From the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast and all the way down to the Keys, Florida boasts some of the world’s finest and most diverse fisheries. Whether it’s flats, mangroves, reefs, wrecks, deep water trenches – you name it, the Sunshine State’s got it all. We’ve curated a list of some of our favorite Florida fishing spots to help you decide which place to check out next.
Truth be told, this doesn’t even begin to cover a fraction of Florida’s amazing fisheries. With such a large state surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the west, it’s impossible to include all of Florida’s hottest fishing destinations in one article.
With so many opportunities around each corner, it can be hard to know where to start exploring the “Sportfishing Capital of the World.” That’s why we decided to put together a list of some of our favorite Florida fishing spots for the thrill of a lifetime!
10 Best Florida Fishing Spots
10. Jacksonville / St. Augustine
Jacksonville sits right at the mouth of the St. Johns River, facing the Atlantic Ocean. This town offers endless freshwater and saltwater opportunities for both types of anglers. Some of the areas you should definitely check out include Mill Cove, Nassau Sound, and Amelia Island State Park.
No matter where you go, you can expect a day full of action, targeting Cobia, Redfish, Black Drum, and King Mackerel. Every July, Jacksonville hosts one of the country’s largest Kingfish tournaments. Over 300 boats hit the water in pursuit of thousands of dollars in prize money.
Just an hour’s ride away lies St. Augustine. Located directly on the Intracoastal Waterway, this historic town offers a wide range of angling opportunities right on its doorstep.
When it comes to inshore fishing opportunities, Redfish is the name of the game in St. Augustine. Combine targeting them with going for Trout and Flounder, and you’ll earn yourself a Northeast Florida Slam. Oh, and while you’re here – don’t forget to add some Tarpon to the mix!
Travel outside of the inlet, and you’ll find lots of Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Cobia, King Mackerel, and Sharks. Head further offshore, and you’ll access the migratory routes of Blue Marlin and Sailfish.
Whether you’re a competitive angler or you’re just getting started, this area’s got plenty of charters that will show you an amazing day on the water.
Once you get off the water, there are many things you can do in both Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
Jax is one of the biggest cities in Florida, but it still has a small-town vibe. For a relaxing day here, explore the streets, shops, and coffee houses, and enjoy a scenic stroll on the Riverwalk. For a taste of local history and amazing views, head to the Fort Caroline National Memorial. If you’re visiting with kids, make sure to hit up the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
9. Daytona Beach
If there’s one thing that fishing in Daytona Beach is all about, it’s the abundance of different opportunities. You can fish the calm waters of the Halifax River or head offshore for an epic battle against some of the Atlantic’s most sought-after fish.
Head south to Mosquito Lagoon and get ready to hook into a variety of species, including Snook, Red and Black Drum, and Sheepshead. If you’re looking for a longer trip, book a deep sea charter that will take you trolling for Wahoo and many other pelagic species.
Daytona Beach also has some of the best Largemouth Bass fishing in the state, which you can explore if you decide to travel inland.
Daytona Beach is a popular tourist destination with many activities you can combine with your fishing trip. First of all, the town is known as the world capital of racing. If you’re also a car enthusiast, make sure to visit the famous Daytona International Speedway.
Sarasota is best known for its inshore fishing, and there’s a good reason why. With its vast network of flats, sand bars, and seagrass meadows, this is a prime spot for sight casting and fly fishing. You can either wade in the shallows or pole your way across mangrove tunnels in search of Redfish, Snook, Seatrout, and Tarpon.
There are tons of great spots, such as Stephen’s Point, Big Sarasota Pass, and Siesta Key, that are only a short boat ride away. If you’re up for some bottom fishing, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the reefs in the area, where you’ll target a range of species, from Snapper and Grouper to Bluefish and Sheepshead. No wonder Sarasota made it to our list of the best Florida fishing spots!
For some visitors, Sarasota is a calm, beach town where you come to relax. For others, it’s a synonym for adventure. No matter what you choose, Sarasota’s got something for everyone. The town is well known for its historical, cultural, and outdoor attractions.
Start off with the beaches, take a dip, get yourself a nice tan, and finish your trip with a scenic hike in the nearby state park. Oh, and don’t forget to check out some of the museums and art galleries.
Another amazing Florida fishing spot, Naples, is located in the heart of Florida’s Paradise Coast. Its pristine beaches and turquoise waters make it an excellent family destination. One of the most popular activities for families to do is, of course, fishing.
Naples has something in store all year round. You can pick a guide to take you backcountry fishing where you’ll weave through mangroves and cast over flats to catch everything from Spotted Seatrout to Blacktip Shark.
