Florida is the heartland of American angling. Whether you’re after freshwater fun or deep sea adventure, the Sunshine State has some of the best fishing you could ask for. But what’s the best of the best? Today, we break down the best counties in Florida for fishing.
Some of these places are obvious choices, but you may be surprised by a few of our picks. What they all have in common is world-class angling and a fleet of experienced charters. You probably want to see if your county made the cut, so let’s get started!
7. Collier County
Collier County holds some of the wealthiest communities in the country. People are drawn here from far and wide by tales of sugar-white sands and untouched preserves. The area doesn’t disappoint. Nature lovers can escape the crowds at Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Refuge. City types can enjoy high-end shopping and luxury living in downtown Naples. It’s the best of both worlds.
Collier County’s coastline is a maze of winding waterways between endless uninhabited islands. In short, it’s the perfect inshore fishery. Make your way through the mangroves in search of Redfish, Trout, Snook, and Tarpon. The area is especially popular with fly fishing enthusiasts, and many guides specialize in this style of fishing.
There’s a lot more to Collier than bays and backcountry, though. The area sees huge numbers of King Mackerel and Cobia roll past twice a year. It’s also an amazing place to target Tripletail, Permit, Grouper, and Snapper around nearshore reefs. The waters don’t get very deep, but that doesn’t mean that the fish are small!
6. St. Johns County
St. Johns County offers a quieter, more ancient side to the Sunshine State that most people never see. Explore the 17th-century fort and old narrow streets of St. Augustine. Stroll along sandy beaches without having to fight for umbrella space. The area has an almost European feel that you can help falling in love with.
Of course, this is still Florida, so expect big fish wherever you look. The inshore scene features all-star species like Redfish, Flounder, Trout, and Tarpon, as well as big Black Drum for good measure. Around the reefs, you’ll find Red Snapper, Gag Grouper, Black Seabass, and more. It’s a long run offshore, but you’ll be rewarded with Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Marlin.
Then there’s St. Johns County’s ace in the hole, the St. Johns River. The river marks the western edge of the county and is home to a wide mix of freshwater favorites. Largemouth, Sunshine, and even Striped Bass show up here, as well as Crappie, Sunfish, and a variety of saltwater species further downstream.
5. Pinellas County
Pinellas is the most densely-populated county in the Sunshine State. Honestly, we’re not surprised that so many people want to live here. St. Petersburg and Clearwater make up a vibrant metropolitan area known for its big cultural scene and year-round events. Balance that with beautiful parks and uninhabited islands, and you get pretty much the perfect place to live.
So, is the fishing any good? We’ve got two words for you: Tampa Bay. This vast inshore haven holds year-round catches of monster Reds, doormat Flounder, super-sized Seatrout, and more. Tarpon spend a good few months here in summer, and Snook also show up when the water gets warm. Pinellas County is as popular with fish as it is with people!
Pinellas’s inshore scene is great, but it’s only half of what the area has to offer. Offshore reef fishing trips are a great way to fill the freezer and have a blast at the same time. The sea doesn’t get deep enough for big game species, but you can find a ton of tasty Snapper, Grouper, Triggerfish, Kingfish, and Cobia – more than enough for a fishy feast.