Florida’s Top Fishing Spots: The Complete Angler’s Guide

With over 1,350 miles of coastline and 7,700 freshwater lakes, Florida is a dream destination for anglers. From saltwater trophies to backcountry bass, Florida has endless options to hook your next catch.

This in-depth guide explores the top fishing spots across Florida. We’ll highlight the premier destinations for offshore, inshore, freshwater, and fly fishing. Locations are broken down by region so you can easily plan your next Florida fishing adventure.

Grab your tackle box and let’s hit the water!

North Florida Fishing

North Florida offers a more laid back vibe compared to the bustling southern coasts. Anglers will find wild rivers, massive lakes, and fertile estuaries packed with fish.

St. Johns River

The St. Johns River stretches 310 miles through northeast Florida. The lake-like conditions north of Lake George offer outstanding freshwater fishing. Target black crappie, channel catfish, and especially trophy largemouth bass around cypress trees, oyster bars, and other structure. Drift live shiners or slowly work artificial baits.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, black crappie, catfish

Tactics: Drifting with live bait, casting crankbaits, flipping jigs around structure

Access Points: Hontoon Island, Lake Monroe, Lake Woodruff

Lake George

Lake George spans 46,000 acres between the St. Johns River and Ocala National Forest. Its open waters harbor trophy-sized bass along with excellent panfish and catfish action. Use skirted worms and crankbaits along the grass lines and deeper drop-offs.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker, channel catfish

Tactics: Casting and retrieving artificial lures from boats or fishing piers

Access Points: Lake George State Park, Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area

Suwannee River

Flowing 246 miles from the Okefenokee Swamp, the blackwater Suwannee River supports outstanding populations of largemouth bass, striped bass, and panfish. Fish the stump fields and fallen timber with topwater frogs, swim jigs, and crankbaits.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, striped bass, bream, catfish

Tactics: Flipping jigs, topwater frogs, drifting live bait

Access Points: Fanning Springs, Manatee Springs, Suwannee River State Park

Lake Jackson

This 4,000-acre lake near Tallahassee is renowned for trophy bass over 10 pounds. Submerged grasses and lily pads harbor the monsters. Work the edges with weightless plastics early and late. Target deep points, ledges, and creek channels midday.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie

Tactics: Flipping creature baits, swimming jigs and worms, topwaters over grass

Access Points: Lake Jackson Boat Ramp, Mashes Sands Recreation Area

Cedar Key

The waters surrounding Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast yield excellent nearshore and backwater fishing. Wade the flats for redfish, trout, and more. Head offshore for grouper, cobia, and king mackerel around limestone reefs.

Target Species: Redfish, speckled trout, grouper, cobia

Tactics: Sight casting on the flats, trolling or bottom fishing offshore reefs

Access Points: Cedar Key fishing piers, boat launches

Central Florida Fishing

Orlando may be known for theme parks, but don’t overlook the phenomenal fishing. Central Florida boasts massive lakes, a chain of spring-fed rivers, and a productive inland sea: Lake Okeechobee.

Lake Okeechobee

“Lake O” is Florida’s largest freshwater lake at 730 square miles. Largemouth bass reign supreme, especially along the grass lines and shallow flats. The speckled perch and crappie fishing is legendary for anglers drifting the open water.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, speckled perch, crappie, catfish

Tactics: Flipping creature baits in the grass, drift fishing minnows over open water

Access Points: Pahokee, Clewiston, Belle Glade, Okeechobee City

Harris Chain of Lakes

The Harris Chain near Leesburg offers some of the state’s best trophy bass fishing as well as excellent crappie and panfish action. Lake Harris, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, and Lake Dora are interconnected and provide a variety of fishing opportunities.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill

Tactics: Flipping grass mats, casting swimbaits and crankbaits off points, trolling open water

