Fishing is a favorite outdoor activity for many people, and Florida is one of the richest states when it comes to fishing. This is recognized by the locals, who have made fishing more accessible than ever, and fishing tourism became a big part of the local economy.
Whether you’re looking for saltwater fish like tuna and sailfish or freshwater fish like bass, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Sunshine State.
The table below shows a list of the best fishing spots in Florida:
|Location||Best for||Fish species|
|Lake Okeechobee||Freshwater fishing||Bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass|
|Florida Keys||Backcountry freshwater fishing and offshore saltwater fishing.||Redfish, bonefish and permit (freshwater). Marlin, swordfish and sailfish (saltwater).|
|Islamorada||Saltwater gamefish (both coastal and offshore fishing)||Tarpon, permit, snook, sailfish, swordfish and mahi-mahi.|
|Lake Tohopekaliga||Freshwater fishing||Spotted sunfish, channel catfish, longnose gar, black crappie.|
|Stuart||Saltwater offshore fishing||Sailfish and swordfish, sometimes tuna, blue marlin, and mahi-mahi|
|West Palm Beach||Saltwater offshore fishing||Sailfish and swordfish|
|Indian River Lagoon||Offshore and coastal saltwater fishing.||Red drum, spotted seatrout, tarpon and the common snook. Sometimes sharks and other predatory fish.|
|Destin||Coastal (piers and docks) and offshore saltwater fishing||Bluefish, redfish, ladyfish, marlin, tuna, snappers and mahi-mahi.|
|Sarasota||Saltwater fishing||Tarpon, gigantic gar, speckled trout and Spanish mackerel|
|Panama City Beach||Costal and offshore saltwater fishing||Redfish, tarpon, king mackerel and Spanish mackerel|
|Tampa Bay||Offshore saltwater fishing||Sharks, tarpon, redfish, seatrout, barracuda, permit|
|Jacksonville||Saltwater and freshwater fishing||Trout, largemouth bass, redfish, sailfish, snapper, seatrout, tarpon.|
|Crady Memorial Bridge||Coastal saltwater fishing||Redfish, whiting, flounder, and tarpon|
|Dania Pier||Coastal saltwater fishing||Yellowtail snapper, mackerel, and barracudas (they’re more rare)|
|Fort De Soto Park||Coastal saltwater fishing great for family trips||Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, permit and tarpon|
|Naples Pier||Coastal saltwater fishing into the Gulf of Mexico (from the pier)||Snook, Spanish mackerel, tarpon and sometimes sharks|
|Beaches of Melbourne||Coastal saltwater fishing (from the beaches)||Permit, mackerel, and some predatory species like the barracuda|
1. Lake Okeechobee
This lake is known as Florida’s Inland Sea because of its massive size. It’s the eighth largest natural freshwater lake in the States, and the largest freshwater lake in Florida.
Unlike most lakes this size, Okeechobee is a very shallow body of water, averaging 9 feet in depth. It’s home to over 40 species of fish, most of them native.
The fish most often caught in this lake are bluegill, crappie and largemouth bass. Lake Okeechobee is also one of the most popular, if not the most popular freshwater fishing locations in the state.
Because of this status, booking a fishing trip shouldn’t be difficult.
2. Florida Keys
Found off the southern coast of Florida, the Keys are one of the most popular tourist spots on the East Coast. One of the many sought-after activities in the Keys is fishing.
In the Keys, you can choose between backcountry and offshore fishing. Most experts will recommend offshore fishing, though.
The Keys are known as one of the top ten offshore fishing spots in the entire country, so it’s not odd that they’re one of the best saltwater fishing spots in South Florida.
As you head out to the Gulf of Mexico, you can easily find big game fish – marlin, swordfish and sailfish. Small fish are available too! If you’re lucky enough, you could find mahi-mahi, an odd-looking saltwater species.
When it comes to backcountry fishing, you can find plenty of smaller species like redfish, bonefish and permit. Just beware the American crocodiles, as the Keys are the northernmost part of their territory.
This Monroe County village can be a bit difficult to get to, but it’s one of the best fishing spots in the country for catching saltwater gamefish. Because of this, Islamorada is also known as the sport-fishing capital of the world!
The most popular fish species are tarpon, permit, snook, snapper, sailfish, swordfish, and mahi-mahi. The most common way of fishing in Islamorada is with a charter.
The reason behind this location’s popularity is the combination of the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of the best freshwater and saltwater fishing areas in Florida for you to explore.
Additionally, since there’s fresh and salt water (and the combination of those two), there are thousands of fish species around Islamorada.
4. Lake Tohopekaliga
Lake Toho is noticeably smaller than Lake Okeechobee, but it’s still one of the best fishing spots in Florida.
With over 42 miles in circumference, it’s the largest lake in its county and it’s very popular for bass fishing, especially largemouth bass.
However, you can also find black crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish and spotted sunfish, channel catfish, chain pickerel, warmouth and longnose gar.
Fishing out of a boat with a guide is the most popular way of fishing, while competitions are very common.
Aside from fishing, Lake Toho is a popular bird watching spot!
This East Coast city is home to many saltwater species, but it’s exceptionally known for sailfish and swordfish. You can also find tuna, as well as blue marlin, wahoo, mahi-mahi and snappers.
Because of the large population of sailfish, Stuart has become known as one of the best sailfish fishing spots in Florida. This place is a popular choice for offshore fishing, but Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River are very close too!
6. West Palm Beach
Taking a trip to West Palm Beach could be a great idea because it’s a city in Palm Beach County.
We already mentioned Lake Okeechobee, one of the best freshwater fishing spots in Florida, which is also found in the same county.
