Florida’s spectacular beaches and sunny weather make it an ideal vacation spot for the whole family. It’s also a favorite destination for anglers due to the numerous freshwater and saltwater fishing spots. In addition to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, many lakes and rivers offer excellent fishing opportunities. However, we know that planning your future Florida fishing trips could get overwhelming with the abundance of information online. So, as part of our mission to make your life easier, we’ve thought of everything you need to know.
As a result of the beautiful year-round warm weather, you can enjoy Florida fishing trips at any time, whether you choose saltwater or freshwater. In addition, there are various fish to catch throughout the year in areas like Lake Okeechobee, including the well-known bass, one of the most popular catches in Florida. But did you know some species in Southwest Florida, such as tarpon and snook, are seasonal?
Knowing the best fishing spots and having the right equipment are essential to making your trip successful. By reading on, you will learn how to get the most out of your next Florida adventure.
What Do You Need for a Florida Fishing Trip?
The next time you plan a fishing trip, there are a few things you shouldn’t forget to bring with you, including your fishing license. In addition, for those who didn’t know, the state of Florida offers freshwater and saltwater licenses, and you can pick one according to your needs. If you’re visiting from another state, you can choose between an annual non-resident license or a three- or seven-day one. Also, locals can significantly benefit from the freshwater and saltwater combo license available only to Florida residents. Keep in mind that a license is not required if you go on a private charter.
The next step is to bring the right fishing gear with you. If you rent a charter boat, the company will provide everything for you, so you only need to bring yourself. However, if you are venturing solo, you will have to pack reels and rods, pliers, lures and bait, a bucket to store the fish, and a basic tool kit that could be beneficial in many scenarios. In addition, tackle boxes are a great way to keep everything tidy, organized, and easy to reach when you need something quickly. Furthermore, you may want to bring some additional items that will ease your life, including a fishing net so you can scoop up the catch easily, a knife to clean your fish right away, and, last but not least, a tape measure. After all, you want to measure and keep track of your prized captures.
Let’s not forget that to feel comfortable and have a great time fishing; you must wear appropriate fishing apparel and non-slip shoes. Also, protect your head and eyes from the sun’s strong rays by wearing a hat and sunglasses, and never forget the sunscreen. Some other things you may benefit from are seasickness medication in case you start feeling the waves, a first aid kit in case of emergency, antibacterial wipes, or hand sanitizer to wipe down some areas, including your hands before eating.
What Part of Florida Has the Best Fishing?
The beauty of Florida is that you can practically fish from anywhere. From the Keys to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast, the Sunshine State has abundant fish species. In addition, you have so many different locations and fishing styles to pick from — whether you want to try offshore fishing or inshore fishing, Florida’s got it all. Below is a list of our top 5 fishing and sightseeing spots.
Fort Myers Fishing
Fort Myers is one of the biggest and most visited cities in Southwest Florida. Cape Coral, Sanibel Island, and Captiva Island are all easily accessible from Fort Myers. Fishing opportunities are abundant, but if you’re specifically aiming to catch snook, trout, or redfish, there is no better place than the City of Palms. Some of the favorite local fishing spots are the Fort Myers Pier, the Sanibel Causeway, which is the connection between Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, and Punta Rassa. Still, many people rent boats or private charters to experience a deep sea fishing trip for themselves.
Fort Myers Attractions and Activities
Besides fishing, Fort Myers offers a variety of outdoor activities. You can go kayaking with manatees at Manatee Park, bird watching in the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, or you can walk on the beach and relax. Bring a chair and a few refreshments and soak in the gorgeous sunset views. In case you’re feeling more adventurous, try your golfing skills at Top Golf or go for a walk along the downtown area’s charming streets.
Naples is also another great fishing destination in Florida. You’ll see clear water there, making it a popular tourist spot for many anglers. In addition to the beautiful beaches, you can go backcountry fishing among the mangroves or explore the inland canals. You can find fish such as snook, permit, and tarpon in this area. For an opportunity to catch mahi mahi or tuna, you can book a fishing charter, or if you prefer to stay inland, you can visit the famous Naples pier, the neighboring Marco Island, or the Golden Gate Canal.
