You don’t want to accidentally hook up on a fish that you’re not covered to catch! Our advice is to purchase both a salt and a freshwater license if you’re planning to catch a variety of fish.
If you catch a fish you’re not covered for, make sure to release it immediately. The good news for visitors to Florida is that saltwater fishing charters cover licensing for everyone on board, so you can just sit back and enjoy your time on the water.
Military personnel from Florida can fish for free if they’re visiting home for up to a month. Florida's residents receiving benefits or food stamps can do land-based saltwater fishing without a license.
Anyone whose eligible to fish without a license should make sure to bring proof to show the Coast Guard. Saltwater/freshwater combo licenses are available for Florida residents only and allow you to fish all types of waterways, from the Gulf of Mexico, to the Atlantic, to inland rivers and streams.
Here’s our rundown of what residents and non-residents need to pay for the various available fishing licenses: License President CostNonresident Cost 3-Day Freshwater N/A$17 7-Day Freshwater N/A$30 Annual Freshwater $$1747 5-Year Freshwater $79N/A 3-Day Saltwater N/A$17 7-Day Saltwater N/A$30 Annual Saltwater $$1747 5-Year Saltwater $79N/A Annual Freshwater/Saltwater Combo $32.50N/ATO count as a Florida resident for fishing purposes, you should either have declared Florida as your only state of residence or be a member of the US Armed Forces who is stationed in Florida.
Apart from a small processing fee, all the money you spend goes to the Florida Wildlife Commission (FCC). It’s all invested into keeping Florida ’s fishery healthy and sustainable.
However, there are three species that need an additional tag or permit in Florida. Anglers in private boats also need a free permit to fish for popular reef species like Snappers and Groupers.
You can buy a Florida license online or at a number of registered retailers. These include Walmart, tax collector’s offices, and registered bait and tackle shops.
The most cost-effective way of getting a fishing license is going to your local tax collector’s office. That said, many people find the added convenience of getting licensed in Walmart, online, or at your local tackle shop is worth the small additional fee that these places charge.
The only exception is military personnel stationed in Florida, who count as residents for licensing purposes. This includes seniors, active and former military personnel, and those with disabilities.
Foreign nationals can buy the standard non-resident fishing licenses, just like Americans from other states. Anglers catch hundreds of brawny, beautiful and delicious species in teeming estuaries, off gorgeous beaches and in the deep blue oceans surrounding the Florida peninsula.
So close that you giggle as a pod of dolphins plays in your bow wave in the Indian River Lagoon, near Stuart, Sebastian or Titusville. Or, catch bass species that thrive only in North Florida rivers such as the magnificent Suwanee, where class III rapids add serious excitement to a fishing trip on the river between White Springs and the Town of Suwanee, where the river passes through the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge, pouring out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether it’s a red snapper caught off Destiny, speckled trout from Tampa Bay, or a mess of crappie from Tallahassee ’s Lake Alcuin, there’s not much more satisfying or delicious than eating fish you caught yourself. Most places you can find a restaurant that will cook your catch to order.
Florida ’s the place to fire up a young angler’s inner fishing fanatic. Spring break or summer vacation are both great times for feisty, delicious easy-to-catch fish.
Reading Time: 14minutesFrom the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast and all the way down to the Keys, Florida boasts some of the world’s finest and most diverse fisheries. We’ve curated a list of some of our favorite Florida fishing spots to help you decide which place to check out next.
Truth be told, this doesn’t even begin to cover a fraction of Florida ’s amazing fisheries. With such a large state surrounded by two major bodies of water, it’s impossible to include all of Florida ’s hottest fishing destinations in one article.
Jacksonville sits right on the mouth of the St. Johns River, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Some areas you should definitely check out are Mill Cove, Nassau Sound, and Amelia Island State Park.
No matter where you go, you can expect a day full of action, targeting Cobra, Redfish, Black Drum, and King Mackerel. Located directly on the Intracoastal Waterway, this historic town offers a wide range of angling opportunities right on its doorstep.
Combine targeting them with going for Trout and Flounder, and you’ll earn yourself a Northeast Florida Slam. Travel outside the inlet, and you’ll find lots of Snapper, Grouper, Amber jack, Cobra, King Mackerel, and sharks.
