What is the difference between ocean fishing OFFSHORE and ONSHORE, INSHORE, and NEAR SHORE or just SHORE in Florida? The definition between these types of fishing is a bit vague for most of them, but not hard to understand.

They are all refer to saltwater fishing, not freshwater. You can’t be offshore fishing on a lake in Florida, though there is a massive lake between Ft. Myers and West Palm Beach called Okeechobee where you can be fishing in the middle of it and be 11 miles from land at the closest. That’s lake fishing!

Offshore Fishing

Five Florida offshore fish – billfish, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and swordfish.
Some fish you can target while offshore fishing in Florida. Fish images © Diane Rome Peebles.

Offshore fishing is always taken to mean fishing from a boat away from the shoreline (coast). It could mean fishing away from the mainland as in the case of taking your boat straight out west from some spot in Tampa Bay. It could mean taking your boat from Tampa down to Key West and fishing in deeper water off the keys (islands) there.

Offshore fishing generally means you are located miles away from the coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the USA defines offshore as being 20 miles or more away from the coastline. Others define it more loosely by saying if you can’t see land at all in any direction, that’s offshore.

Offshore fishing can mean deep sea fishing if the water is deep. How deep is deep? Let’s say deeper than 30 meters/yards is about right.

See our Deep Sea Fishing Guide here >

Onshore Fishing

Some anglers use Onshore to mean fishing from a beach or some other land bordering the ocean. It could mean fishing from a pier, a dock, a patch of sand, a bridge, or something else along the coast and on dry land.

Others insist that onshore can only mean fishing from a boat and targeting species that are along the edges where the ocean meets land. The definition one chooses depends at least partly on geography.

See our Onshore (Shore) Fishing Guide here >

Inshore/Near Shore Fishing

Five Florida inshore fish – permit, weakfish, spotted seatrout, snook, and tarpon.
Some of the fish you may catch while fishing inshore/onshore and from the shore. Fish images © Diane Rome Peebles.

Inshore and Near Shore fishing can be thought of in the same was as Onshore Fishing. This can mean wade-fishing, fishing on a kayak along the beach, fishing the mangroves from a boat or while standing in the water, etc. Some define onshore and inshore fishing as fishing in waters 30 meters/yards deep or less.

Shore Fishing

Shore fishing is about the easiest type of fishing to define. Fishing from shore means you are standing on some sort of dry land. Beach, pier, bridge, mangroves, whatever. If you are standing or sitting on land to fish the ocean from the coast, you are shore fishing. OK, just to complicate things a bit, some people would consider wade fishing as shore fishing too.

What is the Best Type of Fishing?

That depends on everyone you ask. Some anglers prefer shore fishing, some prefer kayak fishing, and so on. Personally, I don’t think I could come up with a favorite. I have had amazing days on the water deep sea fishing.

I have had incredible days wade fishing. I had some of my best experiences ever with friends camping out on the Sunshine Skyway pier and catching sharks and grouper and Spanish mackerel. I have had some of my best experiences of my life while kayak fishing solo around Tampa Bay and down into St. Petersburg and Ft. Desoto.

The best type of fishing is whatever fishing you’re doing right now!

OK, no. It’s kayak fishing. 🙂

There’s nothing quite like launching your kayak in the early morning before the sun comes up and hearing fish hit baitfish and flies all around you. You paddle out to your spot and throw a baitfish or shrimp out there into the darkness.

BAM! A mutant snook smacks the heck out of your bait and starts a fierce game of tug of war, sometimes pulling your kayak around too.

Kayak fishing – HIGHLY recommended!