Naples Attractions and Activities
Aside from fishing and relaxing, Naples is also a great place to shop and dine, particularly along Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South. However, suppose you’re in the mood for something different. In that case, you can admire the beautiful scenery in the Naples Botanical Garden or get up close to the exotic animals at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. In addition, you can admire the natural beauty of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
As a popular destination for inshore fishing, Sarasota has plenty of flats, sand bars, and seagrass meadows, making it ideal for fly fishing. There are many types of fish to catch in Sarasota, but some of the more well-known ones are redfish, snook, and seatrout. A few of the local favorites are Big Sarasota Pass, Stephen’s Point, and Siesta Key.
Sarasota Attractions and Activities
Sarasota is a popular tourist destination due to its picture-perfect beaches located a short distance from downtown, world-class golf courses, and nature preserves where everyone can enjoy many outdoor activities. You can spend your day in a number of enjoyable ways, including visiting the Circus at the Ringling Museum, soaking up the sun in Siesta Key, or shopping and dining in Saint Armands Circle.
Miami is well known for its lively culture and vibrant nightlife, but did you know it’s also one of the best places to fish? If you are interested in deep sea fishing, plan a trip, admire the gorgeous skyline in the background, and be one of the lucky anglers to catch a sailfish, tuna, or mahi mahi. However, if you feel more comfortable fishing inshore, there are many places you can choose from, including South Pointe Park Pier, Haulover Inlet Jetty, and Oleta River State Park.
Miami Attractions and Activities
Miami ranks among the country’s top tourist destinations, offering a wide range of exciting attractions. You can stroll through South Beach and dip in the ocean to cool off, or perhaps check out the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens for the perfect selfie opportunity. On the other hand, maybe you prefer to enjoy a fancy cocktail with a view of the city skyline from a rooftop bar. In addition, you can cheer for the Miami Heat or Miami Dolphins if you enjoy sports. Again, there is no shortage of options.
Florida Keys Fishing
When you think of a true fishing paradise, what is the first place you think of? For many, it’s the 100-mile stretch of small islands known as the Florida Keys. The beauty of this place is that every island is unique, so whether you prefer a romantic setting or perhaps a more lively one, you’re sure to find something that suits you. To make the most of your fishing trip, go deep sea fishing for a chance to catch a big prize, such as marlin, sailfish, or tuna.
Florida Keys Attractions and Activities
Making the drive through each island while seeing the crystal blue water is an unforgettable experience. You can plan a romantic getaway in Islamorada or go snorkeling in Key Largo. Perhaps you’d like to stroll through Key West, where you can take a photo of the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.A sign or visit the iconic Ernest Hemingway Museum. You cannot run out of fun things to do in the Keys, but no matter what, you must try the world-famous key lime pie before leaving.
Does Florida Have Good Fishing?
Florida is known as “the Fishing Capital of the World” for many reasons, including its abundant resources, a wide variety of fish, diverse habitats, and excellent weather all year long. As a result of the subtropical climate, water remains warm throughout the year, making fish more active. No matter your skill level or whether you try your luck in saltwater or freshwater, you’ll be guaranteed to catch an abundance of fish in August and again in December. In addition, the geography of the Sunshine State provides easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and many reefs, canals, and rivers. As a whole, they offer excellent opportunities if one wants to go inshore fishing and go on a deep sea fishing trip on the same day.
Did you know that Florida has the most world-record fishing catches? In 1985, a lucky angler caught a 436 lb warsaw grouper on the Gulf Coast, and in 2006, another lucky person caught a 1,280 lb hammerhead shark in Boca Grande. The Florida waters are home to many trophy-sized fish with world records. The Southwest region, the Florida Keys, and Daytona Beach are popular sports fishing destinations due to their diverse coastlines.
What Fish Are in Season in Florida?
As we mentioned, Florida is a fishing paradise for freshwater and saltwater fishing, and there are opportunities for trophy fish on every trip. We’ll go over some of the most popular fish and the best times to catch them.
When it comes to Florida fishing, bass might not come to mind initially. However, it is the official freshwater fish in the Sunshine State and is highly sought after. Lake Okeechobee can rival any other lake in the U.S. for fishing largemouth bass since it can be done year-round, especially in the southern parts of the state. The best months for the rest of the state would be spring and summer, mainly from March through June, because that’s when the fish are spawning.
We should begin by mentioning that tarpon are catch-and-release fish in Florida unless you’re chasing a world record. However, keep in mind that the state allows one tag per year per person for $50. With that said, you can find this trophy fish in the southern parts of Florida, with the Florida Keys and Boca Grande offering the best chances of catching it. Additionally, this giant creature can be caught year-round, with the water temperature over 75°F being the critical factor. With this in mind, late spring and summer are generally the high seasons.
