The 10 Best Places to Fish in Florida

Florida fishing is some of the best in the world. However, not every Florida town is known for its fishing prowess. Here are the 10 best places to fish next time you are in the FL.

#10 Jacksonville

On the Water

Map of Florida showing Jacksonville and top three fish species to catch there

Jacksonville is where you go to get Kingfish. The Mackerel grow massive here and make for a tasty meal. You don’t have to be a professional angler to catch them, but you could sure use help of a local guide to get the big ones.

Want to spend a relaxing day with your kids and avoid the choppy seas? Our advice is to stay inshore. There are plenty of fisheries near the coastline where you can get Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Flounder, and Sheepshead. Backwater fishing here is legendary. You can get all the excitement within walking distance of downtown Jacksonville.

If you want to make a day of it, head offshore to snatch some Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna. These deep sea trips can end with an impressive catch. You don’t need to have the gear, nor the moves, as local charter captains will put you on fish in no time.

Off the Water

The image of Jacksonville cityscape showing the river and skyscrapers

When you’re not fishing: There’s a lot to do here besides fishing. Downtown Jacksonville is filled with shops and coffee houses. Make sure to visit Hemming Park where you can rest and savor the view. And if you like photography, the skyline will provide the perfect setting for your photos. Also, you should definitely visit the Riverwalk and enjoy the sunset.

#9 Daytona Beach

On the Water

Map of Florida showing Daytona Beach and top three fish species to catch there: Redfish, Snook, and Wahoo

The fishing in Daytona Beach has a lot to offer, just like the city itself. It’s one of the reasons that many families come here. You can stay around the peaceful waterways of the Halifax River or head far out into the ocean to hook into impressive specimens.

You can fish for Largemouth Bass around the Halifax River or head south towards the Mosquito Lagoon. There, you can winch up Snook, Red and Black Drum, Sheepshead, and Speckled Trout.

For anglers who love speed, chasing Wahoo offshore in the Atlantic Ocean is a big deal. These fish are ferocious, and luckily only the tip of the iceberg. You will often come across Sailfish, Amberjack, Triggerfish, and Mahi Mahi.

Off the Water

The cityscape of Daytona Beach with people sunbathing on sand

When you’re not fishing: Cars! Known as the world capital of racing, Daytona is a pilgrimage site for fast lane lovers. But that’s not all. The place is a home from home for thousands of beachgoers who spend the summer on these white sand beaches. So make sure to bring a towel and hit the beach. Otherwise, spend an afternoon in the Museum of Arts and Science where you can see a 13-foot tall skeleton of a giant ground sloth and explore the museum’s planetarium.

#8 Cocoa Beach

On the Water

Map of Florida showing Cocoa Beach and top three fish species to catch there: Gator Trout, Tripletail, and Yellowfin Tuna

Cocoa Beach has excellent numbers of big Spotted Seatrout, often called ‘Gator Trout’ due to their size and strength. They’re one of the most popular fish to catch here, as they bring a lot of action. If you’re planning a half day trip, inshore waters will give you a good bang for your buck. You’ll stay close to the shore, with a lot of space to explore. There is also a healthy stock of Mangrove Snapper, Black Drum, Snook, and Sheepshead.

The Banana River offers plenty of chance to target Tarpon, Mangrove Snapper, Redfish, and Jack Crevalle. You will find oyster beds and grassy marshes filled with solid fishing action throughout the year. Also, don’t overlook the Thousand Islands – these waterways will have you spoiled for choice. If you crave the thrill of the chase, a deep sea charter will give you scores of monster fish – Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Marlin.

Off the Water

Cocoa Beach fishing pier with the ocean below it and a nearby sand beach

Cocoa Beach is one of the most popular vacation spots in the US, and you’re gonna love it too! You can play volleyball on the beach, soak up the sun, or pay a visit to the famous I Dream of Jeannie Lane in honor of the ‘60s popular sitcom.

There’s also a good selection of seafood restaurants looking out onto the ocean. After you’ve eaten, make sure to visit the Renninger’s Super Flea and Farmer’s Market where hundreds of booths sell anything from fresh produce to household appliances.

#7 West Palm Beach

On the Water

Florida map showing West Palm Beach and best three fish species to catch there: Peacock Bass, Bull Shark, and Sailfish

West Palm Beach has some of the best fishing in Florida – and enough evidence to prove it. Inshore, you can explore rich fisheries of canals and lakes and tick the outlandish Peacock Bass off your fishing bucket list. They’re especially prolific during summer, so look out.

