Complete Guide to Florida Fishing in 2022

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Anglers have options when it comes to Florida fishing. Freshwater or saltwater? Inshore or Offshore? Day or evening? Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast? You need the right information to plan your next fishing adventure — and that’s where this complete guide will come in handy.

Florida just might be the fishing capital of the country. Why? The Sunshine State has more than 2,276 miles of shoreline, 10,500 miles of rivers, and more than 7,700 lakes just waiting to be fished. With hundreds of species of fish to catch, casting off in Florida is a great idea for locals and visitors alike.

Let’s look into the details about Florida fishing to give you the information you need to plan a day enjoying the water. No matter whether you’re fishing for sport or for dinner, you’ll find that fishing in Florida makes for a great way to enjoy the Sunshine State.

What Makes Florida Fishing Great

What Makes Florida Fishing Great?

Florida fishing is among the best in the world thanks to a number of factors. Diversity in habitats and species, perfect weather for casting off year-round, and a unique tourism-focused economy mean that people from around the country enjoy fishing in Florida.

Another thing that makes Florida fishing great is the options you’ll find. Inshore or offshore? Freshwater or saltwater? Sportfishing or fishing for dinner? Charter or from a pier? Regardless of your preferences, you’ll likely find Florida fishing fun and enjoyable.

There are more than 70 saltwater species and more than 200 freshwater species to catch in Florida. Let’s look at some of the most common fish you’ll find in the waters around the Sunshine State.

Saltwater Fishing vs Freshwater Fishing

You have options when fishing in Florida. Inshore and offshore fishing present opportunities to reel in saltwater fish; lakes and rivers make the catch of the day freshwater fish.

Is saltwater fishing better than freshwater fishing? It all depends on your personal preference. Saltwater fishing often comes with an adrenaline rush, as these fish are known for their fights. Freshwater fishing, on the other hand, is known for being more laid back with easier catches.

This means that saltwater fishing might be best left for experienced anglers. Freshwater fishing might be perfect for a first-timer. It all boils down to your personal preferences and what you most enjoy about being on the water.

What are the Most Common Fish in Florida

What are the Most Common Fish in Florida?

The fish in Florida are varied and diverse, just like the state’s waters. However, you’ll find a few common species across the state.

Common Freshwater Fish in Florida

Florida is home to more than 7,700 lakes and 10,500 miles of rivers. This means that it’s easy to find freshwater fishing across the state. In fact, every single county in Florida has a fishable lake or river, which means you’ll find a place to cast off no matter where you live or are visiting.

Some of the most common freshwater fish in Florida include:

  • Largemouth Bass: This gamefish thrives in Florida. You’ll find Largemouth Bass in lakes across the state, but one of the best places to catch them is Lake Okeechobee, which is divided between 5 South Florida counties. The massive lake takes up parts of  Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach, and Hendry counties.
  • Butterfly Peacock Bass: Interestingly enough, Butterfly Peacock Bass aren’t even bass. These large fish belong to the genus Cichlid. They aren’t native to Florida and originally came from the Amazon, but today you’ll find them in the canals of Miami-Dade County. 
  • Snook: Snook are common gamefish around the Gulf Coast. They thrive in both brackish and saltwater, which means you’ll find them off the coast, too. Reeling in a snook can be a challenge, as these fish are known to put up a fight. Learn more about snook fishing in Southwest Florida.
  • Cichlids: Cichlids are a family of non-native freshwater fish introduced to Florida by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are about two dozen species of Cichlids in Florida freshwaters. Common varieties include Oscar, Black Acara, and the Butterfly Peacock Bass mentioned above.
  • Crappie: Fishing Florida’s lakes from late fall to early spring means you’ll likely reel in crappie. These fish can be found across the state. Some of the best places to catch crappie include Orange Lake (located between Ocala and Gainesville), Lake Monroe (near Sanford), and Lake Talquin (near Tallahassee). You’ll also find them further south in lakes near Sebring.
  • Bowfin: Bowfin fish are common statewide in Florida. You’ll find them in lakes, rivers, and canals. Bowfin can grow quite large. The state record is 19 lbs. They are commonly caught by bass anglers.

