Fishing In Florida
Millions of anglers drawn to fish
How popular is fishing in Florida?
Florida has more anglers- 2.4 million and counting- than the populations of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Main e, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington DC, put together.
That may be because Florida has so many exciting fish and fishing venues.
Perhaps most legendary of all is the much-traveled Florida strain largemouth bass, now setting records in California and other states where it often is transplanted by fish and game authorities. No lakes are more famous for bass fishing than the mighty Okeechobee, which is only a little, more than an hour’s drive from Lee County.
Lake Okeechobee’s 730 square miles – more area than any freshwater body in the United States south of the Great Lakes – are as diverse as they are many. Hundreds of square miles of vegetated shallows provide not only great bassing but also infinite family fun in the form of pan fishing for bluegill, shellcracker and crappie.
As good as freshwater fishing is in Southwest Florida, it is the salt water that attracts the majority of local anglers. That was so when the first big game fish, a tarpon, was landed near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River in 1985, and it continues today.
Lee County annually leads that state in the sales of snook stamps, necessary for those who would keep one on chance that they caught one within the 8-inch legal range
(26 to 34 inches) and within the 61/2 months of open season. (February through April, and September through Dec. 14th). firstname.lastname@example.org
POMPANO: The tastiest and hardest fighter of the jack family. Takes crustaceans including shrimp, crabs, and sand fleas, small jigs, sometimes spoons, cast around broken sandy bottoms, shoals and passes. Minimum 10 inches to fork, bag limit 10 including over 20 inches. Edibility: Excellent.
SHEEPSHEAD: Very popular winter target during spawning runs when fish collect around coastal structures, including fishing piers. Will take shrimp, small crabs, sand fleas, and sea worms. Minimum 12 inches to fork, bag limit 15. Edibility: Very Good.
SNOOK: Premier game fish caught from fresh river waters to offshore artificial reefs, on live and artificial baits and flies of wide description. State record from Lee County, 44 pounds 3 ounces. Snook permit required for anglers who must have a saltwater fishing license. Slot limit 26-34 inches, bag limit one, closed season (west coast) May through August, Dec. 15-Jan 31. Edibility: Excellent
GAG GROUPER: Juvenile gags are called grass grouper, because they spend the first months of their lives in inshore sea grass beds. Keeper size gag move into outer bays in late fall and can be caught around structures including channel markers and bridges. Hit cut and live bait, trolled plugs lead head jigs. Maximum 22 inches; included in grouper aggregate bag limit of five. Edibility: Excellent
RED GROUPER: Offshore fish that prefer large expanses of “live” hard bottom on which sponges, sea fans and other soft corals grow. Hit cut and live bait, and leadhead jigs. Minimum 20 inches, included in grouper aggregate bag limit of five. Edibility: Excellent
GRAY SNAPPER: Possibly the most popular panfish inshore, during juvenile phase, with fish to double-digit weights offshore. Called mangrove snapper for their pendant for bush habitat inshore, always around structure offshore, but will rise to the surface to take freelined cut and live bait. Sometimes hit jigs and top water plugs. Minimum 10 inches (12 inches in state waters offshore) bag limit five. Edibility: Excellent
TARPON: Region’s world renowned BIG gamefish., to 100 pounds in local waters. Available in rivers fall, spring and winter; deeper bay, pass and open Gulf waters in spring, summer and fall. Takes a wide variety of natural and artificial bait including flies.
$ 50.00 tag must be prepurchased before harvest. Edibility: Poor
REDFISH: No fish is more associated with mangroves, under which red drum usually are caught in high tide phases. Redfish will take almost all artificials, flies, and cut or live baits. Some schooling on open grass flats in late summer. Slot limit 18-27 inches, bag limit one. Edibility: Very Good
SPOTTED SEATROUT: Available in two flavors, spotted seatrout stay mostly around bays, and beaches, sand seatrout prefer sand bottom inn deeper bays. Both love shrimp, small fish, and jigs, but “speckles” trout are much better strikers of topwater and