Whatever time of year you’re visiting Florida, fishing runs through the veins of this part of the US. With over 8,000 miles of shoreline, countless waterways, lakes and rivers, Florida is a fisherman’s dream. You’ll find both freshwater and saltwater fishing here, so we’ll be taking a look at the best time of year to go, as well as some of our favourite places to go fishing in Florida.
When shall I go?
The weather here is warm all year round, and you can potentially fish at any time of year. This makes Florida an incredibly popular place with fishermen from around the world, as there are so many fantastic opportunities to get a great catch. There are two seasons that stand out in this part of the US, summer and winter. The winter months are undoubtedly the most popular with visitors. Temperatures rise to around 25°C and the weather is incredibly dry.
On the other hand, in the summer months the temperature is hotter still, at around 30°C or more with high humidity. Whilst most people visit during the winter months, it’s at this time of year in the summer when you’ll meet more locals fishing. Whilst there are heavy showers, these are often short and happen later in the afternoon, so you can spend the whole morning fishing before getting wet! So why not try visiting in the wet season and meet some locals whilst avoiding the crowds.
What can I catch?
If you’re fishing in freshwater, i.e. in a lake, canal, river, or channel, then you’ll find dozens of fantastic species of fish. Perhaps one of Florida’s most popular fish is the Largemouth Bass. You’ll find these large fish swimming in clear waters with good vegetation, and they’re common in most freshwater areas.
A rare but native fish, the Highfin Carpsucker can be found on the Gulf Coast, and usually prefers flowing clear water. It’s a schooling fish with shimmering silver scales, so keep your eyes open when you’re in large streams and see if you can catch one!
If you’re freshwater fishing in the Everglades, you’re likely to find a Mosquitofish. This is a common baitfish, which grows to about two inches long, and if you see one it can be a good idea to use a hand-held net to catch it, before storing it to be used as tasty bait for bigger catches.
If you’re a fan of fly fishing, you might want to catch a Bonefish on your trip to Florida. These fish can be quite hard to find, especially in the hotter summer months when they take to deeper waters. Many fishermen have found that using crushed shrimp for chum (chopped fish as bait) is a successful method for attracting Bonefish, as they are led by their sense of smell, so give it a try.
The Dolphin Fish, or Mahi Mahi, is a peculiar-looking fish found in deep offshore waters. They are almost constantly in a stage of hunger, so throwing some chum into the water works well when trying to catch these fish. They are often found around floating objects, like seaweed, so keep a look out for these when you’re at sea.
If you’re south of Palm Beach, see if you can find a Cero Mackerel, which are usually seen dwelling around reefs and offshore wreckages. They feed on smaller fish and squid, and can grow up to 30 pounds! We’ve only touched the surface of the fish that can be caught in Florida’s waters, and it’s a good idea to go fishing with a manual so that you can identify your catch.
The best places to fish
Destin, in Okaloosa County, is one of Florida’s most popular fishing spots. If you’re new to fishing or fishing with your family, you’ll find that Destin is an ideal destination. There’s a great selection of fishing charter companies, and the shores boast some of Florida’s most scenic beaches. The town actually has the nickname “the luckiest fishing village in the world” so visit and find out why!
Lake Kissimmee in central Florida is a great place to go when you’re visiting, especially if you’re looking to catch some bass. Known for having a high catch rate (double compared to the rest of Florida), Kissimmee is popular but large enough to provide privacy when needed. Being popular means that it has good facilities, like public boat ramps, and there are places for fly fishing, too.
Towards the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge in southern Florida, you’ll find some great fishing opportunities, but be sure to get a permit first. You’ll have the chance to catch Yellowtail, Jack Crevalle, and Grouper, as well as King Mackerel and Sailfish in the winter months. Ask the locals for the best fishing spots, west of Sombrero Light.
Keen to start your fishing trip in Florida? Make it easier to transport your gear by renting a car, and explore the state’s best fishing spots.