Access Points: Public ramps located on each lake

Butler Chain of Lakes

Just north of Orlando, the Butler Chain consists of 13 lakes totaling over 7,000 acres. Butler Lake and Lake Down are renowned for producing bass over 10 pounds. Work the shoreline cover and offshore grass beds.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, shellcracker, catfish

Tactics: Worms, jigs, spinnerbaits around shoreline structure and vegetation

Access Points: Public boat ramps on Lake Tibet, Lake Sheen

St. Johns River Chain

The St. Johns River widens into a series of large lakes south of Lake George, creating a fertile estuary environment near Sanford. Trophy bass, panfish, catfish, and more fill these waters and backwaters.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, striped bass

Tactics: Casting or trolling open water, flipping shoreline cover

Access Points: Lake Monroe, Lake Jessup, Lake Harney

Winter Haven Chain of Lakes

This chain in Polk County contains over 15 lakes totaling 26,000 acres of clear waters loaded with fish. Lake Shipp, Lake Lulu, Lake Eloise, and Lake Summit rank among the top trophy bass waters in Florida.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, speckled perch, crappie

Tactics: Working shoreline vegetation, frogging the pads, fishing open water

Access Points: Public boat ramps located on each lake

South Florida Fishing

South Florida offers world-class saltwater fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, Everglades, Florida Keys, and Biscayne Bay. Freshwater options include Lake Okeechobee and trophy bass fisheries.

Biscayne Bay

The shallow, protected waters of Biscayne Bay near Miami hold redfish, bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, and seabass. Wade the flats or pole the channels and cuts around the keys that dot the bay.

Target Species: Redfish, bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook

Tactics: Sight fishing the flats, live bait fishing the cuts and channels

Access Points: Matheson Hammock Park, Crandon Park, Bill Baggs State Park


The Everglades watershed outflows along the southwest coast create a fertile estuary that holds snook, redfish, spotted seatrout, tarpon, and sharks. Fish the mangrove shorelines or sight cast to tailing fish on the flats.

Target Species: Snook, redfish, speckled trout, tarpon, sharks

Tactics: Sight fishing the flats around Chokoloskee and Flamingo, fishing cuts and shorelines

Access Points: Chokoloskee, Everglades City, Flamingo Visitor Center

Florida Keys

Stretching 220 miles off the southern tip, the Florida Keys host world-class fishing in both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Anglers flock here for marlin, sailfish, mahi mahi, wahoo, grouper and snapper.

Target Species: Sailfish, marlin, mahi mahi, wahoo, snapper, grouper

Tactics: Offshore trolling, drifting and anchoring over reefs

Access Points: Public boat ramps in Key Largo, Marathon, Islamorada, Key West

Lake Okeechobee

As outlined previously, Lake Okeechobee offers outstanding freshwater fishing in South Florida. Target the rim canal along the south end of the lake where bass congregate.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, panfish, catfish

Tactics: Flipping creature baits in the grass, drift fishing with minnows

Access Points: Clewiston, Pahokee, Belle Glade, Okeechobee City

Lake Ida

Lake Ida near Delray Beach covers 194 acres and boasts some of the finest trophy bass fishing in South Florida. Anglers regularly catch bass over 10 pounds flipping the grass beds and shoreline cover.

Target Species: Largemouth bass, bluegill

Tactics: Flipping, pitching, casting bass baits around shoreline structure and vegetation

Access Points: Public boat ramp on Lake Ida

Best Florida Fly Fishing Destinations

The extensive flats, backcountry waters, spring runs, and streams of Florida make it a fly fishing paradise. Here are some of the top fly fishing spots:


The shallow, calm flats of the Everglades let fly anglers spot, stalk, and cast to snook, redfish, and tarpon in an amazing wilderness setting.

Mosquito Lagoon

Mosquito Lagoon near Cape Canaveral is revered for its excellent sight fishing for redfish, black drum, spotted seatrout, and tarpon.


Drift or pole along the grass flats and mangroves of the Homosassa River to catch redfish, trout, and tarpon on fly.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay offers outstanding sight fishing for snook, redfish, and trout over lush seagrass flats and around oyster bars and mangroves.