Common Saltwater Fish in Florida

Florida has more than 2,200 miles of shoreline. The panhandle, Gulf Coast, and Atlantic Coast are full of beaches and piers perfect for saltwater fishing

A few of the common saltwater fish to catch in Florida include:

  • Sea Trout: You’ll find the Spotted Sea Trout in salt waters all across the state. Different regions of the state have different catch limits, so it’s wise to check local regulations before casting off for trout. Sea Trout aren’t just fun to catch — they’re also great for dinner, too.
  • Snook: Seeking to hook a snook? You’ll find the fish in almost all of Florida’s saltwater. Snook are known to put up a fight and are popular gamefish for this reason. They’re also a popular fish to serve on the dinner table. Snook is known for being not as delicate as a Sea Trout, but not as dense as a swordfish. They are best eaten within a few hours of being caught.
  • Redfish: A member of the drum family, Florida Redfish are found in all of the Sunshine State’s salt waters. This means you’ll find them in the panhandle, in the Gulf of Mexico, and up the Atlantic Coast. Like Snook, Redfish are known for putting up a fight when caught. In fact, anglers are known to commonly spend more than half an hour reeling in a Redfish.
  • Shark: There are a lot of rules to follow when it comes to shark fishing in Florida, but it can also be a lot of fun to reel in a toothy target. Sharks can be caught and released in Florida. Species to catch include Bonnethead Sharks, Blacktip Sharks, Bull Sharks, and Mako Sharks. Sharks come close to the shore, which means you might find them when fishing from a beach or pier.
  • Snapper: Snappers are considered saltwater panfish. You’ll find them on grass flats and mangrove shorelines. Natural bait is best for catching Snapper; shrimp is a common choice. Snappers are also known for being quite tasty. Like other fish, you’ll want to cook and enjoy your Snapper within a few hours of reeling it in.
  • Flounder: You’ll find flounder in brackish water and saltwater. These fish love to hide, so they can be tricky to catch. You can fish for flounder in inlets, around docks, and near tidal creeks and rivers emptying into saltwater. 

Common Off-Shore Fish in Florida

Common Off-Shore Fish in Florida

Hiring a charter or renting a boat will give you access to Florida’s off-shore fish. These diverse species include both gamefish that can be a blast to reel in and fish that make for good eating on the dinner table.

A few of the common off-shore fish you’ll find in Florida’s waters include:

  • Tarpon: Florida is famous for Tarpon fishing. These big fish can be caught in Gulf and Atlantic waters in the spring months, usually between March and June. Southwest Florida is a great place to catch Tarpon,  as they prefer water temperatures over 75 degrees. Tarpon is gamefish and not eating fish. There are a few regulations around angling Tarpon in Florida, so it is important to be aware of the rules before you cast off.
  • Red Snapper: Not only can you catch Snapper on-shore from piers and beaches, but you’ll also find these tasty fish biting offshore. The Panhandle is a common place to catch Red Snapper in Florida, but you’ll find the in Gulf and Atlantic waters further south, as well. 
  • Black Grouper: Looking for a big catch? Black Grouper are frisky fishes that commonly exceed 50 lbs. The world record  Black Grouper catch was 124 lbs, so these fishes can be human-sized. You’ll find them in the deep waters of the Gulf and the Atlantic. You’ll find them in South Florida and all the way down to the Bahamas. Black Grouper is best caught with live bait.
  • Gag Grouper: Gap Grouper is a bit smaller than Black Grouper, but still make for an admirable catch. These fishes can be up to 50 lbs but commonly hover around 25 lbs. The best baits for Gag Grouper include live fish or whole cut bait. You’ll also need heavy tackled to reel in these goliaths.
  • Scamp Grouper: If you’re looking to catch a great dinner, consider angling for Gag Groupers. These Florida fishes are known for being the best-tasting of all the groupers. They are most abundant in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico.
  • Red Grouper: Heading out on an off-shore fishing charter? Red Grouper is a common catch. These deep-sea dwellers prefer to spend their time near the bottom and will eat almost anything that comes their way. They prefer to “ambush” bait, which means they aren’t really in it for the chase. However, that doesn’t mean reeling in a Red Grouper is easy. These large fishes are known to put up a fight!
  • Cobia: Anglers catch Cobia year-round in Florida. You’ll find these fishes in the southern part of the state during the cooler months and in the northern part of the Sunshine State during warmer weather. These migratory fish are known for being particularly delicious. They travel in small schools, often with large ray counterparts. Eels and croakers make great live bait when catching Cobia.

What Other Fish Can I Catch in Florida?

