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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Its long stretches of white sandy beach make fishing off the surf a rewarding experience. Endless access to shallow flats makes sight casting extremely satisfying as well.
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.
This famous archipelago has something for everyone and once you get a taste, you’ll be hooked instantly, wanting to come back for more! 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. This ultra lightweight shirt is ideal for all types of outdoor activities like fishing, sailing, swimming, hiking, surfing and any of your favorite sports where you need to keep cool and shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
At BC, we’re all about inshore saltwater fishing, and our shirts are an essential part of any serious angler’s gear. Our 100% Microfiber Polyester fabric provides UPF 50+ Solar UV Protection, the best and highest rating in the industry.
This also includes Anti-microbial technology, which is highly stained resistant and helps keep the shirt odor free. If you’re looking for a high quality performance long sleeve t-shirt for a day on the water, we’ve got you covered.
Jim Loafer from Sarasota Fishing Charters will be your guide on this journey as you learn how to master winter inshore fishing. Fishing in Florida in the winter can be challenging due to the constantly changing conditions.
The key to angling success in Florida in the winter is understanding how these constantly changing conditions affect fish behavior. Both resident and migratory game fish species undergo some type of migration throughout the year.
As the front moves through it will bring strong northwest winds and perhaps a bit of rain. This is a good day to stay home as conditions will not only be tough to fish, they can be downright dangerous.
The next day will bring north and northeast winds, bright sunshine and cool temperatures. That afternoon will warm up and the next couple of days will be very pleasant with mild temperatures and winds out of the east.
Finally, the winds turn southwest then northwest as the cycle completes and then begins to repeat itself. This means they must understand how these changes will affect the locations and feeding habits of the game fish that they are targeting.
This is much more difficult in winter in Florida than it is at other times of year, as conditions are much more consistent in spring, summer, and fall. Also, no matter which way the wind is blowing, docks in protected areas can usually be found that will offer anglers the chance to catch a few fish.
Finally, water clarity is much less of an issue with sleepyhead, drum, and other bottom fish. Bridges are usually found in deeper water and have abundant structure as well as good current flow.
Seawalls, jetties, oyster bars, and artificial reefs are other productive areas to do some bottom fishing. Sleepyhead, black drum, redfish, flounder, grouper, snapper, and shook will all be found in these spots.
On shallow spots, anglers can simply pinch on a couple of splits shot 18 inches above the hook. No matter what the rig, anglers should use the minimum amount of weight required to get the bait down to the bottom.
Due to the extreme low tides and lack of water, fish will gang up in deeper depressions, holes, and channels. Anglers who locate a pothole or channel in an otherwise very shallow flat can experience non-stop action.
As the tide rises and the water warms, fish will move up onto the flat to forage in the afternoon. While the game fish may be more in a mood to feed, they are also more difficult to locate as they scatter about over a large flat.
Submerged grass beds in deeper water can be great spots to fish in Florida in the wintertime. Game fish will seek out slightly deeper areas when water temperatures are low.
The best approach when fishing the deep grass flats is to drift with the wind and the tide while casting artificial lures or live shrimp. Often times in winter, the key to success when fishing the deep flats is finding “clean” water.
Flats near the passes are especially prone to being covered up as the incoming tide floods the area with dirty water. Fish will not be as active in the colder water and fast, aggressive retrieves that work in the summer are usually less effective in the winter.
Soft plastic baits rigged on a jig head or swim bait hook are especially productive. Anglers casting spoons and plugs will also catch fish, especially if they go with smaller baits and more subtle presentations.
Live shrimp are also extremely effective when fished over submerged grass under a noisy float. Cold weather will push shook and other species up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals.
Game fish move up into these waters as they are generally significantly warmer than the exposed, open flats. Along with shook, anglers can find jack crevasse, redfish, snapper, juvenile tarpon, and other saltwater species.