The coastal rivers around Jacksonville provide great float trips to catch bass, panfish, and even tarpon on fly tackle.

Florida Keys

In the Keys, bonefish and permit prowl the shallow flats while tarpon stream along the bridges and channel edges, giving fly rodders plenty of targets.

Florida Charter Fishing Guide

For anglers who don’t have their own boat, hiring a guide is a great option to access Florida’s offshore fisheries. Here are some top fishing charter hubs:


Destin Harbor in the Panhandle offers charters chasing snapper, grouper, cobia, tuna, and even billfish in the Gulf of Mexico.

Panama City

Another Gulf Coast charter harbor targeting snapper, amberjack, grouper, and pelagics around wrecks and reefs offshore.

Fort Lauderdale

Lauderdale is ground zero for offshore fishing in South Florida. Charters available for sailfish, dolphin, snapper, grouper, and more.

Key West

Key West charters provide opportunities to fish the Atlantic for sailfish, marlin, mahi mahi, tuna, and wahoo.

Cedar Key

Inshore/nearshore charters near Cedar Key catch redfish, trout, grouper, cobia, tripletail, and sharks.

Know Before You Go: Fishing Licenses and Regulations

Before embarking on a Florida fishing adventure, be sure you understand the rules and acquire the proper licenses.

  • A Florida fishing license is required for anglers ages 16 and up fishing fresh or saltwater. Some exemptions apply for seniors, children, disabled residents, military members.
  • Licenses can be purchased for 1 to 5 years’ duration. Resident and non-resident fees apply.
  • Saltwater licenses and permits are required in addition to the base freshwater license for ocean fishing.
  • Learn the seasonal closures, size and bag limits on species when targeting regulated game fish.

For full licensing information and exemptions for Florida fishing, visit our comprehensive article Florida Fishing License Guide: Regulations and Essential Info.

Gear Up for Florida Fishing

Florida offers diverse fisheries, so gear up appropriately:

  • 7 foot medium power spinning rods for inshore fishing
  • Heavy power conventional or spinning reels for offshore fishing
  • 12 to 25 lb braided lines for saltwater, 6 to 14 lb mono/fluoro lines for freshwater
  • Saltwater terminal tackle – jigs, spoons, plugs for offshore. Flies and light lures for inshore
  • Bass fishing gear – casting and baitcasting rods/reels, bass jigs, worms, crankbaits, topwaters
  • Fly fishing outfits in 7 to 10 weight configurations

Check regulations to ensure your fishing gear complies with rules on gear and lure types.

Top Florida Fishing Charters

Here are some of the highest rated fishing charter operations in key regions of Florida:

Destin Fishing Charters

CharterTarget FishWhat They Offer
Relentless Fishing ChartersRed snapper, AJs, grouper, king mackerelOffshore trips, family friendly
Destin Adventure ChartersCobia, tuna, mahi, marlinWeekend night swordfishing trips
Destiny Fishing ChartersRed snapper, triggerfish, AJsKid-friendly half day charters

Tampa Fishing Charters

CharterTarget FishWhat They Offer
Hubbard’s MarinaSnapper, grouper, shark, tarponDay and night trips available
Seminole Fishing ChartersSnook, redfish, troutInshore Tampa Bay trips
Non Stop Fishing ChartersSnook, redfish, mangrove snapperCustom charters, family friendly

Florida Keys Fishing Charters

CharterTarget FishWhat They Offer
Fish Monkey ChartersYellowtail snapper, permit, bonefishFlats and reef fishing
Dream Catcher ChartersMahi mahi, wahoo, sailfishOffshore sportfishing
Sharp Hook ChartersTarpon, bonefish, barracudaFlats fishing and light tackle

With endless coastline, fishing variety, and year-round warm weather, Florida stands as a world-class fishing destination suitable for anglers of all skill levels. Use this guide to help plan your next Florida fishing adventure!

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