The list above might seem exhaustive, but there are other fishes to catch in Florida, too.  

Fifteen other common Florida fishes include:

  1. Mullet
  2. Sailfish
  3. Alligator Gar
  4. American Shad
  5. Yellow Perch
  6. Sunfishes
  7. Ballyhoo
  8. Bluefish
  9. Bonefish
  10. Bonito (also known as False Tuna)
  11. Bumper
  12. Catfish
  13. Croaker
  14. Mahi Mahi
  15. Kingfish

With so many fish to catch, you might be excited about casting off now. Let’s look at some of the best places to fish in Florida.

Top 10 Florida Fishing Spots

Top 10 Florida Fishing Spots

With so much fishable water, Florida just might be the fishing capital of the world. The state’s lakes, rivers, and coast mean you can catch all kinds of fish here. You can’t go wrong when choosing a Florida fishing destination.

Let’s look at the top 10 Florida fishing sports.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is a historic town right on the Intercoastal Waterway. You’ll find Redfish, Trout, and Flounder when fishing inshore here. Offshore fishes include Snapper, Grouper, King Mackeral, and sharks.

Fort Myers

Fort Myers, in the southwest part of the state, is a world-class fishing destination for many reasons. Port Sanibel Marina, located in Fort Myers, is the perfect place to plan a day or two of fishing. Here you’ll find boat rentals and offshore charters, as well as great amenities. 

Common fish to catch in the waters off Fort Myers include Snook, Redfish, and Tarpon. Learn more about fishing in Fort Myers.

Lake Okeechobee

Spawning season, between November and June, is the best time of year to go fishing on Lake Okeechobee. This massive lake, located in South Florida is a great destination for catching Largemouth Bass.

Sarasota

Inshore fishing is popular in Sarasota as the city just south of Tampa Bay is home to a vast network of sandbars, flats, and seagrass meadows. Sight casting and fly fishing are popular in these waters.

You might catch Redfish, Sea Trout, Tarpon, and Snook in Sarasota.

Naples

Another Southwest Florida fishing destination, Naples is known for turquoise waters and pristine beaches. Fishing is a family-friendly activity that can be enjoyed year-round in Naples. Inland canal fishing, backcountry fishing, inshore fishing, and offshore fishing are all popular in Naples.

Naples

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is a great destination for Florida fishing in the panhandle. You’ll find easy access to shallow flats as well as seemingly endless sandy beaches in Panama City. 

No matter whether you want to reel in an inshore catch with the kids or cast off from an offshore charter, you’ll find great fishing in PCB.

Cape Coral

With more than a dozen places to cast off, Cape Coral is another popular fishing destination. Here you’ll find shorelines, under-bridge, seawalls, piers, lake, and canal fishing, as well as offshore charters. This means Cape Coral has everything you need for angling.

Locals and visitors alike love fishing in Cape Coral. Have you ever considered fishing a date night activity? Learn more about romantic fishing spots in Southwest Florida.

Ocala National Forest

Fishing in a forest? Believe it or not, the Ocala National Forest is home to some of the best river and lake fishing in Florida. The region has many spring-fed bodies of water, making it perfect for catching all kinds of freshwater fish. 

Lake George and Lake Kerr, both located in the forest, are known as Florida’s top lakes for Lunkers. 

St. Johns River

The St. Johns River is a major waterway in Florida. The river starts on the Atlantic Coast at Vero Beach, then winds through 12 Central Florida counties before ending near Jacksonville. 

There are 3 main basins for angling along the river. You’ll find Bass, Bluegill, Perch, and Crappie in these basins.

The Florida Keys

Fishing in the Florida Keys is unlink anything else. Here you can reel in all kinds of tropical fishes” Sailfish, Swordfish, Wahoo, and others are all waiting in the water to become the fresh catch of the day.

With so many great fishing destinations in Florida, it’s easy to see why the Sunshine State is known for so many great catches.

What Side of Florida Has Better Fishing?

There are great places to fish across Florida. But when it comes to Gulf of Mexico vs Atlantic fishing, you might be better off on the west side fishing in the Gulf.

Why is the Gulf Coast best for fishing? The waters are generally calm and flat, which means great conditions for casting off and reeling in your next great catch. The shoreline is great for anchoring your boat and enjoying a day of peaceful fishing.

