There are major differences between being a licensed saltwater and freshwater guide in the state of Florida. To legally operate saltwater charters, you need more licenses than for freshwater.
Note that in order to apply for this license, your boat already has to be ‘commercially registered’, which means you need to have the Boat Registration from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you want to fish legally in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico (9 miles out or more), you need a Coastal Pelagic permit and/or a Reef Fish permit.
All charter boats must be registered with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The price of registering your boat depends on its size, and whether you are a resident of Florida.
In any case, we strongly recommend every charter captain to insure their boat. To be a legal freshwater fishing guide, you don’t need any specific state guide licenses.
Moreover, you only need a USCG captain’s license if you fish in ‘navigable waters’, meaning waterways with (commercial) traffic. If you fish in non-navigable freshwater, you do not need a USCG Merchant Mariner Credential in the Sunshine State.
However, you do need to have your boat registered at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In addition, each of your customers needs to purchase their own license and take it with them on the trip.
You can buy freshwater fishing licenses on the Go Outdoors Florida website. However, this information should not be considered professional or legal advice.
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.
An added bonus is that they’ll typically have a fishing license that covers their passengers as well so you won’t have to worry about securing one. Each year, millions of anglers visit the state’s waters to take part in the fun.
Generally, fresh fish from local waters is one of the most sustainable and healthy protein sources you can find. And, let’s be honest, it's tough to keep up with the latest fishing reports and conditions (much less your boat maintenance schedule).
Most fishing guides have social media pages where you can go to view pictures of recent trips and read reviews from other clients. Also, depending on what kind of fish you want to catch, you might want to pick a guide based on their specialty.
There are guides with all kinds of specialties (e.g., shook, sharks, grouper, snapper, tarpon). Many guides routinely target standard inshore fish like spotted sea trout and redfish.
For example, how a guide treats fishery resources and the coastal environment is an increasingly important factor for many anglers. Luckily, there are many best practices that anglers and guides alike can apply to reduce impacts like these and help ensure the sustainability of Florida ’s fisheries.
But one great way to make sure you are fishing with a guide who values the fishery resource as much as a fun day on the water is to select a guide from the growing list of captains who have taken the Florida Friendly FishingGuide certification course. The program contains a series of educational modules on a wide variety of topics.
Guides who move through the material and meet the basic licensing requirements gain a certification. The FFF seal outwardly communicates their commitment to best fishing practices.
So, go ahead, give a Florida Friendly guide a call and get ready for a great day on the water! Anglers catch hundreds of brawny, beautiful and delicious species in teeming estuaries, off gorgeous beaches and in the deep blue oceans surrounding the Florida peninsula.
So close that you giggle as a pod of dolphins plays in your bow wave in the Indian River Lagoon, near Stuart, Sebastian or Titusville. 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. Most places you can find a restaurant that will cook your catch to order.
Florida ’s the place to fire up a young angler’s inner fishing fanatic. Spring break or summer vacation are both great times for feisty, delicious easy-to-catch fish.