From rivers and inlets to lakes and coastline, the opportunities for Florida fishing are limitless. Each area in the state boasts some great spots so the trick is to identify a place that suits your needs.
If you need a boat to reach your ideal spot but don’t have one, you can look at fishing charters. Popular shoreline spots like piers, bridges, jetties and other structures not only offer convenient access but some great action as well.
For example, Jacksonville Beach Pier offers a good chance to land king mackerel. For instance, the season for several species of grouper closes for certain months of the year.
Check out its seasonal fishing calendar that lists the best months to catch various species depending on the area of the state you’re in. If you want to head out to the deep sea, any charter captain will tell you there’s no bad time.
If you want to experience the thrill and excitement of offshore fishing or just head out in a small skiff in the grass flats but lack a boat, it can be a good idea to use a guide or book a charter. They’ll also provide you with rods, reels and tackle so you don’t have to bring your own gear.
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.
Deploying live baits off the deep end often yields king mackerel, tarpon, sharks and barracuda. Parking along South Ocean Shore Blvd., restrooms, shaded seating and a bait and tackle shop.
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. 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.
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. The reasons for fishing are as varied as the species and the methods of catching them.
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.
Spring break or summer vacation are both great times for feisty, delicious easy-to-catch fish. The biggest sea trout on record came from Fort Pierce.
There are over 1,300 miles of coastline to fish for saltwater favorites like tarpon, sailfish, cobra, and countless others. The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that there are about 3 million acres of freshwater fishing spots in the state.
Whether you want to charter a deep-sea boat to track down a coveted sailfish or get out in the flats for some world-class tarpon fishing, you should have no problem finding a trip that’s perfect for you. In Florida, what makes the fishing experiences truly special is the scenic locations you’ll be spending time in while on the water.
Sure, Michigan and Texas also have some of the best freshwater fishing in the country, but their settings pale in comparison to the tropical and exotic Floridian lakes and rivers. Whether you are offshore in the turquoise seas of the Florida Keys or weaving through the mangroves in the Everglades, you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable day on the water even if you don’t catch anything.
We have cabins and camping sites right on the water for a truly immersive stay, and fishing boats for rent if you want to explore the lake on your own.