1,800 miles of coastline, and thousands of inland water
bodies, it is no wonder that Florida is the fishing capital
of the world. Whether youre fishing for the biggest,
the tastiest or the feistiest, Florida offers a variety
that has attracted anglers for centuries.
Destin, more than 35,000 anglers enter the annual Fishing
that lasts through the whole month of October. Halfway
between Pensacola and Panama City, Destins shores
offer competitors a seemingly endless variety, including
amberjack, yellowfin and blackfin tuna, sailfish, marlin,
kingfish, wahoo, grouper and red snapper. Moving east along
the coast, try your luck with the tough but tasty Cobia
off the beach in Panama City. Grilled or fried, the catch
is definitely worth the fight.
those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, try
one of North Floridas most popular fishing styles
- surfcasting from the beaches. Carrabelle, Mexico
Beach, Gulf Breeze, Fort Walton Beach and virtually all
the Florida islands offer great surf fishing so you can
enjoy the feel of the sand between your toes. You can use
any variety of bait, but for the best results, try live
sand fleas, shrimp and pinfish. Another solid-ground option
is to simply walk out to deeper water on one of North Floridas
many piers. Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, tarpon and redfish
are just a few of the varieties that are drawn to the lights
and pilings of Floridas piers. For more information
on Floridas beaches and piers, visit www.VISITFLORIDA.com/experience/nature/fishing.
you prefer freshwater fishing, North Florida offers some
of the best locations for stripers in the state. Known
as Morones because of their scientific family name,
this category includes striped, sunshine and white bass.
The Appalachicola River system, including the massive Lake
Seminole, holds the record for the largest of all three
types of stripers. Following in a close second is Lake
Talquin, located just west of Tallahassee. Also notable
in the region are Santa Rosa Countys Blackwater River
and the Choctawatchee in Walton and Washington Counties.
east, the Suwannee River boasts an incredibly large number
of sturgeons a rarity in the Sunshine State, but
certainly a welcome surprise along the crook of Florida.
For bream and a multitude of bass, visit any one of the
many lakes and streams between Gainesville, Palatka and
Ocala in North Central Florida. Popular bait choices are
crickets, crankbaits and plastic lures. Dont miss
the sleek kingfish that seem to prefer Jacksonville, probably
because of its warm water. These feisty fish seem to come
in hordes when you offer trolled bait and lures.
Florida is the place for lake fishing, boasting some of
the largest freshwater catches in the state. Bass is the
catch of every day, with a multitude of lakes spanning
in every direction from Orlando, including Lake Butler
near Kissimmee or Lake Alfred just east of Lakeland. Also
in Central Florida, Disney World is a surprising haven
for an enormous bass population that has adjusted to the
noise of boats and crowds. For more information on Floridas
freshwater bass fishing, visit floridafisheries.com/updates/bass2005.html.
in Central Florida, dont overlook the many saltwater
fishing options that are available. Celebrated as the "Redfish
capital of the world," the Orlando area, with its
Indian River Lagoon system, holds the record for several
prize redfish. The population has grown quite large in
this area, due to the mud-grass bottom and the waterway
that is almost totally enclosed. Tarpon are also prevalent
in the middle areas of Florida, with hot spots off of St.
Petersburg. Nicknamed the Silver King, this fighter fish
has been known to reach 200 pounds! Also worth a fight
are the sailfish that gather just a few miles offshore
in Stuart. The contours of the bottom and the strong current
draw hundreds of baitfish and the large sailfish simply
Florida Penninsula is famous for nearly every kind of fish,
both fresh and saltwater. For freshwater, the place to
start is Lake Okeechobee, a 730-square-mile housing area
for thousands of bass. The second-largest natural lake
in the country, "Lake O" holds more than a trillion
gallons of water. The baits to use are bluegills and shiners,
as well as frogs, crickets, grasshoppers, worms, and any
fish small enough for a bass to eat. Trout is also a popular
catch around Flamingo, at Floridas southern tip,
where the bights, cuts and canals make wonderful hosts
to the tasty fish.
South Floridas salt waters include such delicacies
as bonefish, grouper and snapper. Islamorada in the Keys
is home to some of the largest bonefish in the country.
The best approach is to look for flats with plenty of shrimp,
crustaceans and worms, the prey of hundreds of hungry bonefish.
Grouper and snapper are best at any of the wrecks and artificial
reefs off the Miami coast. Test your strength against mangrove
and yellow snapper, as well as gag and black grouper. With
a little luck, you might even run into the frightening
Cubera snapper, with its impressively sharp teeth, or the
infamous giant grouper, weighing over 200 pounds. Either
way, you wont leave unsatisfied. The beaches at Fort
Myers and Sanibel have been named the Tarpon capital of
the world, with Boca Grande giants weighing in at 150-200
pounds. Also, dont forget the adventurous Gulf Stream,
where the deep blue waters attract such challenging game
fish as the blue marlin, wahoo, sailfish, dophin, kingfish,
swordfish, blackfin and yellowfin tuna and massive sharks.
Trolling is the best option, but in the past few years,
more and more anglers are trying their hands at offshore
your style, Floridas many lakes, rivers and beaches
have what you are fishing for. Reel in updates on the latest
in Floridas fishing news and ideas about where and
when to go at www.VISITFLORIDA.com/experience/nature/fishing.
information on travel to Florida or to order a copy of
VISIT FLORIDA's free Vacation Guide visit VISIT FLORIDA's
consumer web site, www.VISITFLORIDA.com, or call VISIT
FLORIDA's toll-free consumer number at 1-888-7-FLAUSA (352872).