There are lots of excellent inland canals that can make a half day trip extra rewarding. If you’re up for a challenge, fly fishing can produce lots of great action against the likes of Tarpon, Snook, Permit, and many other inshore species.
If you have a few extra hours to spare, you can head offshore and tick some big game fish off of your bucket list. Deep sea charters in the area can take you trolling for Mahi Mahi and Tuna or bottom fishing for Snapper and Grouper. It really all depends on what you’re in the mood for. Less than a 30-minute drive down the coast you can also check out Marco Island with a variety of charters at your disposal.
Surrounded by beautiful nature, Naples is another popular Florida beach destination. It’s also known for its high-end shopping and sophisticated dining that you’ll find on Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South. Start your trip off with a dip on Naples Beach, take a walk through the Botanical Garden, or go on a hike in Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.
6. Fort Myers / Cape Coral
Fort Myers is one of Southwest Florida’s most famed fishing spots. If you’re looking to catch a backcountry slam, this is the place to get it done. Snook, Trout, and Redfish flood the waterways between here and Cape Coral, giving inshore anglers the thrill of a lifetime. Other top species here include Goliath Grouper, Tarpon, various Sharks, Mangrove Snapper, Cobia, and the list goes on.
The reason why so many people come to Fort Myers and Cape Coral is its access to an endless amount of fishing opportunities. Whether it’s fly fishing in the bay or bottom fishing over reefs, you’ll want to combine a few types of trips and take in everything this area has to offer. Some of the spots you’ll definitely want to check out are San Carlos Bay, Matlacha Pass, and Pine Island Sound.
The Fort Myers area is well known for its outdoor adventures. You can go hiking, bird watching, kayaking, canoeing, or visit the Butterfly Estates to see all butterfly species native to Florida. If you’re up for a relaxing walk, and some beautiful views, go over to the Sanibel Lighthouse.
Fishing in Miami is often overlooked by the city’s vibrant culture and exciting nightlife. This cosmopolitan city has a lot to offer tourists, which is why it’s one of the most visited cities in the US. However, those who have experienced the fishing scene, know that it’s one of the most exclusive fisheries in all of Florida.
Miami’s deep sea fishing is the main attraction. You can head down the famous Sailfish Alley and reel in big pelagic fish with the city’s skyline in the background. Hundreds of Sailfish, as well as Wahoo, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi funnel through Miami’s offshore waters, giving deep sea anglers a lot to look forward to.
If you’re looking to stay closer to shore, Biscayne Bay is only a short boat ride away and teeming with lots of fish. Night fishing trips are extremely popular, where you can battle hungry Tarpon with nothing but the city lights to guide you through the undisturbed darkness.
Hanging out on the beach, partying, shopping – all that is fun, but if you make your way to Miami and you don’t go fishing, it would be a shame.
Don’t even get us started on the list of the things you can do in Miami! First of all, you can’t miss some of Miami’s well-known beaches. Start off with Miami Beach, and finish by exploring South Beach.
Miami is famous for its glitz and glamour, and you can experience it in some of the 11 rooftop cocktail bars or Michelin-star restaurants. However, that’s not all there is to do in The Magic City. You can also find many world-class museums, delicious street food, and tropical nature in local state parks.
4. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay has some of the best inshore fishing in Florida. This area holds large numbers of Red and Black Drum, Snook, Jack Crevalle, Spotted Seatrout, Sheepshead, and many more. The best part is, no matter what time of year you go fishing, there’s always something biting.
Across the bay, the cities of Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and St. Pete Beach host some of the hottest spots where you can do everything from fly fishing to bottom fishing. You can also explore the Florida Middle Grounds for some offshore action and reel in Amberjack, Blackfin Tuna, Red Snapper, and Gag Grouper. Whether you opt for a half day, full day, or extended charter out into the Gulf, you won’t be disappointed.
Nestled on the waters of Tampa Bay, the city boasts a unique combination of history, Floridian culture, and modern attractions. There’s no other place where the contrast between the wilderness and the city is so big. The northern waterways and wild buoys are filled with alligators, just outside of the city’s hustle and bustle. Once you’re downtown, the Riverwalk is filled with numerous street food stands.
Combine your trip with a dolphin cruise or a visit to some of the interesting museums, and you got yourself a perfect Tampa itinerary.
3. Panama City Beach
Thousands of anglers make this town their yearly seaside destination and it’s no secret why. The productive waters, beautiful beaches, and an array of inshore opportunities make Panama City Beach a go-to family fishing vacation spot, and one of the best fishing spots in Florida.
Its long stretches of white sandy beach make fishing off the surf a rewarding experience. Endless access to shallow flats makes sight casting extremely satisfying as well. Think Redfish, Spanish Mackerel, Mangrove Snapper, Cobia, Flounder, and the list goes on. Seeing the fish as they come up to the boat while you cast out is fun for the whole family, especially for the kids.
