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FL Saltwater Fishing Regulations

These regulations are put into place to help protect the state's vital marine resources.

Florida Fishing License Requirements

Before you head out on the water, one of the most important things to know about Florida fishing is the license requirement. All resident anglers between the ages of 16 and 64, and visitors 16 and older, are required to have a Florida fishing license if they plan to take or attempt to take native or nonnative freshwater fish. Licenses for freshwater fishing in Florida can be obtained online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, in persona at a license agent or tax collector’s office or by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA. Residents who want a combined license for either saltwater fishing and/or hunting, can obtain one at a reduced cost.

And remember, even if you’re exempt from buying a license, you can still purchase one and contribute to the state’s agency to support sportfish restoration.

Permitted Methods for Taking Fish

Another one of the essential Florida freshwater fishing regulations you need to know when planning your trip is guidance on methods for taking fish. Game fish in freshwater bodies in Florida can only be taken with pole and line or rod and reel – without a limit on the number. Other methods are illegal, including:

  • Free-floating, unattached device
  • Explosives
  • Spear gun
  • Poison or other chemicals
  • Underwater swimming or diving

The state also restricts how nongame fish can be taken, also the regulations are a little more lenient. Specifically, for these species, anglers can use a pole and line or rode and reel as well as by bush hook, setline or trotline. Nongame fish can also be fished by bow and arrow, and gigs, at night, and during the daytime using manually operated spears, gigs, snatch hooks, crossbow or bow and arrow.

Florida Freshwater Fishing Limits

One of the most important ways the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission aims to manage the state’s fish resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of anglers is through limits. In the regulations, Florida freshwater fishing limits govern both statewide bag and length for specific species and also certain areas.

For example, Florida freshwater fishing size regulations dictate that anglers limit the number of freshwater game fish they can take in one day to:

  • Black Bass: 5, only one of which may be 16 inches or longer
  • Panfish: 50
  • Crappie: 25
  • Striped Bass, White Bass and Sunshine Bass: 20
  • Butterfly Peacock Bass: 2
  • American Eels: 25

Certain families of freshwater mussels are also limited to 10 per person (or two half shells) per day. And absolutely no species of sturgeon found in Florida can be taken except as allows by specific federal or state permit or authorization. In addition, there are special Florida freshwater fishing limits for lakes in the system that you’ll need to be aware of. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lists all the limits by body of water.

It’s also important to note that anglers can’t have in their possession more than two days’ bag limit of freshwater game fish. And even though angers are prohibited from transporting out of the sate any freshwater game fish that’s not specifically permitted, license anglers may also transport a two days’ bag limit.

Another rule to be aware of is that game fish must be kept intact. That means you can’t fillet them or remote their head or tail fin until you have completed fishing for the day.

By paying attention to these rules, you’ll not only be in compliance but help ensure safe and sustainable recreational fishing for all.