The Gulf Coast also experiences greater temperature changes than the Atlantic. This means you’ll find wider varieties of seasonal fish. Colder months mean the water temperature can reach the low 60s, in warmer months it might reach 90 degrees. These fluctuations attract all kinds of fish.

Another winning factor for Florida’s West Coast is the crystal clear waters. Imagine looking below and seeing the schools swim through the aqua seas. Spring and fall are the best seasons for water clarity on the Gulf Coast.

The West Coast is also home to great fishing destinations. Panama City Beach in the Panhandle, Ceder Key on the Nature Coast, Tampa Bay, Fort Myers, Naples, and other top Florida fishing spots are dotted along the state’s West Coast.

Now that you know where to fish, let’s think about when to fish. 

What is the Best Month to Fish in Florida?

Fishing in Florida is great year-round. However, some of the state’s expert anglers agree that the best months for fishing here lie between April and September. Most Florida game fish experience their peak season during these spring and summer months.

In Southwest Florida, like Fort Myers where Port Sanibel Marina is located, you might find the best fishing in the summer when many of the migratory species have made their way home. You can catch Tarpon, Grouper, and other fishes in these waters during this popular fishing season.

When is the Best Time of Day to Fish in Florida

When is the Best Time of Day to Fish in Florida?

Most anglers believe that the best time of day to fish in Florida is between the early morning hours, from dawn to two hours after sunrise. Not one to rise and shine? You’ll also find great Florida fishing from about 2 hours before dusk to sunset.

Why are early morning and evening hours best for fishing? Fish are more active when light is reduced. 

What is the Best Weather for Fishing?

Even though Florida is known as the Sunshine State, the best weather for fishing is on a cloudy or overcast day. As noted above, fish or more active when light is reduced. When clouds filter sunlight, the water might be cooler and fish might be more active. 

Sunny days aren’t good for fishing because many fish head to deeper waters to avoid light and rising temperatures.

Is it Good to Fish in the Rain in Florida?

Many Florida anglers love fishing in the rain. The temperature drops and light is reduced, making great conditions for catching inshore and freshwater fish.

Keep in mind you might need special gear for rainy day fishing. Waterproof clothing is a must. You’ll also want to swap your lures for a scent-driven base, as the rain can make it harder for fish the see what’s dangling off your hook in the water.

However, you need to be careful when fishing in the rain. Florida showers are often accompanied by lightning. Learn more about boating and fishing in Florida’s lightning.

Cast Off with Port Sanibel Marina

What are Florida’s Fishing Regulations?

You need to follow Florida’s laws and regulations when you’re fishing in the Sunshine State. Florida has rules around different species of fish you can catch, licensing requirements and other rules you need to follow. 

There might be bag limits, size limits, varying regulations per region, and other fishing rules to follow. Keep reading for additional information about Florida’s fishing regulations.

What Florida Fishing Regulations Do I Need to Follow?

You need to be aware of Florida’s fishing regulations before you cast off. You’ll find that Florida’s fishing regulations can vary by species and location.

Florida Fishing Regulations by Species

Here are a few general regulations by species to keep in mind when you’re fishing in Southwest Florida:

  • Tarpon: While there is no size minimum for tarpon fishing in Florida, there is a maximum. All tarpon over 40-inches needs to remain in the water. If you’re seeking a state or world-record-sized tarpon, you can get around this rule with a tarpon tag.
  • Snook: Some snook fishing regulations vary by location. The most up-to-date information is available from the FWC. Otherwise, it is important to know that snook fishing in Florida is purely recreational, as no commercial harvest or sale of snook is permitted.
  • Red Drum: Some red drum fishing regulations vary by region within Florida. However, many of these regions have a few rules in common. The red drum must be between 18 and 27-inches for harvest. In Florida’s South Zone, which includes the waters around Port Sanibel Marina, you’re allowed to catch 1 fish per day with no more than 8 fish on your vessel.
  • Sharks: Florida regulations allow you to catch 1 shark per day. The species of harvestable sharks are categorized into 3 groups, each with different size allowances. All sharks must remain whole until your vessel has landed.
  • Cobia: According to Florida fishing regulations, cobia caught in the Gulf of Mexico must be at least 33-inches long. However, if you’ve gone offshore into federal waters, the cobia you catch must be 36-inches long. You can catch fish per day or 2 per vessel. 
  • Spotted Seatrout: In Southwest Florida, you may catch up to 3 spotted sea trouts per harvester. The fish must be between 15-inches and 19-inches, but there are some workarounds for larger fish. For example, you may possess 1 fish over 19 inches per vessel.

