With easy access to the ocean no matter where in the state you are, Florida is one of the best locations in North America for fishing. But with so many choices, where are the best fishing spots in Florida?
Florida’s climate means that fishing is around year-round, no matter what style of angling you prefer. We’ll mostly be discussing saltwater fishing here, and with Florida, there’s plenty of shore fishing and ocean fishing for you to tackle.
You also always have the option of taking a boat far away from the shore, where some of the most exciting fishing in the Americas awaits you.
If you’ve been looking for a handful of new fishing spots, we’re here to help. Read on for ten of the best places to fish in Florida. Keep in mind these are far from the only spots, but the places you can expect to have the most luck.
Destin is a city up near the panhandle of Florida – the northern stretch that borders Alabama and Georgia. The city has earned the nickname the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” and for good reason!
Destin is close to the 100-Fathom Curve of the Gulf of Mexico. Here, depths drop hundreds of feet, where large fish gather for you to tackle.
Because of this, Destin holds some of the most unique and challenging fishing in the state and should stay at the top of your list if you’re coming to visit.
Snapper, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, and Grouper are the most common fish you’ll find. Destin also emphasizes boat fishing due to the 100-Fathom Curve, but you’ll find plenty of luck if you stick near the beaches and docks. Try visiting anywhere between May and early November for optimal fishing season!
Bluntly put, fishing likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Miami. Located almost at the bottom of Florida on the southeast coast, Miami is a massive nightlife city with a focus on partying, music, and culture.
The beaches are also touristy, which can make shore fishing difficult and even dangerous.
Instead, it’s strongly suggested that you leave the shoreline to fish in Miami. Once you’re away from the hustle and bustle, the lagoons of Miami are incredible for fishing. Blue Lagoon is an especially popular spot you should visit, especially if you’re there to catch some Bass.
Miami also offers plenty of fishing charters to take you away from the shore and towards some fantastic fishing spots. These are great if you’re not familiar with the area or if you don’t want to secure transportation.
Moving back up to the Panhandle, Panama City isn’t too far from Destin. Southwest of Tallahassee, Panama City is the largest city between Tallahassee and Pensacola.
In contrast to Miami, Panama City is fantastic for beach fishing. There’s a huge variety of species for you to catch in the Gulf of Mexico, but more than that, they’re just so many ways to fish in Panama City!
Emphasizing beach life, Panama City offers offshore, inshore, kayak fishing, charter boats, piers, beaches, and more.
There are few havens of fishing that focus on the sport as much as Panama City does. It’s also not quite as touristy as many Florida locations tend to be, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about overcrowded beaches.
Jumping back to South Florida again, the Florida Keys are the pinnacle of fishing and beach life. Located off the coast, the Keys are a string of islands that stretch for more than 100 miles between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Because of this adjacency to both oceans, you have an incredible variety of ocean life you can fish.
The Keys are famous for their focus on ocean entertainment, making it easy for you to find charter boats, rentals, kayaks, fishing shops, and everything else you could need to keep your fishing trip going.
There are about 150 isles in total in the Keys, but the names you’ll see most often are Key Largo, Marathon, Key West, Big Pine Key, and Islamorada.
Key West is arguably the most popular for fishing. Regardless of which of the many isles you pick, the Keys offer amazing tropical fishing that nowhere else in Florida can rival.
Moving to the West Coast, Tampa Bay is another fantastic port for fishing. Tampa also has the benefit of being touristy without being overly-populated like areas like Miami or Orlando can often feel.
Because of this, you’ll have plenty of options and fallbacks after your day of fishing, from shops to nighttime entertainment.
With direct access to the Gulf, you’ll enjoy unmatched fishing – but where Tampa shines is the inshore experience.
Tampa has dozens of freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, and tributaries that feed into the oceans surrounding the state. These areas can have some of the best fishing in the state – and usually a fraction of the crowd.
Tampa also has a few fisheries that you can visit, especially if you have younger anglers with you.
These fisheries are great for some guaranteed fishing without having to lug all of your gear and cargo out to the water.
Cocoa Beach is one of the more touristy areas of Florida, so you have to make sure you’re planning your destination carefully.
Visiting one of the more touristy beaches will result in some poor fishing, tourists swimming through your line, and an all-around stressful fishing trip.
