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The Marquesas Keys

West of Key West, Florida - about thirty miles - there is a small a group of islands known as the Marquesas Keys. This diamond in the rough can be found, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico and fishing experiences reach toward the heavens.

The Marquesas Keys - as defined in the science of geology - are known as an atoll. Which means, a group of barrier Islands formed in a circle with a natural harbor in the center. A fishing guide might define the Marquesas as a place he saw in a dream once.

This region of islands and its surrounding water are protected under a marine sanctuary law. Therefore, the island, the beaches and the fishing grounds, are pristine and loaded with an abundance of bird life, turtles, stingrays, and yes, the “Big Three”, tarpon, permit and bonefish.

History in the Marquesas

As rich in history as wildlife, the Marquesas have been a recurring focal point of the maritime experience. Just off the western shores of the Marquesas, the Spanish galleon, The Atocha, had been torn to shreds, and pulled beneath the sea in about thirty feet of water in an area known as the “the quick sands”. The Atocha, one of several in the Spanish treasure fleet that were lost to a hurricane, just two days after leaving Havana, Cuba in 1622. These galleons loaded with silver, gold and emeralds where on the way to Spain before they where taken by the sea.

Years later, the Marquesas became the base camp for The Spaniards to salvage there lost treasure, however, the local Natives ran them off. Then nearly 250 years later, Mel Fischer - a famous salvage operator - located the Atocha and salvaged what was left of the riches. There is much speculation as to the value of the treasure lost when the Atocha sank. The wreckage was found in thirty feet of water; thus, making is easy for natives to free dive the wreck. The grand value of this wreck may never be known, however, the Atocha came to rest in the Jewel of the Keys, The Marquesas.

Fishing the Marquesas

The flats fishing in the Marquesas is like no other you've ever experienced. Travel west of Key West across the Boca Grande Channel and you'll find yourself in the Marquesas, a fishing Paradise.

The diversity of the seascape and the surrounding flats offer you and the guide endless options. From sand flats to grass flats, skinny water, to deep water, islands or no islands you can have a great variety of flats fishing. This diversity enables you to find a place to fish in almost any weather conditions.

These are the fish one might encounter on a fishing experience in the Marquesas: tarpon, permit, bonefish, shark, barracuda, snook, redfish and jack crevalle. As a guide, I will help you choose your fish, choose your tide, and catch your dream.

Fly Fishing the Marquesas

Whether we are fishing tailing permit or laid up tarpon, we can find some targets to make a double haul presentation to. In the Marquesas, we can find a spot out of the wind or maybe a little better sun angle for visibility, or go for the grand slam. The list of reasons to fly fish the Marquesas is long, however, the main goal is to find fish. If the fish are there I will find them and give you the best shot possible - that is my promise to you as your guide.


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Capt. Lenny Leonard
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