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Fishing in Florida

Florida fishing charters have built up a serious reputation among anglers from around the world. Known as “The Sportfishing Capital of the World,” Florida is nothing less than an angler’s heaven. Choose between the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, or the state’s endless freshwater fisheries. Wherever you go, you’ll find gamefish galore and enough tasty table fish to feed an army. Florida, quite simply, has it all.

Known For

Where do we start? Over a million people visit Florida to fish each year, and every angler is drawn by something different. Flats, mangroves, reefs, wrecks, lakes, canals, deep-water trenches — you name it, Florida’s got it. It’s no wonder over 900 IGFA records currently stand in the Sunshine State — that’s around 7% of all records globally.
Florida has some of the largest and longest-running fishing tournaments in the world. West Palm Beach’s Silver Sailfish Derby has been going since the ‘30s, and the Destin Fishing Rodeo now draws over 35,000 anglers each year. There are also specialist tournaments for everything from fly fishing to bowfishing, and targeting anything from Catfish to Swordfish. 
So it’s all hardcore sportfishing and competitive tournaments? Not at all! Family fishing trips are the backbone of most Floridian charter companies, and captains love helping little ones land their first fish. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find experienced guides willing and able to give you that trip of a lifetime.

Florida Fishing Spots

Wet your lines pretty much anywhere in Florida and you can head home with a trunkful of fish. If you’re looking to take things to the next level, a few places have earned legendary status for being good even by Florida standards. There’s a lot of ground (or water) to cover, so forgive us if we forgot your favorite fishing pier.


Where better to start than “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village?” If you’re looking for great food fishing, you can’t beat the endless reefs which litter the Emerald Coast. Red Snapper steal the headlines on Florida offshore fishing charters with good reason. Grouper, Amberjack, and much more will fill your coolers here, though, and that’s just the reef fish. Head out to the bluewaters, and you’ll find Tuna, Sailfish, and even Marlin.

Tampa Bay

Sitting in the middle of Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Tampa Bay Area has some of the best inshore angling in the state. Redfish, Snook, and Spotted Seatrout can be caught 365 days of the year, and Tarpon spend the whole summer here. The area is also known for its offshore reefs full of Snapper and Grouper. The sheer number of charters leaving from Tampa, St Petersburg, and St. Pete Beach means you’ll find just the trip you’re after, whatever that may be.

Fort Myers

Head south from Tampa, and you hit the sprawling shallows of Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Between the rich waters of the Caloosahatchee River and the endless backcountry of Sanibel and Pine Island, you couldn’t ask for a better place to pole a skiff through. Nearby Boca Grande is generally agreed to have the world’s best Tarpon fishing. The Silver Kings aren’t the only ones in town, either. Redfish, Trout, and Snook make the area a fly fisher’s paradise.

Florida Keys

There’s not much you can’t catch in the Keys. This island chain divides the Gulf and the Atlantic, and has access to the full bounty of both. The sand flats are full of Bonefish, Permit, Snook, and Tarpon (AKA an Inshore Super Grand Slam). Head offshore, and you find the huge Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish which drew Hemingway to Key West. If that’s not enough, the Everglades are right on your doorstep from Islamorada up. The area also has North America’s only natural coral barrier reef, and spot reefs line the length of the Keys.

Miami & Fort Lauderdale

Florida’s Gold Coast may be best known for its beaches and nightlife, but it also has some of the best deep sea fishing Florida has to offer! The infamous Sailfish Alley runs just a stone’s throw from shore. It earns its name each winter, funneling hundreds of Sails right past the beach. As if that wasn’t enough, the Gulf Stream comes within a few miles of land here. The deep waters make this a great spot for Swordfishing, and both daytime and nighttime trips are a local specialty.


If you love hooking monster King Mackerel (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t) Jacksonville has some of the best fishing in Florida for trophy Kingfish! Head out to the Gulf Stream, and you can add Marlin, Sailfish, and Blackfin Tuna to the list. Take a cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway to St. Augustine, and you can also find world-class inshore action for Redfish, Trout, Flounder, and more. Don’t miss the spring Cobia and summer Tarpon migrations, they’re huge here!

Lake Okeechobee

Florida freshwater fishing can get you on incredible catches of Largemouth and Peacock Bass, as well as some monster Crappie. Lake Okeechobee is Florida’s largest freshwater fishery, but even the canals have plenty of action. Nearby West Palm Beach has become famous for its exotic invaders like Clown Knifefish and Snakehead. The best part? The mix of fresh and saltwater means Bass and Snook are just a cast away from each other!

