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Top Fishing Charters in South Florida

Fishing in South Florida

South Florida fishing charters have a lot going for them. With the choice of the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and thousands of square miles of marshes, you’d have a harder time keeping your feet dry than you would finding a charter. This is also the sunniest part of the Sunshine State. The tropical climate holds exotic species found nowhere else in the country.

Known For

There’s no end to what South Florida fishing can offer. Comb the shallows for anything from Trout and Redfish to Permit and Bonefish. Visit ancient wrecks and the country’s only natural barrier reef to haul in huge Snapper and Grouper. Otherwise, head inland for Largemouth and Peacock Bass.
 
And that’s without even getting started on South Florida’s incredible deep sea fishing. Big game Billfishing was being pioneered in these warm, southern waters as far back as the ‘30s. You can fish with some of the best in the business, chasing monster Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, and more. South Florida has it all.
 

South Florida Fishing Spots

Your trip will be completely different depending on where you go. We’re talking about a huge area and several very contrasting bodies of water. You can break it down into a few areas, each one specializing in something different.
 

Gulf Coast

The area around Fort Myers and Cape Coral is one of the country’s greatest inshore fisheries. Redfish, Trout, Flounder, and Permit can all be caught here, but it’s the Tarpon people come for. Boca Grande is widely-recognized as the Tarpon Capital of the World, and the entire area is outstanding. Monster Silver Kings spend much of the spring and summer here, often gathering in schools a hundred strong. 
 
If you want to go offshore, you have to travel 100 miles or more to find big game species like Mahi Mahi or Sailfish. What the area does offer is some incredible reef fishing for Red Grouper, Lane and Vermillion Snapper (and in season, Red Snapper), King Mackerel, and more.
 

Atlantic Coast

Head over to the Atlantic Coast, and things couldn’t be more different. From Jupiter to Miami, the seafloor drop hundreds of feet within swimming distance. The infamous “Sailfish Alley” makes Billfishing possible even on a half day trip, and deep-dropping charters target Tilefish, Barrelfish, Wreckfish, and even Swordfish under an hour’s cruise from town. Modern Swordfishing was born in South Florida, and both daytime and nighttime Swordfish trips are a signature of Miami and Fort Lauderdale charter boats.
 
The area’s no one-trick pony, though. Just as you can find offshore action in the Gulf, there’s some great inshore fish here on the Atlantic. Fish the Intracoastal Waterway all along the Gold Coast or hit the canals around West Palm Beach. South Florida canal fishing is truly unique. A mix of fresh and saltwater brings Snook and Peacock Bass within casting range of each other. You can also find Tarpon in the lagoons and exotic invaders like Snakehead and Clown Knifefish in many canals.
 

Florida Keys 

Quite simply, the Florida Keys have it all. With access to both the Atlantic and the Gulf, you can go after a huge range of species. Many of them migrate right past the island chain on their way in and out of the Gulf. The Keys are blessed with the country’s only natural barrier reef (the Florida Reef) but it’s most famous for its deep sea fishing. Key West has enough Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi to make even the mighty Ernest Hemingway move here.
 
The inshore action is also outstanding, with shallow sand flats and dense mangroves full of awesome gamefish. Permit, Snook, Tarpon, and Bonefish can be caught throughout the Keys, and there are plenty of Redfish and Trout, too. Then you’ve got patch and barrier reefs full of Grouper, Snapper, Hogfish, Triggerfish, Amberjack, and more. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it here.
 

Everglades & Lake Okeechobee

Head inland anywhere in South Florida and you hit the Everglades. This vast wetland is a briny mix of sea and lake water. In the coastal reaches, you’ll find monster Snook and Tarpon. Head inland, and you can hook Peacock Bass, Alligator Gar, and who knows what else. The thing that makes the Everglades special is the sheer size of the place. If you want to fish all day without another person in sight, the Everglades are for you. What they lack in people, they make up for in alligators, though, so be careful!
 
If you want the best Peacock Bass fishing South Florida can offer, visit Lake Okeechobee. Both Peacock and Largemouth Bass grow to incredible sizes in these wide, shallow waters, and you can also catch some huge Crappie. Again, this is a largely uninhabited part of the state, and the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet. When you’re not busy battling Bass, that is.

