Compared to the chaotic hordes of tourists at Florida’s theme parks, fishing in the Sunshine State is relaxed, peaceful and can even be budget friendly. From a monster bass to a panfish, Florida will have you reeling in something unique at any skill level. To take full advantage of what the state has to offer, come to Florida and visit one of the top 10 fishing destinations for family fun.
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Not surprisingly, one of the most popular Florida destinations is also of the best places to fish. It is an ideal location for fishermen, just ask Ernest Hemingway, who spent decades fishing there. The area offers both flats and offshore fishing, allowing the chance to grab fighting tarpon, bonefish, marlin, tuna, and other saltwater fish. The fishing is great year round and there is a plethora of other activities available, making this an ideal location for families looking to stay busy.
Situated in the center of the Treasure Coast on Florida’s eastern seaboard sits Stuart, a city surrounded by wide waterways that make it an ideal fishing location. Dubbed the “Sailfish Capital of the World,” even the city’s emblem is a sailfish. Not far from the town square fountain of a jumping sailfish you’ll find an area that includes 15 marinas, perfect for fishing and charter boat fleets. Peak season is December through March and June through July.
If you’re the type of family that owns a yacht or enjoy a lively city with great nightlife, then fishing in Fort Lauderdale might be for you. Nicknamed the “Venice of America,” Fort Lauderdale has a canal system so complex that it contains hundreds of marinas and boatyards. Sailfish, sharks, wahoo, snappers, groupers, and swordfish can be found in this city that takes boat ownership seriously.
Destin, or the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” is the home to the largest fishing fleet in the entire state. Charter a boat to go offshore fishing with the family in these Gulf of Mexico waters. Destin has over 140 vessels that cater to anglers attracted to catching grouper, amberjack, snapper, mackerel, sailfish, wahoo, tuna, and blue marlin. The fishing is so great here you don’t even need a boat, just cast a line from the pier and you might get lucky. Along with Destin’s deep sea fishing opportunities, it maintains a city with a small town feel with crystal clear beaches for cooling off, perfect for a family vacation.
Known as the sport fishing capital of the world, Islamorada is a great destination for inshore tarpon to deep sea trawling. Only 2 hours from Key West, an angler is spoiled for choice here in regards to catching almost any species they like. Fly and spin angling might get you saltwater gamefish, while reef fishing is great for reeling in delicious tasting snapper and grouper.
Lake Okeechobee, while a mouthful to say, is Florida’s largest lake and an area well known for being full of great table fish. 730 square miles and 17 feet deep, Lake Okeechobee is a prime destination for bass fishing. Often used as a spot for tournaments, fishermen regularly catch largemouth bass here, and it’s is a great spot to stay overnight with a waterfront view. This freshwater fishing destination is a true gem on the eastern Atlantic seashore.
Situated directly north of Cedar Creek is Cedar Key, an area populated by less than a 1,000 people, perfect for families who want isolation and quiet. With not much other than fishing, this place knows how to capitalize on what it does best. Located in the Big Bend, Cedar Key is filled with shallow backwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, which makes it the prime spot for a variety of gamefish. You can catch speckled trout, red fish, shark, cobia, tarpon, and triple tail.
Many locals claim that Key Largo is not only the most beautiful, but the absolute best fishing spot you will find in Florida. Fishermen get excited about the bonefish, tarpon, and snook you catch here. With its mass amount of expansive flats, any kind of fishing is available, from a cast at bonefish, to tarpon and snook at the mangrove forests, to shark fishing. With many off the water activities including an aquarium, wild bird center, eco-tours, island hopping, and a chance to swim with dolphins, your family simply cannot be bored in Key Largo.
Most visitors don’t come to Miami for the fishing, but they could. The marinas are so impressive, they are worth a trip just to check them out. In what appears to be a line of floating houses and over the top fishing yachts, Miami provides a glitzy scenery like only Miami can. The highlights are the bays that attract snook, snapper, jacks, bonefish, tarpon, and permit. With such an engaging and active fishing spot, access is easy with plenty of charters ready to set up beginner and pros alike.
Panama City sits on “Florida’s Forgotten Coast,” where it is arguably less touristy than its southern counterparts. This underrated gem has crystal clear waters from the Gulf of Mexico, and you’re sure to spot red fish, flounder, tarpon and sea trout. If you venture offshore, it is not uncommon to see fishermen get lucky with king mackerel, blue marlin, tuna, and cobia. No longer just a spring break destination, Panama City is a great place to take the kids to enjoy the sugar white sand and emerald green waters from the Gulf.