For a complete list of regulations by species, including other unregulated species, visit the FWC’s recreational fishing regulation page.

Do I Need a License to Fish in Florida

Do I Need a License to Fish in Florida?

Yes, you’ll need a license to fish in Florida. There are two kinds of Florida fishing licenses: saltwater and freshwater. You’ll also find that combination fishing and hunting licenses are available to Florida residents, too. 

Let’s look at the differences between each type of license.

Florida Saltwater Fishing License

You have options when it comes to a Florida saltwater fishing license. The license you select should apply to your angling goals and what you want to catch when you’re casting off. 

You’ll find that Florida offers:

  • Saltwater Fishing License: This kind of license allows holders to catch any species of prohibited saltwater fish in state and federal waters around Florida. Residents can pay $17 for an annual license. Non-resident annual, 5-day, and 3-day licenses are also available.
  • Saltwater Shoreline Only Fishing License: This license is available at no cost, but can only be used when fishing from the shoreline or a structure attached to the shore.

Florida Freshwater Fishing License

Freshwater fishing licenses are a little simpler. You’ll find that Florida offers:

  • Freshwater Fishing License: This kind of license covers all fishing in lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, and other bodies of fresh water in Florida. Residents can pay $17 for an annual freshwater license. Non-residents also have options, as they can choose to get an annual freshwater fishing license, 5-day, or 3-day license as well.

Combination Licenses

If you’re a Florida resident who loves outdoor sports, you might opt for a combination license that covers both hunting and fishing.

  • Fishing and Hunting Combination License: This combined fishing and hunting license can save sportsmen and women who participate in both fishing and hunting in Florida a little money. It is only available to residents and costs $48 per year for a license that covers hunting, freshwater fishing, and saltwater fishing.
  • Gold Sportsman License: The Gold Sportsman License is Florida’s most inclusive hunting and fishing license. It covers all the licenses you’ll need to fish or hunt any animal in the state. This inclusive license covers saltwater and freshwater fishing, hunting, archery, muzzle-loading gun, crossbow, deer, turkey, waterfowl, snook, and even lobster. It is available to Florida residents for $100 a year.
  • Military Sportsman License: With all the benefits of the Gold Sportsman License, the Military Sportsman License is available to current and retired members of the U.S. military. Military identification is required to obtain this license. The annual fee is just $20.

Do Florida Visitors Need a Fishing License?

According to Florida fishing regulations, all non-residents over age 16 need to have a Sunshine State fishing license before they cast off. There are no states with reciprocal licenses. This means that a Florida fishing license is required no matter where you’re visiting from. 

Even if you plan to just catch and release fish, a license is still required. You can learn more about visitors’ licenses from the FWC.

Do Florida Visitors Need a Fishing License

How Do I Get a Fishing License in Florida?

It’s easy to get a fishing license in the Sunshine State. Florida makes the process simple by offering residents and visitors 4 simple ways to obtain a fishing license.

To get a fishing license in Florida, you can:

  • Go online: Click over to GoOutdoorsFlorida.com and complete the required forms and make payment online.
  • Go in person: Visit a tax collector’s office near you.
  • There’s an app for that: The Fish|Hunt FL app, available for both Apple and Android devices, lets you easily apply for and pay for a Florida fishing license from the palm of your hand.
  • Over the phone: Call 888-FISH-FLORIDA  to get a Florida fishing license over the phone.

License-Free Fishing in Florida

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of obtaining a fishing license? Florida offers a license-free fishing day. This allows unlicensed anglers to cast off in saltwater without a state fishing license in public bodies of water. It’s the only chance you’ll have all year to cast off without the proper permits — unless you book a fishing charter. 

When are Licenses Free Fishing Days in 2022?

When are Florida’s license-free fishing days? In 2022, license-free saltwater fishing days are:

  • First consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June, this year June 5 and 6, 2022.
  • First Saturday in September, this year September 3, 2022.
  • Saturday following Thanksgiving, this year November 26, 2022.

Who is Exempt from Florida Fishing License?

Almost everyone needs a Florida fishing license before casting off in the Sunshine State. The only group exempt from holding a Florida fishing license is youth anglers under age 16. 

