How to Go Deep Sea Fishing in Orlando: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jun 21, 2024 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

The “Theme Park Capital of the World” is known for many things. Aside from Disney World and Universal, Orlando offers excellent angling opportunities. There’s Lake Kissimmee, Indian River, and Mosquito Lagoon to name a few. However, there’s a well-kept secret not many know about. If you take your angling adventure just an hour’s drive further, you’ll be able to enjoy everything deep sea fishing in Orlando has to offer. 

A view of downtown Orlando, a popular tourist destination in Florida, USA, showing buildings, palm trees, and a lake.

Any angler can explore the Gulf of Mexico and even the mighty Atlantic Gulf Stream if they know where to look. This guide will talk about the best deep sea fishing spots in Orlando. We’ll also cover the most popular fish species and the most productive techniques locals use to land fish.

Where to go deep sea fishing in Orlando?

Florida is called the “Fishing Capital of the World” for a reason. There’s hardly a body of water where you won’t be greeted with a tempting target. And Orlando is no exception.

This central Florida region attracts millions of tourists every year, including fishermen of all ages and skill levels. As we mentioned above, Orlando has many lakes, rivers, and lagoons at your disposal. However, the fishing opportunities don’t end here. Saltwater enthusiasts and big game seekers can explore various offshore wrecks, underwater reefs, and rock ledges. The Gulf Stream is just an hour’s drive away. 

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most popular spots for your deep sea fishing adventure near Orlando.

Port Canaveral (Cape Canaveral)

Distance from Orlando: ~54 miles

A view of Port Canaveral, a large port in the city of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Cape Canaveral is a city in Brevard County, while Port Canaveral is a seaport in the northern part of the city. Port Canaveral is actually one of the busiest ports in the country, if not the continent. It offers easy access to various reefs and ledges 

Perhaps the best part about the local deep sea fishing scene is that you can start reeling in big fish up to 20 miles from the coast. We mean it when we say big: Mahi Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, Sailfish, and Wahoo are all on the menu. Naturally, you can also target Sharks, Grouper, and Snapper. Venturing 60, 100, or even 130 miles out increases your chances to find even bigger Tuna and Marlin. White and Blue Marlin are among potential catches on this side of the stream. 

Cocoa Beach

Distance from Orlando: ~60 miles 

A pier in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on a clear day, with people walking on the beach by the sea towards the pier.

Although the majority of local charter boats are docked at Port Canaveral, Cocoa Beach is just a few miles away. With easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a good launching spot for your Orlando deep sea fishing adventure. 

Since these spots are so close to each other, you’ll end up sharing the bluewater fishing grounds with charter boats from Port Canaveral. So, shorter trips are reserved for Mahi Mahi and Sailfish up to 20 miles from the coast, and longer charters are perfect for a Marlin extravaganza 60+ miles offshore. 

Deep sea fishing here allows you to target big game species, including Wahoo, Tuna, Sailfish, and Marlin. It doesn’t matter whether you’re after a trophy to brag about or just looking to catch a little bit of what’s in season. In Cocoa Beach, you can do both. 

Daytona Beach

Distance from Orlando: ~56 miles

An aerial view of the city and shoreline in Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach is another good location for any angler looking to enjoy deep sea fishing near Orlando. Within the same distance from the city, it offers clear access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream.

The Cocoa Beach deep sea fishing menu doesn’t differ too much from its neighbor’s. You can start by warming up with Snapper and then move to Mahi Mahi and Sailfish before heading to the real bluewater for Swordfish and Marlin. The fishing grounds are anywhere from 10 all the way to 50 miles offshore. However, you can venture even further out, but you might need to book an extended full-day trip.

What to catch while deep sea fishing in Orlando?

The short answer is, you can catch anything from Grouper and Snapper to Marlin and Tuna. As we mentioned earlier, deep sea fishing targets vary depending on how far off the coast you go. It doesn’t really matter where you launch from; factors such as seasonality, technique, and distance from shore are key.

In this section, we’ll talk about our favorite catches in no particular order. Let’s start with the Florida favorite…


A picture showing a happy smiling male angler wearing a black hoodie and holding a large freshly caught Red Snapper in Port Canaveral, Florida

As both deep water and shallow dwellers, Snappers are among the most popular catches throughout the year. Near Orlando, you can expect to find anything from Red to Mangrove, Lane, Mutton, and Yellowtail Snapper

Snapper fishing is a year-round thing in the area, although you might want to check what’s currently in season. For a deep sea fishing experience, you need to book a Federal waters trip, since it’s where big fish hang out. 

Snapper regulations vary on the exact species. For example, Lane Snapper must be at least eight inches in total length. Keep in mind that there’s a 10 Snapper aggregate bag limit.

Mangrove Snapper, on the other hand, should be at least 10 inches in total length, just like Yellowtails. If you choose to keep your catch, make sure it’s not more than 10 Yellowtails or five Mangroves per angler. The same applies to Mutton Snapper, although it must fit into the aggregate bag limit. 

