Everglades Fishing: The Complete Guide

Jan 10, 2023 | 9 minute read Comments
18
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Fishing in the Everglades is one of those bucket-list moments for anglers from all over the world. As one of only two everglades in the world, it’s a unique ecosystem that has been defying all odds. The only truly wild area left in all of Florida, it’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.

A bird's eye view of an airboat in the lily pads in the wetlands of the Everglades, Florida

Spanning from the Ten Thousand Islands all the way down to the Keys, it’s a vast sanctuary for the most exotic wildlife in the country. Nicknamed the “River of Grass” due to its comprehensive system of slow-moving water, it’s an unmissable natural gem for every angling enthusiast. 

The Everglades National Park is a protected area of the Everglades, home to a variety of endangered species. However, owing to the abundance of fish in its waters, fishing is allowed and encouraged. If you decide to give it a go, you’ll be fishing alongside alligators, a variety of exotic birds, amphibians, and mammals. It’s a truly immersive experience!

What to Catch

Considering that the Everglades is a mix of different habitats, including freshwater, brackish waters, and saltwater, the variety of fish species will leave you in awe. This is truly an angler’s paradise, as it’s possible to go after vastly different fish depending on the area you visit. With marshes, mangrove islands, wetlands, and enchanting waterways, as well as the Florida Bay all at your disposal – get ready for an unforgettable fishing experience.

Redfish

The shallow waters of the Glades are filled with this Florida favorite. And it’s not surprising – the Everglades is a marshland first and foremost, and Redfish love marshes! Available all year round, it’s the go-to target for most inshore fishermen. And, given the way it fights, fishing for Redfish is a truly rewarding experience.

A man in a backwards cap and sunglasses holding a Redfish in the Everglades, Florida

The bigger “Bull” specimens are a force to be reckoned with, but it’s the fun of the fight that you won’t forget. Oh, and one more thing, it’s finger-licking good! If the challenge of the fight doesn’t attract you, the food quality of this species will surely convince you.

Tarpon

Looking for a fight? You’ve come to the right place! Famous for its game qualities and putting up an extraordinary battle, Tarpon is one fish on everybody’s list. This silver giant doesn’t back away, and the dance it performs as you’re trying to reel it in is a unique experience. So if the thrill is in the chase, then going after the Silver King is an adrenaline injection.

A man in a green cap with the USA flag on it and holding a big Tarpon in the shallow waters

With both migratory and resident Tarpon at your fingertips, you’ll have no shortage of choices here. Visiting the Ten Thousand Islands will see you reeling in some “sleepers” – Tarpon that come here to rest and feed. And heading down to the Everglades National Park will have you targeting some of the quieter residents of the Florida Bay. Whatever your expectations, this silver giant will meet them.

Snook

Snook is truly an unmissable Floridian target. What puts this fish at the top? For one, it’s mouthwatering! What’s more, it puts up a real fight. And, with the size of Everglades Snook, photos speak louder than words. It’s easy to see how this is the one to be reckoned with!

A man and a child holding a Snook in the wetlands of the Everglades, Florida on a cloudy day

Expansive mangrove islands and shallow flats are the staples of the Everglades, and this is exactly what Snook is all about. Exploring these winding waterways is as thrilling as it is productive. Filling the freezer with delicious table fare has never been so fun!

Largemouth Bass

There’s a reason why this game fish is the official state freshwater fish of Florida. Anglers enjoy targeting Largemouth Bass due to the thrilling nature of the fight it puts up. What makes it so fun to catch? Well, often it will jump out of the water while trying to get off the hook, making for some great game qualities. 

A man in a hat and shades holding a big Largemouth Bass on a boat in the marshes of the Everglades

As the largest species of the Black Bass family, with average catches around 5 pounds, there’s no denying that Largemouth is one to look out for. And it’s found in a variety of habitats, including lakes, reservoirs, rivers, creeks, and canals. So you know the Everglades will deliver!

Peacock Bass

Want an even more ferocious fight? Perceived as one of the most beautiful game fish in the world, this South America native was introduced to Florida in the ‘80s. Peacock Bass is a tough freshwater species that puts up an incredible fight, making it a true angler favorite. The Butterfly Peacock Bass has found a home in the Everglades, and fishing for it is just wonderful.

A smiling man holding a big Peacock Bass on the bow of a boat in Florida

While you can target any of the top species we’ve mentioned, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t tell you about the abundance of other fish species found in the area. Bowfin, Garfish, Crappie, Bluegill, Sunfish, Warmouth – these are all found in the freshwaters of the Everglades. And we shouldn’t forget the saltwater beasts like Speckled Trout, Pompano, Black Drum, Sheepshead – just take your pick!

