December 3, 2023

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Florida Fishing Seasons. Everything You Need to Learn

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Boasting the “Luckiest Fishing Village in the World” and the “Sportfishing Capital of the World,” the “Sunshine State” is arguably the home of angling in the US. But fishing in Florida is much more than just Destin and Islamorada. From the flats and bays out to the reefs and deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean – not to mention the endless freshwater opportunities – there’s so much to explore! And with such diversity comes non-stop action. 

But where to go when? Don’t worry! We’re here today to give you a rundown of Florida’s fishing seasons. We’ll talk you through exactly what’s biting when in this guide. After all, you don’t want to head offshore when there’s nothing biting, or miss out on the deep sea action when it’s at its peak! 

If you’re interested in what’s biting right now in the Sunshine State, why not hear it from the horse’s mouth? Check out FishingBooker’s captain reports.

What to Expect from Florida’s Fishing Seasons

You already know about the incredible range of fish on offer in Florida. And there’s never a bad time to come to the state and cast a line – at least somewhere. To help you make your mind up on where to go and when, we’ve got everything you need in this month-by-month guide: 


What better way to start the year than by fishing? There’s no such thing as the winter blues in Florida! Whether you want to escape the cold and catch a trophy under the sun, or fancy some thrilling flats action to keep you warm, there’s something for everyone!

If you’re looking for sun, then the Florida Keys are always a good bet. The year-round warm weather and lack of crowds come January make anywhere from Key Largo to Key West worth visiting. And the fishing is on fire! Explore the shallows as far north as the Biscayne Bay for Bonefish and even Tarpon, or head offshore and go after Tuna, Sailfish, Wahoo, and more.

Hoping for a more hands-on experience? Fear not, the Panhandle’s flats and bays are alive with fish. Pick a trip out of Pensacola, Panama City Beach, or anywhere in between, and you could land Redfish, Flounder, Speckled Trout, and Sheepshead. And if you head just a little further south-east, you can even take the kids manatee spotting in Homosassa!


It’s more of the same come February in the Sunshine State, as the same fish as in January are on the menu. And with the holidays a distant memory, it’s actually one of the quietest times of year to visit! How about a serene, romantic getaway for Valentine’s Day?

A group of anglers hold a Cobia each caught fishing in Miami

The Gulf Stream is your prime destination for deep sea fishing, with charters running all the way from Miami up to Jacksonville giving you the chance to target Cobia, Kingfish, Groupers, Wahoo, and Sailfish. This is a great time to mix it up, as you try bottom fishing nearer to shore and trolling for pelagics further out.

It’s not just the Panhandle, though, that’s ripe for inshore action. Boca Grande, Tampa Bay, and the whole of the Sun Coast’s shallow waters are overflowing with fish. Redfish steal the show across the board, while Flounder, Trout, and Sheepshead offer up a worthy supporting cast – and ensure a delicious, warming meal at the end of the day!


“The Times they are a-changing,” sang Bob Dylan, and that’s certainly the feeling when March gets going in Florida. The warm weather that spring brings comes early in the south of the state, bringing with it new life. Book early to avoid clashing with spring breakers who flock here, but remember that they do so for good reason!

A smiling angler holds a Tarpon caught while flats fishing in the Florida Keys

Inshore fishing gets going in the Keys and Everglades, with the “Silver King” tempting you to steal his crown. He’s supported by Permit and Bonefish, meaning an inshore “Grand Slam” is well within reach. If you have the patience and strength, that is!

Combine your trip with an escapade to the reefs, too, as Groupers, Snappers, and Mackerel come alive in the Keys. And it’s a similar story in the Panhandle, with Triggerfish joining the nearshore party, while Reds still dominate inshore. 

Up for something inland? March kicks off the freshwater fishing season in Florida, as Largemouth Bass start hitting their stride. Target them along with Crappie and other Panfish in Lake Okeechobee and other southwestern bodies of water, and you won’t be disappointed. 


There’s a feeling that peak season is on its way as spring hits its stride across the whole state. That means spawning season for plenty of species, especially in freshwater. Hit the upper basin of the St. Johns River for family fun hunting for Crappie, while the Harris Chain of Lakes offers thrilling Largemouth action.

A man and a woman hold two Largemouth Bass each in the Harris Chain of Lakes

It’s the same offshore, too, with the arrival of Amberjack and Marlin in the Gulf Stream. Pick a charter from Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, Miami, or anywhere in between, and you could be in for the battle of a lifetime. 

