It does not take long to discover why Florida fishing has remained a staple industry in the minds of outdoorsmen across the country and around the world. Whether you are a hobbyist or a competitor, or simply a tourist looking to waste away a luxurious afternoon on a deep-sea fishing excursion, the possibilities are endless: from lakes and rivers to the Gulf to the ocean; from small skiffs to large sea cruisers; from saltwater sailfish to freshwater bass. Where is a fisherman to start? Here are a few suggestions.
Named after New London fishing master Captain Leonard Destin, the village of Destin refers to itself as the Luckiest Fishing Village in the World and boasts one of the largest fleets of fishing boats in the whole state of Florida. Known for white beaches and emerald-green waters, Destin is located in northwest Florida, and is one of the gems of Florida’s emerald coast. More than just a tiny Florida fishing village, Destin now hosts over four million tourists per year, many of which make the pilgrimage specifically for its spectacular Florida fishing.
A favorite of the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett alike, this chain of islands off the southern tip of Florida is no stranger to any well-seasoned, Florida fishing seeker. From the northern hub of Key Largo to the southern bookend of Key West, the Florida Keys are home to some of the greatest fishing in North America. Clear waters, a long fishing season, and a wide range of fish to pursue keep the tiny islands buzzing with traffic. Whether you are chartering a boat or bringing your own, many online fishing sites recommend hiring a guide for the day to navigate your way offshore.
No Florida fishing excursion would be complete without making a stop in one of the main hubs of freshwater bass fishing: Lake Okeechobee. Known as the speckled perch capital of the world, Lake Okeechobee’s name is derived from two Hitchiti words meaning “big water”. The second-largest lake wholly enclosed within the borders of the United States behind Lake Michigan, Lake Okeechobee is home to largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bream, and bluegill and hosts several major bass-fishing contests every year. Along with customary array of boat rental options, for anyone seeking to enjoy the majestic scenery of the wetlands, Lake Okeechobee also offers airboat rentals and tours.
If all you are seeking is afternoon in the sunshine with good company, a cold beverage, and a wet line, there are many, many notable and casual pier fishing options throughout the state. All of the aforementioned locations, Destin, the Keys, Lake Okeechobee, offer pier fishing as a viable alternative to bass boats, guides, GPS’s, and high seas. Many of the popular tourist destinations such as Jacksonville and St. Petersburg also boast their share of piers to cast a line in, many of which are probably only a short walk from your condo or hotel room. Pier fishing guides can be obtained online or at a variety of travel information kiosks.
Florida fishing has something for everyone. From the Panhandle’s Gulf waters down to the Keys, amateur or pro, Florida’s ample seas can keep your party busy for days at a time. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.