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.
Our biodiversity is immense; whether you’re chasing saltwater or freshwater species, you can find somewhere to wet a line in every part of the state. This nearly 10,000-acre lake is part of the St. Johns River chain and is located just off I-4 about halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Okeeheelee Park Fish Management Area in Palm Beach County is excellent for bass; this is a catch-and-release lake only. In the Indian River, try fishing the holes and deep canals for your chance at speckled trout.
Look for peacock bass in the shaded areas provided by bridges, culverts and other structures in the canals. Fallen trees, canal ends, bends and intersections also are good places to start looking for fish.
The Sunshine Skyway fishing piers reach out into deep water and provide access to many saltwater species. Try artificial baits, including Exude Darts in sunlight crystal color or anything else that’s silver, such as Top Dogs and Zara Spooks.
OTHER OPTIONS: Bear Lake Fish Management Area in Santa Rosa County can be very good for black crappie in the early spring. Located in Bay County seven miles north of Panama City, Deer Point Lake is fed by a number of natural freshwater streams.
This 5,000-acre lake has a number of access points, with the easiest being the fishing pier near the boat ramp on the west side of the dam off Highway C2321. OTHER OPTIONS: Many species are available from the Naples fishing pier; anglers sometimes catch tarpon.
Mallory Swamp MA has a network of canals that hold pan fish and catfish; light tackle and cane poles work well here. Kings feed primarily on schooling bait fish and squid and are commonly caught on flashy spoons or dusters rigged with a whole cigar minnow.
Spinning or bait-casting tackle with 20- to 30-pound monofilament line usually is enough when free lining live baits as long as you have enough spool capacity for the initial run after hookup. OTHER OPTIONS: Piney Z Lake within the city limits of Tallahassee is laid out for bank access; expect decent bass and bream catches here.
Lake Victor in northern Holmes County is a good spot for late spring catfish. Most anglers use chicken livers or commercial stink baits for cats and bullheads, but night crawlers and other worms work as well.
This area is open only Friday through Monday; stop at the check station and pick up a no-cost daily fishing permit. OTHER OPTIONS: St. Andrews State Park offers good saltwater fishing opportunities for a variety of species year ‘round.
Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Gulf County, for sea trout and red drum with top-water plugs and other artificial baits. Look for sea trout in and around stands of seagrass, in deep holes and channels, and near oyster bars.
OTHER OPTIONS: Joe Bud pond, inside Joe Bud Wildlife Management Area (MA), is open on weekend mornings from July 1 until Labor Day; it offers a put-and-take catfish opportunity. Lakeside areas of Saddle Creek Park in Polk County are well maintained and provide easy access for fishing.
Some species that have been reported from this bridge include snapper, shook, barracuda, blue runners, sharks and mackerel. Al Lopez Park is behind Raymond James Stadium; Bobby Hicks Pond is in south Tampa across from Robinson High School.
The daily limit for catfish on Juniper Lake in Walton county is six; fish for them with chicken livers and wigglers. The Jacksonville Beach pier is 1,320 feet long, so it reaches well out into deep water for access to many saltwater species.
Drift through deep channels, using freshwater grass shrimp or small minnows on a #4 hook with a split shot below a float until you locate a good school of fish. Or try trolling very slowly with small feathered or curly tail jigs that are yellow, white, chartreuse or pink; experiment with different colors, and remember that fall crappie are fussy.
When the water is clear, try smaller lures on light line, such as spoons and small jigs. Take advantage of the many dock lights on Lake Alcuin to find spots where insects and bait fish congregate.
OTHER OPTIONS: Striped bass are the #1 sport fish in both the St. Mary’s and Nassau rivers, which are connected by the Intracoastal Waterway. Lake Osborne in Palm Beach County has a wide variety of species, including sunshine bass, large mouth, black crappie, bluegill, repair sunfish, catfish and Mayan cichlids.
The state record striped bass (42.25 pounds) was caught in the Apalachicola River/Lake Seminole system. Lake Seminole, a 35,000-acre reservoir located on the Florida -Georgia border in Gadsden and Jackson Counties, is the headwater of the Apalachicola River.
Here, striped bass congregate along the old river channels and the lower lake near the dam during fall and winter. Stripes move throughout the Apalachicola river system during the fall and winter and can be caught from the dam to the coast.
Buck tail jigs, flukes and crank baits that resemble shad are popular lures around bridge pilings and along deep channels and drop-offs. 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. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers (residents and non-residents).
All other rules (e.g., seasons, bag and size limits) apply. A shook or spiny lobster permit are not required on these days.
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