Saltwater Anglers Favorite Florida Reef Fish

By Alycia Downs

Mar 10, 2020

Saltwater fishing is popular due to the accessibility of nearshore waters that hold abundant Florida reef fish. Here are a few favorite species for Florida reef fishing. 

Florida isn’t known as the Fishing Capital of the World for nothing. The state is a peninsula sandwiched by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and filled with acres of rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout. Saltwater fishing is wildly popular due to the accessibility to thriving reefs and wrecks in nearshore state waters that hold abundant Florida reef fish. Here are a few favorite species for Florida reef fishing.

Yellowtail Snapper

A beautiful Florida reef fish characterized by its deeply-forked yellow tail and markings, the yellowtail snapper is known to be one of the best eating fish. They’re small in size, averaging around 10-inches which makes them a fun catch for the kids.

Goliath Grouper

Grouper species are known for their freight-train-style fighting skills and the Goliath grouper is a favorite for anglers looking to test their own abilities. Living up to their name, goliaths can grow to 8-feet long. They’re slow-moving, preferring to inhale their prey and swallow them whole. The goliath is prohibited from harvest but makes for a seriously fun catch.


Hogfish are a unique-looking Florida reef fish with an incredible camouflaging capability. They can change their color to blend into their surroundings and protect themselves from hungry predators. Many spearfishermen enjoy targeting hogfish and they make for delicious table fare.


Perhaps the creepiest fish in the sea, barracuda are long, silver fish with sharp teeth and beady eyes that can be found lurking in the shadows. They are an incredible game fish that even saltwater fly anglers enjoy pursuing.

There are many great places to go Florida reef fishing. It’s important to know the regulations for species, especially if you plan on keeping a few for dinner. Be sure you get a fishing license and that you check the state fish and game agency’s website to read up on Florida fishing regulations.

Alycia Downs
Alycia Downs
Alycia Downs is a freelance content creator and avid sportsman who contributes to numerous publications promoting tourism, fishing, and outdoors. Alycia is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and is actively involved with conservation and fishing non-profit organizations. Visit her personal blog at or on Instagram @tideandtale.