How to Fish

With such a wide natural area spanning 1.5 million acres of marshes and wetlands, there’s a variety of fishing styles you can choose from. You can opt for the best way to do it depending on where you want to go. Read on for our selection of top fishing spots in the Everglades.

Charter Fishing

Considering the vastness of this wild habitat, hopping aboard a fishing charter will save you a lot of time. This way, you’ll be able to cover a lot more ground, and the help of a professional charter captain is invaluable. Visiting the Florida Bay and targeting prized inshore fish species is always a good idea.

A view from a boat on the narrow, winding waterways of the Everglades, with two air boats in the foreground

A fishing charter will allow you more versatility as well. Seeing as there are both fresh and saltwater fishing options, you can hop aboard a boat and do it all! The Gulf of Mexico is another exciting opportunity you can take advantage of with a charter captain. So if your goal is to maximize your chances and fill the freezer, this is the way to go.

Kayak Fishing

A view from a kayak overlooking the wetlands in the Everglades, Florida, with the front of the kayak and pedals visible in the foreground

One of the most exciting ways of fishing in the Everglades is getting in a kayak. You can enjoy the natural views of the area up close and personal, and there’s a variety of places you can head out of. Visit Everglades City where you’ll find kayak rentals and professionals ready to help you out.

With the winding waterways and canals all throughout the park, you’ll be in awe of the last Florida wilderness. Sink a line and relax under the Everglades sun, making your trip one to remember. Paddle out along with alligators, dolphins, manatees… this is a true melting pot of wildlife!

Shore Fishing

The Everglades National Park is committed to protecting the environment of the Everglades as the unique ecosystem that it is. However, fishing is allowed, and it’s a very popular activity in and around the area. When it comes to shore fishing, there’s a variety of options you can explore.

An upward looking view of an angler holding a rod, fishing in the Everglades, Florida on a sunny day

There’s something for everyone here! You can visit one of the freshwater lakes closer to the park’s entrance. Or you can head a little further and fish in brackish and saltwater lakes. If all you want to do is grab a rod and relax in the sun, this is the way to go. After all, fishing is all about enjoying yourself surrounded by nature and water, and that thrill of the fight.

Top Everglades Fishing Spots

With such a big area, finding a spot to fish in the Everglades can be a bit of a challenge. Depending on your preferences, you can fish in different types of waters, including salt, fresh, and brackish waters. We’ve compiled a list of top fishing spots you can hit up, so read on!

A map infographic showing the top fishing spots in the Everglades, Florida – Ten Thousand Islands, Florida Bay, Snake Bight, Bear and West Lakes, Whitewater Bay, Holiday Park, Lake Okeechobee, and Pine Glades Lake
  • Ten Thousand Islands: With the southern portion of the islands falling under the Everglades National Park, there’s easy access to the channels and bays of this backcountry. You can target big Tarpon in the area, as well as Redfish, Trout, Snook, and more.
  • Florida Bay: At the opposite end lies Florida Bay, stretching from the southernmost tip of the mainland out to the Keys. With Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Trout, and a variety of other species, you’ll have your hands full.
  • Snake Bight: Redfish and Snook like cruising the flats and mangrove shorelines of various islands in Florida Bay. One of the most productive spots for these species is Snake Bight, just east of Flamingo. As it happens, many anglers are in on this secret and the Bight is often crowded on weekends.
  • Whitewater Bay: You might also spend your time in the lower portion of the Everglades fishing Whitewater Bay, one of the largest bodies of water in this neck of the woods. You’ll find Snook, Jacks, Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Tarpon biting vigorously here. 
  • West Lake and Bear Lake: Carved into the shoreline between Snake Bight and Whitewater Bay is a series of lakes. If you’re willing to get on a kayak and row your way through, stellar fishing awaits. As a result, be rewarded with Snook, Redfish, Speckled Trout, Snapper, Black Drum, Jacks, and Baby Tarpon.
  • Holiday Park: Many local Bass fishing guides head out of Holiday Park, which gives you access to the L67A canal – one of the best Bass fishing spots around. This canal runs all the way to the Tamiami Trail, where you’ll find waters with less fishing pressure.
  • Lake Okeechobee: Everglades Bass fishing might also take you to Lake Okeechobee – the largest freshwater lake in Florida. The lake feeds all of the Everglades with freshwater, and you can catch Crappie and Bluegill along with more big Largemouth Bass.
  • Pine Glades Lake: Another great freshwater lake to visit if you’re up for some well-sized Largemouth Bass, as well as Crappie and Bluegill. Just 9 miles from the Everglades National Park Entrance, you can access it fairly easily, and dip a rod as soon as you arrive.

Tournaments and Seasons in the Everglades

If you want to experience more of an adrenaline rush and get competitive, hit up one of the tournaments in the area. The fishery is great all year round, but you can read on to see what the best times are for what you want to do.

