Best Saltwater Fishing Season In Florida: Top Fish To Catch

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Explore the best saltwater fishing in Florida with top fish like snook, redfish, tarpon, and grouper. Find out the best locations and tips for successful fishing adventures.

Popular Saltwater Fish in Season in Florida


Snook, also known as linesiders, are one of the most sought-after saltwater fish in Florida. These elusive predators are known for their aggressive strikes and acrobatic fights, making them a favorite among anglers. Found in both inshore waters and nearshore reefs, snook can be caught year-round in Florida, with peak seasons in the spring and fall.

  • Snook are known for their distinctive black lateral line and protruding lower jaw, making them easy to identify.
  • These fish are ambush predators, often lurking near structure such as docks, mangroves, and oyster bars.
  • Live bait such as pilchards, pinfish, and shrimp are popular choices for targeting snook, although artificial lures can also be effective.


Redfish, also known as red drum, are another popular saltwater fish in Florida. These hard-fighting fish are known for their coppery-red color and distinctive spot patterns. Redfish can be found in both shallow flats and deeper waters, making them a versatile target for anglers of all skill levels.

  • Redfish are opportunistic feeders, feeding on a variety of prey including shrimp, crabs, and small fish.
  • These fish are often found in schools, making them a thrilling target for anglers looking for fast-paced action.
  • Fishing for redfish is best during the cooler months, with winter being an especially productive time to target these fish.


Tarpon, also known as the “silver king,” are one of the most iconic in Florida. These massive fish can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh over 200 pounds, making them a challenging target for even the most experienced anglers. Tarpon are known for their acrobatic leaps and drag-screaming runs, providing an adrenaline-pumping fishing experience.

  • Tarpon are migratory fish, with peak seasons in the spring and summer when they gather in large numbers along the Florida coast.
  • Live bait such as mullet, crabs, and pinfish are popular choices for targeting tarpon, although artificial lures can also be effective.
  • Catching a tarpon is a bucket-list experience for many anglers, and landing one requires skill, patience, and a bit of luck.


Grouper are another popular saltwater fish in Florida, known for their delicious white flesh and powerful fights. These bottom-dwelling fish can be found in a variety of habitats, from shallow reefs to deep wrecks, making them a versatile target for anglers. Grouper come in a variety of species, including gag, red, and black grouper, each with its own unique characteristics.

  • Grouper are ambush predators, using their large mouths to inhale prey in a single gulp.
  • Live bait such as pinfish, squid, and mullet are popular choices for targeting grouper, although jigs and deep-diving plugs can also be effective.
  • Grouper fishing is best during the cooler months, with winter being a prime time to target these tasty fish.

Best Locations for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a renowned destination for saltwater fishing enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of fish species to target. From the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the vibrant coral reefs of the Atlantic Ocean, the Florida Keys provide an unparalleled fishing experience. Anglers can expect to reel in a variety of fish, including snapper, grouper, tarpon, and bonefish. Whether you prefer deep-sea fishing or flats fishing, the Florida Keys have something for everyone.

  • With its abundance of marine life, the Florida Keys are a prime location for anglers looking to catch trophy-sized fish.
  • The warm waters surrounding the islands make for ideal fishing conditions year-round, ensuring that anglers can enjoy their favorite pastime no matter the season.
  • In addition to the excellent fishing opportunities, the Florida Keys offer a picturesque backdrop of palm-lined beaches and stunning sunsets, making it a truly unforgettable fishing destination.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is another top spot for saltwater fishing in Florida, known for its diverse ecosystem and plentiful fishing opportunities. Anglers can expect to catch a wide range of fish species, including snook, redfish, and trout. Whether you prefer fishing from a boat or casting your line from the shore, Tampa Bay offers something for anglers of all skill levels.

  • The shallow waters of Tampa Bay are home to an abundance of fish, making it an ideal location for inshore fishing.
  • Anglers can explore the mangrove-lined shorelines and grass flats of the bay in search of their next big catch.
  • Tampa Bay is also known for its world-class tarpon fishing, with anglers flocking to the area during the annual tarpon migration.


Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin is a popular destination for saltwater fishing enthusiasts looking to reel in big catches. Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin boasts a rich marine ecosystem teeming with fish such as grouper, snapper, and amberjack. Whether you’re a novice angler or a seasoned pro, Destin offers a variety of fishing charters and excursions to suit your needs.

  • The deep waters off the coast of Destin are home to a wide range of fish species, making it a prime location for offshore fishing.
  • Anglers can expect to encounter prized game fish such as marlin, tuna, and sailfish while fishing in the waters of Destin.
  • With its white sandy beaches and emerald waters, Destin provides a picturesque backdrop for a day of fishing and relaxation.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach is a vibrant and bustling city known for its vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches, but it also offers excellent saltwater fishing opportunities. Anglers can explore the waters surrounding Miami Beach in search of fish such as snapper, grouper, and mahi-mahi. Whether you prefer fishing from a pier or chartering a boat, Miami Beach has plenty to offer for fishing enthusiasts.

  • The warm waters of Miami Beach are home to a diverse range of fish species, making it a popular destination for anglers of all backgrounds.
  • Anglers can enjoy both inshore and offshore fishing opportunities, with the chance to catch trophy-sized fish just a short distance from shore.
  • Miami Beach’s proximity to the Gulf Stream ensures that anglers can encounter a variety of pelagic species, including wahoo, kingfish, and barracuda.

Overall, Florida offers a wealth of top-notch saltwater fishing locations, each with its own unique charm and fishing opportunities. Whether you’re seeking a thrilling offshore adventure or a relaxing day of inshore fishing, the Sunshine State has something for every angler to enjoy. So pack your gear, grab your rod, and head to one of these fantastic fishing destinations for an unforgettable experience on the water.

Tips for Successful Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Check Local Regulations

When it comes to saltwater fishing in Florida, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to always check local regulations before heading out on your fishing trip. Different areas may have specific rules and restrictions in place to protect the fish population and ensure sustainable fishing practices. By familiarizing yourself with the regulations beforehand, you can avoid any potential fines or penalties and help preserve the natural beauty of Florida’s waters for future generations.

  • Research the specific regulations for the area you plan to fish in
  • Make sure you have the appropriate fishing license
  • Follow catch limits and size restrictions for different fish species
  • Be aware of any closed seasons or restricted areas

Use Live Bait

Using live bait is a popular and effective strategy for saltwater fishing in Florida. Live bait can attract a wider variety of fish species and increase your chances of a successful catch. Whether you prefer shrimp, mullet, or pinfish, using live bait can help you lure in the big ones and make your fishing experience more exciting.

  • Choose the right type of live bait for the fish you are targeting
  • Keep your live bait fresh and lively by changing it regularly
  • Use a variety of live bait to see what works best in different conditions
  • Consider using artificial lures or bait as a backup option

Fish at Dawn or Dusk

One of the best times to go saltwater fishing in Florida is during the early morning hours or late afternoon. Fishing at dawn or dusk can increase your chances of catching fish as many species are more active during these times. The calmness of the water and the beautiful sunrise or sunset can also make your fishing experience more enjoyable and relaxing.

  • Plan your fishing trips around sunrise or sunset for the best results
  • Take advantage of the low light conditions to sneak up on fish
  • Use topwater lures or live bait to attract feeding fish during these times
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions during dawn or dusk fishing

Be Patient and Persistent

Patience is key when it comes to saltwater fishing in Florida. Some days you may not catch anything, while other days you may reel in a big one within minutes. It’s important to stay patient and persistent, even when the fish aren’t biting. By staying focused and determined, you can improve your skills as a fisherman and increase your chances of success on future fishing trips.

  • Stay positive and enjoy the experience of being out on the water
  • Experiment with different techniques and baits if you’re not getting any bites
  • Stay motivated and keep trying, even when the fish seem elusive
  • Celebrate every catch, big or small, as a victory in your fishing journey

Overall, saltwater fishing in Florida can be an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. By following these tips for successful fishing, you can enhance your chances of a great catch and create lasting memories out on the water. So grab your gear, check the regulations, and head out to the beautiful waters of Florida for an unforgettable fishing adventure!

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