South Florida Fishing Techniques

The type of deep sea fishing South Florida is best-known for is kite fishing. Trolling is as popular here as it is all over the world, but nothing says Sailfish like a sky full of kites on a winter’s morning. While kites and trolled ballyhoo dominate the topwaters, other boats are busy dropping squid, blinker lights, and huge lead weights in search of Swordfish. During the day you could be dropping your lines 1,500 feet or more, so electric reels are a must.
 
Inshore, most anglers use either light spinning or fly fishing gear. Conventional anglers have the choice of live bait or lures, while fly anglers will change their setup based on the target species. Fly fishing is also very popular in the freshwater marshes and lakes, and makes for some of the best Bass fishing South Florida has to offer.

Need to Know

Saltwater fishing licenses are included on all South Florida fishing charters. You need to buy a license to fish freshwaters or from shore, though. Get these online or in person from local approved vendors. The rules for South Florida fishing piers vary, so it’s best to read up on the pier you want to fish from.
 
Another thing that varies is the seasonality of different species. Closed seasons change depending on whether you’re fishing Gulf waters or Atlantic, and state waters or federal. Your charter captain is always the best person to ask for up to date information.
 
South Florida is perfectly set up for charter fishing. You can find captains passionate about every possible way to catch a fish, and you will always have a range of great boats to choose from. And the best part? You’ll be fishing in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Think white sands, palm trees, and gin-clear waters. You won’t have a hard time convincing the family to visit, that’s for sure!
South Florida
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South Florida Fishing Seasons

Kick off the year with world-class Sailfishing along the Gold Coast or down in the Keys. Otherwise, you can enjoy some great flats fishing all over Southwest Florida.

What could be a more romantic Valentine’s Day than fishing for Largemouth Bass with your significant other? Saltwater anglers can target anything from Redfish to Sailfish this time of year.

Along the Gulf Coast, you can catch Sheepshead, Redfish, Trout, and more, while Cobia can be caught throughout South Florida. The last of the Sails are threading through Sailfish Alley this time of year.

You can catch everything in April – it’s just a case of where. The Keys are bustling with Bonefish and Blue Marlin, Bass are swarming the lakes and canals, and the Gulf reefs are getting busy.

It’s your last chance to harvest Snook before catch-and-release season. Tarpon are starting to show up around Boca Grande, though, and most people have forgotten about them completely.

Red Snapper are open for harvest in federal Gulf waters from June. Naples, Fort Myers, and other Gulf Coast towns really come into their own this time of year. 

July is a great time for deep sea fishing in the Atlantic, with Blue Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, and Sailfish devouring baits and lures offshore. Inshore, Tarpon are going crazy in Boca Grande.

Amberjack are open for harvest in the Gulf, making up for the end of Snapper season. You can always rely on amazing Bass fishing, with Peacock and Largemouth Bass both in season.

Tarpon Start to move on from Boca Grande, but so do the crowds! Beat the heat and enjoy world-class flats fishing, or go out at night to bowfish in the Everglades - watch out for alligators!

Sailfish start to show up along the Southeast, while Red and Black Drum bite hard in Cape Coral. Fishing’s always great in the Keys, with Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Wahoo, and more.

Sheepshead start to show up in big numbers as the water cools in the Gulf. This is your last best chance for Bonefish in the Key. Tripletail are on form along the Gold Coast.

If all you want for Christmas is great fishing, you’ll be happy wherever you go in South Florida. The weather’s warm, the rains have stopped, and sportfish teem the shallows looking for a fight. 

South Florida Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About South Florida

"March fishing trip"

Joel D. fished with Corsair 2 Sportfishing – Key West on March 24, 2019

A large variety of fishing to suit your needs

"Half day inshore trip"

Stephanie S. fished with Master Dangler Charters on March 23, 2019

Fabulous fishing in shore - March is hit or miss for Tarpon as there can be cold fronts.

"Half day of great fishing!"

Chris L. fished with Outta Line Charters on March 23, 2019

Key west is best from water. Take a trip out and enjoy it. Very calm waters compared to the northeast. Can practically see the bottom in the shallows. Awesome fishing

"Full day trip"

Simon S. fished with Cowboy Charters - Cowboy on March 23, 2019

Foshing shirt is a must, also look for a boat with shade. Its hot on the water

Top Targeted Species in South Florida

Tarpon

Snapper (Mangrove)

Snook

Redfish

Top South Florida Destinations