First, incoming tides signal increasing action as roaming predators such as mackerel, king fish, tarpon, cobra, bluefish and sharks follow the bait fish schools that ride the rising water closer to these structures. 2 hooks and a 2- to 6-ounce pyramid weight at the bottom will yield a mixed bag of pompano, whiting, redfish, black drum, flounder, bluefish and trout.
Available in most tackle shops, double droppers are easy to tie and customizable with various colored beads and floats to hold the baited hooks above the bottom. Common baits for the smaller species include live shrimp, squid, sand fleas and clam strips (brined for toughness).
When you’re ready for a stronger challenge, fish cut sardines, whiting or mullet, or live bait fish (pinkish, pilchards) on a fish-finder rig (available at bait shops). Designs range from grocery baskets fitted with PVC rod holders to fully customized wheeled platforms with bait tank, cooler and gear racks.
While a boat gives you access in Florida to thousands of miles of waterways and coastline fishing, it also presents a host of complications. Berthing it, trailing it, maintaining it and, increasingly, paying the price of operating it are all prompting lots of people to question the wisdom of owning a boat.
Many visitors don’t realize just how many species of fish move up and down the coastline and through our waterways within easy reach of a fisherman on shore or on a pier or bridge. Additionally, there are hundreds of public docks around the state that offer freshwater fishing access to Florida ’s famed black bass and numerous pan fish.
It’s just a matter of figuring out where there’s close access to the water and then fitting yourself out to do some laid back fishing. While I’ve done my share of surf casting and still hit the beach occasionally when the pompano are running, I grew up as a wharf rat, spending many happy hours fishing from the old Jacksonville Beach pier.
A college friend who knew I fished a lot once asked to go along on one of my pier expeditions. Cold fronts in Florida generally aren’t a big deal, but standing on a windswept pier in 45 degrees with just a light windbreaker to fend off a steady drizzle isn’t anybody’s idea of fun.
Most of the ocean piers around the state have a concession stand that will rent you a rig and sell you the terminal tackle and bait. All you need do is show up and pay the fee, which usually includes the use of the pier’s commercial fishing license.
If the kids get bored with fishing, they can wander up and down the pier seeing what other people are catching, or they can hit the beach to toss a Frisbee or grab some rays. They’ve built or bought dock carts that allow them to haul multiple rods and reels, lots of gear and even live bait (not to mention drinks, lunch, a boom box and whatever else they feel they need for a day’s fishing) from the parking lot to the end of the pier.
They use one big rod and reel to send a heavy sinker with prongs as far out into the ocean as possible. The average pier fisherman using simple equipment and dead bait, like shrimp, will most likely connect with whiting and croaked.
But be careful, because interspersed with the dinner fish will be the occasional catfish, whose spines can inflict a nasty injury (I know this from experience after getting a dorsal fin deep into my foot). Floridapierfishing is mostly a matter of stationing yourself in the path of fish swimming parallel to shore just beyond the breaking waves and waiting for them to find your bait or lure.
Lots of bridges spanning salt water inlets or waterways offer fishing opportunities. The old Sunshine Skyway bridge that spanned the entrance to Tampa Bay has been converted into two of the longest fishing piers in the world.
That means if an east wind has been blowing and the surf is up, you’re going to have a hard time getting your bait past the breaking waves. Fishing near jetties or inlets can be good, but what you really want is to find a stretch of beach protected by an offshore sandbar.
But if you wander a nearby beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon, chances are you’ll come across a group of fishermen. Subscribe to continue reading.
Every year, millions of people head to sea in search of huge hookups and delicious seafood. With so many fishing spots littered along Florida ’s coastline, it can be tough to know where to start.
Navarre Beach FishingPier claims to be the longest pier in Florida. Stay near the beach for Redfish, Flounder, Sleepyhead, and Spanish Mackerel.
There’s a tackle shop that stocks snacks, drinks, bait, and rental rods. Cost: $4 per vehicle, plus $4 per adult or $2 per child age 6–12 (kids under 5 go free).
This converted road bridge spans the mouth of Tampa Bay, with a pier jutting out from either side. It offers unbeatable views of the Bay, as well as the famous Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
You can drive right up to your favorite fishing spot with all your gear, food, and anything else you want. If you’re looking for a classic wooden walkway where you can reel in fish at any hour of the day or night, you should probably visit Venice.
At around 700 feet long, Venice FishingPier gets you deep enough to reel in a real mix of species, from Sleepyhead to Sharks. As well as fishing gear, you can find snacks, drinks, and Florida snow shovels” to rake the beach in search of shark teeth.
Let the family hunt for Sharks in the sand while you battle them on the pier. Naples Pier took a real hit from Hurricane Irma back in 2017.
You can also see dolphins playing in the water below and enjoy the unforgettable sight of the sun setting into the Gulf. The pier has cleaning stations, line collection boxes, restrooms, and concessions where you can pick up gear, snacks, and refreshments.
Heading over to Florida ’s Atlantic Coast, you’ll find that the water gets much deeper much quicker. It’s around 1,000 feet long, and boy can you find your fill of fish along its length.
The thing that sets Juno Beach Pier apart from the pack is its commitment to sustainability. The site is managed by the Loggerhead Marine Life Center, which works hard to keep its impact on the surrounding area to a minimum.
From clearing up debris in the water around the pier to educating anglers on how to deal with entangled turtles, it’s a state leader in responsible angling. The rich waters of the Indian River mix with the open Atlantic Ocean here, making it a dream hunting ground for Shook, Redfish, Trout, Tarpon, and much, much more.
Sebastian Inlet has beautiful beaches, great surf, wildlife tours, and a museum on the colorful history of the “Treasure Coast.” You can even camp in the park for a classic family vacation. We’ve already featured this spot in our pick of the best piers in Jacksonville, but it deserves more fame than that.
Almost a quarter-mile long, this wide, wooden fishing platform is the perfect place to catch the sunrise. Considering how good the fishing is here, Jacksonville Beach Pier is a steal at twice the price.
Bring your own rods and reels or rent them from the handy tackle shop. Even if you only fish for an hour, you’ll more than make your three bucks back in tasty seafood.