Would you like to go fishing in Florida? Here are our time-tested tips for seasoned fishing guides that cover a wide variety of species and experiences.
With apologies to everyone else in the US, Florida perhaps has the greatest variety of fishing opportunities in the country.
From offshore sailfish and swordfish to tarpon, bonefish, and in-house permits, Florida’s fisheries attract Thousands of tourists each year. If you are semi-serious about fishing, there is a better chance than not that a fishing trip to the Sunshine State is already on your to-do list. (It’s on mine – twice in the next 3 months!)
But how do you determine which type of fishing is right for you? And once you know what to catch, how do you find the right charter guide?
Here’s how to find the right trip and guides to tackle the most impressive quarry in the state.
Florida Fishing Tours: Which Experience Would You Like?
When it comes to fishing, Florida literally has something for everyone. From the sugar-white sands of the Panhandle to the Mangrove Islands of the Keys to the Mullet Run in southeast Florida, the state has incredible fish to catch and some beautiful places to catch them.
Feeding tarpon in the Florida Keys
The sheer ease of fishing in Florida also makes it unlike many other destinations. In places like the Northeast and the Gulf Coast, you may need to walk 80 miles for a realistic attempt at catching swordfish or sailfish. Sailfish can often be caught a mile from the beach off South Florida. And the sword fishing grounds start about 8 miles from Miami.
In most of the country, tarpon are mythical creatures that are seldom encountered – let alone caught. In the Florida Keys, you can hand-feed 100 pounders right off the dock. And you can do that every day of the week.
If your trip isn’t motivated by the urge to catch a particular species of fish, it may be best to match the overall experience you want with the fishing tour that’s right for you.
Captain Adam Peeples (Destin): One Shot Charters
Photo courtesy Capt. Adam Peeples
Captain Adam Peeples is an accomplished swordfish fisherman who specializes in placing customers on swordfish during the day.
His boat record is nine swords in a day. If you visit it at the right time of year – spring and summer – you can expect between three and five swordfish bites a day.
The consistency of catching swordfish is great for many reasons. If you don’t target too much quarry of 100 or 150 pounds in “normal” fishing, you have a realistic chance of catching the biggest fish of your life. Swordfish fight hard, taste great and stay good in the freezer. They also make for great pictures!
Depending on the time of your visit, Captain Adam can round out your trip with yellowfin tuna and some pretty respectable bottom fish options for snapper and grouper.
Destin also makes a great setting for a family vacation. The white sand beaches are some of the most beautiful you will ever find, there are plenty of accommodations and it is as accommodating for vacationers as possible.
Captain Ray Rosher (Miami): Miss Britt Sportfishing
Photo courtesy Ray Rosher
Ray Rosher is an experienced charter captain. In addition to his decades of charter boat experience, Rosher owns a tackle manufacturing company and has won more than his share of sailing fishing tournaments.
Deep sea fishing from Miami is both accessible and incredibly diverse. With blue water visible from the beach, it is not uncommon to catch double-digit sailfish and be home in time for happy hour.
Perhaps the most interesting way to catch sailfish is by dragon fishing. In this approach, live baits dangle from the surface of the ocean, where they prove irresistible to passing sailfish. The strike is visible and you can catch all kinds of other species. These include king mackerel, black fin tuna, mahi-mahi, and sometimes sharks.
If you’ve never fished kites before, here’s how it works. A special fishing kite is attached to a special kite rod. A series of clips are then strung at intervals on the braided line that spools the kite reel. The line from each live bait rod (most boats fish three lines per kite) is then fed through a clip on the kite line.
While the line passes freely through the clip and the bait can be deployed and held in place, the clip will release under tension as the bait is consumed. Once you have pulled the slack off the line, you will fight the fish that is free from the kite.
It’s a technical and exciting way to fish. Captain Ray and his crews are as savvy as they come.
Tarpon, snook, redfish, permission
Captain Mark Cockerham (Islamorada): Keyhopper Charters
Photo courtesy Ray Rosher
The Florida Keys are one of my favorite places in the world. And there are few people I’d rather fish with than Captain Mark Cockerham.
Cockerham is an accomplished guide who not only grew up in these waters but also holds several world records for light attack and flying for bonefish and permit. One of his heroics is catching more than 400 redfish in one day – in one tournament.
Cockerham expertly aims for permit, tarpon, bonefish, redfish and sharks in the flats and canals of Florida Bay and the Everglades. While you can target a specific fish, perhaps your best option is to let Captain Mark join you in the action. He is an expert at figuring out what is best at the time.
In an area of Florida Bay known as the Flamingo, the Everglades flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The sights and actions you will see here are amazing. From 12 foot saltwater crocodiles, manatees, porpoises (in 2 feet of water), and saw fishing, the mangrove islands and canals are just as spectacular as the fishing opportunities they offer.
Catching a 100 pound tarpon in the apartments is a really addicting experience – watching it fall and explode out of the water.
If you’re not careful, you’ll just want to go fishing with Captain Mark.
Inshore fishing, exotic species
Captain Abie Raymond (Miami): Go Hard Fishing Charters
Photo courtesy Captain Abie Raymond
Captain Abie Raymond fishes from Miami. His activity shows the variety of fishing opportunities available here and how accessible everything is.
While Raymond catches saltwater fish such as sailfish, kingfish, and snapper offshore, it also targets the many exotic species of freshwater fish (from around the world) that live in the Everglades and freshwater canal systems of South Florida.
Some of the interesting, foreign invasions Raymond catches are peacock bass (from South America), clown knifefish (from the Amazon), and snakeheads (from Southeast Asia).
Depending on where he’s fishing, Captain Abie can catch you a large peacock bass and a giant snake or tarpon in the same day. You might see other crazy, exotic non-aquatic animals on your trip – iguanas, pythons, and parrots!
South Florida offers world class fishing. And Raymond’s operation shows that you can fish your way around the world – all thanks to easy deep sea fishing access.
You can get to blue water on a bay boat, which you can’t if you have to walk 50 miles to find sailfish. And you have access to the incredible variety of coastal and freshwater destinations in South Florida.