Head further offshore, and you’ll access the migratory routes of Blue Marlin and Sailfish. Whether you’re a competitive angler or you’re just getting started, this area’s got plenty of charters that will show you an amazing day on the water.
For a relaxing day in the city, explore the streets, visit shops and coffee houses, and don’t forget to enjoy a scenic stroll on the River walk. For a taste of local history and amazing views, head to the Fort Caroline National Memorial.
Head south to Mosquito Lagoon and get ready to hook into a variety of species, including Shook, Red and Black Drum, and Sleepyhead. If you’re looking for a longer trip, book a deep sea charter that will take you trolling for Yahoo and many other pelagic species.
Daytona Beach also has some of the best Large mouth Bass fishing in the state, which you can explore if you decide to travel inland. Daytona Beach is a popular tourist destination with many activities you can combine with your fishing trip.
And of course, Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, where you can climb up its many stairs for amazing views. With its vast network of flats, sandbars, and seagrass meadows, this is a prime spot for sight casting and fly-fishing.
You can either wade in the shallows or pole your way across mangrove tunnels in search of Redfish, Shook, Sea trout, and Tarpon. There are tons of great spots, such as Stephen’s Point, Big Sarasota Pass, and Siesta Key, that are only a short boat ride away.
Start off with the beaches, take a dip, get yourself a nice tan, and finish your trip with a scenic hike in the nearby state park. Another amazing Florida fishing spot, Naples, is located in the heart of Florida ’s Paradise Coast.
You can pick a guide to take you backcountry fishing where you’ll weave through mangroves and cast over flats to catch everything from Spotted Sea trout to Blacktop Shark. There are lots of excellent inland canals that can make a half day trip extra rewarding here.
If you’re up for a challenge, fly-fishing can produce lots of great action against the likes of Tarpon, Shook, Permit, and many other inshore species. If you have a few extra hours to spare, you can head offshore and tick some big game fish off of your bucket list.
With so many excellent fishing locations concentrated in this part of Florida, it’s no wonder they call it the Paradise Coast! Start your trip off with a dip on Naples Beach, take a walk through the Botanical Garden, or go on a hike in Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.
Shook, Trout, and Redfish flood the waterways between here and Cape Coral, giving inshore anglers the thrill of a lifetime. Other top species here include Goliath Grouper, Tarpon, various Sharks, Mangrove Snapper, Cobra, and the list goes on.
The reason why so many people come to Fort Myers and Cape Coral is its access to an endless amount of fishing opportunities. Some spots you’ll definitely want to check out are San Carlos Bay, Malacca Pass, and Pine Island Sound.
You can head down the famous Sailfish Alley and reel in big pelagic fish with the city’s skyline in the background. If you’re looking to stay closer to shore, the Biscayne Bay is only a short boat ride away and teeming with lots of fish.
This area holds large numbers of Red and Black Drum, Shook, Jack Crevasse, Spotted Sea trout, Sleepyhead, and many more. You can also explore the Florida Middle Grounds for some offshore action and reel in Amber jack, Black fin Tuna, Red Snapper, and Gag Grouper.
With so many options on hand, we have a feeling you’ll be coming back to Tampa Bay several times to check out everything this region has in store. Nestled on the waters of Tampa Bay, the city boasts a unique combination of history, Floridian culture, and modern attractions.
Combine your trip with a dolphin cruise, and a visit to some interesting museums, and you got yourself a perfect Tampa itinerary. Its long stretches of white sandy beach make fishing off the surf a rewarding experience.
If you’ve ever imagined a fishing paradise, chances are you’re probably thinking of something close to, if not exactly like the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys is a 100-mile stretch of thin islands, surrounded by crystal blue waters and lots of fish.
Bone fish take the center stage in the spring but you can also catch lots of (Snook), Tarpon, and Permit throughout various times of the year. With spots like the Marathon Humps attracting a slew of hungry fish, you’ll experience rod-bending action with very little waiting time between catches.
You’ll often find yourself having to take out the heavy tackle as you battle against some of Florida ’s hardest-fighting fish, such as Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna. The famous Overseas Highway will prepare you for the time you’ll spend here, with stunning views over the turquoise waters.
