Florida Fishing Regulations
Like other states, before you set out to fish in Florida, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the local regulations. The state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission publishes regulations for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. The first thing to know is that if you’re over 16, you’ll need a license whether you’re a resident or not, with some exceptions. If you plan to fish both at the coast and inland, it may make sense to get a combination saltwater and freshwater fishing license. You can buy your license online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.
The regulations also contain Florida’s size and bag limits for various species as well as prohibitions on certain types of methods for taking fish. The rules also specify fishing gear guidelines regarding things like devices, hooks, and nets so be sure to read them in their entirety to make sure you’re compliant when learning how to fish in Florida.
Finding the Best Fishing Spots
From rivers and inlets to lakes and coastline, the opportunities for Florida fishing are limitless. Each area in the state boasts some great spots so the trick is to identify a place that suits your needs. A good way to settle on a location is to decide the type of species you’re after. With a little research, you can then determine the best places to catch them. For example, for snapper, you’ll want to stay inshore while your best bet for snapper are areas where there are reefs and wrecks. After tuna or swordfish? Then head deep off shore.
If you need a boat to reach your ideal spot but don’t have one, you can look at fishing charters. Or ask around to find out what you can catch inland. Popular shoreline spots like piers, bridges, jetties and other structures not only offer convenient access but some great action as well. For example, Jacksonville Beach Pier offers a good chance to land king mackerel.
The Best Time of Year for Florida Fishing
The weather in Florida is seasonable year-round, making it an ideal fishing destination. But there are some factors to consider when timing the perfect trip. For example, check the regulations to see if the species you’re after has a specific season. For instance, the season for several species of grouper closes for certain months of the year.
You’ll also want to know when the fish are plentiful and active. If you want to freshwater fish, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers some guidance that can help you schedule your outing. Check out its seasonal fishing calendar that lists the best months to catch various species depending on the area of the state you’re in. If you want to head out to the deep sea, any charter captain will tell you there’s no bad time. But again it’s wise to think about what you’re after. Sailfish? Then head out in the winter or spring. Dolphin? Consider the summer months, but be sure to consider the weather. If you’re sensitive to the heat, look for a boat that has air conditioning.
Florida Fishing Charters
If you want to experience the thrill and excitement of offshore fishing or just head out in a small skiff in the grass flats but lack a boat, it can be a good idea to use a guide or book a charter. These pros make it their business to stay informed about current conditions and can help you understand what you need to do to catch fish, especially if you’re just learning how to fish. They’ll also provide you with rods, reels and tackle so you don’t have to bring your own gear. An added bonus is that they’ll typically have a fishing license that covers their passengers as well so you won’t have to worry about securing one. If you want to enjoy your catch, before you book, ask if you can take home the fish or if they’re catch and release. If the former, see if they’ll fillet the fish for you to make dinner prep easier.