Need to Know

Florida fishing charters have had a long time to perfect their service, and usually provide all the important things for your trip. You don’t need to buy a license on a Florida saltwater fishing charter, although you will need to pick one up for freshwater fishing. All tackle and bait is normally provided, but you may need to bring your own fly fishing gear. The most important things for you to pack are sunscreen, a hat, shades, and several layers of clothing, just in case. 
Many species have strict closed seasons which can change year on year. Fishing with a guide is the easiest way to stay within the rules while also catching a boatload of fish. Florida fishing seasons also vary depending on whether you’re in the Gulf or the Atlantic, and if you’re fishing in state or federal waters. 
Red Snapper season usually opens in June, while Amberjack is often closed until August in the Gulf. Some species like Tarpon are catch and release only, while others like Snook are enjoyed for their game value even when they’re closed for harvest. If you want to keep Snook, September onwards is the best time to visit.
There’s so much going on in Florida, it’s impossible to cover it all. We’ve done our best to highlight some of our favorite parts of Florida’s fishing scene, and you can find a month by month breakdown below. The truth is that the entire state has incredible angling, and each town can offer something unique. Discovering every aspect of Florida sport fishing would take a lifetime, but it would be a life well spent. There’s no time like the present, so come on down to the Sunshine State and start your fishing adventure!
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Florida Fishing Seasons

The West Palm Beach Silver Sailfish Derby kicks off the year with incredible Billfishing. Lower temperatures and rainfall make for great sight fishing in the Keys, but may make fish sluggish further north.

Islamorada offers awesome Sailfish action, while Redfish and Trout inhale live baits across the state. The Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament kicks off, as it has done for over half a century.


Cobia start to make their way up the Atlantic Coast, hitting Fort Lauderdale by the middle of the month. The Marlin bite is incredible down across much of Southern Florida.


Fish are on the move across Florida. Cobia make their way up the Atlantic Coast as Tarpon hit Cape Coral in the west. This is one of the best times and places to battle the Silver King.


Tournament season kicks off with the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo, Miami Billfish Tournament, Florida Keys Dolphin Tournament, and more. Tarpon are on fire in Boca Grande.


It’s Red Snapper Season, and Destin is full of anglers looking for a piece of the action. Tarpon are still putting tackle to the test along the Gulf Coast, while Cobia hit Jacksonville in the Northwest.


The Del Brown Permit Tournament is the most important fly fishing event in the state, and anglers flood Key West to enjoy it. Speaking of fly fishing, Tarpon are still around in Tampa Bay!


The heat and humidity can be exhausting this time of year. Beat the heat by fishing at night for Tarpon or Flounder. Otherwise, head offshore in search of huge Amberjack — it’s open season.


Snook are open for harvest from September onwards. The guys are as great to eat as they are to catch, and make inshore angling incredible. Kingfish show up in Jacksonville, making their way south.


The Destin Fishing Rodeo is the biggest tournament in the country, drawing tens of thousands of anglers each year. Blackfin Tuna are biting hard in the Keys and along the Gold Coast.


Lake Parish opens its gates for the exclusive Fish United Way Tournament. This is some of the best Crappie fishing around, if you can get in. Lower temperatures make for fun inshore action everywhere.


Sailfish are back across Southeast Florida, and the Stuart Sailfish Club Light Tackle Tournament has been making the most of it since the ‘50s. Reef fishing can be amazing this time of year.

Florida Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Florida

September fishing trip
Wesley P. fished with Hustons Outdoor Adventures on September 19, 2020
Water is nice and warm in the summer. Keep up the sunscreen and watch the weather because it can change in an hour.
September fishing trip
Catherine A. fished with AJ’s Bass Guides on September 18, 2020
Go first thing in the morning to Big Lake Tohopakaliga.
September fishing trip
Cesar A. fished with Bottoms Up Fishing Excursions on September 12, 2020
We had a really good time, we finish early because the storm came. For sure we will be back. Thank's
5 hour trip
Royce M. fished with Too Hot 2 Handle Charters on September 12, 2020
Inshore fishing winds and storms can make it rough for a first trip
Fishing with Paul
Daniel C. fished with Captain Paul's Yacht Charters on September 11, 2020
Fish were not biting this day but just great to hang out with a fun crew and good friends.
6 hr trip with Captain Alex
Mike B. fished with Miller Fishing Company – 26' (Pensacola) on September 6, 2020
Red snapper season needs to be adjusted. Caught several and wasn’t allowed to keep
Fishing on the Gulf with Kent and Bobbi
Shawn H. fished with Broke Tip Charter on September 5, 2020
I will fish the gulf again next spring and hopefully next summer.
afternoon trip with captain Josh
Trent O. fished with Just Reel on September 5, 2020
come early in the season. There are more fish in season.

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