Almost every angler dreams of Florida’s crystal blue waters and a monster tarpon surfacing on their bait from below.
So the time has finally come. You’ve finally begun to seriously think about your dream: fishing Florida. This guide will help you figure out exactly how to plan your dream trip to Florida so you can nail every fishing hot spot on your way.
Instead of revolving your fishing around other vacation activities, this guide will plan your trip as if the only thing you’re there to do in Florida is to catch fish, and that’s arguably the best mentality to have. Also, if you’re not a seasoned deep fishing angler, the name of the game in Florida for those top-notch catches like tarpon is charter fishing boats. An experienced captain will make or break your trip – here, it’s not about luck, it’s about skill.
Destination 1: Destin
To begin this trip, the best way to do is work your way from north to south and west to east. So where better to start than Destin, Florida, known as the luckiest fishing village in the world. It has the largest fishing fleet in the United States, and they’re all ready to take you to the Emerald Coast. To get there, you’ll fly into Florida’s Northwest Regional Airport, which has a huge list of partner airports around the country for reasonable prices.
Once there, you can either beach fish or hire out a fishing charter. For the day you arrive, it’s best to stick to beach fishing so you can get acclimated and wake up early as sin the next day to hop on a charter before sunrise. On the beach, you’ll be able to catch all sorts of beach fish, like pompano, redfish, whiting, and ladyfish.
In the Gulf, set your sights on some of the best deep sea fishing in the world with catches like grouper, red snapper, triggerfish, and amberjacks. Marlin, yellow fin tuna, cobia, and swordfish are just waiting to take your bait.
Destination 2: Tampa
From Destin, fly into Tampa International Airport. This is where your great tarpon adventure on a spin rod in the Gulf will begin if you’re taking this trip in mid-March. From February’s end until May, tarpon begin their migration north and those that have reached recent adulthood are heading offshore to join these migrating groups.
To take advantage of the tarpon fishing, you’ll want to hire a charter who knows the area extremely well. Consult reviews online and local fishing publications if you can – if you’ve never fished for tarpon before, you probably won’t catch anything if you try and head out alone. Additionally, if the tarpon fishing turns out not so brilliant, set your goal on red drum, one of Florida’s most popular sport fishes.
Destination 3 – Lakeport
Rent a car for the two and a half hour journey to Lake Okeechobee, one of the nation’s best bass fishing spots. It hosts the Bassmaster Elite series and the FLW Tournament. The lake hosts some major trophy bass and after fishing the deep sea fish of the Gulf all day in Tampa, you’ll be grateful for some classic bass fishing to get you back in the zone. In most areas, you can rent your own boat to take yourself out, or you can also hire a charter.
Destination 4 – Islamorada
From Lakeport, drive the three hours through the Everglades, down the eastern coast, and into the Keys to get your hands on some excellent tarpon fishing and see some incredibly beautiful sights.
Here, you’ll want to hire a guide to get you into some of the best tarpon and permit fishing spots known to man. The tarpon season is relatively short from the time it begins in March, but is also dependent on water temperature. April is typically the high point of tarpon fishing in the Keys, and Islamorada is no different. Try something different: get out the fly rod and aim for the tarpon on the fly. It’s the highest honor there is.
The best part about packing for this trip is that with Cabela’s Tackle Shop, you can find every lure or bait you may need there, making it an easy stop along the way. Learn more about fishing destinations and the perfect gear for your targeted species by clicking here.
Now what? You’re in the Keys! Enjoy yourself and take a deep breath. You made it, bud.