Southwest Florida is not just known for its excellent climate and peaceful communities but it is also known as one of the best spots for inshore and offshore fishing on the whole wide planet. The thrill of catching redfish, snook and one of the many other varieties here cannot be matched by any other experience. This is the dream place for anglers.
However, fishing is not as shown in the movies or as described in the novels. You just cannot drop the line in the water and hope to get a good catch for dinner. You need to know this area before you start having good catches. Here is a little primer on how to go fishing in the back waters of South west Florida.
There are two types of licenses available that are for catch and release or kill. It is very important to have the right license before you start fishing here as you may get in trouble with the authorities and the fines can be severe.
First of all, let us talk about the requirement for license. You need a license if:
You are under the age of 16.
You are ineligible for government assistance and you are planning to fish on your own from your own boat or on the beach.
Getting a license is not at all difficult. Both freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are available with the Florida Fish and wildlife conservation commission (FWC). There is also a combined license for freshwater and saltwater fishing together. The conservation commission also offers a Gold Sportsman License. This license allows all kinds of hunting and fishing in the State of Florida. For further information on these licenses, you can always call on (888) 347 4356 or (888) 486 8356.
There are many licensed charter boats in the area and the captains of these boards usually buy special licenses which also cover their guests. Therefore, if you are the guest on a licensed charter boat or if you wish to do the fishing from the Naples Pier, you do not need to buy a separate license on your own. However, it is recommended to ask the captain of the charter boat about the fishing license as not every boat has one.
The licenses can be bought online at www.myfwc.com. These are also available offline at the office of the local tax collector.
One should keep in mind that it is not a free for all with these licenses. There are additional restrictions on fishing. Therefore, if you are planning to go fishing for a snook or a tarpon, you will need an additional license on top of the saltwater fishing license from FWC. This additional license also has certain restrictions. The best way to know all of the regulations is to go through a copy of the Florida saltwater recreational fishing regulations by FWC.
Home to both Inshore and offshore Fishing Enthusiasts
As mentioned above, south-western is known worldwide for both inshore and offshore fishing. There is a vast estuary network in the region which makes inshore fishing in the area such a pleasure. There are many shallow grass flats in the region which are perfect for inshore fishing. The usual varieties of fish include redfish, snook, Spanish mackerel and sea trout.
There are wide open areas with lots of shipwrecks and reefs in the region which attract grouper, cobia and permit varieties of fish. These areas are perfect for offshore fishing.
Local secret fishing haunts
The waters are full of fish but finding them is not that easy. Here are some of the secret local fishing haunts.
Naples Pier: You do not need any license for fishing at this place as the city of Naples buys bulk licenses for fishing here. People usually are able to catch Spanish mackerel, Pompano and snook here.
Blind Pass: This is a great place to hook redfish, trout and snook.
San Carlos Bay, Boca Grande, Chokoloskee island and Lover’s key state park are also a favorite of the anglers.
Types of Fish and Regulations
As mentioned above, the most common variety of fish available here are Snook, Redfish, Tripletail, Tarpon, Permit, Ladyfish, Snapper, Grouper amongst many others.
All of these fishes have different regulations regarding the fishing season as well as the length of the catch. Snook fishing is open from September through November but one is allowed only one catch in a day and the length has to be between 28 and 33 inches.
For redfish, there is a restriction of up to 2 harvests in a day. It can be caught all year long and the length needs to be between 18 and 27 inches. The tripletail is also limited to 2 harvests in a day and the length must be bigger than 15 inches. It can also be caught all year long.
Tarpon fishing is seasonal and it has the restriction of being fished only with hook and line. There is also a two fish per boat limit. A single Permit can be harvested in a day in most of the areas and the length has to be between 11 and 22 inches. Ladyfish is smaller in size and currently there is no limit on this picky fish.
There are many varieties of Snapper here in Florida and different regulations apply to each one of them. To make matters further complicated, FWC is known to change the bag limits mid season. Therefore, it is best to check the FWC website for the latest regulations.
The Grouper has been made very popular by the fried grouper sandwich. There are many different types of grouper fish here and each one behaves a bit different. These are very territorial and you will not have much difficulty in locating them.
For competitive anglers, Southwest Florida is a heaven as there are a lot of fishing competitions all year around.
There is the LCEC united way fishing tournament in April and then there is the annual Redsnook competition in November organized by The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. There are also a lot of other tournaments throughout the year and there are even special tournaments for ladies.