There is a lot to know, but the answer is No, fishing in Florida is not hard to do! There are thousands of people wondering as this summer rolls around whether or not fishing in Florida is difficult to get into. Is there a lot to learn? What is involved? How much money will you have to spend? Is a good fishing place close by? Will it take long to learn?
All of these are questions that need answered for beginners and we do our best here to cover everything you need to know to get started. There’s a lot, but nothing is that difficult that you can’t figure it out with the help of this guide.
Fishing for Fun or Feast?
Will you be fishing for the pure sport of it, the fun of it, or to put food on the table during these trying times? It matters because if you’re going for sport you’re going to target either the hard to catch fish or the hard-fighting fish.
If you want to find some good fish to eat you should probably go to the closest bass lake (just about any lake in Florida) and catch some bass for the dinner table. They are excellent baked or fried and not so difficult to catch. Here’s our Bass Guide to help you get started.
If you’d rather get started with saltwater fishing (we would), go to any pier, bridge, rocks, or wall in the water and focus on catching Sheepshead. These are some of the best fish to eat that I’ve ever had. Easily top 5 ever! Here’s our Sheepshead Guide.
If you’re looking to catch fish for the pure adventure and sport of it you’ll probably be targeting saltwater fish like Bonefish, Snook, Redfish, Wahoo, Sharks, or something in freshwater like gar or bowfin. There are dozens of fun fish to catch in Florida.
Do You Want Saltwater or Freshwater Fishing?
Freshwater limits you a bit, you can catch crappy, bass, bowfin, gar, and some other species but nothing beats the variety of fishing in the saltwater. I’d recommend you start with whatever is closest to you. If you are very close to the beach and especially a fishing pier, start there. If you’re minutes from a bass lake or river, start there.
We already published a Beginners Saltwater Fishing Guide here. Have a look!
Fishing saltwater or freshwater is only different because you have to target different fish and have slightly different gear and lures. Of course there is the licensing requirement as well. Let’s cover that next.
Saltwater and Freshwater Fishing Licenses
If you fish in freshwater, you may need a Florida Freshwater Fishing License. If you fish in saltwater, you may need a Florida Saltwater Fishing License. These are easy to get and only require paying a fee to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In brackish water (saltwater and freshwater mix) you’ll need a license for whatever species you’re targeting. If targeting bass, you’ll need a freshwater license. If targeting snook, you’ll need a saltwater license. There are also combination licenses and lifetime licenses to help you save on fees if you fish both.
Here is our Florida Fishing License page for more information about whether you need a license to fish or can claim an exemption and fish for free!
How Much Money Will I Need to Spend to Fish in Florida?
As much as you want! That’s the easy answer. You can get started with freshwater or saltwater fishing for these common fees.
Costs to Get Started Fishing in Florida
- $17 One-year Freshwater Fishing License or $17 One-year Saltwater Fishing License (or fish for free from shore)
- $50 Simple but durable Spinning Rod and Reel (see our Gear page)
- $15 Braided and monofilament line
- $10 Hooks or simple artificial lures
- $10 Live bait (or dead) – Squid, shrimp are best in saltwater. Worms or shiners are great in freshwater.
So, you’re looking at something like $100 to get started per person. Keep in mind, if you take care of your fishing reel you can use it for years. Also keep in mind that if you’re looking to catch fish for your family to eat and sustain them, $100 will be paid back pretty quickly with the price of fish these days.
Any way you look at it, fishing is a great way to spend time with the people you love while having a great time in the outdoors and catching great fish to eat. Oh, I didn’t even mention lobsters and clams!
Here’s a photo of me taking my son fishing for the first time off the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier in St. Petersburg. Is the look on his face worth $100? Actually, for what we did which was only go drop a Sabiki rig in the water from the pier, it cost us a total of about $15 for the pier fee and all gear!
Is It Easy to Find Fish Close to Where You Live?
Yes! I can say that truthfully because you’re never far away from freshwater or saltwater in Florida and even lakes in your apartment complex are usually holding some bass or tilapia fish you can try for if you have the freshwater license. Hmm, wait. Do you need one if fishing on private property? Probably not. I honestly don’t know because I’ve always had the license so never had to think about it.
Any beach is a great place to fish. Really. There are always fish about. Even better if there are trees around, mangroves, or something in the water. Fishing from a pier or boat dock is always a good idea. A sea wall works. From a kayak is amazing. Really, there are probably saltwater fishing spots close to you. If not, there are definitely freshwater ponds, lakes, or a river nearby!
How Long Will It Take to Learn to Fish?
Fishing is a lifelong passion that you will learn over time. There is nobody in Florida that knows everything about fishing. I have fished for over a decade here and I probably know about 3% of what there is to know. Seriously. But the thing is, I catch fish every time I go out. Fun fish, and great fish to eat!
That’s all that matters. Learn a little and get out there and give it a try. Nobody was an expert their first time or event their first year. Find a fish you love to catch and focus on learning all you can about how to catch it during any weather, any tide, using all kinds of baits or lures. Then move on to the next fish. There are dozens to learn about!
We have a lot of Fishing Guides to help you catch one of Florida’s amazing fresh or saltwater fish. Whatever you do this year, GET OUT THERE AND START FISHING. It will be a hobby you never tire of and is great for fostering peace of mind and family time.