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.
Like other states, before you set out to fish in Florida, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the local regulations. The regulations also contain Florida ’s size and bag limits for various species as well as prohibitions on certain types of methods for taking fish.
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.
So dig into your garage for that idle rod and reel, pick up some bait at your local tackle shop and get out there to enjoy the outdoors. Under Florida law, all anglers fishing in salt or freshwater, whether from a boat or from shore, are required to have a license in their possession with few exceptions (seniors over 65 and children under 16).
Salt or freshwater fishing licenses are issued separately and cost $17 a year each for Florida residents. The free resident shoreline license covers pier fishing, and many fishing piers have blanket licenses to cover other anglers, resident and non-resident.
Charter captains will have a boat license that covers anglers on board, resident or non-resident. The state’s fishing -license-by-phone service is a beautiful thing, and it has come in handy more than once for me.
You are out on your boat, riding out to your fishing hole, only to discover your license had expired. I called from my cell phone, charged my renewal, and they issued my new license number on the spot.
One time I was caught without a pen, so I carved the number into my fish-measuring stick. Download the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission app “Fish | Hunt Florida from Apple App Store or Google Play, and you’re in business.
Bob Rowntree is a retired journalist who has lived in Florida for 40 years, all the while exploring back roads, hidden beaches and scenic parks with kayaks, travel trailer, beach toys and bicycles in tow. Co-founder of FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross, Bob been writing about outdoor recreation around the state since 2010.