Anglers fishing brackish rivers will also have the opportunity to land freshwater species such as large mouth bass, catfish, and gar. Creeks and rivers are great places to fish in Florida in the wintertime for several reasons.
First off, as previously mentioned, shook, jacks, and other saltwater game fish will migrate up into these bodies of water in the winter. In brackish rivers in creeks, bluegill and tilapia are abundant and are great forage for larger game fish.
While the scenery might not be as nice as when fishing creeks and rivers, these canals are generally more accessible to anglers in larger boats. Most canals are dredged and therefore fairly deep within an abundance of structure including docks and seawalls.
In most instances, artificial lures are the best choice when targeting shook and jacks in rivers, creeks, and canals. More often than not, game fish will be scattered throughout the body of water as opposed to being bunched up in one spot.
Tributaries entering the main channel, particularly on an outgoing tide, are excellent spots as well. The top two artificial lures for fishing Florida creeks and rivers are shallow diving plugs and soft plastic baits.
Plugs are great “locator” baits as they will cover a lot of water fairly quickly and tend to elicit reflex strikes. These plugs are cast out towards likely shoreline cover and structure and brought back to the boat using a sharp twitch or two followed by a pause.
Plugs are also terrific lures to use when trolling, which is a very effective technique that will locate fish in a short amount of time. However, the same basic baits anglers use for inshore saltwater fishing will produce and rivers as well.
Shad tail and fluke style baits can be used either on a jig head or a swim bait hook. They are also good choices when the water temperature is low and fish may not actively chase a faster moving plug.
For this reason, in order to fish efficiently, most anglers real the bait back in quickly after working at the first several feet. It’s not that the fish have lockjaw, or that they don’t eat, you just need to switch up your strategies from other times in the year.
The shallow flats and bays, passes and inlets, and near shore Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters offer anglers the chance to catch many species and diverse environments. Florida's anglers term these areas of submerged vegetation “grass flats”.
They are the lifeblood for anglers inshore fishing in Florida in the shallow waters. Passes and inlets connect the inshore waters with the open Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
Most passes and inlets also have some type of structure such as rocks, rip-rap, docks, and bridges. The inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean within a mile or two of the beaches can offer fantastic action at certain times of the year.
Pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, false albacore, cobra, tarpon, sharks, jacks, and more will migrate along the beaches close to shore within the reach of anglers and small boats. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.
One great thing about fishing the inshore waters of Florida is at the same basic set up will be fine for the vast majority of species targeted. This combination is light enough to cast lures and live baits while stout enough to handle a large fish.
A third and final choice would be a light conventional outfit that would be great for light inshore trolling, bottom fishing, and free lining large live bait fish for larger species such as tarpon, shook, sharks, and cobra. Most Florida fish species have either teeth or raspy gill covers.
Leader strength will depend on water clarity and the fish being targeted, with 30 pound test being a great all round choice. Toothy species such as sharks and king mackerel will require a steel leader.
As previously mentioned, most inshore waters in Florida are fairly shallow. Grass flats range from ankle-deep to 10 feet deep, depending on the area.
Anglers seeking action and variety will do well to target fish on the deep grass flats. Many species will be found over these grass beds, feeding on bait fish and crustaceans.
Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jacks, cobra, snapper, grouper, flounder, sea bass, and more will be found on the deep grass flats. The boat is idled upwind and up current of the flat that is desired to be fished.
The engine is then cut off in the boat is allowed to drift with the wind and tide. Anglers cast artificial lures and live bait in search of fish.
Once fish are found, anglers have a choice of whether to continue drifting or to anchor. Once the fish are located, the anchor can be quietly lowered into the water.
Anglers who choose to drift simply continue fishing until the bite slows, then motor back around and re-drift the area. Both live bait and artificial lures work very well when drifting the deep grass flats.
A popping cork is a noisy float that when twitched sharply simulates the sound of a feeding fish. Anglers fishing live shrimp in deeper water will often do well to free line them.
One deadly technique on the deep grass flats is live bait chumming. Artificial lures are very productive, often times out fishing live bait.
