Fly Fish in Florida

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida offers diverse fly fishing opportunities, from crystal clear waters to scenic backdrops with a range of target species.
  • Fly anglers can enjoy year-round fishing experiences in Florida, with varying species available based on the season and migration patterns.
  • Prime locations for sight fly fishing include Boca Grande, Islamorada, and Destin, where experienced anglers can catch trophy-sized game fish.
  • The vast wilderness of Everglades National Park offers unique fly fishing experiences amid its subtropical wetland.
  • Novice and experienced fly anglers alike can explore Florida’s iconic fly fishing hotspots, such as Sarasota Bay and Palm Beach, offering diverse experiences and techniques.

List of Florida’s 18 Best Fly Fishing Spots

These are the top 18 places in Florida where you can experience amazing fly fishing.

  • Biscayne Bay Flats
  • Boca Grande
  • Crystal River and Nature Coast
  • Destin
  • Everglades National Park
  • Islamorada
  • Jacksonville
  • Key West
  • Miami
  • Mosquito Lagoon
  • Naples
  • Marco Island
  • Palm Beach
  • Pine Island Sound
  • Sarasota Bay
  • Tampa Bay
  • Turner River
  • Winter Haven Lakes

Let’s discuss each of these fly fishing locations in more detail.

1. Biscayne Bay Flats

  • Located between Key Biscayne, Key Largo, and the Florida Mainland.
  • Crystal clear waters and diverse habitats offer excellent sight fishing opportunities for anglers.
  • It’s accessible by boat or car, and using an 11- or 12-weight rod with a 12-foot leader and 16-pound tippet for saltwater fly fishing is recommended.

2. Boca Grande

  • Located in Southwest Florida, on Gasparilla Island, near the town of Boca Grande.
  • Grass flats, sand beaches, and mangrove islands make this the perfect spot for sight fly fishing.
  • It’s a popular spot for experienced anglers seeking trophy-sized catches in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

3. Crystal River and Nature Coast

  • Crystal River and Nature Coast are located in the Big Bend region of Florida, where the curve of the state connects the panhandle to the peninsula.
  • Versatile fishing spots with a variety of species to target throughout the year.
  • The area provides fly fishing opportunities year-round, with varying species available depending on the season and migration patterns.

4. Destin

  • Located on the Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida.
  • Emerald clear waters and seasonal migrations attract diverse game fish for fly anglers.
  • Charter fishing boats and flats boats are popular choices for accessing productive fishing spots in the area.

5. Everglades National Park

  • Everglades National Park is situated in the counties of Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Collier in Florida.
  • The largest subtropical wetland in the US, providing unique fly fishing experiences in its vast wilderness.
  • The park offers fly fishing opportunities year-round, with varying conditions in different regions of the vast wetland.

6. Islamorada

  • Situated in the Florida Keys, and it benefits from rich biodiversity and deep blue waters.
  • You can target Permit, Bonefish, and Tarpon in these tropical waters.
  • It’s known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World,” and it attracts anglers from around the globe seeking world-class fly fishing experiences.

7. Jacksonville

  • Situated in Northeast Florida.
  • Winding creeks, barrier flats, and lagoons offer diverse and picturesque fly fishing opportunities.
  • Consider visiting during the warmer months for Jacksonville’s best fly fishing experience.

8. Key West

  • Situated in the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys.
  • In these picturesque locations, you can catch Grouper, Sailfish, Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Snapper, and Cobia.
  • Sight sportfishing is popular in Key West, allowing fly anglers to test their skills against prized game fish.

9. Miami

  • Miami offers various fly fishing locations, including the flats, Biscayne Bay, the nearby Everglades, and reefs with multiple wrecks for saltwater fly fishing.
  • A mix of canals, bays, flats, and wrecks provides year-round fly fishing opportunities in a vibrant city setting.
  • Fly fishing in Miami is possible year-round, and each season presents unique opportunities for different species.

10. Mosquito Lagoon

  • Part of the Indian River Lagoon, located on Florida’s Space Coast.
  • A renowned destination for fly fishing with a wide variety of species and picturesque surroundings.
  • Mosquito Lagoon offers fly fishing opportunities throughout the year, with various species available based on the season.

11. Naples

  • Situated on the southwest coast of Florida.
  • The scenic backdrop for saltwater fly fishing with an array of game fish to target.
  • Summer months are ideal for targeting snook during their spawning season in Naples.

12. Marco Island

  • The entry point to the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Florida.
  • Marco Island is the epicenter of the seasonal Tarpon migration, along with Redfish and Snook.
  • Fly anglers can explore the rich biodiversity of the mangrove-lined waterways.

13. Palm Beach

  • Located in Palm Beach County, this fishing location boasts four inlets providing access to top game fish.
  • Four inlets and diverse habitats attract a range of game fish for fly anglers.
  • The diversity of the fishery offers a popular choice for fly anglers seeking varied experiences.

14. Pine Island Sound

  • Positioned on the southwest coast of Florida, Pine Island Sound offers great opportunities for fly anglers.
  • Protected marine sanctuaries and seasonal tarpon migrations create exceptional fly fishing experiences.
  • This location provides unique experiences for both experienced and novice fly fishers.

