There simply is no place in the world like Florida. Practically unmatched in terms of variety, the Sunshine State has incredible angling opportunities in all parts of its geography. There will certainly be honorable mentions, but here are my three best fishing events in Florida. Put these things on your calendar to do ASAP.
Peacock Bass Bedding
Peacock fishing is year-round and is especially good in the warmer months, but it really kicks off in March and April when they bed. Pushy peacock parents aggressively patrol their beds on the shorelines of south Florida waterways killing anything that comes too close. This is an extremely visual fishing experience, as you will see them in their nests aggressively swirling around and harassing any living creature that isn’t of kin. If you really wanted to, 100 fish in a day isn’t out of the question. The drive across Alligator Alley is worth it.
Florida Keys Tarpon Migration
April through July the Keys play host to the annual tarpon migration. Thousands of tarpon pour through the keys flats, bridges and passes, gorging themselves along the way. You can throw flies at daisy chains on the flats or soak baits at the bridges, but either way, you’re in for a challenge. The thrill and fight of a tarpon is unmatched by any other inshore fish, as they deliver eye-grabbing ariel displays, blistering runs and a stubbornness that tests the will of even seasoned anglers – if you can get one to bite. I recommend booking a guide out of Bud n’ Mary’s Marina for this.
Before we get to the final item on this list, I thought it prudent to bring up the honorable mentions. These are all excellent angling opportunities that are definitely worth doing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so while these are my honorable mentions, for you, they may trump everything else on this list. Here they are:
Islamorada Sailfish Season
Ever caught 10 sailfish in a day? Neither have I. My experience with them has only been in the summer months, where catching one in a day is special. During the winter months in the Keys, especially around Islamorada, these pelagic predators come up shallow, sometimes as shallow as 20 feet! When they’re this shallow their dark purple and black bodies stick out like a sore thumb against the Bimini Blue water with white sand bottoms of the reefs. In these conditions, they can be sight-fished with baits or flies, double-digit days are common.
April through September bring some of the best offshore fishing for dolphin (mahi-mahi, dorado, dolphinfish) anywhere around. You can put up big numbers here, these ferocious pelagics will readily eat flies, trolled lures and live baits, fight hard and will be great on the dinner table. Additionally, they’re a very sustainable and healthy fish to harvest.
Ok, hear me out on this one. Florida is playing Georiga in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, and Friday you can fish a flood tide for redfish then go out on the Saint John’s River and catch DOUBLE DIGIT doormats – pretty cool right? The annual flounder migration down the Saint John’s River is a chance for anglers to land tons of these tasty flatties while also catching trout and redfish. Also, because of the sheer quantity of flounders that are moving through the river at this time, you have a real shot at a very large fish. When I did this, my friend and I caught 20 flounders with multiple over 20 inches.
South Florida Mullet Run
This is something that I don’t have first-hand experience with, however, it is renowned for being an incredible angling experience. Mullet migrate along the beaches of south Florida by the thousands and with it comes an incredible cast of characters. While not what it used to be, it still provides amazing shows of tarpon showering mullet, sharks breaching, jacks violently chasing baits and many other species following on their coattails. This is some action that people, (myself included), need to get in on.
Here is some incredible footage courtesy of BlacktipH Fishing:
These are some of the best fishing opportunities in Florida according to me, it’s just one man’s opinion. I highly encourage you to try to find your own incredible experiences and build your own list!
Until next time, tight lines.