West Palm Beach Fishing: All You Need to Know
Sep 9, 2020 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Judging by the endless stream of anglers that descend on the town each year, it’s clear that West Palm Beach fishing needs no introduction. The city owes much of this popularity to its gorgeous nature reserves, endless sandy beaches, and a lively bar scene. Add to this the wealth of opportunities available in the surrounding waters, and you’ve got any angler’s attention. 

West Palm Beach skyline, shot from the water during the day

From exploring the local lakes and canals to thrilling expeditions offshore, West Palm Beach has it all. The waters here deepen as soon as you leave the dock, giving you a chance to battle some proper beasts without even losing sight of the shore. To equip yourself with the information necessary to get the most out of your visit, read on for our top tips and tricks.

West Palm Beach Fish Species

Do you already have a specific target in mind, or are you just looking for what’s biting? Whatever the case may be, West Palm Beach won’t disappoint. This fishery has no shortage of options, but the area’s top species are certainly the ones responsible for the most memorable moments. Here is a rundown of species that local anglers just can’t get enough of.

Tarpon

You simply can’t talk about West Palm Beach’s inshore fishing without first mentioning Tarpon, its undisputed king. It’d be impossible to find an angler who’s fished the intracoastal waters and not had the dream of coming face to gills with this silver brute. There have been so many tales told about the shows this fish puts on that anglers just can’t resist coming to see for themselves.

Angler standing in shallow water under his boat with a Tarpon in his hands

However, coming out of this battle victorious is no easy task. Even experienced anglers must be at the top of their game to reel a large Tarpon in. They’ll make every part of the experience a bit more challenging. Getting a bite, setting your hook, and keeping it there through the acrobatics will all will require all your skills and strength. Nothing here comes for granted – that’s what makes the reward so great.

Snook

Next in this all-star lineup of local species is a fish known for its elusive nature. Anglers will find themselves exploring the most secluded backcountry spots in search of the cunning Snook. During the cold months, it’s the main attraction at the area’s mangrove islands. Here it stays in cover looking for their prey. Once it spots it, or anything resembling it, the fight is on!  

Smiling young angler holding a huge snook on a boat

If you’re looking to stay away from the tricky mangroves, you’ll want to go after Snook during the warmer part of the year. As the water temperatures rise it will start moving through the intracoastal waterways around West Palm Beach. This is also prime time to try and land yourself a prized specimen that has left the safety of its winter home. 

Peacock Bass

Whether it’s their exotic color, feisty temper, flaky meat, or a combination of the three, Peacock Bass never lack attention from anglers. Their long summer spawning season puts plenty of them in the water during the busy summer months. Thanks to this healthy population in local lakes and canals, these critters are the number one target for many anglers fishing here. 

Angler standing on the shore of a canal with a Peacock Bass in hand

If you find a spot where the bite is hot you may get to see a fish take your bait as many as 30 times during the day. You’ll get to enjoy red-hot action for the majority of your trip as these bullies thrash around in the water under you. Just about any type of lure or bait will do the trick. However, if you have the option, streamers and poppers tend to work the best.

Mahi Mahi

When describing fish species, anglers usually focus on either their target’s game qualities or food qualities. When it comes to Mahi Mahi, there’s no need to sacrifice one for the other. This is a fish that’s famously fun to catch and extremely prized for its delicious meat. This means that, once the thrill of the chase dies down, there is still an excellent dinner to look forward to. 

Lady angler and two male anglers holding a Mahi Mahi on a boat

Mahi Mahi will start making an appearance in the waters of West Palm Beach with the arrival of warmer spring and summer months. If you’re planning on visiting the local offshore spots during this time, your target has probably already been picked. It’s hard to imagine a better day on the water than the one spent trolling the blue ocean for these golden prizes. 

Sailfish

Finally, no South Florida list of targets is complete without the ultimate game species – Sailfish. Although they’re definitely not the only species of Billfish available in West Palm Beach’s waters, Sailfish tend to be the target most often picked by thrill-seeking anglers. You’ll be able to reliably target them during the winter months as they make their way along the Gulf Stream. 

Two fishermen hold a caught sailfish before releasing it from the hook

Much like Mahi Mahi, these beasts are usually caught by trolling the waters at the continental shelf. However, if you’re lucky enough to have one take your bait, the experience of battling it will be unlike anything else. They’re lightning-fast and incredibly energetic. Just make sure not to be caught off-guard and you’ll have a story for the ages!

How to Fish in West Palm Beach

The wealth of fish species in West Palm Beach is only matched by the various types of fishing available to visiting anglers. Of course, the choices here will mostly depend on your preference, but it’s good to know the main advantages of each one. Here is a brief summary of some of the most popular types of adventures.

Charter Fishing

In West Palm Beach, fishing charters come in all shapes and sizes, making it hard to easily describe them as a single category. You’ll find anything from charters specializing in navigating the inshore waters, to those fixated on the deep sea prizes offshore. Whatever your choice, the captain you pick will be a seasoned veteran, fully committed to your success. 

Center console fishing boat speeding away from the shore

This is definitely the biggest advantage of charter fishing. Having a professional by your side means you’ll be fishing the richest spots available in these waters, whatever your target may be. You get to improve your skills, find your target faster, and receive all the assistance you need. All you’ll have to worry about is looking good when posing with your catch!

