Looking for the best places to deep sea fish in Florida? Don’t worry – I’ve got the best info for you.
My family and I have been fishing in Florida for over 20 years, and let me tell you, it’s an absolute blast. We’ve spent tons of time fishing all over the place – the Keys, the Gulf Coast, and even the East Coast. We’ve caught everything from Tarpon to Mahi Mahi to Grouper. Each trip is a new adventure and the thrill of reeling in a big one never gets old. Florida’s got some of the best fishing spots in the world if you ask us.
Florida, known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World,” is a paradise for anglers. With its diverse fisheries stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast and down to the Keys, it offers some of the world’s finest fishing experiences.
But with so many fantastic spots to choose from, how do you decide where to cast your line? This guide will help you navigate through the top 15 fishing spots in Florida, each offering a unique angling adventure.
15 Best Places to Deep Sea Fish in Florida
The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the state’s southern tip. Known for its coral reefs, the area is a hub for offshore fishing with species like Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Tuna.
The Keys are also home to numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year, attracting anglers from around the globe. The shallow flats and mangroves around the Keys are perfect for fly fishing and light tackle fishing, where you can target Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit.
Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is famous for its abundant fish population, thanks to its proximity to the 100 Fathom Curve. The city is a hotspot for bottom fishing, with Snapper, Grouper, and Amberjack being the main targets. The offshore waters are home to big game species like Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna. Destin also hosts the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, a month-long event attracting thousands of anglers.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach offers a unique fishing experience with its artificial reefs, providing a habitat for a variety of species. Here, you can catch Flounder, Red Snapper, and Black Snapper. The city also offers excellent opportunities for fly fishing, with the St. Andrews Bay area being a popular spot. The offshore waters are home to larger species like Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Sailfish.
Tampa Bay offers a mix of both freshwater and saltwater fish, making it a versatile fishing destination. The Bay is known for its Tarpon, especially during the annual Tarpon migration. The inshore waters are home to Redfish, Snook, and Trout, while the offshore waters offer Grouper, Snapper, and Kingfish. Tampa Bay is also home to numerous fishing tournaments throughout the year.
Miami is not just about beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife; it’s also a prime spot for fishing. The Gulf Stream flows quite close to the city, providing excellent deep-sea fishing opportunities for Swordfish, Marlin, and Sailfish. The inshore waters of Biscayne Bay offer excellent opportunities for Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit. Miami is also the gateway to the Florida Keys, providing easy access to the rich fishing grounds there.
Fort Myers / Cape Coral
Known for its backcountry fishing, Fort Myers and Cape Coral offer a diverse range of fishing opportunities. The area is famous for its “Inshore Grand Slam” – catching Snook, Trout, and Redfish all in one day. The Caloosahatchee River and Estero Bay are popular fishing spots, teeming with Tarpon, Snook, and Redfish. Offshore, you can find Grouper, Snapper, and Cobia. The area also hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament.
Located in the heart of Florida’s Paradise Coast, Naples offers a mix of backcountry fishing, deep-sea fishing, and pier fishing. The backwaters are home to Snook, Redfish, and Tarpon, while offshore you can find Grouper, Snapper, and King Mackerel. The Naples Pier is a popular spot for casual fishing, where you can catch a variety of species without a boat. The city also hosts the Naples Take a Soldier Fishing tournament, a charity event that pairs military service members with local captains for a day of fishing.
Sarasota is a prime spot for sight casting and fly fishing, thanks to its vast network of flats, sand bars, and seagrass meadows. The area is known for its Redfish, Snook, Seatrout, and Tarpon. Offshore, you can find Snapper, Grouper, and King Mackerel. Sarasota also hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Sarasota Slam and the Sarasota Tarpon Tournament.
Daytona Beach offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities, from the calm waters of the Halifax River to the offshore waters of the Atlantic. Inshore, you can find Red and Black Drum, and Sheepshead, while offshore you can catch Wahoo and other pelagic species. The area is also known for its excellent Largemouth Bass fishing. Daytona Beach hosts the annual Halifax Sport Fishing Club Offshore Challenge.
Jacksonville / St. Augustine
Jacksonville offers a mix of freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. The St. Johns River is home to Largemouth Bass, Catfish, and Crappie, while the offshore waters offer King Mackerel, Cobia, and Redfish. Nearby St. Augustine offers excellent inshore fishing for Redfish, Flounder, and Trout. Both cities host several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament and the Ancient City Game Fish Challenge.