Of course, the Intracoastal Waterway is another praised fishery that often produces Redfish, Snook, and Tarpon – a dream team for fly fishing fans. Just a quick boat ride to the north, you can also find excellent reef fishing. Snapper and Grouper swim there in large numbers. These trips are favorite among less experienced anglers.

Sharks are local favorites and anglers often come here to fight them. It’s a lot of fun, but you’ll need local knowledge to stay safe and get the best out of your day on the water.

Off the Water

West Palm Beach waterfront with sand beaches looking onto the ocean

This is a city known for its vibrant nightlife but has a lot to offer in the daytime too. Stroll down the waterfront, eat ice cream, watch your kids play in the water fountain, or just enjoy the sunset near the palm-lined boulevard. With various beach activities, snorkeling options, and good old sunbathing, you won’t even notice how fast time flies.

#6 Miami

On the Water

Florida map showing Miami and best fish species to get there including Sailfish, King Mackerel, and Tarpon

Fishing in Miami can be a real challenge as there is so much to choose from. The city has a stellar reputation among anglers as you can get Sailfish with the Miami skyline still in the background. Now, that’s a sight!

Miami’s deep sea action is what everyone is talking about: Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Amberjack, Tuna, and Sailfish are a common sight even on half day trips. The city is buzzing with tourists and locals who hit the harbor to hop on one of the many charter boats.

If you’re looking for some fast-paced action inshore, you can battle Tarpon during under cover of darkness. Night fishing trips are a local specialty! Go around the bridges with the night lights of the metropolis guiding your way and you will see what “fishing is on fire” truly means.

But Miami’s shallow-water lineup features much more than just Tarpon. In fact, the inshore fishing around Miami is some of the best on the entire east coast of Florida. The Biscayne Bay has excellent fly fishing opportunities, with numerous flats hiding Permit, Bonefish, and even more Tarpon. It’s a real treat by all counts.

Off the Water

Miami waterfront with people sunbathing on sand beaches and swimming in the ocean

Well, where do you even get started, really? Once you’re done with the shopping downtown and eating in one of many restaurants, we suggest you hit the beach. Miami Beach is the best known, but don’t miss South Beach either. When you’ve absorbed your share of the sun, stroll to the marina and hop on a boat tour.

#5 Florida Keys

On the Water

Florida map showing Florida Keys and best fish to target there: Tarpon, Snook, and Bonefish

If you want to go on a road trip to angling paradise, take a ride from Key Largo, and drive along the 100+ miles of concrete that span all the islands of the Florida Keys. You absolutely have to try fishing in Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West. These vast fisheries are second to none, and you can get Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit, Snook, and a variety of Snapper, all while still standing on dry land.

Moving into deep offshore waters the Atlantic or towards the Gulf, you’ll start to find really, really big fish. Think Mahi Mahi, Mackerel, Tuna, Sailfish, and Marlin. And, if you want delicious food as well as a fight, you can always find Snapper and Grouper. You can get all these species on a half day trip, but most times it’s best to go full force and hire a full day charter.

You’ll have an equally good time exploring the flats with your kids. They can have a blast chasing small Snapper on light tackle. If you want to catch your own dinner, go fishing around the Florida Keys bridges. There’s plenty of Snapper and Jack Crevalle action around bridge pylons all along the island chain.

Off the Water

Florida Keys waterfront with houses looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean

As you drive down the famous Overseas Highway, have your camera ready to get some stunning photos. Scuba diving is popular as is sunbathing on the endless sandy beaches. But there’s much more here than sand. You can visit the Ernest Hemingway museum, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and National Key Deer Refuge Park.

Lastly, you simply have to try the local delicacy – Key lime pie.

#4 Marco Island

On the Water

Florida map showing Marco Island and top three fish species to fish for there: Red Snapper, Tarpon, and Redfish

Marco Island is the right place to fish if you love the breathtaking scenery. You’ll find some of the best fishing in Florida right here. Think schools of Redfish, Tarpon, Black Drum, Speckled Trout, and Ladyfish. If you want an action-packed day without big waves, stay inshore and try light tackle or fly fishing. It will certainly do the trick.

