10 Facts About Fishing in Florida

Fishing in Florida, Photo by James Brown copy_WEB__001_

Florida is a killer place to cast a line. In addition to 4 million resident anglers, approximately 2 million people visit Florida to fish annually. Fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry. From major tournaments to laid-back fishing along the St. Johns River, there’s a bit of something for every taste and talent. Here are 10 facts you should know before you catch fish in Florida.

  1. If you’re 16-65, you need a freshwater fishing license.

    For those under 16 or developmentally disabled, a license is not required. Florida residents 65+ qualify for a free Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate. For those ages 16-65, a current freshwater license is required. Annual, five-year, and lifetime licenses are available.

  2. You might need a saltwater fishing license, or you might not.

    Florida saltwater law is a bit complicated. If you plan to fish in saltwater from land or a structure fixed to land, from a boat with a Vessel Saltwater Fishing License, or from a pier with a Pier Saltwater Fishing License, you do not need a personal saltwater fishing license. There are numerous regulations, so talk to your county tax collector or bait and tackle shop about the type of fishing you intend to do and licenses required.

  3. If you fish with licensed charter captains, you don’t need a fishing license at all. They’ve got you covered.

    So long as there is a valid vessel license, you’re good to go.

    Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise, Photos by James Brown
    Photo by James Brown
  4. If you’re hoping to hook a big one, Florida is the place to be.

    Florida has more world-record catches than any other state–or country. The largest fish on record was a 123-lb Alligator Gar caught in the Choctawhatchee River in 1995.

  5. You must research and abide by local fishing laws and regulations or risk fines and/or jail time.

    Redfish can grow up to 45 inches and weigh up to 51 lbs in Florida, but if you catch and keep a redfish that size you’ll find yourself in trouble with Florida Fish and Wildlife. In NE Florida, there’s a limit of two redfish per person daily and fish must be between 18-27’’ in length. There are regulations about gear and fishing style too (spearing, gigging, or bow-fishing a redfish is illegal). Read up before you cast. If you’re caught breaking regulations, there are stiff penalties.

  6. Fishing from a bridge or pier is a great alternative to a boat.

    If you’d like to catch large ocean fish but don’t have a boat, no worries. Fish move through our waterways within easy reach from a bridge or pier. They love hanging out around the pilings, so fishing straight down is your best bet. There may be a charge to fish from a pier; putting a line in from from bridges is free.

  7. The best time of day to fish depends on many factors.

    Time of day, lunar cycle, spawning cycles, and weather patterns all affect your likelihood of getting a bite.

  8. There’s water everywhere… just cast a line!

    Florida boasts 2,270 miles of tidal shoreline and over 11,000 miles of waterways. There are infinite places to fish.

  9. Shrimp run in the summer and the fall in NE Florida.

    There’s a summer run (July-August) and a winter run (November-December). You need a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to shrimp and are allowed no more than 5 gallons of shrimp per harvester daily.

  10. There are hundreds of fish varieties in Florida’s waters.

    Some of the most popular fish to catch are tarpon, spotted sea trout, snook, sailfish, redfish (red drum), largemouth bass, grouper, panfish, mackerels, and snappers.

Fishing on the First Coast, regulations 2018


About Jennifer Melville

Jennifer Melville is a contributing writer for EU Jacksonville, South Magazine, Folio Magazine, Green Prints, Focus on the Family, and various other print and online publications. She’s a military wife, mother of four, and a leader in the NE Florida homeschooling community. You can check out more of her work on her website, Azalea Publications or follow her on Twitter.