A view along the water of colorful, wooding fishing boats in the mangroves of the Everglades

Everglades Fishing Tournaments

There’s a variety of tournaments going on in the Everglades on a regular basis. So if you want to try your luck at reeling in a trophy Bass, check out the Everglades Bassmasters schedule. You can sink your line with some of the best anglers around for an exciting day of fishing.

Looking for more family-oriented fun in the sun? Hook ’em in Glades is your best bet. This family-friendly annual tournament in Everglades City is the perfect choice to get out and have fun with the little ones. As a result, you’ll get to teach them all about sportfishing in the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands.

Seasons and Regulations

The Everglades area offers good fishing throughout the year. However, how you go about it and the species you can catch can vary depending on the time of year. In fall and winter, when things start to cool off, you can target Snook, Redfish, and Tarpon. This is when the area is less frequented, so it’s the best time to just relax and enjoy yourself.

Spring and summer can be very good, especially when it comes to sight fishing. And of course, this is when Tarpon are at their best, so this is the time to target those big ones. Note that there are different open seasons and regulations depending on the targeted species, so make sure to check the FWC website ahead of time.

Why fish in the Everglades? There’s no other place like it!

Seeing as this is a unique ecosystem in this part of the world, exploring the Everglades is something out of the ordinary. Fishing in the area is as varied as it can get. Also, it’s the habitat of a really impressive list of exotic wildlife. There’s no other place in Florida that is as wild as the Everglades – and visiting will feel like coming back home.

An overhead view of a swamp in the Everglades, Florida, with greenery sticking out from the water on a day with sunny intervals

Have you ever tried fishing in the Everglades? Did you enjoy the vast wilderness of the area? Or are you just planning to go? Tell us all about it in the comments below, or ask anything you want to know!

Comments (18)
  • Lori Goff

    Jul 29, 2022

    My husband and I both LOVE salt and fresh water fishing (we live in South MS) and he’s always wanted to fish the Everglades. His birthday is in February and we’re going to mark this off his bucket list. Where can we get lodging with accomdations/parking for our bass boat? We don’t mind having to drive a short distance to launch if need be.

    Thank you for all your input.
    Lori & Kevin Goff

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Vuk

      Jul 29, 2022

      Hi Lori,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately, we primarily work with charter captains and guides so we don’t have a solid recommendation for you lodging-wise. But hopefully some of our other readers might be able to point you in the right direction. We do hope you and your husband have an unforgettable time in the Everglades.

      Tight lines,
      Vuk

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Matt

    Jan 27, 2022

    Hi I’m coming down in a few weeks. And my cousin has a V bottom boat. He wants to fish this area for both of our 1st time. I read the comments about the course we need to take. But is this a good area for a boat that isn’t for the flats? I’m more worried about shallow water and lots of stumps. Is there any recommended area for a boat like we have.

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Andrijana Maletic

      Jan 27, 2022

      Hi Matt,

      That’s a good question. Waters of the Everglades are very shallow – they average at 4–5 feet, and the deepest sections are up to 9 feet. However, most of the “River of Grass” is very shallow, only around 1–2 feet. In these conditions, it’s not recommended to test your luck with a V-shaped boat, flat-bottomed boats and airboats are the safest way to explore the park.

      Your best option is to either fish from shore or ask local fishermen whether they can recommend a safe route. You can also book a charter and go out with a fishing professional who knows these waters well.

      I hope you have a great time in the Everglades, Matt.

      All the best!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      George

      Feb 10, 2022

      Hi Matt,
      If you are going to operate a motor boat within the park you or your cousin will have to take the a boat safety course, and pass it of course.
      It’s available on line at the park’s website.
      Enjoy!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Joseph and phyllis rogerd

      Mar 21, 2022

      Really love to fish for. Rainbow bass, brim, crappie, we have lived and flounder giged off our pontune boat for years, thinking of everglades National Park, is it permitted to use tints, grills, have 120 v plugins really need a little help for area of safety, enjoy it with our 2 grand children thank you for your time

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Shada

    Jan 22, 2022

    We are planning a trip to the Everglades this year in February/March. My husband and two boys are wanting to do some fishing. They would like to fish off a peer among just fishing from shore. Any suggestions for a peer? Enjoyed reading this article! We may camp inside the park a couple of nights also. Thanks in advance!

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Andrijana Maletic

      Jan 24, 2022

      Hi Shada,

      I’m glad you liked the article. As you know, the Everglades is vast, rich in backwaters and mangrove shorelines, so it’s important to stay safe when looking for a good place to fish from shore.

      We’d recommend casting a line in the Everglades Holiday Park and Flamingo on the Florida Bay. Another fun and beautiful location for you to try out might be the Sawgrass Recreation Park. Madeira Bay could prove to be productive this time of year as well.