Whenever the season allows, you can keep one Red Snapper from Federal waters.


A picture showing two male anglers, both holding a freshly caught Grouper and wearing sunglasses on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Who wouldn’t want to explore the Continental Shelf’s depths, especially with Snowy and Yellowedge Grouper as a potential deep dropping reward? Or, alternatively, book a bottom fishing trip for Gag, Scamp, and Red Grouper.

Generally, you can find Groupers while fishing for Snappers, and vice versa. These are also reef species; both enjoy playing with anglers by chowing down on bait and diving into rocks and reefs when they get hooked. 

Recreational harvesting and regulations vary depending on the type of Grouper you’re after. Firstly, you’ll need to keep in mind the four Grouper aggregate limit. If you’re lucky, you can fill the quota with four Snowies, Scamp, or Yellowedge. Alternatively, you can split it between two Gag and Red Grouper in Federal waters when the season allows.


A picture showing a couple of smiling anglers on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral, where one of them is holding a freshly caught Tuna

The great news is that Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna are both available in the Gulf Stream’s backside. That is if you know where to look. The thing is, a lot of anglers compare the Blackfin with Wahoo due to the fact that they’re not that easy to find. 

With the right technique and a knowledgeable captain, however, everything is possible. Your crew might take you to an anchored rock Shrimp boat if there are any. If not, you may come around Tuna while bottom fishing or trolling. The key ingredient here would be heading a bit further off. 

There’s no minimum size limit for Blackfin Tuna, although you’re allowed to keep two fish per person. However, the overall limit for your charter boat is 10 fish. You can keep up to three Yellowfin Tuna, although there’s a size limit of 27 inches.


A picture showing two anglers, one male with sunglasses, gloves, and a hat on, and the other with sunglasses on, both holding a freshly caught Sailfish in Cape Canaveral, Florida

You might think that while deep sea fishing in Orlando, you need to go all the way to the Continental Shelf to spot Billfish. If you do, you’re up for a treat: you can catch Sailfish pretty close to shore! In fact, you can spot these gorgeous fish while targeting Mahi Mahi within 20 miles of the coast on a shorter trip.

It’s not just about Sailfish, though. In the Gulf Stream’s backside, you can hook into Blue and White Marlin, while the Continental Shelf’s depths are perfect for a deep dropping trip for Swordfish

There are bag limits for these Billfish species, too. You’re allowed to keep one fish per person, however, not a lot of anglers encourage it. Catch-and-release is a common practice when targeting Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish.

Mahi Mahi

A picture of happy smiling anglers holding a freshly caught Mahi Mahi on a fishing boat powered by Yamaha engines, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Mahi Mahi takes its rightful place in the list of potential deep sea fishing catches near Orlando. As one of the most popular game fish species along the whole Space Coast, it’s a tough fighter with delicious meat. In fact, some say catching Mahi Mahi is the quintessential deep sea fishing experience. Plus, you can mix them with Sailfish – and it’s like an angling dream come true. 

You can catch Mahi throughout offshore waters, although your captain might take you to areas with floating debris, rips, schools of bait, temperature changes, and weed lines. Unlike Billfish, anglers usually keep Mahi Mahi, and there’s a generous bag limit of 10 fish per person.


A picture showing an adult angler holding a big freshly caught Shark and two younger anglers wearing red T-shirts, all standing on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Ask any local when’s the best time to catch Sharks near Orlando, and you’ll most likely hear that any month is a Shark month. These toothy creatures are excellent bottom fishing and trolling targets for professional fishermen and families alike. This, however, depends on the exact species.

So, which Sharks are on the menu? Spinner, Sharpnose, Blacktip, Lemon, Nurse, Bonnet, Blacknose, and Thresher, and that’s not even the whole list. Some of these may be caught on a half-day charter, while others require a full-day extravaganza. 

Just like Billfish, Sharks are typically released back into the water once you’ve taken a picture. For some species that are open to harvest, there’s a bag limit of two per person per boat.

And More!

A picture showing two young male anglers, each holding a freshly caught Tilefish, standing on a fishing boat by professional fishing rods, Cape Canaveral, Florida

It’s hardly surprising, but if we were to list every single Orlando deep sea species, we’d need a separate article. There is a lot of interesting sport fish lurking in the offshore waters, including Wahoo, Cobia, Amberjack, and Bonito. In fact, if you go far enough offshore, you may even try your hand at deep dropping for Tilefish!

How to go deep sea fishing in Orlando?

Whether you’re filling the cooler or marking memories one Marlin at a time, the best idea is to book a trip with a local captain. Firstly, they know exactly what the icebox needs. Secondly, an experienced captain can get the most out of any bluewater spot. You won’t need to worry about bringing the right equipment, renting a boat, picking the right season for the desired fish, and everything in between.