PCB is also a popular launching spot for many offshore charters. Red Snapper, King Mackerel, Amberjack, and Groupers are always out there. If you’re experienced in the art of deep sea fishing and you have enough time to set aside for a full day trip, then you have no choice but to check out Panama City’s offshore fishing scene.
With its beaches, family-oriented attractions, and amazing weather, PCB is a great family vacation spot. If you’re visiting with your little ones, there are many amusement and water parks for them to enjoy. However, Panama City Beach is not only for families. The town has something for everyone – even adrenaline junkies.
PCB is one of the places in the area where you can go skydiving or hop on a helicopter ride. If heart-racing adventures aren’t your cup of tea, relax on some of the best beaches in Florida and, in the evening, you can treat yourself to a tasting in Panama City Beach Winery.
Nicknamed the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is Florida’s most appreciated fishing town. It also happens to be one of the best fishing spots in Florida. Nestled between Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Destin has the perfect mix of inshore and offshore fishing – and boy is it amazing!
You can pick a charter to take you to the 100-Fathom Curve, where the floor drops 600 feet below sea level. You can also explore the edge of the continental shelf and target a range of both pelagic and bottom species. Your targets will include big Grouper and Snapper species, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and Billfish.
If you’re a competitive fisherman, you’ll want to check out the Destin Fishing Rodeo and Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. Hundreds of anglers from all over the country hit the shores of Destin each year to win thousands of dollars in cash and to earn the bragging rights to last them a lifetime.
Destin’s got something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned angler looking to sharpen your skills or a beginner testing out the waters for the first time, there are hundreds of charters waiting to take you on an unforgettable adventure!
Even though Destin is famous for its world-class fishing, there are plenty of other things you can do here. Destin also boasts sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-colored waters. Visiting with family? Have a look at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park or Big Kahuna’s Water Park.
For a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and enjoy the amazing sunset. Hop on a boat to go dolphin watching and explore the beautiful Crab Island.
1. The Florida Keys
If you’ve ever imagined a fishing paradise, you’re probably thinking of something like the Florida Keys. This 100-mile stretch of thin islands is surrounded by crystal blue waters and holds lots of fish. Some of this archipelago’s most famous fishing towns include Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West.
You can’t talk about fishing in the Keys without mentioning its incredible flats and backcountry fishing. Bonefish take the center stage in the spring but you can also catch Snook, Tarpon, and Permit throughout the year.
Deep sea fishing in the Keys is also a very gratifying experience. With spots like the Marathon Humps attracting a slew of hungry fish, you’ll experience rod-bending action almost constantly. You’ll often find yourself having to take out the heavy tackle as you battle against some of Florida’s hardest-fighting fish, such as Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna.
You can also bottom fish over reefs or fish from dry land and enjoy a relaxing day in the sun. This famous archipelago has something for everyone and once you get a taste, you’ll be hooked instantly!
The Florida Keys are stunning in every possible way. Driving to them is an adventure itself. The famous Overseas Highway will prepare you for the time you’ll spend here, with stunning views over the turquoise waters. Explore the numerous sandy beaches, and go scuba diving to check out what’s underneath.
If you’re not a beach bum, don’t worry, you’ll have a lot of other things to do. Start off with the famous Ernest Hemingway Museum, explore Fort Jefferson, or try a local treat – Key Lime Pie.
Do I need a license for my Florida fishing trip?
If you’re fishing on a registered Florida saltwater fishing charter or from a licensed pier, you don’t need a license. Florida residents fishing from the shoreline for the saltwater species can get a free shoreline fishing license. In other cases, you’ll need to get a freshwater or saltwater fishing license to explore Florida fishing spots.
You can buy a Florida license online or over the phone at +1 (888) 347-4356. Offline, you can get them at any registered retailer including Walmart and bait and tackle shops. For more info, check out our detailed guide.
Florida Fishing Spots: Endless Fishing Opportunities for You
Whichever Florida fishing spots you choose, you can’t get it wrong. With so many charter options to choose from, you can tailor your trip to your preferences. That is a failsafe way to enjoy one of the greatest fishing destinations in the world.
Rods, reels, and tackle are usually included in the charter price. You’ll likely have a cooler on board so you can bring your favorite snacks and drinks for the ride. Just remember to pack some sunscreen, a lucky hat, and polarized sunglasses, and you’re good to go.
Pick your next Florida fishing spot and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Sunshine State!
Now back to you! Have you ever fished in Florida before? What are your favorite Florida fishing spots? Let us know about your fishing plans in the comments below, or find a charter near you and start fishing!