Seniors also get a pass. While they still need a license to fish in Florida, residents over in their golden years can obtain a 65+ hunting and fishing license for no cost. This free license covers freshwater and saltwater fishing, as well as a basic hunting permit. To obtain the free license, seniors need to show valid Florida identification, like a driver’s license, to prove their age and residency status.

What is the Best Bait for Fishing in Florida

What is the Best Bait for Fishing in Florida?

Bringing in the best catch means you’ll need the best bait. According to J.D.Miner, Port Sanibel Marina’s manager, the best bait types for Florida saltwater anglers include both live, frozen and artificial baits.

“For live bait, the best kinds are shrimp and whitebait,” Mr. Miner said. “When it comes to frozen bait squid, pinfish, and mullet are great choices. Soft plastic jigs are good artificial bait.”

Other bait choices when fishing in Florida’s salt waters can include shiners and sand fleas. 

Freshwater anglers might choose from leeches, dough balls, and insects.

What is a Fishing Charter?

If you want to take all the hassle out of your Southwest Florida fishing experience, consider booking a fishing charter. 

A fishing charter is a boat excursion with a professional captain. Fishing charters are all-inclusive, which means everything from your license to the gear you’ll use on the excursion is covered by the captain and the vessel. All you need to do is show up with sunscreen and snacks!

Mr. Miner, Port Sanibel Marina manager, encourages both first-time fishing newbies and experienced pros alike to consider booking a fishing charter for their next adventures. 

“A fishing charter includes everything you need for a great day on the water,” he said. “The license, tackle, rod, reel, bait, and everything you need is all included.”

Miner went on to say that the fishing boat’s captain will provide the best bait for what’s in season and what’s biting. You’re practically guaranteed to make a great catch with all the right tools and accessories included!

Even with all the important items covered, there are still a few things you should know before booking a charter. Learn more about fishing charters at Port Sanibel Marina.

What’s the Difference Between Inshore and Offshore Fishing?

Fishing in Florida comes with lots of options. If you’re opting for a chartered fishing trip, you’ll need to decide if you want an inshore or offshore trip.

What’s the difference between inshore and offshore fishing? While definitions can vary from angler to angler and charter to charter, the general rule of thumb is that inshore fishing is in water less than 30-meters deep. Offshore fishing, on the other hand, is deep sea fishing in waters deeper than 30 meters. 

Most inshore charter fishing trips only go out 15 miles or so. Offshore fishing trips can go out miles and miles, often into federal waters.

The fish you can catch on an inshore trip also vary from those you can catch on an offshore chartered trip. For example, snapper, shark, and snook are common inshore fish, while you might find larger table-fare fish like red or yellow snapper further out offshore. 

Can I Eat What I Catch Offshore?

Offshore fishing brings in some of the most delicious fish you’ll find in the sea. If you’re ready to take your catch from charter to plate, you’re in luck. There are quite a few Southwest Florida restaurants that will cook your catch and let you enjoy your delicious efforts.

According to Miner, the Lighthouse Waterfront Restaurant at Port Sanibel Marina is one of the best places to turn your fresh catch into a great dinner. They’ll gut, filet, and prepare your fish right from the boat. All you have to do is catch the fish and pick the side dishes.

How Long are Chartered Fishing Trips?

According to Mr. Miner, most chartered fishing trips booked out of Port Sanibel Marina are at least four hours long. However, longer trips are an option if you want more time on the water — and you might even get a discount if you choose a longer trip.

“The normal chartered fishing trip is 4 hours, but some people like going out for 5 or 6 or even up to 8 hours,” Miner said. 

What is the Best Time of Year to Book a Chartered Fishing Trip?

You can book a fishing charter from Port Sanibel Marina year-round. Florida has great fishing in every season, which means you’re sure to bring home a great catch no matter when you head out to sea.

But what is the most popular time of year to go out on a fishing charter in Southwest Florida? The answer is simple: tarpon season. 

“Southwest Florida is known worldwide for tarpon fishing,” Miner said. And when does the tarpon season run? You can catch these big, powerful fish in Southwest Florida’s Gulf waters from mid-March until mid-June, according to Miner. 

What is the Best Time of Year to Book a Chartered Fishing Trip

How Do I Book a Florida Fishing Charter?