Most local captains will either go for trolling or bottom fishing or combine the two techniques. There are, of course, intricacies only experienced captains know; it’s better to leave the details for them. For now, let’s talk about the most common methods to catch offshore superstars.


A picture of angler wearing a green shirt, a hat, and sunglasses and trying to reel in fish while standing on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral, Florida

When trolling, locals normally use a selection of baits and lures to attract surface feeders. The list of your trolling catches includes Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and Marlin. The right choice of bait and lure depends on the species.

When fishing for Mahi Mahi, for instance, some anglers use 30–50 lb gear with leaders ranging from 50-100#. A lot of them run multiple lines on outriggers, making sure the lines are clear and untangled. When the season allows, you can also try kite fishing for Sailfish on a trolling charter. 

The right trolling setup can turn a single hookup into multiple catches. If you’re looking for diversity, consider picking different kinds of bait for your trip. Ballyhoo, trolling lures, and artificials work well for Mahi Mahi. Cut bait, rubber skirts, and various live bait may work for other trolling targets.

Bottom Fishing

A picture showing a group of people on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral Florida, including two adults anglers and two kids

In general, bottom fishing is designed to target reef fish that hang around the sea bottom’s natural and artificial structure, including wrecks and ledges. These typically include Snapper and Grouper, although you can bottom fish for Amberjack and Cobia, along with other species.

This technique isn’t only about catching fish. While bottom fishing, you can actually feel the fish bite and fight you all the way from the bottom to the boat. The recipe for a good bottom fishing trip includes picking the right place to anchor up, bringing the right equipment and bait, and pairing it with enough persistence.

If Mangrove and Lane Snapper are your main targets, pack smaller bait and circle chooks. Amberjack might react well to heavy soft plastics and vertical jigs. In short, you want to tailor the presentation to the specific fish species.

Deep Dropping

A picture showing four anglers standing on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral, Florida, two adults and two teenagers, with some of them holding freshly caught Tilefish

While deep dropping is essentially bottom fishing in much deeper water, it’s very popular near Orlando. The thrill of catching something tasty takes local anglers to 300 and 800 feet of water. The best deep dropping spots begin anywhere 30+ miles offshore. 

For a successful trip, your captain will use electric reels and heavy-duty gear. Your crew will set the lines, normally two at a time, and wait for the fish to bite. Once it does, you’ll have to push the button on the reel, and start the fight.

Whenever the season allows and the conditions are right, you can go for Amberjack, Yellowedge Grouper, and Snowy Grouper, along with the deep dropping favorite, Tilefish.

When to go deep sea fishing in Orlando?

A picture of a smiling angler holding a freshly caught Grouper and wearing a Sailfish Boats cap and sunglasses on a fishing boat in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Whenever you launch out of near Orlando, deep sea fishing is great year-round. While the seasons for particular fish species vary, you can enjoy a good bute on any given day.

With Mahi Mahi and Sailfish, for instance, you might need to carry a cheat sheet to keep up with the peak months. Fishing for Mahi first picks up in March, reaches the peak in May, and then slows down in July. In August, it picks up again, peaking in October before slowing down once again. Sailfish are around all year, with spikes in January, May, and June

Wahoos have a couple of hot runs in spring and fall, while Yellowfin Tuna runs from early April through July as they migrate northward from the Bahamas. 

For some Snappers, May is usually the slowest month, so the best period to catch them would be August and October. However, there are open and closed seasons for species like Red Snapper. 
If you’re after a deep dropping trip, plan it for the period from May through August if you want to target as many species as possible.

Deep Sea Fishing in Orlando F.A.Qs

Do I need a fishing license to go deep sea fishing in Orlando?
  • Even though you’re not fishing in the city of Orlando, you still won’t need to purchase a fishing license. All licensed saltwater charters cover fishing permits for everyone onboard. .
Are there any deep sea fishing tournaments in Orlando?
  • If you’re looking to take part in a fishing tournament in Orlando, check out various deep sea and offshore events in places like Cape Canaveral. There are a lot of competitions for any angler, from Dolphin Tournaments to Central Florida Shootout and the Florida Sportfishing Association’s annual Offshore Slam.
Is deep sea fishing in Orlando kids-friendly?
  • The short answer is, yes, of course. Fishing with kids doesn’t have to be limited to the inshore waters. You as a parent know your child better than anyone else, so you can decide how far off the coast is comfortable for everyone. Make sure to book a children-friendly charter and discuss all your options with your captain in advance.

Deep Sea Fishing in Orlando – Disneyland Today, Marlin Tomorrow!

A picture showing a fishing boat with a group of adult male anglers, each wearing sunglasses, Cape Canaveral, Florida

As one of the best places in Florida for a family vacation, Orlando is definitely a must-visit. While there are obvious freshwater fishing opportunities, deep sea fishing in Orlando remains a well-kept secret. All you need to do is just hop in a car and only a short drive away, you’ll be welcome with some of the best big game Florida has to offer.

Where do you go deep sea fishing near Orlando? What is your favorite spot? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below!

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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