Anglers casting lures can cover more water than can those using live bait. The top artificial lure for anglers saltwater fishing in Florida is the jig and grub combo.
Darker colors such as olive, root beer, and gold work well in stained water. Plugs are plastic lures that imitate bait fish.
Top water plugs float on the surface and entice fish to come up from the bottom and attack them. However, most fish on the deep grass flats are caught by subsurface plugs.
The either have lips on them which causes them to dive to a desired depth or are suspending plugs which slowly sink through the water column. They are basically a curved piece of metal, usually shiny, that imitate wounded bait fish.
Spoons are heavy and cast a long way and have a great natural action as they wobble through the water. It is a bit ironic, but often times the larger fish are actually found in shallower water.
Special shallow draft boats are often used to sneak up on the fish. Artificial lures are often used for anglers saltwater fishing in Florida on the shallow flats.
Top water lures can be very effective as they ride up over the bottom and do not get snagged. As the name implies, it is simply using a live or dead piece of bait fished on the bottom to entice a bite.
With this rig the egg sinker is allowed to slide right down to the eye of the hook. Anglers fishing the inshore reefs in the Gulf of Mexico are required by law to use circle hooks.
Many game fish species use them to migrate between the inshore waters in the open Gulf of Mexico or ocean. Most passes and inlets have abundant structure such as rock jetties, docks, fishing piers, bridges, and underwater ledges.
Tides are generally stronger on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida. Passes on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida are often sandy and can be quite shallow.
Anglers drifting the center of the passes or along the shoals and bars catch pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, lady fish, sharks, and even tarpon. Vertically jigging as the boat drifts along is a very effective technique in water over 10 feet deep.
Free lining a live shrimp is also effective when the current is not too strong. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and lady fish are most often seen working the surface in the passes.
Shook will school up heavily in the deeper passes all along the west coast of Florida from Tampa Bay South. Inlets on the East Coast of Florida are generally wider, deeper, and faster, with heavier boat traffic.
Huge shook school up in the inlets in the summer with many of the fish being over 20 pounds. A 20 pounds nook will put up a heck of a fight when aided by a for not current.
Flounder, snapper, grouper, sleepyhead, and other bottom species will be found around the structure. Bridges and docks hold a lot a fish for anglers inshore fishing in Florida.
Tarpon are arguably the top inshore game fish in the world. Tarpon are caught all along both coast of Florida from early spring through the fall.
Larger versions of artificial lures that catch most Florida game fish will produce tarpon as well. They hit lures, live baits and fly, pull hard, and usually leap out of the water when hooked.
In fact, most of the most popular shook lures were originally designed to catch bass. In cooler months shook migrate up into creeks, rivers, as canals to escape the harsh conditions on the flats.
By summer, many of the fish are in the passes, inlets, and out on the beaches to spawn. Redfish are an extremely popular game fish for anglers inshore fishing in Florida.
Artificial lures such as jigs, soft plastics, weedless spoons, and top water plugs are used to fool them. Inlets on the east coast are top spots to catch large bull redfish.
As late summer approaches, they school up in large numbers as they prepare to spawn. Once they school up, reds move out of the passes and inlets and into open water.
Anglers finding one of these schools of mature reds in open water will have a remarkable experience. Anglers fly fish for them as well as casting small jigs and live bait.
Permit are considered to be the toughest fish to catch on fly on the flats. Speckled trout are an extremely popular inshore game fish.
Speckled trout are widely distributed and fond in all the coastal waters of Florida. The Indian River on the east coast is famous for trophy speckled trout.
Small and medium-sized trout are found in schools. Anglers drifting grass flats in 4 to 10 of water catch them casting jigs with a soft plastic tail, plugs, spoons, and live bait.
A live shrimp under a noisy float has probably accounted for more speckled trout than all other baits combined. Top water plugs and larger swim baits will fool them as well.