Booking a fishing charter through Port Sanibel Marina is an easy process. All it takes is a phone call or a visit to the on-site Ship Store if you’re in Fort Myers. To book over the phone call (239) 437-1660 or find the Ship Store at the marina at 14341 Port Comfort Road in Fort Myers.

How Much Do Fishing Charters Cost in Florida?

There are several kinds of fishing charters available through Port Sanibel Marina and the cost depends on the services you select. However, you can count on spending about $150 per hour on a fishing charter. 

Keep in mind that a charter includes all the licenses, bait, and equipment you need for a great day of fishing, as well as expert guidance from an experienced captain. With everything considered, a fishing charter is a great value for any angler who wants to enjoy the water and bring in a great catch.

What Kind of Fishing Charters Does Port Sanibel Marina Offer?

You’ll find all kinds of fishing charters at Port Sanibel Marina.

A few of the options include:

  • Back Bay and Near Shore Fishing Charters
  • Offshore Wreck and Reef Fishing Charters
  • Tarpon Fishing Charters (in season)
  • Shark Fishing (in season)
  • Fishing and Shelling Eco-tour Charters
  • Shelling Charters
  • Sunset Charters
  • And more

Some of Port Sanibel Marina’s charters even include lunch. With so many choices, it’s easy to find a chartered expedition that everyone in your party will enjoy.

How To Plan a Florida Fishing Vacation

Planning a Florida fishing vacation doesn’t have to be a hassle. Let’s look at a few of the steps you’ll need to take to make your dream fishing trip a reality.

Determine What You’d Like to Catch and Reserve a Charter

Booking a fishing charter is one step in planning a Florida fishing vacation. And according to the pros, it’s the most important.

“If I were planning a fishing vacation, I’d start by figuring out what I’d like to catch and when it’s in season,” Miner said. “That means that if I want to catch Southwest Florida’s famous tarpon, I’d plan for a trip in the spring. Then I’d book my fishing charter and plan the rest around that.”

Find the Perfect Vacation Rental

After the charter is reserved, you can get into the nitty-gritty of vacation planning. Many people visiting Southwest Florida on fishing vacations choose to rent a vacation home for the duration of the trip rather than hotel rooms. 

Royal Shell vacation rentals are a top choice in Southwest Florida. If you’re planning a fishing trip for all the boys, you might choose to rent one of their expansive vacation homes so everyone can get their own room and enjoy privacy. Or, if it’s just the two of you, you might opt for a cozy waterfront condo with breathtaking ocean views.

Book Your Flight or Plan Your Road Trip

It’s easy to get to Southwest Florida. If you’re driving, you’ll find Fort Myers right off I-75, a major artery connecting the country. If you’re flying, you’ll find that the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is easy to navigate. 

Explore Other Things to Do in the Area

While your fishing charter is the highlight of the trip, you’ll find tons of other things to do in Southwest Florida to let you savor the local flavor and make the most of your time in the area. You might enjoy a trip to the botanical gardens in Fort Myers, enjoy peddling a bike down Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island, and enjoy taking in many other of the area’s rich amenities.

How To Plan a Florida Fishing Vacation

What Do I Need to Take on a Fishing Vacation?

A chartered fishing trip from Port Sanibel Marina includes everything you need for a great day of fishing. The license, tackler, rod, real, bait, and all other needs are included. This means that packing for a fishing vacation is simple.

Things to take on a fishing vacation include:

  • Clothing: Your fishing vacation wardrobe should include essentials like sunglasses, a hat, UPF or sun protection clothing, rain gear, deck shoes, and definitely sunscreen. 
  • Outdoor essentials: Since you’ll be spending time outside, you might need a few outdoor essentials like bug spray.
  • A good multi-tool: Even though the boat captain on your fishing charter will provide all the right gear, a good multi-tool can be useful to have at the ready. These versatile tools come in handy in all kinds of situations.
  • A waterproof bag: You’ll want to take your phone on the boat to capture memories and post pictures of your catch online for bragging rights. You’ll want to have a waterproof bag on hand to prevent water damage to your device.

Cast Off with Port Sanibel Marina

Southwest Florida is a true destination for Florida fishing. With so many options for inshore and charters for offshore fishing, you’ll find the Fort Myers area a perfect place for your next angling adventure.

Make a visit to Port Sanibel Marina to cast off and have fun. Port Sanibel Marina has a fleet of fishing boats available for rent, as well as charter services with guides ready to take you out to sea.