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Fishing in Fort Lauderdale
Rules & Regulations
You don’t need a fishing license on saltwater charters in Fort Lauderdale. You do need one to target freshwater species like Bass, though. Be aware that Snook are release-only from December 15 to January 31 and June 1 to August 3. Most Grouper species are protected between January 1 and April 30. Lastly, Tarpon are catch-and-release all year round.
Fort Lauderdale Fishing Seasons
January may be Fort Lauderdale's coldest month, but the fishing is hot. Often, the worse the weather, the better the fishing. Windy conditions get Sailfish biting like crazy. Swordfishing can be very good.
February is the month of the Wahoo in Fort Lauderdale. This means fast trolling and faster action. Look out for Blackfin Tuna 'busting' schools of baitfish over reefs and make the most of the awesome Sailfish bite.
Spring is Fort Lauderdale's best fishing season. Troll, bottom fish over shipwrecks, fish over the reefs with live bait - everything is biting. Mahi Mahi arrive close to shore when the east winds blow. Kingfish and Amberjack are caught at the reefs.
The great spring bite continues, with wreck fishing getting better and better. Mahi Mahi are biting extremely well in relatively shallow water (200-300 ft). The rougher the weather, the better the fishing for this species.
Mahi Mahi continue to bite within a few miles of the coast, with Blackfin Tuna also red hot. Amberjacks are caught over wrecks in waters 200-300 ft deep. This is usually the beginning of the open Grouper season.
The reefs are the place to go at this time of year. Catch Kingfish and Tuna here as well as Bonito, which are migrating along the coastline. This is also one of the best times to catch Sharks in Fort Lauderdale.
The weather heats up, but that doesn't put a stop to the fishing. This is one of the best months for Snapper and Grouper fishing, particularly at night. Trolling for Bonito and Kingfish over the reefs is very successful.
The seas are calm and tranquil, with surface temperatures being very hot. This makes deep drop fishing offshore a very good choice, with deeper dwelling fish being less affected by the temperature change further up.
Temperatures usually start to cool by the end of the month, inviting a greater number of surface fish. Sailfish might start showing up, with Kingifsh still being active over the reefs. Tarpon is great inshore.
As the weather transitions to Fall, winds tend to pick up. This brings pelagics closer to shore, with fishing for Mahi Mahi and Sailfish being very good, and a great variety of pelagics biting over the reefs.
Sailfish start to settle in earnest nearshore, chasing schools of mullet through Fort Lauderdale's famous 'Sailfish Alley'. Bottom fishing for Snapper and Grouper is excellent, with a host of species crowding the reefs.
Winter is not something that should put you off fishing in Fort Lauderdale. You can expect a good bite from Sailfish and Mahi Mahi nearshore, with Tuna, Wahoo, Cobia, and Amberjack around the reefs.