15. Sarasota Bay

  • Sarasota Bay is located on the southwestern coast of Florida, spanning across Manatee and Sarasota counties.
  • Stretching over 10 miles long and three miles wide, Sarasota Bay offers year-round fly fishing opportunities.
  • Sarasota Bay’s various fishing techniques and locations make it popular among fly anglers.

16. Tampa Bay

  • One of the most popular locations for fly fishing in Florida, Tampa Bay is situated on the west coast.
  • Cobia, Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, and Sea Trout are the specialty species in this expansive water body.
  • Tampa Bay’s diverse fishery attracts anglers of all skill levels, with numerous accessible fishing spots.

17. Turner River

  • Located in the heart of the Everglades
  • The Turner River is a unique ecosystem that is popular among fly anglers. 
  • Ladyfish, Sea Trout, Crevalle Jack, Alligators, and Manatees populate this area, providing a chance to encounter various wildlife while fishing.

18. Winter Haven Lakes

  • Situated in Central Florida, between Orlando and Tampa
  • Winter Haven Lakes are renowned for producing 10-pound Bass catches and abundant Panfish.
  • Fly fishing in these freshwater lakes provides a unique experience amidst Florida’s diverse fishing landscape.

What is the best time to fly fish in Florida?

What is the best time to fly fish in Florida

The best time to fly fish varies depending on the location and the type of fish you’re targeting. Here’s a list of the best times to fly fish in Florida:

Summer Months (April to October):

  • Biscayne Bay Flats: Tarpon, permit, and bonefish actively feeding in clear, shallow waters
  • Boca Grande: Peak season for catching giant tarpon
  • Crystal River and Florida’s Nature Coast: Tripletail, cobia, and tarpon migrate to the area


  • Everglades National Park: Fly fishing opportunities for snook, redfish, and tarpon
  • Islamorada: Permit, bonefish, and tarpon can be caught anytime
  • Jacksonville: Spotted sea trout and redfish can be caught in winding creeks, barrier flats, and lagoons
  • Key West: Sight sportfishing opportunities for sailfish, grouper, tarpon, permit, bonefish, snapper, and cobia
  • Miami: You can fly fish year-round in canals, bays, flats, reefs, and wrecks
  • Mosquito Lagoon: Sheepshead, snook, redfish, mangrove snappers, seatrout, black drum, and tripletail

Spring and Late Fall:

  • Destin: Migratory fish like tarpon, bluefish, and redfish lured in by schools of baitfish
  • Marco Island: Seasonal tarpon migration to catch tarpon, redfish, and snook
  • Naples: Snook spawn in the summer, and tarpon can be caught during their migratory period
  • Palm Beach: Sailfish and mahi-mahi season usually in the warmer months
  • Pine Island Sound: Tarpon migrate through the area in the Spring and Summer, providing good fly fishing opportunities
  • Sarasota Bay: Year-round fly fishing opportunities for spotted sea trout, tarpon, redfish, bluefish, and snook.

Which fish species can be caught in Florida using fly fishing?

The most popular species you can catch include the elusive Permit, famous for its wariness and selective feeding habits.

Bonefish are another exciting target species known for their speed and stealth, making them a challenging catch.

Tarpon, also called the “Silver King,” is one of the most sought-after gamefish in Florida, presenting anglers with spectacular fights.

Redfish are known as a hard-fighting species and can be found in both saltwater and brackish environments.

If you are after a fish with a powerful fight, Goliath grouper can be caught off the coast of Boca Grande and nearby wrecks.

On the other hand, if you are targeting inshore species, you may also catch Snook, Ladyfish, and Spotted Sea Trout, providing a fast-paced and thrilling fly fishing experience. 

Other species available for deep-sea fly fishing enthusiasts include several Grouper species and Cobia. Tripletail and Black Drum can be found in estuaries and coastal waters, presenting a fun and rewarding challenge for fly anglers.

What are the fly fishing regulations in Florida?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) oversees Florida’s fly fishing regulations.

Anglers engaging in fly fishing activities must obtain the appropriate fishing license, with various options available based on residency, age, and whether fishing is done in saltwater or freshwater bodies.

There are special permits for specific activities like catching snook or shark fishing from shore. Specific regulations exist for various fish species, including the size limits for certain fish like trout, permit, pompano, and red drum (redfish). 

For Permit & Pompano, the size must be not less than 11″ or more than 20″. Pompano-African must be not less than 24″. Red Drum (Redfish) must be not less than 18″ or more than 27″.

 Red Porgy must be 14″ on the Atlantic Coast. For Black Bass, only five can be caught, and only one of which may be 16 inches or more. Panfish can be up to 50, while crappies can be up to 25. Striped Bass, White Bass, and Sunshine Bass can be up to 20.

Gear restrictions also apply, with allowed methods including cast nets and hook and line for catching spotted sea trout.

As of July 1, 2023, the FWC has updated the freshwater fishing regulations. Notably, specific length and bag limits for crappie have been removed, and the statewide regulations now allow a bag limit of 25 crappies with no minimum length limit in several Fish Management Areas.

Also, there are specific rules for protecting shoal bass on the Chipola River and its tributaries, where killing or possessing them is prohibited and must be released immediately if caught.

The bag limit for striped bass in the lower Ochlockonee River is 3, with only one allowed to be 24 inches or longer, and there is no minimum length limit.

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