And that’s just the backwaters. If you’re into adrenaline stuff, you should head offshore, explore the reefs and or go deep sea fishing far beyond. You can get Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Wahoo. While you’re at it, try bottom fishing to get juicy Snapper, Grouper, and Amberjack.

Off the Water

Cape Romano Dome House near Marco Island

You won’t find the hustle and bustle of cities here. The nature is stunning, though. Take a stroll down the waterfront area and snap a photo or two. You can also find good dining places with excellent seafood.

#3 Fort Myers:

On the Water

Florida map showing Fort Myers and best three fish species to catch there: Goliath Grouper, Snook, and Redfish

Fishing first! It’s no secret that Fort Myers has a lot to offer to inshore fishing lovers. Scores of anglers come here to try their hand at landing the Backcountry Slam (that’s Spotted Seatrout, Redfish, and Snook in a single day). If you’re up for a game of hide and seek, check out grass flats, mangroves, and channels where feisty fish are. You can enjoy excellent fly fishing here as well.

The best of Fort Myers fishing comes in the shape of Tarpon who make their run northwards each spring, passing just outside Fort Myers. They swarm the inlets and not only make for a beautiful sight, but for mighty opponents as well.

As you fish the inshore spots, don’t be surprised if you come across Goliath Grouper and a number of Sharks. It’s a sight every angler is thrilled to see, no matter how experienced they are.

Love the thrill of the chase? Then head out and explore the excellent deep sea fishing Fort Myers offers.

Off the Water

The cityscape of Fort Myers showing sunset, houses, trees, and people sunbathing on a sand beach looking onto the ocean

Visit the Butterfly Estates and see all butterfly species native to Florida. Take a stroll to the Sanibel Lighthouse and snap some nice photos. If you want to do something cool with your kids, head over to the Edison and Ford Winter Estatesand explore dozens of inventions together. Other than that, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, and canoeing are just some of the ways you can enjoy the the great outdoors here.

#2 Tampa

On the Water

Florida map showing Tampa and three top fish species to target there: Tarpon, Snook, and Redfish

Tampa Bay is well known among anglers for its excellent inshore fishing. You can get scores of Redfish, Black Drum, Spotted Seatrout, Jack Crevalle, and Sheepshead along the coastline. But it’s really only the beginning. Snook are a must when fishing these waters. They make for a darn fine evening fishing trip.

The waters around Tampa have excellent fly fishing opportunities. Tarpon swim around bridges during spring and summer and display incredible acrobatics. You need to see them to believe just how tough these fish are.

Travelers with limited time usually choose to stay inshore. But they come back to explore the offshore fishing Tampa has to offer, in hope of landing Amberjack, Grouper, Snapper, Cobia, Mahi Mahi, and King Mackerel. It’s best to have a whole day available for fishing. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

Off the Water

Tampa cityscape with tall buildings looking out onto the Tampa Bay

Hop on a Tampa streetcar and go explore the historic landmarks of the place. You can start with the Ybor City, a multi-ethnic part of the city that has largely shaped modern-day Tampa. This part is famous for cafes, buzzing nightlife, and fine dining, but offers a lot to the day traveler too. There is a number of golf courts around the city and the waterfront offers a nice respite from the heat.

#1 Panama City Beach

On the Water

Florida map showing Panama City Beach and top three fish species that PCB has: Cobia, Snook, and Redfish

Panama City Beach takes the incredible fishing of the nearby Panama City to a whole new level. Here you will find stretches of sandy white beaches and excellent inshore game fishing. Crowds of anglers visit year after year, eager to explore endless fishing opportunities. You can scout the bay waterways and get Redfish, Flounder, Speckled Trout, and Sheepshead.

But there’s a lot more. Sight fishing for Tarpon is a popular pastime, though fly fishing enthusiasts also chase these mighty fish. You can explore natural and artificial reefs and target Spanish Mackerel. And of course, monster Sharks won’t be far away.

Panama City Beach is also a popular launchpad for offshore charters that head into the Gulf of Mexico. Sailfish, Mackerel, Grouper, Snapper, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi all await in the deep blue waters.

Off the Water

Panama City Beach fishing pier with many people sitting on a sandy beach that looks onto the ocean

Beach! In all honesty, there are crowds, but rubbing your elbows with fellow beachgoers shouldn’t dissuade you from seeing this picture-perfect scene. The emerald green waters are beautiful and the sand is sugar white. It’s the ideal place to unwind.

All credit for this awesome list goes to Fishing Booker.

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