Using scented soft plastic baits pegged on jig heads just heavy enough to reach the bottom, anglers should follow the tide from the small creeks as it falls into the open water. Gator trout, usually solitary fish as opposed to the smaller schools, have a reputation for being easily spooked and will test the ability of the most seasoned anglers.
The southern tip of the Florida peninsula finds anglers targeting these trout from the downtown Miami metropolis on Biscayne Bay to the remote, dark waters of the Everglades. Tampa Bay speckled sea trout often get to sizes that rival their east coast counterparts.
Trout in the northwest area of the state tend to follow the steps of their northeast brethren by orienting themselves along the narrow mouths of creeks and rivers. Anglers here have pretty much perfected the popping cork method and employ it to catch staggering numbers of nice trout.
Increasing coastal development means access can be an issue, but there’s still plenty of great areas where you can enjoy Florida fishing. Some will also offer the opportunity to slide a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board into the water, but all include plenty of space to fish from shore, or wade into coastal shallows.
The prominent paved jetty pier on the north side, complete with safety rails offers a safe, spacious platform for reaching the surf zone or the deeper water of the inlet. Incoming tides always bring a push of activity, but when the fall mullet run piles an enormous biomass in and around the inlet, anglers have a field day with bull redfish, giants nook, tarpon and the occasional cuber snapper.
Mangrove snapper, jacks, sleepyhead and black drum add to the mix; while the shallower end, along with the smaller south jetty may yield pompano, whiting and craters. When the fall cold fronts usher hordes of flounder out of the Indian River and toward the Atlantic, anglers line the rip rap for a shot at these tasty flat fish.
Several pull off spots provide casting access to the St. Johns River, or you can take one of the interior roads through the campground to fish the Fort George Inlet on the north side. The mix here includes flounder, redfish, black drum, pompano, whiting, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and sharks.
Neoprene or insulated waders keep you comfy in the winter, but during the warm season, simply walk in with lightweight clothing and enclosed shoes. Tarpon often run this area anglers soaking live baits or sight casting big swim baits might put one in the air.
From the metered parking area to the pier is a bit of a hike, but it’s a straight shot down the walking promenade running along the cut. Both provide spacious access to a wide range of Keys favorites like snapper (mangrove, lane, mutton and yellowtail), tarpon, grouper, yellow jack, shook and porgies.
1) Fort DeSoto Park in south St. Petersburg leads the list on Florida ’s left coast. The gem of Pinellas County, this 1,136-acre park comprises Madeleine, St. Jean, St. Christopher, Bone Fortune and Mullet keys and complements an impressive angling menu with campgrounds, picnic shelters, bathroom/shower facilities, concessions, bait shop, dog park and historical significance.
Expect a good mix of shook, trout, redfish and flounder, along with mackerel, cobra, pompano, sharks and mangrove snapper at the piers. Boardwalks over the protected dunes offer access to the redfish, flounder and trout waters on the marsh side, but surf fishing is the big attraction.
On either side of the Dunedin Causeway, cast a bait over the pristine grass flats of St. Joseph Sound, or wade into the usually clear waters where speckled trout, mackerel and redfish roam. The main causeway bridge and the smaller one right before the island offer sleepyhead, black drum, shook and snapper opportunities.
The piers light attract bait fish, so expect everything from shook, to trout and the occasional bluefish to stake out these feeding spots. Spring and fall bring king fish within reach, while a summer tarpon bite can make things interesting.
Summer is prime time for big shook staging for their spawn; while fall sees voluminous bait fish schools exiting the inner bays, with several predators in pursuit. Shook is one of the top targets (especially in the lights), but you’ll also find pompano, Spanish and king mackerel, tarpon, cobra, sharks and sleepyhead.
Tip: Local businesses rarely budge on the “restrooms are for customers only” thing (many have signs posted), so don’t expect any mercy, no matter how much you grimace and squeeze your knees together. Commercially produced aluminum pier/bridge carts with wide wheels will easily transport your rods, tackle bag, cooler and live bait well over pavement, rocks or sand; but for casual duties, a garden utility cart (some models fold) will suffice.
Waiting until you feel that cool downdraft can leave you and your gear exposed and out of options; so know where the nearest shelter lies and have a bug-out plan just in case. It starts with respectful spacing, so if you approach an area where others are fishing, take note of where their lines are set (short, long) and allow reasonable buffers.
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.
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.
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.
You can also find many world-class museums, delicious street food, and tropical nature in local State Parks. 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.
If you’re a competitive fisherman, then you’ll want to check out the Destiny Fishing Rodeo and Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. Hundreds of anglers from all over the country hit the shores of Destiny each year to win thousands of dollars in cash and to earn the bragging rights to last them a lifetime.
Whether you’re a seasoned angler looking to sharpen your skills or a beginner testing out the waters for the first time, there are hundreds of charters waiting to take you on an unforgettable adventure! For a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll on the Destiny Harbor Boardwalk and enjoy the amazing sunset.
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.