Most residents and visitors to Florida need to purchase a fishing license before they cast a line. Get a saltwater fishing license to hook up on saltwater fish in the ocean, bays, and lagoons, or a freshwater fishing license for freshwater fish in lakes and rivers.
You don’t want to accidentally hook up on a fish that you’re not covered to catch! Our advice is to purchase both a salt and a freshwater license if you’re planning to catch a variety of fish.
If you catch a fish you’re not covered for, make sure to release it immediately. The good news for visitors to Florida is that saltwater fishing charters cover licensing for everyone on board, so you can just sit back and enjoy your time on the water.
Additionally, the following groups don’t need to pay to fish: Military personnel from Florida can fish for free if they’re visiting home for up to a month.
Florida's residents receiving benefits or food stamps can do land-based saltwater fishing without a license. Anyone whose eligible to fish without a license should make sure to bring proof to show the Coast Guard.
The price of a Florida license depends on whether you’re a Florida resident or if you’re visiting from out of state. Saltwater/freshwater combo licenses are available for Florida residents only and allow you to fish all types of waterways, from the Gulf of Mexico, to the Atlantic, to inland rivers and streams.
Here’s our rundown of what residents and non-residents need to pay for the various available fishing licenses: License President CostNonresident Cost 3-Day Freshwater N/A$17 7-Day Freshwater N/A$30 Annual Freshwater $$1747 5-Year Freshwater $79N/A 3-Day Saltwater N/A$17 7-Day Saltwater N/A$30 Annual Saltwater $$1747 5-Year Saltwater $79N/A Annual Freshwater/Saltwater Combo $32.50N/ATO count as a Florida resident for fishing purposes, you should either have declared Florida as your only state of residence or be a member of the US Armed Forces who is stationed in Florida.
Apart from a small processing fee, all the money you spend goes to the Florida Wildlife Commission (FCC). It’s all invested into keeping Florida ’s fishery healthy and sustainable.
However, there are three species that need an additional tag or permit in Florida. Anglers in private boats also need a free permit to fish for popular reef species like Snappers and Groupers.
You can buy a Florida license online or at a number of registered retailers. These include Walmart, tax collector’s offices, and registered bait and tackle shops.
That said, many people find the added convenience of getting licensed in Walmart, online, or at your local tackle shop is worth the small additional fee that these places charge. Unlike some states, annual fishing licenses in Florida are valid for 12 months from the date they were issued.
You’ll always know whether you’re still covered, as the expiration date will be printed on the license itself. You can fish Georgia's sections of the St Mary’s River and Lake Seminole with an FL license.
The only exception is military personnel stationed in Florida, who count as residents for licensing purposes. Foreign nationals can buy the standard non-resident fishing licenses, just like Americans from other states.
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Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the west, Florida is an angler's paradise with its year round freshwater and saltwater fishing. Before casting out a line in the backwaters or setting up trot lines in the ocean, understanding the rules and regulations governing Florida fishing is important.
First and foremost, it is essential that the appropriate Floridafishinglicense is obtained prior to any fishing activity. Licenses are issued for residential and commercial freshwater and saltwater fishing.
Licenses may also be purchased via the internet or by calling a toll free number. There are various types and categories of Florida fishing licenses, which are usually separated into freshwater fishing.
Recreational fishing licenses apply to those anglers 16 years of age or older. Florida's residents, those who have lived continuously in the state for 6 months, over the age of 65 are not required to have a fishing license.
Top fishing locations on the island the multiple historic piers, public beaches, rock jetties, public docks, private docks at Anna Maria Island waterfront rentals, and several other bay and Gulf access points. All of those in your group who are 16 years or older will need a local license to fish, even if you don’t plan on taking anything.
You can rent everything you need to fish on Anna Maria Island so that you won’t need to lug around your own equipment, which can be a major advantage if you’re flying in. Both piers extend a far way into the ocean so that you’ll be able to catch a wide range of different species.
The beaches and rocks throughout the northern side of Anna Maria Island are a favorite spot for local fishermen as they are often less crowded than the piers. Booking a waterfront rental is one of the best ways to fully experience fishing on Anna Maria Island.