      I hope you and your family have a fantastic time fishing the Everglades, Shada.

      All the best!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Michael King

    Jul 11, 2021

    I will being towing my flats boat from NC to Islamorada Saturday 7\17-7/24. My intentions are to fish the Keyes area and the Everglades. Is there a special permit I need to bring my boat to the Everglades? Thank You.

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Andriana

      Jul 12, 2021

      Hello Michael,

      Thanks for the question. Late July is a great time to enjoy all the wonders of the Everglades. Yes, there is a special permit you’ll need to bring your boat into the park, it’s called the Everglades National Park Boat Operator Permit.

      This permit is free, but before you get it, you need to go through the online Everglades Boater Education Program, which is also free of charge, and you’ll find it here. You’ll need to create an account on the website and take the course. After completing it, there is a 15-question test for you to do. Bear in mind that you need to score at least 80% to get your Everglades National Park Boater Permit.

      Make sure you have this permit on you while you’re boating/fishing in the Everglades. Only the people who are actually operating the vessel need the special operator permit – if you’re bringing more people on your boat, they don’t need to do the course, unless they want to operate the boat as well.

      Aside from the Everglades National Park Boat Operator Permit, you’re also required to have the Everglades National Park Pass and a valid fishing license. The National Park Pass covers entrance for 4 people, and every person needs to have their own valid fishing license (unless they’re under 16 years old).

      I hope this was helpful Michael, have a wonderful time at the Everglades, and let us know how it all went.

      Tight lines!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • John

    May 28, 2021

    I’d like to take my son fishing in the Everglades this July — I know it will be hot but that’s when we’re there — but he’s more interested in seeing the everglades, really than fishing. (I like fishing, and he likes it in smaller doses.) Where should I go, what charter could I use to get sort of a hybrid fishing and everglades tour? What part of the everglades are really dramatic and beautiful and also the fishing is pretty good? (The tour part — dramatic and beautiful — is really more important.) Thank you, and what a great article this is. –John

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Iva

      May 31, 2021

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment! As you said, it’ll be hot in July, but a short trip in the Everglades should be satisfying for both of you. I’m not sure how old your son is but Everglades National Park has plenty of kid-friendly activities that he can partake in, as well as offering excellent freshwater fishing for you.

      Another beautiful area you can choose to explore is the Ten Thousand Islands. They’re a chain of uninhabited islands and mangrove islets that offer up great photo-taking opportunities, as well as fishing. Because so much of the Everglades is protected, and there are several areas where fishing isn’t allowed, I can’t recommend heading out with a guide enough. You can look through our charter fishing offer in the Everglades here.

      I hope I’ve been able to narrow down your search a little bit.

      Enjoy your trip and tight lines!

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • matthew richardson

    Apr 19, 2021

    I live in Sebring and I’m wanting to bring my bass boat down to the Everglades and fresh water fish. Where can I stay and have a boat ramp hereby with access to the canals etc?.

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Vule

      Apr 19, 2021

      Hi Matthew,

      Your plan sounds fun! What I would recommend is heading down to Everglades City or Chokoloskee where you’ll find a lot of options to launch your boat. There are also towns dotted along the Tamiami Trail with access to some great freshwater fishing.

      You can take a look at the Florida Boat Ramp Finder to find the one that best suits you. Have fun!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Gregory Dubay

    Sep 19, 2020

    Hi
    Planning a solo road trip to fish; shore, roadside, bridge – any place I can wet a line! Requesting site suggestions – thanks

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Vule

      Sep 21, 2020

      Hey Gregory!

      There’s a lot to cover when it comes to fishing in the Everglades, so it all depends on what you’d like to go after. The Everglades Holiday Park and Pine Glades Lake are a great starting point for freshwater fishing for Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Sunfish, Gar…

      If you’re looking to visit the Southern Glades, you can expect some of the saltwater species like Snook, Redfish, Trout, and Tarpon. You can head over to the Flamingo Visitor Center and wet a line in one of the lakes or bays on the way there and around the area. Have a great time!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

  • Steve

    Jul 9, 2020

    I fished big cypress and Everglades And along the gulf shore for 17 years fishing every day for 10 weeks a year both on foot and in a kayak , I didn’t know life could be such fun, the fishing is truly fantastic,
    Had a 180 lb tarpon as a personal best on light spinning gear it was great gun

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *

    • Reply icon

      Vule

      Jul 10, 2020

      Hey Steve!

      Thank you for reading. We completely agree, the Everglades is a seriously fun and magical place. We’re really happy you have such great memories of the area! That Tarpon catch is seriously impressive, too – bet it put up a big fight when you were reeling it in!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

      Leave a reply
      NameRequired *
      Your comment Required *

    Leave a reply
    NameRequired *
    Your comment Required *