If you like surf fishing, the State of Florida has to be on high your list of places to go. With over 1,350 miles of coastline on both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and a wide variety of fish to catch, Florida’s beaches are some of the best places to go surf fishing in the world. Surf Fishing enthusiasts flock to Florida’s pristine beaches year-round to experience the thrill of surf fishing in Florida.
With so much coastline to choose from, there are loads of places to fish the surf in Florida. I’m going to share with you some of my personal favorites, along with some tips, tricks and equipment you’ll need, to help make your surf fishing, and catching, better. So, let’s take a look at my 13 top spots for surf fishing in Florida. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at Surf fishing in the Sunshine State of Florida.
What is surf fishing?
First of all, what is surf fishing?
Surf fishing is a type of fishing where you cast your line from the shore or beach, into the surf zone, where the waves break rather than from a boat or dock. It requires a specific set of equipment and a good understanding of the ocean and the fish species that live in it. You can use a variety of baits and lures, depending on what kind of fish you’re targeting.
Some of the most common fish you can catch in Florida’s surf are pompano, whiting, redfish, snook, flounder, tarpon, and sharks. Surf fishing is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the beach and catch some great eating fish at the same time. It’s also a great activity for beginners and families, as you don’t need a boat or a lot of gear to get started and there are plenty of other activities to keep you interested when the fish aren’t cooperating.
The Best Spots for Surf Fishing in Florida
Now, let’s talk about some of the best surf fishing locations in Florida. Of course, there are many more than I can list here, but these are some of my top picks for the best surf fishing spots in Florida and the ones that I personally recommend and enjoy.
If you’ve never been surf fishing in Florida, I recommend you do some online research before you make you plans. There are plenty of online fishing forums where you can get the latest information from actual anglers that can help you when deciding on a fishing destination. Not to mention, what’s biting, what bait, what equipment and when and where they are biting. 🙂
Surf Fishing in Florida: Atlantic Coast
The State of Florida is basically a large peninsula that divides the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico. This gives us a ton of choices for beaches to fish on both coasts. The following are some of my top picks for surf fishing in Florida on the Atlantic coast.
Daytona Beach – Daytona Beach is known for its famous boardwalk and bustling tourist scene, but it’s also a great spot for surf fishing.
The beach’s long stretches of sand provide ample opportunity for surf fishing, and the presence of the Sunglow Pier and Main Street Pier provide structure that attracts fish.
St. Augustine Beach – St. Augustine Beach is a great spot for surf fishing because of its long stretches of sand and the presence of the Matanzas Inlet.
The inlet is a natural feeding ground for fish, making it a prime spot for catching redfish, pompano, and black drum.
Cocoa Beach – Cocoa Beach is a popular destination for surfers, anglers, and tourists alike due to its close proximity to the Kennedy Space Center and its numerous jetties. The jetties provide a natural structure that attracts fish, and the beach is long enough to find a spot away from the crowds. The beach also offers excellent facilities, including restrooms, showers, and parking.
In fact, Cocoa Beach is one of the most popular surf fishing destinations in Florida, and for good reason. The beach is wide and sandy, with plenty of access points and parking.
You can find a variety of fish here, especially pompano and whiting. The best time to fish here is during the incoming tide, when the fish are feeding on sand fleas and other crustaceans.
You can use a simple fish-finder rig with a pyramid sinker and a circle hook, baited with sand fleas or shrimp.
Cape Canaveral National Seashore – The Cape Canaveral National Seashore is another popular destination for surf fishing in Florida.
Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, this seashore is home to a variety of fish, including Pompano, Redfish, and Whiting.
The park offers several fishing areas, including Playalinda Beach and Apollo Beach.
Sebastian Inlet State Park– Sebastian Inlet State Park is a top destination for surf fishing. This park is known for its abundance of Snook, Redfish, and Spanish Mackerel. It also offers excellent facilities, including restrooms, a bait and tackle shop, and a pier for those who prefer not to get wet in the surf.
New Smyrna Beach – New Smyrna Beach is another popular destination for surf fishing Florida’s Atlantic coast.
This beach offers anglers the chance to catch a variety of fish, including Redfish, Black Drum, and Snook.
The beach also offers excellent facilities for those who would rather not “rough it”, including restrooms, showers, and parking.
Fort Pierce – This is another great spot for surf fishing in Florida, especially if you’re looking for big fish. The beach here has a lot of structure, such as rocks, jetties, and piers, that attract fish like snook, redfish, tarpon, and sharks. You should use a heavier rod and reel here, with a wire leader and a large hook, baited with mullet or ladyfish. The best time to fish here is at night or early morning, when the big fish are more active.
Surf Fishing in Florida: Gulf Coast
Not to be out done, the gulf coast of Florida offers numerous surf fishing destinations with a wide variety of game fish and beaches. The following are just some of my top picks.
Sanibel Island – Sanibel Island is a beautiful island on the Gulf Coast of Florida, known for its shelling and wildlife, and is a prime spot for catching snook, redfish, and tarpon.
