’d think that is a “given” for a professional fishing captain - but believe me, it is not.

My son wanted to catch barracuda. He has serious hip problems. John set up a cushioned seat on the bow - my son caught 15 ‘cudas in one day. My wife wanted to catch her first fish in the sea, and “bend a rod”. She caught eight (I think) redfish, all 24 inches plus, and a few big Jacks and a few ‘cudas. Yes, I’ve caught Tarpon - lots of them - plus Permit and ‘cudas in February and March. Even a 40+ pound Jewfish. We killed nothing - John’s preference, always.

But the key to John is this: when my wife threw her lure into the mangroves, Before she could say “oh no!”, she had a baited rod in her hand and John was pointing out fish. When I jumped a Tarpon off, John had another rod in my hand before I could say my version of “oh no!”. John runs around the boat to make sure you fish continuously. Never criticizes or rales on the client. This, too, should be a “given”, but believe me, it’s not. It’s fun to watch John coreograph the dance when both fishermen hook up at the same time. His focus is on your experience - many other guides simply don’t get this.

My wife sums up John with a simple “John is a gentleman”. Yes, he is.

Al Schultz”

A great start to 2013

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Happy New Year. We are off to a great start to 2013. The weather has been fantastic and the fishing is right on track for our winter action style fishing. There have been huge schools of Jacks crashing bait all along the edges of the flats. We have been having a blast throwing top water lures into the melee and watching as multiple fish actually fight over the lure.
The Barracudas pictured above were bonus fish mixed in with the feeding frenzy. Cudas really provide some blistering runs and spectacular leaps. These cudas love to scour the flats during the winter months.
Shark fishing has been awesome as well. This time of year it is all about BlackTips and Spinner Sharks. Some of them have been pushing the 100lb mark!!!
Also the basins are providing some action for numbers. Here we having been catching some of the smaller jacks, redfish, sea trout, ladyfish, pompano, and of course there are sharks around those schools waiting for an easy meal.
Give Capt John a call @ 305.587.7669 to book your fishing adventure for this year!!!!

Holiday Season in Key West

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I hope everyone had a Wonderful Thanksgiving!! Over the holiday Key West was hit with some heavy winds. We were having sustained winds of 20+ MPH. But that hasn’t slowed us down here at ShadowCaster Charters, yet another great thing about fishing the back country waters of Key West. There are always places to hid and get out of the wind and on the Fish.
We have been having some great success with the trout, jacks, ladyfish and some really Big sharks. The barracuda fishing is gearing up on the flats and this will be a target species throughout the winter months. They are a complete blast in shallow water on light tackle.
I can also report that the wind has laid down to a beautiful 10MPH and the skies are blue. The fishing should remain stellar throughout the month, so give Capt John a call @ 305.587.7669 to take get out on the water and take advantage of this great weather and awesome fishery!!

Winter Time Fishing

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Our first Cold Front has come through the fabulous Florida Keys and it has brought some cooler temps. With the wind shifting to the East and NorthEast the water is cooling down and we are starting our Fall and Winter fishing.

Some of the species we will target throughout the coming months are Jacks, SeaTrout, Redfish, Pompano, ladyfish, Sharks and Barracudas. Yesterday we had a blast targeting all these species with light tackle. This type of fishing is for all skill levels and it is not uncommon to hook and catch dozens of fish. You just never know what the species will be on any given cast.

Permit Fishing will remain a great option throughout October in between these windy cold fronts.

Call Capt John @ 305 587 7669 to get off the island and really enjoy what makes Key West such a great place.

Sept. 2012

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September is a great month to fish here in Key West. Above are just a few of the fish we caught over the Labor Day Weekend. Permit fishing is great this time of year, with the calm winds and the bright skies. If you are patient enough to put your time in and do the hunting, chances are you are going to be rewarded with some great shots at these elusive gamefish. People often ask me “What is your favorite fish?” Well my answer without question is Permit. When the conditions are right, it is a great species to target.

Sharks are also all over the flats right now and are a blast on spinning tackle. Lemons, Blacktips and Bull Sharks are going to be a great target through September.

ShadowCaster has some open dates in September, so call Capt John @ 305.587.7669 and Let’s Go Fishing!!!

August 2012

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Calm seas and Light winds of Summer are here. Sharks are going to be a main target throughout August and September. Lemons and Blacktips are going to be the most common with the occasional Bull and HammerHead making an appearance. Just last week, while fishing for Lemons a 10 Ft Hammer showed up and engulfed a 5lb Jack Crevalle and the fight was on.
There are going to be some “resident” Tarpon around in the early morning hours and we have been having some pretty good success with then this month.
Permit fishing is great during the warm months on Summer. This can be the time of year that you may encounter large schools of them feeding on the flats. A well placed live crab usually gets the job done.
Give me a call @ 305 587 7669 to get out on the water!!!

Summer 2012

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Summertime is here in Key West and the fishing is Great!!! Just yesterday we managed to hook 8 Tarpon and brought 5 boatside. What a Day!!! Tarpon are going to start their push northward throughout the month of July, so get in on the action now while these fish are still around.
Permit, Bonefish and Sharks are going to be a great target over the course of the summer. Above are just a few of the fish ShadowCaster has been catching this summer.
Give Capt John a call at 305.587.7669 or drop me an email to take advantage of some great Summertime Fun!!!!

April 2012 Fishing

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Tarpon Season is in full swing. Anglers aboard The ShadowCaster are catching multiple Tarpon!!! Above are some longtime customers showing their stuff. Jeff and Will’s last fish of the day stayed in the shallow water for a great pic!!! And check how Josh Bowman demonstrates the Perfect “bow”!!
There are a few days in April still open for some great fishing. Give me a call @ 305 587 7669 and we’ll get you hooked up.

Tarpon Fishing

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This week Key West and the Florida Keys has been bombarded with sustained 25-30+ MPH winds. That has kept boats at the dock doing maintenance. But the good news is the Tarpon are here. These high winds have been warm, so the water temps did not drop to drastically. Once the winds subside (this coming week) and the water has a day or two to clean up, the Tarpon fishing should resume.

Fishing for The SilverKing has been outstanding. Above are some pics from a 2 day trip with Capt. Tom “Shore Lunch” Mannas (of Peerless II Charters out of Lake Erie), Ryan “Web-designer Extraordinaire” Valentine (http://aetomic.com/) & Mike “Take Me Home” Krysiak. Over the two days we hooked 17 Tarpon and brought 13 to the boat. This was Tom’s first ever Tarpon fishing trip, he managed to boat a few and get some great pics. I think we spoiled him.

ShadowCaster has some open dates in April so give Capt John a call @ 305.587.7669 to get in on some great Key West fishing!!

February 2012

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February has been an exceptionally warm month here in KW (just like the rest of the country). For this reason we are seeing the migrating Tarpon showing up around the island very early. No one is complaining!!! Above are some shots of fish we have been catching the last few days. Tarpon fishing is getting into full swing with the Spring time weather. There are also lots of Big Jacks and Barracudas in the shallow water. Permit fishing has been really strong over the last few days and should just improve as the Spring approaches.
So we are looking forward to some great fishing conditions to come and to fish boat side. Give Capt John a call to take advantage of some of the best fishing of the year 305.587.7669

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