If you love fishing, you’ll fall in love with what Florida has to offer anglers. With the state’s subtropical climate yielding warm conditions all year round, there are countless spots to kick back and enjoy one of life’s great pastimes.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re casting a line from a wooden pier or jetting around one of the Sunshine State’s 30,000 odd lakes in a speedboat, there are multiple spots that cater to all abilities.
If you’re staying in Orlando, just under an hour’s drive north on Florida’s Turnpike will take you to Lake Harris, one of the best places in Florida to catch bass.
Part of the greater Harris Chain of lakes that span a mighty 50,000 acres of lakeland, the deepest water (30ft) is found at Big Lake Harris with plenty of boat rental companies operating in the vicinity.
The Harris Chain was home to Florida’s earliest bass tournaments in the 1960s and the notoriety of the location is just as prominent today. All that fishing is likely to build up a big appetite so chow down at the Hurricane Dockside Grill on the U.S. Route 441, a short way upstream along the Dead River.
Two-and-a-half miles south of Tampa and two hours west of Miami via Interstate 75 lies the city of Naples, nestled on the Gulf of Mexico. Known for its historic downtown district, it is also a great fishing spot.
Stretching out to sea where 12th Avenue South meets the coast, Naples Pier was first constructed in 1888 and still stands today after overcoming three separate hurricanes, thanks to continuous reconstruction.
Naples Pier is frequently visited by a wide variety of fish including sheepshead, snook, redfish and Spanish mackerel. Stretching 1,000ft out to sea, there is plenty of room to cast out your line here and even if you’re an amateur fisher, don’t worry because you’ve got a Naples Pier sunset to look forward to as well – truly beautiful!
It’s impossible talking about Florida’s best fishing spots without acknowledging Gasparilla Island and the town of Boca Grande.
Popularly referred to as ‘the tarpon fishing capital of the world’, the nearby Gulf waters are teeming with this species between May and July each year. There are a wide variety of spots to fish on Gasparilla Island but a particularly scenic spot is beside the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse.
Based inside the beautiful Gasparilla Island State Park, there is a small entrance fee but it’s fully worth it with this park home to an abundance of wildlife that includes gopher tortoise, osprey and royal tern.
Cocoa Beach Pier
While it’s true that Cocoa Beach is far more renowned for surfing, you shouldn’t overlook the fact that the city’s pier is a great fishing spot too.
Stretching 800ft into the Atlantic Ocean, this location is super family-friendly with fishing rod rental, fishing passes, frozen bait and special rates on offer throughout the year. With everything you’ll need on site, Cocoa Beach Pier is a great spot for both seasoned and amateur fishers alike.
A whole host of different fish have been caught on this pier including sea trout, black drum, grouper, snapper, pompano and more. A much more developed fishing experience compared to more rural entries on our list, Cocoa Beach Pier is also home to restaurants, live entertainment and gift shops, underlining it as a superb option for families.
Do you need a fishing license?
Before casting your line out at any fishing location in Florida, it’s important to ensure your activity is legal. During your time in the Sunshine State, visitors require a fishing license in their attempts to catch fish – a license applies even if you don’t catch anything.
Florida fishing regulations are fully outlined under the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission but visitors will need to apply for a freshwater or saltwater fishing license unless they are under the age of 16.
An incredibly peaceful and rewarding pastime, fishing in Florida represents a great way to take in a picture perfect sunrise or sunset too, so get planning!