Spanish mackerel are a terrific and often times underrated game fish. They are fast, aggressive, beautiful, and very good on the dinner plate when eaten fresh.
Mackerel school up and are found in good numbers in the bays, passes and inlets, and out on the beaches. Spanish mackerel can often be seen feeding on the surface as they terrorize helpless bait fish.
Spring and fall are normally the best times to find them, as they prefer water temperature from the upper 60s to mid 70s. Spoons, jigs, and plugs are all productive lures for Spanish mackerel.
Shrimp, fiddler crabs, and sand fleas are top baits. Drifting with the current in passes and inlets while vertically working a jig is a proven technique.
Steeples are almost always found near structure such as bridges, docks, oyster bars, and rip-rap. Black drum are related to redfish but look more like sleepyhead.
Smaller fish are good to eat but larger drum can be wormy. Mangrove snapper are a fish species that is available both inshore and offshore in Florida.
Docks, bridges, rocks, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines will hold them. Snapper are caught by anglers bottom fishing with live bait.
They are also aggressive at times and will take lures such as jigs and small plugs. Cobra spend most of their lives offshore, but will wander into the inshore bays and can be caught just off the beach as well.
False albacore migrate along the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Jack crevasse are another hard-fighting game fish targeted by anglers inshore fishing in Florida.
Jack crevasse grow large and will put up a tremendous battle on light tackle. Ladies are aggressive, school up in large numbers, and usually jump often when hooked.
Jigs are a great lure to use, they often times out fish live bait. Florida offers anglers some great fishing all year long.
The inshore waters consist of coastal rivers with big tide differences. Redfish, speckled trout, and flounder are the top inshore species.
These tidal rivers are rich with forage such as shrimp, crabs, and minnows. Huge redfish school up at the mouth of rivers in the Jacksonville area.
Anglers bottom fish with fresh cut bait and heavy tackle to catch these bull redfish. Sleepyhead and black drum are also popular fish targeted by northeast Florida anglers.
These fish hit live shrimp and crabs and are rarely caught on lures. Structure such as bridges, docks, inlets, jetties, oyster bars, and ledges hold these fish.
Spanish mackerel, bluefish, redfish, tarpon, false albacore, and jack crevasse are available of the Jacksonville beaches. They move through in the string and early summer, then back south in the fall.
Titusville and the Canaveral National Seashore are the center of this region. Cut crabs fished on the bottom catch some very large redfish.
Edges of bars and potholes in the grass flats are prime spots. They are out of season, but this is the best time to catch, and release, a trophy shook.
Tarpon, shook, jacks, redfish, mackerel, false albacore, sharks, and more are caught close to shore off of the area beaches. Inshore fishing in south Florida and the Keys focuses around the “big three”, tarpon, bone fish, and permit.
Anglers in shall draft skiffs quietly pole around in search of fish. Sight fishing with fly rods was basically “invented” in the Keys by legendary anglers years ago.
Shook are caught in the back waters as well as the numerous canals and in the inlets. The area from Coca Grande and Charlotte Harbor south to the Ten A Thousand Islands offers some fantastic inshore fishing.
The Ten A Thousand Islands is a huge area where the Everglades dump into the Gulf of Mexico. This area gives anglers the true remote “back country” experience.
Shook, redfish, and tarpon are the top game fish in this area. They are caught in the backwater bays and cuts all season long.
Oyster bars and mangrove shorelines abound, offering perfect cover for these species. Anglers cast lures, flies, and live bait in pursuit of these fish.
Modern navigation technology has made it much easier for anglers to explore this area. Speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, jack crevasse, flounder, Spanish mackerel, jacks, sharks, sleepyhead, grouper, snapper, drum, and even more species are caught regularly.
Mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, flats, passes, bays, and reefs all hold fish. Anglers flock to Sarsaparilla Pass where tarpon congregate in huge numbers.
Boats drift through the pass very close to each other and vertically fish with jigs and live bait. Anglers seeking a little elbow room can go out on the beach and sight cast to rolling fish.