The beach here has a lot of shells and sandbars that create holes and troughs where the fish like to hang out. The island’s long stretches of sandy beaches provide ample opportunity for surf fishing, and the nearby causeway offers a great spot for fishing in the shallows.
It’s a great place for surf fishing for pompano and flounder. You can use a light rod and reel here, with a small sinker and a hook, baited with shrimp or squid. The best time to fish here is during the outgoing tide, when the water is clear and calm.
Panama City Beach – Panama City Beach is located on Florida’s panhandle and offers some of the best surf fishing in the state. The beach’s crystal-clear water and white sand make it a popular spot for tourists, but it’s also home to a wide variety of popular game fish species, including redfish, pompano, and Spanish mackerel.
Navarre Beach – Navarre Beach is another popular destination for surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. This beach is located on the Florida Panhandle and offers anglers the chance to catch a variety of fish, including Redfish, Flounder, and Speckled Trout. The beach also offers excellent amenities, including restrooms, showers, and parking.
Pensacola Beach – Located on the Florida Panhandle and a stones throw from Gulf Shores Alabama, another awesome surf fishing destination, Pensacola Beach is a top spot for surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
This beach offers anglers the chance to catch a variety of fish, including Redfish, Flounder, and Spanish Mackerel.
The beach also offers excellent amenities, including restrooms, showers, and parking.
St. George Island State Park – Located on a barrier island off the coast of Florida’s Panhandle, St. George Island State Park is another top spot for surf fishing. This park is known for its abundance of Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. The park offers several fishing areas, including the Gulf Beaches, the bay side, and the park’s pier.
Gulf Islands National Seashore – If you’re looking for some of the best surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, look no further than Gulf Islands National Seashore.
This park is located on the Florida Panhandle and offers anglers the chance to catch a variety of fish, including Redfish, Flounder, and Speckled Trout.
There are several fishing areas within the park, including Fort Pickens, Johnson Beach, and Perdido Key.
These are just some of the best surf fishing spots in Florida that I recommend you check out. There are many more that you can explore and discover for yourself. Surf fishing is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the beauty and bounty of Florida’s coast. So what are you waiting for? Start making your plans to do some Surf fishing in Florida.
Equipment You’ll Need for Surf Fishing in Florida
Surf fishing doesn’t require a lot of equipment, but you do need some basic items to deal with the waves and currents along the beachfront. The following are just some of the more important items to help make your surf fishing more enjoyable and productive.
Rod and Reel– When it comes to choosing a rod and reel for surf fishing, it’s important to choose a combination that is strong enough to handle the weight of larger fish and can cast long distances. A medium to heavy action 9 – 11 foot rod paired with a spinning reel is a popular choice among surf fishermen.
Essential Surf Fishing Gear:
- Surf Fishing Rods, surf rods are typically longer and heavier duty than standard rods. – read more.
- Surf fishing Reels,larger and stronger with greater line capacity to handle big fish. – read more.
- Surf fishing Rod and Reel Combos, pre-matched rod and reel set ups for surf fishing – read more.
- Sand Spike Rod holder, holds your rods securely while you wait for that big bite. – read more.
- Surf Fishing Rigs, terminal tackle for fishing the surf. – read more.
- Surf fishing Carts, for beaches that won’t allow vehicles you need a way to carry your gear – read more.
- Rod Racks for Vehicles, carry your rods out of harms way and easy to access- read more.
- Beach Camping Gear, in case you want to fish all night or for several days – read more.
You want a rod that is at least 9 feet long and a reel that can hold at least 200 yards of line. This will allow you to cast farther and handle bigger fish. You can use either spinning or conventional reels, but I prefer spinning because they are easier to use, less prone to backlash and cast much further.
Tackle – Surf fishing requires a different set of tackle than other types of fishing. Sinkers, hooks, and swivels are all essential items, as well as a sand spike to hold your rod in place while you wait for a bite. A good rule of thumb is to use a sinker heavy enough to keep your bait on the bottom and a hook size that matches the size of the bait you’re using and the fish you’re targeting.
Fishing line – You want a line that is strong enough to withstand the abrasion from the sand and rocks, but also thin enough to cut through the wind and waves. I suggest using a braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. Braided line has no stretch and is very sensitive, which helps you detect bites and set hooks. Fluorocarbon leader is invisible in water, for fish that may be leader shy, and resistant to abrasion which helps you avoid getting cut off by sharp teeth or rocks.
A fishing rig – You want a rig, or leader, that can hold your bait on the bottom and present it naturally to the fish. There are many types of rigs you can use for surf fishing, but I like to use a simple fish finder rig.
This consists of a sliding sinker on your main line, followed by a swivel, a leader, and a hook. The sliding sinker allows your bait to move freely with the current and you can work down the beach until you “find” the fish.
The leader should be about 18 inches long and match the size of your hook. The hook should be sharp and strong enough to penetrate and hold your fish. Once you find the fish, I switch over to a double drop rig and spider or anchor weight.
