Did you know that Florida is the sportfishing capital of the world? Avid fishermen come from all over the world to fish our pristine waters, and it’s easy to see why.

The fishing season never ends in Florida, with year-round warm weather. And the sheer amount of game species swimming just offshore makes Florida a unique fishing destination.

And one of the best areas to soak up the sun and cast your line in Southwest Florida, where the water is calm and the fish are hungry year-round.

Wondering what types of fish you can catch in Southwest Florida, and how to make the most of your time spent fishing in the Sunshine State? Keep reading for everything you need to know about fishing these famous waters.

Game Fish to Chase in Southwest Florida

So what are the top species to chase around Southwest Florida? Here’s what you can expect to find, depending on the season and the type of fishing you do.


Tarpon is one of the most sought-after gamefish on the planet, and one of the most popular species to pursue in Florida. Southwest Florida, in particular, is one of a few Tarpon hotspots in the state.

While they aren’t intended for the table, they certainly put on a show when you reel them in.


Snook are another acrobatic fish species that put up a serious fight. These are the most popular game fish to pursue in the state, and they can be found around in-shore, coastal waters, along the beach, and near mangrove shorelines. You might also catch them in freshwater rivers.


Redfish is one of the most common, yet most fun species to chase in all of Florida. You can catch them on the fly in shallow, inshore waters, or catch them with artificial bait. They fight hard and make a great meal.


Fly fishermen love chasing bonefish in the shallow, inland waters. These ghost-like fish are a blast to cast to when you finally spot them. Their keen eyesight makes them tough to sneak up behind.

Spotted Seatrout

Spotted Seatrout are abundant on the shores of the beach. They are a great winter target, as they are commonly found when the water temperatures drop. They are great to bring home for the grill.

Jack Crevalle

Jack Crevalle is the underrated saltwater fish in Southwest Florida, but their strength and ability to put up a fight is second to none. You’ll notice them swimming in circles as you reel them in, imitating tuna as they try to escape.

How to Spend a Day on the Water

Southwest Florida is a saltwater fisherman’s paradise. Opportunities to fish abound, and there’s no shortage of fishing spots to explore and methods of chasing fish. Here’s what to do if you’re planning a fishing trip to the area.

Fishing from the Shore

Saltwater fishing is the name of the game in Southwest Florida. And there are plenty of ways to fish nearshore and offshore.

Quality fishing piers abound in the area. Notable piers include Naples Fishing Pier, Lovers Key State Park, and the Fort Myers Beach Pier. Likewise, you can hike out onto the Gordon Pass Jetties, which connects Naples Bay to the Gulf, where lots of big fish hang out.

Surfcasting is also very popular and effective in the area at any of the beaches. Or try kayak fishing, allowing you to easily access spots that shore-bound anglers can’t, such as the small islands surrounding Pine Island.

Chartering a Boat

If you don’t have a boat of your own, but still want the best chance at catching trophy-sized fish, then chartering a fishing boat is your best bet. Browsing charters online will help you find the boat and captain that specializes in the species you want to catch.

If you are trying to chase tarpon or snook, you’ll probably choose a different charter from someone hoping to hook yellowtail or dolphin fish.

Build Your Own, Private Dock

Do you have a house on the water? Or are you hoping to build a custom house in the near future?

Having your own dock is one of the best investments you can make at your home. Not only can it increase the value of your home, but it can drastically increase your chances of fishing every single day.

When you have your own boat that you can fire up in your backyard, and quickly get out to your fishing ground without having to tow and launch your boat, you can spend far more time fishing.

Everyone knows that the more time you spend fishing, the better your life is. Living in southwest Florida is already a dream come true. But having your own dock is the icing on the cake.

And if you also install a boat lift, you can keep your boat dry, away from the water when not in use, to extend your boat’s life without having to load it onto the boat trailer and wheel it to a storage facility.

Tips for Fishing in Southwest Florida

If you are fishing in Florida for the first time, make sure you have a Florida fishing license ahead of time. You can purchase these online or at a local tackle shop.

You can choose either a saltwater license, freshwater license, or a combination. Visitors can purchase a three-day, seven-day, or annual license.

When you are out fishing, particularly on the ocean, always pay attention to the weather, especially if you are on a boat or a kayak. Conditions can change rapidly, and strong winds and rain can appear almost immediately.

And when looking for fish, consider the conditions. For example, windy days may conjure up waves on the shore, attracting fish as crustaceans are tossed in the water.

Also, fish tend to be most active early in the morning and later in the evening. It can be harder to find fish in the heat of the day. Water temperature, tides, and moon phases are also important factors for finding the fish you are after.

Calling Southwest Florida Home

Fishing in Southwest Florida should be on every angler’s bucket list. There are so many amazing fish species to chase, and warm weather year-round, making this a great destination in any season.

And if you plan on moving to the area, and are considering building a custom home on the water, consider adding a boat dock to give you the most control over your fishing schedule.

We offer a number of different floorplans to make your custom, Florida dream home a reality.