Known as the “Red Snapper Capital of the World,” Pensacola offers excellent bottom fishing opportunities. The city is also known for its inshore fishing, with Redfish, Trout, and Flounder being popular targets. Offshore, you can find Tuna, Marlin, and Mahi Mahi. Pensacola hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Pensacola International Billfish Tournament.
Cocoa Beach offers a mix of inshore, offshore, and surf fishing opportunities. The Banana River and Indian River Lagoon are popular inshore fishing spots, teeming with Redfish, Snook, and Trout. Offshore, you can find King Mackerel, Cobia, and Snapper. The city’s beaches are also popular for surf fishing, with Whiting, Pompano, and Black Drum being common catches.
Clearwater is known for its deep-sea fishing, with the Gulf of Mexico providing rich fishing grounds for Grouper, Snapper, and Amberjack. The city’s inshore waters are also home to Tarpon, Redfish, and Snook. Clearwater hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Clearwater Big Pier 60 Fishing Tournament.
St. Petersburg offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities, from the inshore waters of Tampa Bay to the offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The city is known for its Tarpon fishing, especially during the annual Tarpon migration. Offshore, you can find Grouper, Snapper, and Kingfish. St. Petersburg hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Old Salt King of the Beach Kingfish Tournament.
Palm Beach offers excellent offshore fishing, with the Gulf Stream passing close to the shore. The area is known for its Sailfish, and is often referred to as the “Sailfish Capital of the World”. Other offshore species include Marlin, Tuna, and Wahoo. The Lake Worth Lagoon offers excellent inshore fishing for Snook, Tarpon, and Redfish. Palm Beach hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Silver Sailfish Derby, one of the oldest fishing tournaments in the country.
Fishing Licenses in Florida
Before you cast your line in Florida, it’s important to understand the state’s fishing license requirements. Most residents and visitors will need a license to fish, with some exceptions. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Residents: Florida residents aged 16 to 65 must have a Florida fishing license to fish in fresh or saltwater. However, Florida residents 65 years old and older do not need a license but must provide proof of age and residency.
- Non-residents: Non-residents must have a license to fish in Florida, regardless of age. The license can be purchased for various durations (from a few days to a year).
- Exemptions: Some people are exempt from needing a license, including children under 16, Florida residents who are fishing in their home county using live or natural bait, and those fishing from a licensed pier.
Always check the current regulations on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. You can also buy your fishing license online at their site.
Choosing the Right Fishing Charter for the Best Places to Deep Sea Fish in Florida
Choosing the right fishing charter can make your fishing trip even more memorable. Here are some factors to consider:
- Type of Fishing: Ensure the charter specializes in the type of fishing you want to do (inshore, offshore, deep sea, fly fishing, etc.).
- Group Size: Some charters are better suited for larger groups, while others specialize in smaller, more personalized experiences.
- Reviews and Reputation: Check online reviews and ask for recommendations. A charter with a good reputation is likely to provide a good fishing experience.
- Budget: Charters can vary in price based on the length of the trip, the size of the boat, and the type of fishing. Determine your budget beforehand and find a charter that fits within it.
- Captain’s Experience: An experienced captain will not only know where to find the fish but also prioritize safety.
How to Choose the Perfect Fishing Spot
Picking the perfect fishing spot in Florida can feel like a big task, but don’t worry – I’ve got some tips to help you out. Here’s what you need to consider:
- What You Want to Catch: Different areas in Florida are known for different types of fish. If you’re dreaming of reeling in a Tarpon, you might want to head to the Keys or Tampa Bay. If Red Snapper is on your list, Pensacola or Destin could be your best bet. Do a little research on what fish are common in each area.
- Time of Year: Some fish are more common at certain times of the year. For example, Tarpon season usually peaks in May and June. Make sure to check out what’s in season during your trip.
- Type of Fishing: Do you prefer inshore fishing in calm waters, or are you all about the thrill of deep-sea fishing? Maybe you’re into fly fishing? Different locations offer different types of fishing experiences, so pick a spot that matches your preference.
- Your Experience Level: Some fishing spots might be better suited for experienced anglers, while others are great for beginners or families. If you’re new to fishing or planning a family trip, look for areas with easy access to fishing spots and plenty of charter options.