The spider weight holds you bait in position against the waves and the current. Then you can place our rod in a sand spike rod holder and wait for the next bite.
A sand spike – This is a metal or plastic rod holder that you can stick into the sand and place your rod on while waiting for a bite. Be sure and loosen the drag on your reel when putting your rod in a sand spike. I have seen big fish take rod, reel and sand spike out to sea with an aggressive strike. A loosened drag will give them line and you time to get to your rod and set the hook.
Pliers– This is a tool that you can use to remove hooks from your fish or cut your line if needed. This way you can avoid hurting yourself or your fish while handling them. Most fish you will be catching in the surf have teeth. Some have many sharp teeth so a good pair of pliers will allow you to remove the hook and avoid a nasty injury.
Bait– The type of bait you use will depend on the fish species you’re targeting. It’s important to choose bait that is fresh and matches the natural diet of the fish you’re trying to catch.
There are many kinds of baits you can use for surf fishing in Florida, but I like to use live or fresh dead shrimp, mullet, sand fleas, clams, crabs, squid, or cut bait.
These are all natural foods that fish love to eat and can be easily found at your local bait shop or caught on the beach yourself.
Tips for Surf Fishing in Florida
When you’re making plans to do some surf fishing in Florida, here are some things you should know before you hit the sand.
Choose the Right Time– First, the best time of day to go surf fishing is during the early morning or late evening hours. Fish tend to be more active during these times and are more likely to be feeding. Second, you need to pick the right time of year. Surf fishing can be done all year round in Florida, but some seasons are better than others depending on the species you’re targeting.
For example, if you want to catch pompano, whiting, or redfish, you should go in the spring or fall when the water is cooler. If you’re after snook, tarpon, or shark, you should go in the summer when the water is warmer. You should also pay attention to the tide and the moon phases. The tide plays an important role in surf fishing.
Generally speaking, the best time to surf fish is during the incoming or outgoing tide, especially around the full or new moon.
This is when the water movement is strongest and the fish are more active, so it’s important to plan your fishing trip around the tide schedule.
Find the Right Spot – Florida has hundreds of miles of coastline, so you have plenty of options. Some of the best places for surf fishing are near inlets, piers, jetties, sandbars, and troughs. These are areas where the water is deeper and the currents are stronger, which attract more fish.
Look for areas of the beach with natural structures such as troughs, rips, sandbars, and inlets. You can also look for signs of baitfish, such as birds diving or fish jumping out of the water. If you see these, chances are there are bigger fish nearby
Be Patient – Surf fishing requires patience. It’s important to find a good spot, cast your line, and wait for a bite. It may take some time, but the reward of catching a big fish is worth the wait. Give it at least 30 minutes before you pick up and move to another location.
Keep Your Eyes Open – Observing the ocean and the behavior of the fish is an important part of surf fishing. Look for signs of baitfish activity, birds diving into the water, and changes in the water color to help you locate the fish. Also, be on the lookout for rip currents, stingrays and sharks. Remember, safety first, no fish is worth a trip to the hospital, or worse, the cemetery.
Frequent Questions on Surf Fishing in Florida
Do I need a fishing license to surf fish in Florida?
Yes, a fishing license is required to surf fish in Florida.
What is the best bait for surf fishing in Florida?
The best bait for surf fishing in Florida depends on the fish species you’re targeting. Popular choices include live or dead shrimp, sand fleas, and squid.
What is the best time of day to go surf fishing in Florida?
The best time to go surf fishing in Florida is during the early morning or late evening hours.
Do I need a special type of rod and reel for surf fishing?
Yes, a medium to heavy action rod paired with a spinning reel is a popular choice among surf fishermen.
What should I look for when choosing a surf fishing spot?
Look for areas of the beach with natural structures such as jetties, sandbars, and inlets. These areas provide structure that attracts fish and makes them more likely to be caught.
Final Thoughts on Surf Fishing in Florida
Surf fishing in Florida is a thrilling experience for fishermen of all levels. With its long stretches of sandy beaches and diverse fish species, Florida offers some of the best surf fishing in the world. With so many excellent destinations to choose from, it’s easy to see why anglers from around the world flock to the Sunshine State. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s a spot in Florida that’s perfect for you and your fishing style and experience.
The State of Florida is easy to get to, with a wide variety of beach fishing destinations. They also have many other attractions for the whole family to enjoy while you’re there. Make your plans, contact the local online forums and gather some information. Call the local bait and tackle shops for what’s biting and on what baits.
Then start packing and gathering your equipment. Once you get there, concentrate on finding the right spot, practicing patience, and keeping your eyes open and you will have a great chance at catching some fish and having an awesome surf fishing experience.
As always, stay safe, enjoy the journey and please try to leave it cleaner than you found it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you asap. You can follow us on Facebook: Rex The Beach Angler, Instagram: thebeachangler7, Twitter: @AnglerBeach, and YouTube: Man Art Creations.
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