The west coast of Florida from Venice north to the Panhandle is a diverse area, with Tampa Bay being the most prominent estuary. North of that, the islands are gone and in the inshore Gulf of Mexico is very shallow with massive grass flats and oyster bars.
Shook, speckled trout, redfish, and tarpon are the top game fish in this area. However, mackerel, bluefish, pompano, snapper, grouper, sleepyhead, flounder, drum, flounder, sea bass, whiting, cobra, sharks, false albacore, and other species are found in good numbers.
Anglers cast lures such as jigs and plugs as they drift the flats and cover shore lines. Chumming with live bait fish is very productive in the warmer months.
Tarpon are caught off of the beaches and at the mouth of Tampa Bay in the summer. It has back water shallow bays, barrier islands, and the inshore Gulf of Mexico.
Trout, reds, sleepyhead, and flounder are very popular inshore species. Jacksonville is in the north-east corner of Florida, near the Georgia state line.
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, Inshore Saltwater Fishing for $5 by clicking on the title link. The downtown area of the St. Johns River and inlet offer good fishing, especially for trophy redfish.
A 7 medium action spinning outfit works well for this “back country” style of fishing. A selection of jig heads, soft plastic baits, shallow diving plugs, weedless spoons, and of course hooks, split shot, and corks will fill out the tackle requirements.
When the tide turns, fish will reverse the process and work their way back to the deeper water. Redfish, sleepyhead, flounder, black drum, jack crevasse, and speckled trout are the primary species that anglers will encounter when fishing Jacksonville Florida on the flats.
Game fish will position themselves at the mouths of feeder creeks and oyster bar points that drop off into deeper water. Power fishing with search baits such as a gold weedless spoon or a shallow diving plug will allow anglers to cover a lot of water quickly.
Once fish are found, slowing down and working the area thoroughly with a jig or live bait will maximize the spot. The star of the St. Johns River in downtown for anglers fishing Jacksonville Florida is without a doubt bull redfish.
The primary technique when targeting these giant redfish is to anchor on the edges of the river channel and bottom fish with live and cut bait. Laura uses medium conventional tackle spooled with 65 pound test braided line.
Here is a good, versatile Penn combo for large reds and other saltwater species, a Squall 30 click on the link to purchase or shop. The Best baits are whole blue crabs, live ponies, and large cut mullet.
Anglers fishing the “downtown” section on the St. Johns River can experience some excellent action. Flounder, trout, reds, drum, jacks, sharks, and other species with take a jig and grub or live shrimp fished near docks, seawalls, bridges, and other structure.
There are many parks along the river that give access to shore bound anglers. This is a great resource that shows the many parks in the area that offer anglers without a boat fishing access.
Abundant structure will attract redfish, black drum, speckled trout, jack Chevelle, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and more. “Breaking” fish are often found just outside the jetty on a calm morning.
In the fall, the East Coast of Florida experiences the infamous “mullet run”. Anglers cast live crabs and mullet to rolling fish.
Anglers position the boat within casting range and toss jigs, plugs, and spoons into the mix. On days when fish are not “showing”, trolling sons and plugs is a great way to locate them.
Hordes of finger mullet migrate south along the Jacksonville beaches. Anglers work to edges of the schools as game fish seek to pick off the strays.
That is a long run, but boats that can make it catch tuna, dolphin, and Yahoo. Anglers drop a live or cut bait down to the bottom on a natural ledge, artificial reef, or wreck.
Shrimp, squid, sardines, and just about any live bait fish will all produce. Anchoring, drifting, or “motor fishing are all used to keep the boat in prime position.
Grouper, snapper, trigger fish, cobra, amber jack, and other species will be caught by anglers bottom fishing. Anglers trolling lures such as spoons, plugs, and skirted baits catch fish as well.
However, false albacore, tuna, dolphin, Yahoo, and even billfish can be encountered, depending on the depth being fished.