This way, you can take several trips from a single county!
Just like with our previous entry, sailfish are very popular in these parts. It’s best to take a charter out to the ocean and see if they bite.
West Palm Beach sailfish often reach sizes of 6 to 8 feet!
7. Indian River Lagoon
These three lagoons form a complex which has become one of the most biodiverse areas in the Northern Hemisphere. The main gamefish of this area are red drum, spotted seatrout, common snook and the tarpon.
There are also sharks and other predatory fish, while fishing in the lagoon itself often depends on the tides. Because of the species’ prevalence in the area, Indian River Lagoon is one of the best tarpon fishing spots in Florida.
This lagoon is very close to Stuart, which we mentioned before. You can easily organize day trips and enjoy both places.
Also, since it’s so close to Orlando, it’s a favorite fishing spot for many people from there.
Destin’s a bit special when it comes to fishing. The western-most entry on this list, Destin, lies ashore in Okaloosa County.
The city calls itself The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, claiming to be the home to the largest fishing vessel fleet in Florida.
Even though most pros rent charters, you can also fish from piers and docks – the shallows aren’t very deep in Destin. The most common fish species include bluefish, redfish and ladyfish.
However, if you head into the open ocean, you’ll find marlin, tuna, snappers, mahi-mahi and grouper. That’s why Destin is the best saltwater fishing spot in west Florida.
Additionally, if you just want to relax, Destin is home to some of the whitest beaches in the world.
Found on the western edge of the Florida peninsula, Sarasota Bay stares right at the Gulf of Mexico. The diversity of fish species in the Bay has been attracting tourists to this spot for over forty years!
The most common species is the tarpon, but you can easily catch gigantic gar if you know where to look. Snook, speckled trout and the Spanish mackerel are also very common.
The most common way of fishing is on a boat, be it a charter or even a kayak. Because of how open it is to the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota is home to some of the best fishing in Florida Gulf coast.
10. Panama City Beach
This resort town doesn’t have a great population, but it’s an incredibly popular recreational spot – and that’s not just true for fishermen. Panama beach is a party spot for spring break!
One of the best fishing beaches in Florida is overflowing with redfish, tarpon, cobia, king mackerel and Spanish mackerel, as well as speckled trout and sheepshead.
Most of these are in season all year-round, but you’re going to have to choose your dates carefully for some species.
11. Tampa Bay
This massive natural harbor provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention that it’s home to quite a few good fishing spots on its own.
There are over 200 species of fish in Tampa Bay, and that’s without even leaving for the Gulf.
Tarpon, snook, redfish, spotted seatrout and sheepshead all make a very common catch in these parts. As the water gets saltier, you’re more likely to catch king mackerel, barracuda or the permit.
Interestingly, Tampa Bay has quite the shark population, and some fishermen come here exclusively for shark fishing. Because of this, Tampa Bay has some of the best shark fishing spots in Florida.
Located in the northeast Atlantic coast in the state, it’s quite the fishing spot. It’s home to the yearly Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, held every July with prizes of up to $500,000!
Since there’s more than 1,110 miles of interior shoreline in Jacksonville, you can really fish anywhere. The sheer size of the shoreline makes Jacksonville and its surroundings the city with the most freshwater fishing spots in Florida.
The number of species is too big to list them all, but the most common ones are trout, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, largemouth bass, redfish, sailfish, snapper, and seatrout!
13. Crady Memorial Bridge
This bridge, located very close to Jacksonville, is one of the most popular fishing spots in all of Florida and it’s an absolute must-see if you’re in the area. Since it’s one of the finest fishing areas in Florida, this pedestrian bridge is always busy.
You pay a small fee and you can settle wherever you’d like and fish all day. There are usually hundreds of people there on a daily basis! The most common species are redfish, whiting, flounder and tarpon.
It’s also one of the best flounder fishing spots in Florida!
14. Dania Pier
Located between Miami and West Palm Beach (closest to Fort Lauderdale), Dania pier is another spot where you can pay for daily access and spend the entire day with other fishermen.
Being easily accessible and cheap, Dania pier is one of the best shore fishing spots in Florida.
Since the pier itself is so long, you can reach water deep enough to catch yellowtail snapper, mackerel and barracudas (although they’re more rare). Grunts and bluefish are also common, as well as tarpon.
15. Fort De Soto Park
Next entry on our list is a Pinellas County park, resting on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s home to two fishing piers, where you can purchase a ticket and catch Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, permit and tarpon.
The Gulf pier is also a place where many people spot dolphins, while you can fish by renting a boat and a guide too. Aside from fishing, this park offers almost limitless activities to tourists.
Even though you’ll find a lot of fishermen here, it’s one of the best fishing spots for families in Florida. Both piers are home to social fishing activities as much as they’re a spot for amateur fishermen.
16. Naples Pier
Possibly the best coastal fishing spot in South Florida, Naples pier was transformed from a freight dock to an accessible pedestrian dock.
Today, anyone can buy a daily ticket and have access to the fishing area, as well as concession stands and various facilities.
The pier reaches out into the Gulf of Mexico, where you can catch snook, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, sheepshead and sometimes even sharks.
Make sure to check out the fishing rules on the official website before you go.
17. Beaches of Melbourne
Not to be confused with the city in Australia, the best fishing spots in Melbourne, Florida are actually the beaches. Even though many fishermen still love to rent a charter to take them out to the Atlantic.
Melbourne is more accessible to enthusiasts who don’t want to pay for a charter and are okay with standing in the water.
The most common species are permit, croakers and mackerel, but some predatory species too, like barracuda.