The Sunshine state’s official saltwater fish is the go-to for many Florida fishing trips. The sailfish fins and spear-like bill give it an iconic appearance. With a speed of 60 mph, a length of up to 11 feet, and a weight of 220 lbs, it’s every angler’s dream. From Miami to the Treasure Coast, you can find sailfish along Florida’s southern Atlantic coast, home to “Sailfish Alley.” Additionally, Stuart is called the Sailfish Capital of the World. However, cold fronts play an essential role in catching this iconic fish. The best months are typically from November to February.
While there are many snapper species, the following are the most popular:
- Mangrove (Gray) Snapper – One of the most common fish for inshore fishing in the state, this snapper species are bottom feeders and live along piers, bridges, deep holes, and rock piles. This fish can be caught year-round, but in the summer (July and August), they spawn and move away from the coast. During the winter months, mangrove snappers swim away from the shore.
- Red Snapper – This fish lives in deep waters, so you will need your boat or book a private charter. It usually grows up to 25 lbs, with some reaching up to 50 lbs. The availability of red snapper is governed by state and federal regulations and seasonal dates. For example, there are different dates between the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. For the Atlantic, there was only one weekend, July 8th to July 10th. For the Gulf, it ran from June 15 to July 31st, and again for three consecutive weekends in October, starting on the 8th, plus Veterans Day and Thanksgiving weekends.
- Cubera (Cuban) Snapper – The largest species of snapper, the Cubera, can be found along the Gulf and the Atlantic coast, but most commonly around the Florida Keys. This snapper grows to 120 lb, most commonly around 40 lb, and lives in deep waters, often about 60-100ft. This fish is a favorite catch for many deep-sea Florida fishing trips. The best time to catch them is in the summer, just before they spawn.
While there are multiple grouper species, the red and gag groupers dominate the Florida waters. A grouper is an offshore fish that lives at the sea bottom, and they are often thrilling to catch because they fight and hide in holes. Additionally, groupers are very tasty and relatively large – it’s common to catch a 15-30lb fish. The grouper season starts in late spring through December, and the best times to catch one are in late spring and summer.
Regarding inshore fishing, snook is a Florida favorite. It is so popular that you can find it in the Atlantic, the Gulf, and rivers. However, snooks are tropical fish and prefer warm water, so they live primarily south of Tampa Bay and Sebastian Inlet. There are two times when the snook fishing season is closed – in the summer and winter, generally May 1st – August 31st and December 1st – January/February. With this in mind, the best times to catch snook are in the spring and fall.
You can find three species of Mackerel in Florida – Spanish, King, and Cero. The Spanish are the smallest and easiest to catch as they can be found inshore. Meanwhile, the king lives offshore, but many anglers try their luck off piers. It’s the largest one and usually lives among schools of baitfish. Mackerel live in warm waters, so if you’re in South Florida, you can catch them year-round. The winter months are generally optimal since an abundance of fish migrates from the north. However, late spring and summer are ideal for the rest of the state.
Spotted Sea Trout (Speckled Trout)
Inshore fishing for trout is one of Florida’s best sports. Can we add that they’re incredibly tasty too? You can find trout throughout most of the state, but some popular areas are the St. John’s River and Mosquito Lagoon. Furthermore, trout like to hang out in shallow grass flatlands. You can go trout fishing year-round, but many anglers state that late fall and winter are the best months, as the water cools off and the fish are more active.
Make All Your Fishing Dreams Come True at Port Sanibel Marina
Florida is undoubtedly one of the best places to fish in the United States. There are countless lakes and rivers where bass fishing is excellent. However, with over 1300 miles of coastline, saltwater fishing is a dream come true for many anglers. In order to make your future Florida fishing trips come true, you can rent a boat from Port Sanibel Marina to reach that perfect spot deep in the water. In addition to boat rentals, you can also book a private fishing charter for small or large groups. Plan your family trip and try your luck on a seasonal tarpon and shark charter that includes lunch at the world-famous Cabbage Key. If, on the other hand, you want a break from fishing, you can also go on a sunset charter instead. Should you wish to book or need more information, call Port Sanibel Marina at 239-437-1660 or contact us online.