Offline, you can get them at any registered retailer including Walmart and bait and tackle shops, but check out our detailed guide for more information. With so many charter options to choose from, you can tailor your trip to your preferences and enjoy one of the greatest fishing states in the world.
Rods, reels, and tackle are usually included in the price and you’ll likely have a cooler on board so you can bring your favorite snacks and drinks for the ride. An exciting place to explore for anglers, here you’ll find a colorful variety of fish in the area, including bone fish, tarpon, and shook.
Sitting south of Cedar Key is Seahorse Reef, a popular area for experienced Gulf Shore fishermen. Covered with long and lush seagrass, Cedar Creek is considered one of the best launching points in the Big Bend area.
Boasting an abundance of guides and ship captains for hire and a variety of other land and water-based attractions, Key West is an ideal destination to visit with the entire family. A large fountain with a jumping sailfish sits in its town square, marking the centerpiece of the area’s 15 marinas ready to take out fishing and charter boat fleets.
Spring is the most popular season for catching underwater treasures, as the seagrass grows wild in these months making it an ideal time to spot Redfish, speckled trout, and sleepyhead. With over 140 vessels that cater to anglers, you have the chance to catch grouper, amber jack, snapper, mackerel, sailfish, Yahoo, tuna and even a blue marlin in this emerald Gulf of Mexico waters.
Those looking for a more leisurely experience can cast a line off the pier, as this city pairs laid-back vibes with crystal clear beach areas. It’s also a great place to go fly and kayak fishing, and if you’re with the kids, you might want to check out the chance to hand-feed tarpon at nearby Robbie’s Marina only a few miles from the park.
Fly and spin angling might win you saltwater game fish, while reef fishing is ideal for reeling in snapper and grouper. With both resorts and campsites peppered around the lake, visitors can stay overnight, as the area has plenty of guides and charters to direct you to the best spots.
Here you’ll discover a city listed on the National Register of Historic Places and old fish houses that date back to the original families, where both shrimp and grouper are sold to local restaurants. For those who rather go stargazing and appreciate the outdoors, head to Anastasia State Park to find 139 full-facility campsites that sit alongside the Atlantic Ocean.
Less touristy than its South Florida counterparts, here visitors will find an underrated gem with crystal clear waters stemming from the Gulf of Mexico. The area is famous for spotting an array of colorful redfish, flounder, tarpon and sea trout, and if you venture further offshore, it’s not uncommon to see fishermen reeling in king mackerel, blue marlin, tuna, and cobra.
Located on the southwest coast of Florida facing the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota even has a handful of hotels that provide guides for hire. Catching shook, redfish, trout, grouper and Dorado is common, while the area’s offshore activities, from its vibrant arts scene to the stunning Siesta Key beach, are sure to keep the entire family entertained.
Often referred to as “The Fishing Capital of the World,” here you will discover an abundance of freshwater and saltwater hotspots to keep your vacation itinerary full, from the emerald waters in the Panhandle all the way down to the Florida Keys. Whether you want to go deep-sea fishing or prefer to cast a line off the pier, you can catch a monster bass one day and some pan fish for dinner the next.
Non-residents who are 16 years of age or older are required to have Florida licenses and permits participating in hunting, freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. Visitors who are listed on the National Saltwater Angler Registry are still required to have a Florida recreational saltwater fishing license unless they are a member of one of the exempted groups listed.
Non-residents using beach or haul seines for recreational purposes are required to have a commercial saltwater products license. A fishpond is a man-made pond constructed for the primary purpose of fishing, entirely within the property lines of the owner and with no surface water connection to public waters.
You are fishing in the St. Mary's River or Lake Seminole (but not including tributary creeks in Florida) and have a valid Georgia fishing license. That license is not a disability accommodation but economic accommodation for the segment of Florida's disabled population who may not be able to afford to pay for the license.
The FCC’s Fish|Hunt FL app makes it easy to ensure you are never without your fishing and hunting licenses and permits. There are also a variety of other offerings on the app like Harvest Reporting, fishing and hunting regulations, sunrise/sunset times, feeding times, MA brochures, etc.