Book Now

December 6, 2020

Author Image

Team Guidesly

Florida Deep Sea Fishing

Florida Deep Sea Fishing

Deep Sea Fishing in Florida

Are you looking to catch gamefish like sailfish, tuna, wahoo, marlin, or maybe a Goliath Grouper? Do you want to catch tasty red snapper? If so, a fishing trip to Florida might be perfect.  Florida is world-renowned for its sportfishing due to the diverse marine life in both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Both coasts of Florida boast tremendous access to deep sea fishing charter boats with expertise targeting any fish on your bucket list.

Deep sea fishing a subcategory of offshore fishing, generally accepted as fishing in depths of water greater than 100 feet. Fishing in these deep offshore waters can give anglers the best chance to encounter exciting sportfish or catch their next tasty seafood meal. Deep sea fishing also makes it possible to target many big gamefish, who rarely if ever venture into shallower waters.


Deep Sea Fishing Baits

The selection of bait always depends upon the target species. It's best to use live baits or baits with a strong scent, especially in deep water. Mentioned below are five baits that can never go wrong even if you haven't decided the type of fish you are targeting.

1. Squid

Squid is a great and versatile bait that can be used in many situations to catch many types of fish.  Squid is a great bait for sailfish, mahi mahi, cobia, and kingfish.

2. Shrimp

Shrimp is a go-to bait for deep sea fishing as fish are attracted to the movement and scent of shrimps. Shrimps are common in deep seawater and can draw all sizes of fish.

3. Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo is a classic deep sea fishing bait, which is incredibly effective with sailfish, wahoo, and mahi mahi.  Effectively rigging ballyhoo is an important skill you'll want to learn for Florida deep sea fishing.

4. Shellfish

Different species of fish like shellfish such as crabs, clams, and mussels work well. Shellfish is a desirable choice for anglers due to its versatility as a bait. Fish such as grouper and cobia are attracted to shellfish and crabs.

Cut Bait Tips

The key to deep sea fishing with cut bait is to ensure you've got a strong scent. While cut bait is popular fishing inshore and from the beach, it can also be effective offshore if you fish it in the right conditions. You can hook a variety of fish like mahi-mahi, and sea bass.

Live Bait Tips

For deep sea fishing, anglers often use ballyhoo, pilchards, and eels. Baitfish are most preferred by anglers as the larger predator fish are attracted to the live bait movement and scent. Make sure you've got a functional livewell with enough space to keep your bait alive all day. Several Florida fish species such as amberjack and grouper are primarily caught on live baits.  When fishing for grouper, it's key to bridle your bait as they're known to engulf their prey instead of simply biting it.


Deep Sea Fishing Lures

A wide variety of deep-sea fishing lures are available for bottom fishing or trolling. Here's a brief rundown of some of the most effective lure styles.

1. Bottom jigs

If your target is reef-dwelling fish such as grouper or red snapper, heavy bottom jigs are perfect. You can use a three to eight-ounce jig with pink or bright yellowtail. Keep in mind that big fish and heavy jigs require appropriate deep-sea fishing tackle and gear.

2. Deep diving plugs

These plugs work very well for fish species such as mahi mahi, wahoo, tuna, and king mackerel. Troll them behind the boat at a speed of around 6-12 knots for the best results. The speed depends upon the type of fish and the water conditions.

3. Skirted Trolling Lures

Skirted trolling lures like the Green Machine are staples of most sailfish and marlin spreads.  You can fish them on a spreader bar or on their own and they'll give you a chance to catch every pelagic species (tuna, billfish, wahoo, mahi, etc) if you're in the right spot.


What Fish Species are Targeted

Fish the wide variety of fish species for anglers to catch make Florida deep sea fishing very attractive. Monsters like goliath grouper, marlin, mahi-mahi, and sailfish are among the most sought after fish species in these waters. 

Top 10 deep sea fishing trip targets include Sailfish, Marlin, Tuna, Goliath Grouper, Red Snapper, Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi, Amberjack, Kingfish & Sharks.


Why is Florida Deep Sea Fishing Popular?

Florida is surrounded by productive fishing waters in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Deep Sea fishing has captivated anglers for years because of the thrilling search for monster fish you can't typically catch inshore. Especially in a major fishing market like Florida, there are many passionate anglers and charter captains who've mastered the art of deep sea fishing.  With a variety of fish like tuna, billfish, grouper, snapper, and sharks, there's no end to the possibilities that lie offshore.  Trolling and bottom fishing are the two most popular methods of deep sea fishing, so even new anglers are capable of catching trophy fish when they go out with an experienced boat captain. 


Where & When to Deep Sea Fish in Florida?

Florida deep sea fishing is hot all throughout the year. Many anglers prefer September to November months for fishing in Florida. During this time, fish start migration and come to warmer waters in search of prey closer to shore. This is a time when anglers can catch trophy size fish easily. But spring, summer, and winter also provide great opportunities to catch various species of fish depending on the season and location. 

Deep-sea fishing Florida's offshore is a very enthralling experience. You can find great deep sea action in these areas:

  1. South Florida- Fort Lauderdale to Miami (marlin, wahoo, blackfin tuna)
  2. East coast- Stuart and West Palm Beach (sailfish, yellowfin tuna)
  3. Northeast- Daytona, St. Augustine and Jacksonville (kingfish, tarpon)
  4. Southwest- Fort Myers, Naples, Everglades City (grouper, goliath grouper, barracuda)
  5. West coast- from Sarasota to Tampa (kingfish, snapper, goliath grouper)
  6. Northwest- the Big Bend Region to Destin (gag grouper, snapper, cobia)
  7. The Florida Keys - From Key Largo to Key West (Tuna, Wahoo, Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, Mahi)


Deep Sea Fishing Charters

There are a number of great Florida fishing charters to take advantage of the incredible offshore sportfishing available throughout the state.  Guidesly has some of the top charter captains in the world available to book instantly online. A local fishing charter is the ideal way to enjoy a great day on the water while on vacation, and it's a great way to learn more about your home waters as well. 

A few Fishing Charter Tips:

·   Research - Search for fishing charters with Guidesly 

·   Fish Species - Make sure you are targeting the right area with a guide whose expertise aligns with your bucket list fish

·   Weather - Weather is important to take into account

·   Clothing - Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and sun

·   Tips - Remember that a 20% tip is customary for your captain or mate.


Deep Sea Fishing Skills

The most important and most difficult task while deep sea fishing is actually locating the fish.  Charter captains and fishing guides have the highest level of experience in this regard, so it's often smartest to book a guided fishing trip to guarantee the best chances of success. If you're venturing out on your own, one of the best indicators for active fish is the presence of birds.  It's also smart to look at your contour map to look for steep drop-offs and humps.  


What Fishing Gear will I need to get Started?

Fishing offshore requires appropriate tackle. Before you leave for your adventure, you must be well-equipped. No matter what species you would like to catch, you should consider bringing the following list of deep-sea fishing essentials.

·   Heavy Tackle Saltwater Rod & Reel 

·   Gaffe and/or net

·   Binoculars and measuring device

·   Longnose pliers and Manley pliers

·   Braid scissors

·   Basic tool kit

·   Lip grippers


Florida Deep Sea Fishing Guidelines

Florida has guidelines and permit requirements, so make sure you have the  appropriate license.  Every angler fishing in Florida needs a valid saltwater fishing license, although if you book a fishing charter, that will come included thanks to your captain.

Theres's also a separate federal water fishing permit required to keep fish over nine nautical miles out. Although, there is currently a hold on new licenses, so to get a federal over nine nautical mile permit, you will have to purchase a current one.