But if you plan to avoid some of the crowds, the east coast of Florida provides an impeccable experience.
Cocoa Beach provides Tarpon, Snook, Black Drum, and much more fish to catch. If you take a boat out to avoid some of the crowds, you’ll be filling your nets within the hour.
As with Tampa, Cocoa Beach has access to plenty of great freshwater locations. The Indiana River, Banana River, and Mosquito Lagoon all offer a calm freshwater experience. These can help avoid crowds and give a relaxing freshwater fishing experience.
Once you’re done in Cocoa, why not hop on I-95 and drive north for a while for another fantastic location?
Daytona is also touristy, but the beaches here are large enough that you won’t struggle to find space. Located only 80 miles north of Cocoa Beach, Daytona provides a similar experience with more of an emphasis on saltwater fish.
Daytona also has a focus on entertainment and nightlife in comparison to Cocoa Beach. There are plenty of piers and restaurants that you can enjoy during your trip oceanside, as well as the famous Daytona 500 if you’re a fan of racing.
Consider grabbing a canoe or kayak and going through some of the smaller tributaries to avoid the bustle, if you prefer.
Some piers require a fee to fish off of them, so keep this in mind before you lock up your wallet. Off the piers, you can expect Drum, Pompano, Trout, and Whiting, plus a few extras.
Much farther north is Jacksonville, which boasts an incredible amount of interior shorelines.
Jacksonville has access to more than 1,100 miles of shoreline without even going to the beach!
Such a selection of fresh and saltwater options makes the riverfronts and beachfronts alike some of the best fishing you’ll find in Florida.
The variety of locations also makes fishing a year-round sport in Jacksonville. You’ll find Snapper jumping onto your line even during the winter months, and Sailfish are around even through the Fall.
Offshore fishing peaks in the Summer, when Marlin appear in record numbers.
Jumping back to the gulf, Sarasota is south of Tampa on the shoreline near Venice. If you’re looking for shallow water fishing, Sarasota is likely your best option in all of Florida.
With deep seagrass flats in the Bay and long, shallow flats for shallow water fish, you’ll have countless options to cast your line. Towards the end of Fall, you can find Snook and Trout as big as you’ve ever seen prowling the shoreline seagrass.
If you plan your visit for March or early Spring, there’s an enormous variety of fish on offer. Snapper, Grouper, Mackerel, Pompano, Redfish, and several different kinds of sharks are all available.
Consider hopping to Tampa for freshwater fishing and coming back to Sarasota for shallow saltwater fishing.
Closing out our list is Naples, and we’ve saved some of the best for last. Naples is located south of Sarasota and directly west of the Keys (by ocean).
The city has earned the nickname the Paradise Coast for its multitude of islands and natural beauty.
Naples boasts several water reserves and countless fishing spots. Wildlife of all sorts is abundant on the Paradise Coast, and the oceans contain some of the most desirable gamefish in the state. Redfish, Seatrout, Snook, and Trout are always biting regardless of the month.
During other times of the year, you can likely find all varieties of Grouper swimming about. Mullet and Pompano are also exceptionally common. No matter what you’re there to catch, Naples will provide plenty of opportunities to find it on the end of your hook.
Another great perk of Naples is the Naples Pier. You can fish without a license on this pier, as the operators possess a bulk fishing license that covers anyone.
While it’s a great plan to have your fishing license regardless, this is a wonderful quality-of-life benefit for visitors that weren’t able to snag a license in time for their visit.
Florida provides unparalleled fishing of every sort. Whether you want Atlantic, Gulf, or Freshwater fishing, Florida possesses countless areas where you can satisfy that desire – sometimes all three in one area.
If you only have time to visit one of these destinations, the Keys are hard to beat. With plenty of islands, a focus on beach life, and unique access to so many areas, you’ll love every cast of your line here.
If you don’t want to go so far south, the Panhandle or East Coast areas provide great fishing by day and an amazing entertainment value by night. But if you’re looking for freshwater, you’ll want to seek out some lakes!
Top 10 Florida Fishing Spots
We’ll get started with a quick rundown of our list so that you can see where we’re discussing. After this list, we’ll get more specific with each of these spots so you know what the draw of each of these areas is.
- Panama City
- Florida Keys
- Tampa Bay
- Cocoa Beach
- Daytona Beach