When it comes to world-class fishing excursions, Florida ranks high on most avid anglers' lists. You'll find some of the best fishing spots in Florida along its hundreds of miles of pristine coastline, bounded to the west by the calm, jade-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and to the east by the cooler, sapphire blue Atlantic Ocean. Whether your best fishing trips in Florida would include hard-fighting sailfish and marlins, tasty inshore catches like snook, or reef fishing for delicious grouper and snapper, you'll find endless opportunities to cast a line from the shore — or venture into deeper waters and try your luck with bigger bounty.
When it comes to planning unforgettable fishing trips in Florida, there are many options to choose from. What part of Florida has the best fishing? Many would say South Florida, specifically the Florida Keys is the best place for fishing. Though in making the choice for yourself, narrowing down a county or coast can be overwhelming without some research and local insider information, especially if you only have a few days to spare before or after your cruise from Florida. We outlined some of the best areas to cast a line and included some expert tips, such as when is the best time to visit certain fishing spots and what kinds of excursions might be on offer. All you have to do is decide what type of fishing experience you're after.
If you're wondering what part of Florida has the best fish, there's no easy answer. On Florida's southwest coast, you can hit the mangroves and reel in redfish, snook, trout and tarpon. Fly-fishing is extremely popular here, and you'll find plenty of fly-fishing trips and excursions ready to book with expert guides. Looking for the best saltwater fishing in Florida? The shallow waters of Collier County see an abundance of king mackerel and cobia twice a year, plus tripletail, snapper, grouper and permit among the reefs close to shore.
Pinellas County near Tampa, on the other hand, features incredible inshore fishing, with huge reds, estuarine sea trout and flounder frequenting its waters year-round. That's in addition to amazing offshore reef fishing, where hauls can include anything from snapper, grouper and kingfish to large cobia and brightly colored triggerfish.
These are just some of the best fishing spots in Florida along the state's west coast. On the east coast, you can chase tarpon, bonefish and snook in Miami's picture-perfect Biscayne Bay. There are largemouth and peacock bass in the city's many canals, and trout, redfish and gar in the area's briny backwaters. Venture just a bit further north into Palm Beach County, and you can duke it out with sailfish, dorado and tough-fighting tuna in the legendary Sailfish Alley — hands down one of the best fishing spots in Florida.
Ask any South Florida resident "Where is the best fishing in Florida?" and they'll likely direct you to the Florida Keys. This string of beautiful islands trailing from Florida's southernmost tip is one of my favorite vacation destinations. It's an especially great place to kick off or end a cruise from South Florida. From Islamorada to Key West, Marathon to Key Largo, each isle in Monroe County channels serious tropical vibes. You'll feel them as you bicycle past candy-colored estates, kayak through dense mangroves and sample key lime pie on the front porches of quaint open-air cafés. That said, if you're happiest with a fishing pole in your hands, this spot will be paradise for you. One of the most defining features of the Florida Keys is its access to incredible fishing.
If your cruise sails from South Florida and you'd prefer to stay a bit closer to your departure port during your pre- or post-cruise fishing getaway, you'll find ample spots along the coast from Miami to West Palm Beach. In addition to offering spectacular nightlife, a great restaurant and bar scene, and a vibrant tapestry of cultural influences, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are a great home base for any Florida fishing trip.
Hit the backwaters of Miami-Dade County to haul up trout, gar and redfish. Or, visit its many canals to reel in several kinds of bass. Both the inshore and offshore fishing here is top-notch, with grouper, tilefish and red snapper dominating the deeper reefs that flourish just a couple of miles from the county's breathtaking beaches. Venture out just a smidge further, and you'll be pulling up mahi-mahi and even sailfish — all while soaking up dazzling views of the downtown skyline. Summer and early fall are the best seasons for fishing in South Florida, but you'll still catch plenty during the winter and spring months.
The west coast of Florida is known for its sleepy, laid-back beach towns kissed by the calm, bath-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico — which boasts some of the best deep-sea fishing in Florida. This tranquil, scenic region is also home to some of the best fishing spots in Florida. Head to Collier County for powdery white beaches, lush mangroves and out-of-this-world inshore fishing. Fly-fishing enthusiasts often love this area. You can also hit the beach and fish from the postcard-pretty Naples Pier.
If you have a little more time to spare before or after your cruise from South Florida, consider road-tripping up to Florida's northernmost reaches along the east coast and the Panhandle for even more great fishing spots. On the Atlantic side, there's St. Johns County it is home to the charming, historic city of St. Augustine. Founded in 1565 it is known as the oldest city in the US it lures visitors from across the nation year-round with its romantic Spanish Colonial architecture, 17th-century fortress and quiet, cobblestoned streets. Located less than 2 hours north of Port Canaveral the waters in this area of Florida make for an ideal day trip before traveling on your vacation cruise. For many travelers this fishing spot is beloved among those who like to go after big catches like red snapper and black sea bass as well as deeper waters that are home to sailfish, mahi-mahi, tuna, wahoo, and marlin.
Inshore, it's all about massive black drum, flounder and trout. St. Johns County, just north of Brevard County, also boasts some pretty stellar freshwater favorites. Fishing enthusiasts flock to the St. Johns River to reel in sunfish and crappie, as well as sunshine, largemouth and striped bass. You don't need to book a charter to fish the river, but if you prefer, you can find guided trips starting in the $300s and $400s.
On the west side, up in Florida's panhandle, you'll have a great selection of fishing spots to choose from. This region is sometimes referred to as Florida's "forgotten coast," but that can work to your advantage — you won't have to contend with the same kinds of crowds and high charter prices you might otherwise encounter in South Florida and the Keys. There's no doubt about it: Savvy fishers will tell you that the Florida Panhandle is one of the top places for fishing trips in Florida. The primary player here is redfish, a bottom-feeding fish that loves the shallow waters just off the Panhandle's captivating and quiet beaches. You'll find plenty year-round in the inlets that surround St. George Island in Apalachicola. The bays here also teem with trout, sheepshead and black drum that feed off its rich oyster bars. In the summer months, tarpon rule the waters just outside the barrier islands — you'll be able to spot schools of them moving up toward the Alabama coast.