I’ve found freshwater fishing to be a great placeholder in the springtime as I wait for stripes and blues to return to the surf, but catching stocked trout or sluggish large mouth bass is no replacement for doing battle with a drag-ripping saltwater game fish. I had to jumpstart my saltwater season somehow, and one place where I’d always been eager to test out my shore-bound fishing skills was the Florida Keys.
Tarpon this size were common around the Keys bridges after the sunset, yet hardly any fishermen were encountered after dark. I was particularly excited about the latter as I’d cut my teeth as a stripper fisherman from atop the bridges spanning various New Jersey inlets and backwaters.
I pulled together a quick plan, booked a reasonably priced flight, made a reservation for a rental car and just went. When I arrived in Miami, I was so eager to get a line in the water, I began rigging my rods as I waited for the E-Z Rent-A-Car attendant to pull around my “mid-size” sedan.
After spending about 15 minutes trying to figure out how to drop the backseat to accommodate my rods, I was on my way, driving beyond the tall Miami hotels and onto the Overseas Highway. As I made my way through the Upper Keys, I pulled into every tackle shop I passed, buying a lure or two and looking for some tips and tricks.
Either they suggested I get some shrimp and bottom-fish for a mixed bag of snappers, grunts and other small tropical fishes, or they flat out told me they had no idea. Perhaps the shop owners were more tight-lipped than the surf casters back home, or maybe they were just unaware of the fishing opportunities that exist in their own backyards.
After seeing that there were indeed tarpon within reach of shore, I perked right back up, and as the sun set, I prepared for my first night of Florida Keys fishing. I continued driving from Islamabad south to the 7-Mile Bridge, stopping at each overpass and scouting the waters, trying to determine where I wanted to start my evening’s fishing.
I couldn’t believe that of every bridge I passed, only one had a light hanging over the water and making those sharp shadow lines that marine predators love to use as ambush points. Not sure exactly what I’d encounter under the bridge, I rigged up my 7-foot G. Looms travel spinning rod and Shaman SARS with a 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader and a Senile Stick Shade.
I had stocked a backpack with Plano boxes filled with every lure I thought might work, from buck tail jigs to top water poppers. The first sign of life I found under the NACA Cut Bridge was a palmetto bug (Keys-speak for cockroach) the size of a Chihuahua.
The instant the bait crossed the shadow line, I felt a sharp rap on the rod tip and I set the hook. I’d heard tarpon had bony mouths, so on my next hit, I decided I would set the hook a few times to make sure the point made it through the fish’s hard lips.
When another, larger tarpon came blasting out of the water and the hook held, I was confident that as long as I didn’t break the line, the fish was mine. The fish launched its entire body out of the water, putting itself at eye level with me, and twisted and shook until the loud reentry.
Throughout the trip, the only fishermen I saw at night were using gigantic conventional reels and telephone-pole stiff rods in hopes that a shark would find their bait (which usually consisted of a large jack or stingray). The author and his cousin Liam Callahan teamed up to catch this feisty bonnet head shark from the Channel 5 Bridge. During the days, I continued to fish jigs from and around the bridges.
I stuck to shrimp, since the crabs were expensive at a couple bucks a pop, and most fishermen used them for flats or permit fishing anyhow. Small snappers, groupers, spade fish and look downs began attacking the bait as soon as it hit bottom.
On my last night, with a bright full moon, I hoped to find well-defined shadow lines even on the unlit bridges. It took a minute for my eyes to adjust, but when they did, I could easily make out the shapes of tarpon sitting in the shadow line directly beneath me.
A great option for fishermen is Bud n’ Mary’s Marina (www.budnmarys.com), which offers accommodations ranging from motel rooms at $120 a night to weekly cottage and houseboat rentals. My first thought was “shark,” but when a needle fish swam by with the current and the fish rolled on its side and ate the bait on the surface with a loud whoosh, I could clearly see it.
While my rod and reel had managed to land some tarpon in the 15- to 40-pound range, hooking this giant would have been an exercise in futility. This sight- fishing continued through the tide, and I lost count of the number of tarpon I hooked, managing to land seven of them.
By the time I got back to the Northeast, the stripes were steadily making their way up the coast and the first reports of big blues had already trickled in. The Keys in the early spring was a great way to get a head start on the fishing season, and overall, not a very expensive trip, especially if you do a little research before booking your flight, room and rental car.