Meanwhile, flats fishing in the Keys has never been better. Fly anglers flock to the shallows in pursuit of the famous trinity of Tarpon, Permit, and Bonefish – but they offer plenty of action on conventional gear, too! And it’s more of the same on the west coast, with inshore fishing and Redfish reigning supreme, although there’s a lot to be said about the reefs, too. 


You can’t move for fish in Florida when May comes along. Plenty of species hit their peak season, and the better weather promises plenty of action all across the state. We’ll stop raving about it and let the fish do the talking!

A group of anglers hold a Tarpon caught fishing in Destin

In the Panhandle, there’s more diversity than ever before, as reef fishing comes alive and Tarpon enter the bays and flats. This is a great time to go after that bucket list catch or to hone in on your skills before peak season hits.

Attention shifts offshore in the Keys, however, as Tuna, Marlin, and Mahi Mahi come by. Don’t discount the inshore action, though, as that’s still going strong, while the reefs and bays on the East Coast are full of swimming creatures.

Add to all of that the potential for a night fishing trip to target the elusive Clown Knife Fish in Lake Ida – not to mention the Largemouth action elsewhere – and there really isn’t a bad place to go!


Peak fishing season arrives in Florida, along with plenty of vacationers looking to cash in on the weather, beaches, and fishing. You’d better book early to avoid disappointment, with the Red Snapper season opener meaning charters fill up fast in the Gulf – let alone accommodation.

A fisherman in a cap and sunglasses, sitting on a boat, holding a big Red Snapper, sunset in the background

Everywhere from Marco Island to Pensacola is bouncing with Red Snapper fever. And reef fishing could bring in plenty more, with Groupers, Kingfish, and more on the menu. Meanwhile, it’s all about diversity in the Keys, with inshore, reef, and offshore fishing on fire. 

Along the East Coast, Amberjack and Cobia make for a promising bottom fishing adventure, with Kingfish and Spanish Mackerel tempting you to troll. Despite this, the shallows of the Intracoastal Waterway are tempting, especially if you’re looking to teach the little ones to fish, while Catfish and Bluegill in Okeechobee, Harris, and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes provide plenty in the way of freshwater action. 


School’s out and the fishing action isn’t letting up for a minute. If you manage to get some time off, what better way to make the most of your vacation and excellent weather than by casting a line? Many charter captains tailor their trips to first-timers or families, but you’ll still want to book early as places fill up fast throughout summer. 

Two anglers hold a large Blue Marlin caught while fishing in the Florida Keys

The demand is understandable as the fishing, like the weather, is red hot. The Panhandle continues to welcome Tarpon to its inshore waters, while the Red Snapper season is still in full swing. Not only that, but the pelagics finally make their way north, too, meaning the chance of an inshore, nearshore, and offshore trip – if you have the time, that is. 

Red Snapper still dominate the Sun Coast’s angling scene, and with an abundance of Groupers alongside them, who doesn’t fancy a trip to the Gulf? But, just like in the Panhandle, Tarpon threaten to steal the limelight, as they tempt you to stay in the shallows. 

In the Keys, it’s time for the Key West Marlin Tournament. Deep sea fishing is off the charts, with Mahi Mahi and Marlin swimming in the deep. And the Gold Coast around Miami is no different, with the addition of Tuna. With the warm waters, it’s prime time to go spearfishing, too. In short – everything is possible in July!


With the little ones still off school, Florida makes for an ideal vacation destination again this month. Wherever you go, you’ll be greeted with everything you need for an enjoyable getaway, starting with freshwater. Peacock Bass start hitting their stride this time of year, while Panfish are always a great first catch.

A female angler in the water holding a Snook caught in Cape Coral, FL

Thinking of saltwater? Inshore fishing may be the best way to get them involved. In Tampa and Boca Grande Snappers dominate the bays and mangroves. Meanwhile, Snook join Tarpon and Jack Crevalle in the shallows around Cape Coral and Fort Myers, where you’re almost guaranteed a battle. 

Lobster season opens for a short period, in the Florida Keys, too, allowing fun for the whole family. Why not combine that with a trip to the reefs or offshore and land yourself a range of tasty treats?

And in the Gulf, Red Snapper season may be over, but the deep sea fishing is on fire. Marlin rub shoulders with Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna, while the Gulf Stream is all about Sailfish and Tuna, along with a good helping of bottom-dwellers. 


We’ve raved about the summer angling action in Florida, but the best-kept secret is fall fishing. The crowds start dying down but the fish aren’t going anywhere. In fact, some favorites return to these shores, providing even more diversity.

