Marinas, excursions, boat tours and fishing charters surround the Florida peninsula. Anglers can begin to explore the bounty from the deep or the waters of the lakes and streams throughout the peninsula before working outward to Florida's inviting coastlines. Fishermen can drop a line in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Intracoastal Waterway on the West Coast, or cross the state to where the East Coast Intracoastal Waterway mirrors the shimmering waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Big game fishermen often settle on an outing in the Florida Keys, which form a dotted line between both the Gulf and the Atlantic, trailing off the peninsula toward the outlying Dry Tortugas. Many fishing piers jut out over the waters hugging most of Florida's oceanfront cities, allowing for terrific angling from coast to coast - without ever having to leave dry land.
Freshwater fishing in Florida presents a very different experience than does the ocean-going variety, with the inland area of the peninsula shading a number of fishing hotspots. Hardwood hammocks and pine flats - from the primeval swamps of the Everglades to 7800 lakes and untold miles of crystal rivers - all brim with hefty bass, black mullet and snook. In all, 115 native freshwater fish species beckon to anglers from Florida's lakes and streams, with another 175 marine, migratory and exotic species populating Florida's waters.
Some of the fresh and saltwater fish you may find in Florida's waters include:
Freshwater Fishing in Orlando, Florida:
Bream, also called Bluegill, are usually olive green and purple in color. A popular panfish, the sunfish shaped Bream weighs in at about three pounds and is caught statewide year-round.
Largemouth bass average four pounds. They may vary in color depending on the water in which they are found. Tournaments abound in lakefront areas statewide.
You will discover catfish in three varieties- channel cat, bullhead and white cat.
Sturgeon, prized for its roe, which is processed for caviar, spawn in the freshwater rivers and streams leading to the Gulf.
Saltwater Fishing in Orlando, Florida:
- Bonito, a gamefish which can reach 20 pounds in weight, is a small cousin of the blue fin tuna.
- Dolphin, not to be confused with the mammal of the same name, populate warm waters and feed along the surface.
- Marlin, both blue -May to July- and white -March to May-, average up to 200 pounds and require experienced handling and heavy gear.
- Tarpon, widespread along the Gulf Coast in the Keys, weigh in at an average of 70 pounds and are valued more for their exciting game fishing value than for eating.
A freshwater fishing license is required for all residents ages 16 to 65 and all non-residents age 16 or over. Residents 65 years or older must carry a Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate, obtained free of charge from county tax collectors.
Saltwater food fish not used must be returned to the water alive. Marine turtles, manatees, manta rays, porpoise or coral are not allowed to be taken. Jewfish may not be harvested. Some fish, like tarpon, stone crab and crawfish, require a special tag, permit or stamp.
All rules and regulations are subject to change. Fisherman can keep appraised of new rules by calling the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, and the Florida Department of Natural Resources.