- Local Regulations: Don’t forget to check out the local fishing regulations for the area you’re planning to visit. You’ll need to know the rules about fishing seasons, catch limits, and whether you’ll need a fishing license.
Remember, the “perfect” fishing spot is really about what you’re looking for in your fishing adventure. So consider these factors, do a little planning, and get ready for a great time on the water!
What to Bring on Your Fishing Trip
When packing for your fishing trip, don’t forget essentials like:
- Sun Protection: This includes sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
- Comfortable Clothing: Wear light, breathable clothing. Don’t forget a waterproof jacket in case of rain.
- Food and Drinks: Some charters might provide this, but always check beforehand.
- Cooler: If you’re planning to keep your catch, bring a cooler.
- Camera: You’ll want to capture the highlights of your trip.
- Fishing Gear: Most charters will provide all the fishing gear you need, but if you have a favorite rod and reel, bring them along (after checking with the charter company).
Additional Activities in Each Location
Each of these top fishing spots in Florida also offers a variety of other attractions. Here’s a quick list of what you can do in each location when you’re not fishing:
- The Florida Keys: Explore the coral reefs, visit the Ernest Hemingway Home, or relax on the beautiful beaches.
- Destin: Visit the Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, or the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.
- Panama City Beach: Check out the Shipwreck Island Waterpark, the St. Andrews State Park, or the Panama City Beach Zoo.
- Tampa Bay: Visit the Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, or the Tampa Bay History Center.
- Miami: Explore the Art Deco Historic District, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, or the Miami Seaquarium.
Where in florida is best for deep sea fishing?
Florida offers numerous locations for deep-sea fishing, but some of the most popular include the Florida Keys, Miami, and Destin. The Florida Keys are known for their offshore fishing opportunities, with species like Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna being common catches. Miami’s proximity to the Gulf Stream provides excellent deep-sea fishing opportunities for Swordfish, Marlin, and Sailfish. Destin, known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” is famous for its abundant fish population and is a hotspot for bottom fishing.
What is the best month to go deep sea fishing in florida?
The best month for deep-sea fishing in Florida can vary depending on the species you’re targeting. However, generally, the summer months (June, July, and August) are considered excellent for deep-sea fishing. During this time, you can find a variety of species including Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi. Always check local fishing reports and regulations for the most accurate information.
can you go deep sea fishing in florida?
Yes, you can absolutely go deep-sea fishing in Florida. The state’s extensive coastline and proximity to the Gulf Stream make it a prime location for deep-sea fishing. Numerous charters offer deep-sea fishing trips, catering to all levels of experience from beginners to seasoned anglers.
Which side of Florida has the best fishing?
Both the Gulf Coast (west side) and the Atlantic Coast (east side) of Florida offer excellent fishing opportunities. The best side can depend on the species you’re targeting and the time of year. The Gulf Coast is known for species like Red Snapper, Grouper, and Tarpon, while the Atlantic Coast is famous for Sailfish, Marlin, and Wahoo. The Florida Keys, located at the southernmost tip of the state, offer a mix of both Gulf and Atlantic species.
what is the hardest fish to catch in florida?
The title of the hardest fish to catch in Florida often goes to the Silver King, also known as Tarpon. Known for their acrobatic jumps and powerful runs, Tarpon are a challenge to even the most experienced anglers. They can reach sizes up to 8 feet and weigh over 200 pounds. Catching a Tarpon requires skill, patience, and a bit of luck.
Do you need a deep sea fishing license in Florida?
If you’re fishing from a charter boat or other for-hire vessel that possesses a valid charter license, you do not need a personal fishing license to fish in saltwater in Florida. However, if you’re fishing from a private boat or from the shore, you will need a saltwater fishing license, even for deep-sea fishing. Always check the current regulations on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.
Recap: Best Places to Deep Sea Fish in Florida
And there you have it – a rundown of the top 15 fishing spots in Florida from a guy who’s spent two decades casting lines all over the Sunshine State. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie angler, these spots offer some of the best fishing you’ll find anywhere. From the thrill of battling a Tarpon in the Keys, to the satisfaction of reeling in a Grouper on the Gulf Coast, each location offers a unique fishing adventure. So grab your gear, pick a spot, and get ready to create some unforgettable fishing memories in Florida. Trust me, once you’ve fished in Florida, you’ll be hooked!