An angler holds a Tuna caught while fishing in the Florida Keys

Tuna make a comeback to the Keys, adding to the deep sea fishing frenzy, while Sailfish have never been more plentiful in Miami. In the Panhandle, it’s all about Bull Redfish in the shallows, but the warm weather still means you can head offshore while the pelagics are still biting. Head around the coast to Homosassa and you can combine fishing with swimming with manatees – while reef fishing is as good as ever!

As for freshwater, the shorter days mean more time to target the favorites. Largemouth Bass return to the topwaters, joining Bluegill and all sorts of Panfish. Hit anywhere from Okeechobee to Kissimmee, to Harris, and beyond, and you’ll be in for a treat. 


All eyes are on Destin come October, with the Destin Fishing Rodeo dominating the town throughout the month. Anglers of all skill levers are welcome to try their luck. After all, this is the “Luckiest Fishing Village in the World!” And with prizes totaling up to $150,000, it sure is tempting!

A group of people crowd around a record Kingfish caught during the Destin Fishing Rodeo – the highlight of Florida's fishing season

Of course, there’s good reason for hosting the event in October. This is when inshore, nearshore, and offshore fishing peaks along the Emerald Coast. From Bull Redfish to the potential Red Snapper season, to Blue Marlin, everything is possible, and there’s a category for pretty much everything.

Elsewhere, bottom-feeding creatures dominate the angling scene on the East Coast, with anglers from Miami to Jacksonville going after Cobia, Groupers, Mackerel, and Barracuda that are all on offer. 

In the Keys, it’s all about Jack Crevalle inshore, while the same reef and offshore creatures are available. In freshwater, there’s only one contender for the star of the show. Largemouth Bass start hitting their peak once more all across the Sunshine State!


You may think that things would start winding down in November. Well, you’d be right if you were anywhere else other than Florida! This is the state where fishing never stops, as the warm waters at the southernmost tip of the US are always hospitable to a range of species. 

Two anglers hold a large Redfish each following a successful inshore fishing trip

The reefs are in full swing, with an underwater party attracting Snappers, Groupers, Hogfish, and plenty more colorful species all across the state. The Keys are always good for an out-of-season adventure, and the added bonus of Tuna offshore is sure to tempt you. 

Speaking of offshore, the Gulf Stream is full of exciting pelagic species. Sailfish are popular targets in Miami, while Mahi Mahi move up the coast. This means that a trolling trip is your best bet of landing a trophy. 

On the Gulf Coast, inshore fishing takes center stage, with Redfish getting bigger and bigger in the shallows. With the arrival of Flounder, Speckled Trout, and Sheepshead, there’s plenty to target, whether in Boca Grande, Tampa Bay, PCB, or Pensacola. 


There’s no threat of a white Christmas in Florida, so you’re all set for some action on the water to see out the year. It may not be the traditional pick, but why not put a big fish on the table for Christmas?

An angler struggles to hold a large Black Grouper caught while fishing in Florida in December

The deep sea fishing season winds to a close, by and large, come December. Although if you find a calm day, the Space Coast up to Jacksonville can offer some good Tuna action out in the deep. Further south in West Palm Beach and Miami, you’ll be focusing on Snappers and Groupers in the bays or mangroves.

Even the Keys don’t offer much offshore action, but the inshore fishing is on point. Here, just as all along the Gulf Coast, Redfish hog the limelight, with a star-studded backing lineup of Trout, Flounder, Sheepshead, and more, depending on where you cast your line.

In the freshwater realm, it’s never been better, as Largemouth and Peacock Bass are enjoying the cooler weather. They stock up on food this time of year, so they’ll be eager to take your bait. It’s the perfect time to try a range of techniques!

Florida Fishing Seasons: Never a Bad Time

A view of two large charter boats either side of pristine blue water leading out to the ocean in Florida

So there you have it – a rundown of Florida’s fishing seasons. It was far from simple to cover the wealth of angling options on offer in the Sunshine State justice in one article, but we hope you’ve now got an idea of when to come fishing. If you didn’t manage to read through it all: spoiler alert, it’s always good! Wherever you are, whenever you’re here, you’re never far from a prime fishing locale. All that’s left to do is come and explore it for yourself!

And now over to you! What’s your favorite fishing season in Florida? Think we’ve missed something out? Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

The post Florida Fishing Seasons: All You Need to Know appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Rhys
Title: Florida Fishing Seasons: All You Need to Know
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Published Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2022 11:15:00 +0000

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