Party Boat Fishing

Anglers looking for an easy way to some great table fare will get the most out of party boat fishing. Party boat captains have one objective – to get everyone on a good bite. These trips will typically see you visiting the West Palm Beach area’s rich reefs, located just a short ride from the docks. It’s a great way to meet fellow anglers, share a few stories, and hook some fish.

Aerial photo of a party boat taking a large group of anglers out to the fishing grounds

In some ways, it’s an experience that resembles fishing from a public pier. And although there will be crew members to provide assistance to novices, they won’t be able to get to everyone immediately. This is why having some prior experience is recommended here. Knowing your way around a fishing rod will maximize both your fishing time and your catch on party boats.

Kayak Fishing

Giving anglers an inexpensive way to choose their adventure and target the sea’s biggest prizes, it’s no wonder kayak fishing is gaining so much popularity. It’s an extremely versatile type of fishing that can be applied in various depths of water. Although most beginners will wisely stay inshore, more experienced veterans may even be able to test the bite at the reefs. 

Angler in a Kayak reeling in his line at sunset

Before renting a kayak and heading for the nearest launch ramp, remember that this type of fishing requires you to already be at a certain skill level. You’ll often have to juggle multiple tasks at once, all while getting quite a workout. However, if you do have what it takes, you’ll find this to be one of the most rewarding fishing experiences out there.

Shore Fishing

Haven’t got your sea legs yet? Don’t sweat it! West Palm Beach has countless shore fishing spots where hungry fish are never in short supply. Choose between different canals, lakes, jetties, piers, parks, or beaches and tailor the experience to your needs. Pick a nice spot, cast a line, and relax – after all, that’s what it’s all about!

Angler fishing from a dock with his dog next to him

If you fail to get on a good bite at first, move around a bit since not all spots are going to be equally productive throughout the year. Still it shouldn’t be too difficult to put yourself in a position to score a fish or two. Don’t expect to break any records, however, as fish caught from the shore are rarely large, unless lady luck feels really generous.

West Palm Beach Fishing Spots

Some of the best fishing spots in West Palm Beach are only a few minutes away. This is good news because you’re going to want to hit them all. There’s something here for everyone and deciding what to target is often harder than the fishing itself.

Clean and modern public docks in downtown West Palm Beach
  • Palm Beach: If you’re looking to get to the ocean and try your hand at catching nearshore species from the shore, Palm Beach is the place to go! Make it a day and explore the town’s nearshore waters and rich reefs where you can catch anything from Snapper to Amberjack.
  • Okeeheelee Park: This gorgeous park spans 1,700 acres and encompasses two lakes, open for fishing and boating. Here you’ll be able to target Largemouth Bass, different Panfish, and Catfish. During your breaks, you can enjoy the park’s many amenities.
  • Currie Park Fishing Pier: Stretching 200 feet in length, over the waters of Lake Worth Lagoon, this pier is a popular spot for many saltwater anglers fishing from the shore. It boasts a 50′ “T” at the end, as well as a small shade structure. 
  • Intracoastal Waterway: The waterway and its tributaries offer anglers mile after mile of inshore fun. Peacock Bass and Snook call these waters home pretty much year-round. Head up towards Palm Beach Inlet and you can also get on seasonal catches of Tarpon.
  • Reefs: Heading out from Palm Beach Inlet, you’re immediately surrounded by spots like the Bridge Reef and the Playground. You’ll be fishing in 100–200 feet of water within three miles of shore, targeting Grouper, Snapper, Hogfish, and even Amberjack.
  • Gulf Stream: Think the reefs are close to town? Wait till you get out to the Gulf Stream. These warm, rich waters can come within 10 miles of town, bringing pelagics like Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Sailfish, and Blackfin Tuna within sight of land!

When to Visit West Palm Beach

Regardless of the time of your visit, West Palm Beach will provide you with plenty of targets to go after. Time your visit right and you can also participate in tournaments targeting the most prized game fish in these waters. Different times of the year may also mean certain species will be closed for fishing, so get informed on these before booking your trip.

West Palm Beach Fishing Tournaments

A sportfishing boat racing across the water

Each year the local community puts on various events and tournaments visitors can participate in. Attracting anglers looking to target game species like Wahoo, Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, and Sailfish, these competitions always produce some amazing results. Two of the most popular tournaments of this type are the Silver Sailfish Derby in January and the KDW Classic in June. 

If all you’re looking for is some friendly competition or an event geared towards kids, West Palm Beach has you covered. Maybe you can try your hand at lobstering by joining in on the fun provided each year by the Singer Island Spiny Lobsterfest, or introduce the young ones to fishing through the annual Kid’s Fishing Day.

Fishing Seasons and Regulations

Certain species present in the waters of West Palm Beach have strict closed seasons, put in place to keep their populations at a healthy level. These include Grouper (January–April), Hogfish (Jun–September) and Permit (April–July).

A smiling anglers holding a Hogfish on a boat

Before you can wet your line, you’ll also need to remember to get the appropriate fishing license. This can be done either online or at a local tackle shop. If you’re fishing aboard a private charter, all licenses will be covered by the captain. 

Now Get Yourself a Catch Worth Bragging About! 

West Palm Beach nighttime cityscape and plaza

The bigger your appetite, the more you’ll be able to get out of this rich fishery. Be open to new things and give the various types of local fishing grounds a try. Maybe even on the same trip! Take full advantage of the local charter fleet’s experienced captains, or forge your own path, testing the city’s shore spots. Either way, you’re sure to have a blast!

We’re always hungry for more stories from our anglers. Have you fished the waters of West Palm Beach Before? Share your experiences below!

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