Head to the Sunshine State where you’ll find some of the best Florida fishing towns. (Photo: Alamy)
Florida’s beaches rank as some of the best in the world, but just offshore lies another treasure: some of the best fishing in the nation. With the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico hugging the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys, the region is home to unrivaled deep sea fishing, as well as old-school pier fishing. Plus, the Sunshine State’s other waterways — canals, rivers, creeks and lakes — offer additional stomping grounds for anglers.
Where can fishermen and wannabe anglers cast off? Whether you’re on the hunt for a giant bass or a smaller creature, you’re sure to hook a catch in our five favorite towns for fishing.
When a town proclaims itself “The Luckiest Fishing Village in the World,” you know it’s gotta be good for anglers. Destin sits in Florida’s Panhandle, tucked alongside the famed Emerald Coast beaches, and lays claim to the largest fishing fleet in the state — 140-plus vessels!
To book a charter, head to the marina at Destin Harbor and simply stroll past the many outfitters’ boats. You can chat with the captain and gather information before choosing a tour. Trips run from multi-hour to multi-day.
Fort Lauderdale has been coined the “yachting capital of the world,” and for good reason. Many moneyed boaters keep their vessels in the town’s marinas nestled around the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to its location on the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale is also marked by many winding canals. The town is even known as the “Venice of America” — a watery wonderland for fishermen.
Contact the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) for a list of fishing charters and captains, or take a drive slightly north to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and cast off from the town’s enormous fishing pier. Anglers in the region can expect to hook sailfish, wahoo, snapper, grouper and swordfish.
Planning an overnight? Book a beachfront stay at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest town in the continental United States. This laid-back beach town offers fishermen plenty of opportunities to cast their line. Head to the St. Johns County Fishing Pier on St. Augustine Beach; open 24 hours, it’s a popular spot for locals.
For boating charters, look into Sea Love Marina, which organizes full-day, half-day, and overnight deep-sea fishing excursions. Common catches include snapper, grouper, porgy and sea bass.
The longest island in the Florida Keys is also one of the most developed, with ample restaurants, shops, and yes — fishing charter companies. Key Largo sits in a coveted location, with the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream just offshore. This means that loads of fish are never far from your rod. Plus, if the water is too rough to take out a charter into the sea, it’s possible to fish from the island’s calmer bayside.
The Gulf Stream waters are home to a whopping 600 species of fish, but off the Key Largo coast, you’re likely to find bonefish, redfish, trout, and yellowtail snapper. Spend your stay at the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort, which lies along the bay amidst 17 acres of lush, island landscape.
The tranquil and tony town of Naples sprawls along Florida’s southern Gulf Coast and has long been a haven for well-heeled travelers. Visitors with a love for outdoor pursuits won’t be disappointed: the Naples Pier jutting into the sea isn’t merely the town’s most iconic symbol; it’s also locals’ favored fishing spot.
Admission to the pier is free, there are plenty of tables for cleaning your catch, and it’s open 24 hours. If you’d rather hit the open waters, there’s no shortage of fishing charters with the Port of Naples Marina‘s independent fishing fleet.
This story first appeared on The Florida Buzz, a collection of blog posts about all things travel in the Sunshine State, powered by Florida Marriott Resorts.