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Fishing enthusiasts from around the country flock to Florida not only for its top beach destinations, but also the array of diverse fishing opportunities that appeal to all ages and skill levels. Often referred to as “The Fishing Capital of the World,” here you will discover an abundance of freshwater and saltwater hotspots to keep your vacation itinerary full, from the emerald waters in the Panhandle all the way down to the Florida Keys. Whether you want to go deep-sea fishing or prefer to cast a line off the pier, you can catch a monster bass one day and some panfish for dinner the next. Pack your fishing gear and get ready for an adventure, as these are some of the best fishing vacations in Florida.
Fishing experts and locals alike claim Key Largo is not only the most beautiful place to fish in the state but one of the best. An exciting place to explore for anglers, here you’ll find a colorful variety of fish in the area, including bonefish, tarpon, and snook. You’re spoiled for choice in not only its idyllic surroundings but the number of expansive flats and mangrove forests, from reef to offshore fishing, as Key Largo is filled with vibrant fishing opportunities.
Cedar Key is one of Florida’s most charming small-town gems with less than 1,000 residents, nestled amongst a cluster of quiet small islands. With a long history as a fishing village, visitors will find ample spots to cast a line. Sitting south of Cedar Key is Seahorse Reef, a popular area for experienced Gulf Shore fishermen. Covered with long and lush seagrass, Cedar Creek is considered one of the best launching points in the Big Bend area. Filled with shallow backwaters from the Gulf of Mexico, fishermen are often seen catching a variety of gamefish such as Spanish Mackerel, Spotted seatrout and King mackerel in these parts.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida, Key West is also regarded as one of the best places to fish. A tourist-friendly location, even Ernest Hemingway was known to be a regular in the fishing community for many decades. With both flats and offshore fishing, Key West is an ideal place to catch a variety of fish at any time of year, including tarpon, bonefish, marlin, tuna and other saltwater fish. Boasting an abundance of guides and ship captains for hire and a variety of other land and water-based attractions, Key West is an ideal destination to visit with the entire family.
Stuart is a legendary area to catch snook, situated in the center of the Treasure Coast on Florida’s eastern seaboard. Surrounded by wide waterways, this city is an ideal fishing destination in spring and summer months. Dubbed the “Sailfish Capital of the World,” the city’s emblem is even a sailfish. A large fountain with a jumping sailfish sits in its town square, marking the centerpiece of the area’s 15 marinas ready to take out fishing and charter boat fleets. While the peak season is December through March and June through July, fishing is a popular activity throughout the year.
Known as “The Gateway to Florida’s Nature Coast,” Steinhatchee is a charming fishing town that resembles early Florida settlement. The fishing potential of this coastal village is abundant, as its untouched natural beauty is appealing to those looking for a peaceful on the water. Spring is the most popular season for catching underwater treasures, as the seagrass grows wild in these months making it an ideal time to spot Redfish, speckled trout, and sheepshead. Due to its popular fishing community, there are an array of guides ready to show you their best-kept fishing spots.
Nicknamed “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is a great place to go on a fishing excursion. Home to the largest fishing fleet in the entire state, visitors often come here and charter a boat for offshore fishing in groups. With over 140 vessels that cater to anglers, you have the chance to catch grouper, amberjack, snapper, mackerel, sailfish, wahoo, tuna and even a blue marlin in these emerald Gulf of Mexico waters. Those looking for a more leisurely experience can cast a line off the pier, as this city pairs laid-back vibes with crystal clear beach areas.
Long Key State Park
Another great spot in the Florida Keys, Long Key State Park is known for its fishing opportunities and family-friendly facilities. With 60 campsites that overlook the Atlantic Ocean, this park is perfect for a weekend fishing getaway. Spend the night under the stars before waking up to explore the area, as it’s known as having the best bonefishing in the entire Keys. It’s also a great place to go fly and kayak fishing, and if you’re with the kids, you might want to check out the chance to hand-feed tarpon at nearby Robbie’s Marina only a few miles from the park.
One of the biggest sport fishing capitals in the world, Islamorada is a fantastic fishing destination. Not only alluring for its beautiful surroundings, but fishing enthusiasts will also delight in its diverse activities in regards to fishing, such as inshore tarpon to deep-sea trawling. Located 2 hours from Key West, anglers are spoiled for choice in catching these underwater creatures. Fly and spin angling might win you saltwater gamefish, while reef fishing is ideal for reeling in snapper and grouper.
A mouthful of a name, Lake Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida. Spanning over 730 square miles and 17 feet deep, the lake area is well-known for being full of great table fish. Considered the premier bass fishing lake in the state, it is often used for big tournaments. With both resorts and campsites peppered around the lake, visitors can stay overnight, as the area has plenty of guides and charters to direct you to the best spots. A true gem on Florida’s eastern Atlantic seashore, this freshwater fishing destination is a solid choice.
Cortez is an undiscovered gem in Florida, a throwback fishing village that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a 19th-century Spanish settlement. A small town brimming with loads of charm, it offers a well-preserved look into Old Florida. One of the Gulf Coast’s last surviving fishing villages, if you like your fishing excursion to be met with a rich history, Cortez is the place to be. Here you’ll discover a city listed on the National Register of Historic Places and old fish houses that date back to the original families, where both shrimp and grouper are sold to local restaurants.
St. Augustine is America’s oldest city, located in northeast Florida where a fish-filled vacation is easily attainable. With its variety of charters for hire for both offshore and inshore fishing, visitors will even find a variety of fish camp resorts that provide everything you need for your next adventure. For those who rather go stargazing and appreciate the outdoors, head to Anastasia State Park to find 139 full-facility campsites that sit alongside the Atlantic Ocean. Boasting one of the most popular inshore spots for redfish, the flats and creeks off the Intracoastal are also meccas for trout, redfish, and snook.
Sitting on Florida’s “Forgotten Coast,” Panama City has access to trophy waters both inshore and off. Less touristy than its South Florida counterparts, here visitors will find an underrated gem with crystal clear waters stemming from the Gulf of Mexico. The area is famous for spotting an array of colorful redfish, flounder, tarpon and sea trout, and if you venture further offshore, it’s not uncommon to see fishermen reeling in king mackerel, blue marlin, tuna, and cobia. For those serious about their fishing adventures, 3-day fishing tours are a popular excursion for those visiting the area.
With a significant amount of accessibility, Sarasota is a great fishing destination for its variety of public access points to the ocean and abundance of knowledgeable guides and charters ready to take visitors on an exciting day of fishing. Located on the southwest coast of Florida facing the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota even has a handful of hotels that provide guides for hire. Catching snook, redfish, trout, grouper and Dorado is common, while the area’s offshore activities, from its vibrant arts scene to the stunning Siesta Key beach, are sure to keep the entire family entertained.