Freshwater Fishing In Florida
Floridians enjoy their fishing… and that is quite an understatement . Travel through this state and you’ll see people anglingt from old bridges, canal banks, piers and anywhere there is a channce of getting a bite . People will even fish along route U.S. 41 through the Everglades … while paying close attention to the alligators!
If you are 16 years or older and intend fishing in Florida, you are going to need a fishing licence. These can be purchased, at minimal cost, throughout the state , mostly at bait and tackle shops. The licences generate more than $1.8 billion in annual revenues which puts into perspective the popularity of Florida fishing. This income helps to maintain fish populations with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission restocking over 100 lakes and rivers with up to 4 million fish each year .
In addition to off-shore and coastal fishing, Florida is home to over 3 million acres of freshwater lakes plus 12,000 miles (19,000 kms) of freshwater streams and rivers. These waters are home to approximately 250 freshwater species and over 30 species can be fished for both food and sport . It’s easy to see why Florida is the fishing capital of the world with many popular freswater fishing destinations scattered across the state.
One of the most popular freshwater sport fish with anglers is the large mouth bass, found in most Florida freshwater locations. Several varieties of bass are common throughout the state but it’s the Florida large mouth bass that rermains one of the more sought after trophy fish. Other popular freshwater catches are crappie, white bass, striped bass, panfish and catfish .
The Treasure Coast on the eastern Atlantic seashore is one of the state’s best fishing regions. In addition to the miles of Atlantic shoreline , the inland rivers provide opportunities for anglers seeking variety, and one of the renowned freshwater locations is Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest lake and stocked with excellent table fish. This is a shallow water lake with an average depth of just 9 feet (2.75m) and a maximum depth of 17 feet (4.3m).
Lake Okeechobee covers an area of over 730 square miles and was once the site of a flourishing commercial fishing industry. A ban on net fishing all but eliminated the industry, and as a result, the lake is almost exclusively used by sporting anglers from all over the world. The towns of Fort Pierce, Jensen Beach and Stuart on the central east coast are closest to the lake. From the central west coast, the town of Fort Myers and the surrounding areas are the closest to the lake.
Most Florida coastal, lake and river cities and towns have marinas that harbor fishing charter boats. There is usually a choice of private charters for just your own party or the less expensive option of party boats that can take larger groups. The party boats will usually provide the gear, bait and the fishing license. Depending on the location, charters may also offer freshwater, backwater and off shore fishing options.