Surrounded by water on three sides, Florida has premium opportunities for fishing, giving it its claim to fame as the “fishing capital of the world”. With the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, shipwrecks, ocean trenches, marinas, and the Atlantic Ocean to name a few, the fishing opportunities are endless. Cast a line from a boat, a fishing pier, the shore, or in the surf, wherever there’s water there’s fish. However, knowing about the fishing doesn’t mean you know where to fish, here’s a list of the best fishing spots in the state of Florida.
Boasting numerous beaches, Destin is best known for surf fishing between March and December. The best bites come with the changing of the tides in the morning and at night, although fish will bite throughout the day. Hence, what anglers can expect to catch are pompano, redfish, black drums, blue runners, sharks, sheepshead, and bonita.
The Island Pier, formerly known as the Okaloosa Pier, is over 1,200 ft long and offers the best pier fishing. Aside from that, where you stand on the pier will determine the fish, you will catch. As an example, drums may hide closer to shore but at the end of the pier, there may be sharks present. This is due to the length of the pier. Species common at the Island Pier include king mackerel, blackfin tuna, drum, trout, and flounders.
Destin is also referred to as the “luckiest fishing village” for the abundance of fishing charters available. Deep-sea fishing is just as popular as surf fishing, especially when it comes to sports species such as sharks, blue marlin, tuna, cobia, dolphinfish, and tarpon. Furthermore, in the 600 ft deep trench of 100-Fathom Curve near Destin catching a monster isn’t unlikely.
2. Florida Keys
The state of Florida holds the title of fishing capital of the world, but when it comes to fishing, there are fewer spots as famous as Islamorada. Islamorada is playfully titled the “sport fishing capital of the world”, for popular target species coming inland due to the Gulf Stream. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay, with rough water, and uneven seafloor, Islamorada is famous for wahoo, sailfish, marlin, swordfish, and tuna.
However, the fishing is just as good on the mainland, with Key Largo being home to a whopping 600 species. Alas, a shortlist of these species includes bonefish, tarpon, permit, and snook. Reef and wreck diving present opportunities to snag a group, snapper, hogfish, mackerel, cobia, barracuda, or amberjack. No matter which Key you fish from in the Florida Keys, it’s impossible to leave without a catch.
Situated at the mouth of the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville offers prime saltwater fishing. Anglers can expect to catch snapper, cobia, wahoo, redfish, grouper, and blackfin tuna in the winter. Summer sees the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament every July, which sees hundreds of anglers and boaters in the Jacksonville area. If you’re looking to get out into the Atlantic Ocean, fishing is excellent to the north at Nassau Sound. Fishing inland is just as good, with spots like Mill Cove, Matazanas River, Nassau Sound, Mosquito Lagoon, and Pine Inlet.
Nonetheless, one of the best fishing piers in Florida can be found near Jacksonville, called the George Crady Bridge and Fishing Pier State Park. As such, this mile-long fishing pier offers anglers an opportunity to nab drum, whiting, snook, crevalle jack, and tarpon.
4. Apalachicola River
The Apalachicola River is Florida’s largest river and a big producer of bass. At 106 miles long, the river starts at Lake Seminole and ends in the Gulf of Mexico. The fishing upriver is just as on the lower river, however, the lower river does see fluctuations from the tide. Notable species include striped bass, white bass, black bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, shoal bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, sunshine bass, and speckled sea trout.
5. Daytona Beach
Since 1925, the Daytona Beach Pier has been an icon among the beach community. Anglers do not need a fishing license and there is no cost to fish on the pier. Simply bring your gear and cast your line in pursuit of a pompano, sheepshead, flounder trout, or drum.
The Halifax River to the north of Daytona offers premier shallow water fishing, with the average depth being 5 ft. The river offers, mangroves, channels, grass flats, and marshes as some hiding places for target species. Fish types that can be discovered here include redfish, speckled trout, flounder, sheepshead, snook, and tarpon.
6. Lake Okeechobee
Whether taking a boat, a kayak, or exploring on foot, Lake Okeechobee offers fishing in many ways. Nevertheless, species found on Lake Okeechobee include largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish. There are several good fishing spots on Lake Okeechobee. This includes the mouth of the Kissimmee River in the northern lake, the Fish Eating Creek and shoals in the west, and the Clewiston and South Bay in the southern lake. South Bay and Clewiston frequently host the Bassbusters and Bassmasters fishing tournaments, which make Lake Okeechobee a popular fishing destination.
Naples, Florida has an interesting topography in which there are rivers, beach, piers, and “almost” everglades fishing. Accessible by a boat or kayak is the 10,000 islands, which is like the everglade found further south in Florida state. This wildlife and nature preserve showcases excellent fly-fishing opportunities, with notable species like snook, redfish, snapper, and pompano that hide within the mangroves and tidal water. Other residences include manatees, flamingos, and alligators.
Built in 1888, the Naples Pier was originally used for shipping and freight. Today, the pier offers fishing without the hassle of a fishing license and makes it a popular location among anglers. Species include red grouper, Spanish mackerel, and great barracuda.
8. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay offers an expansive water playground when it comes to fishing. From deep-sea fishing to bay fishing, pier fishing, and inlet fishing, Tampa Bay offers it all. The Skyway Fishing Pier connects Sarasota with St. Petersburg to form the world’s longest fishing pier. There are skylights to keep the bridge illuminated at night, so anglers can fish at any hour. Commonly caught species include snook, tarpon, grouper, black sea bass, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, pompano, red snapper, and sheepshead.
Fort DeSoto County Park offers kayak fishing, wade fishing, and fishing from both the Bay and Gulf Piers. Alas, with a prime location near both the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, the fishing here can only be described as “amazing.” Oyster bars, mangroves, seagrass beds, and deep channels throughout the park’s shallow areas serve as an ideal location for spotted sea trout, snook, and redfish. With the tides and current ever-changing, fishing from the piers can see an abundance of fish, never getting bored by bait and lures. Trout, redfish, and snook are common, however, anglers should not be surprised by the appearance of a shark.
Which Fishing Spot do you Choose?
Known as the fishing capital of the world, Florida is an angler’s playground. With many options from deep-sea fishing, pier fishing, surf fishing, kayak fishing, and lake fishing for both saltwater and freshwater species, the options are endless. Alas, with bodies of water like Okeechobee Lake, Tampa Bay, Apalachicola River, Florida Bay, Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida houses some of the best places in the US for fishing. Likewise, fishing in Florida should be on every angler’s bucket list.