West Palm Beach Fishing

West Palm Beach Fishing
Published: Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
Updated on: Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Just under seventy miles north of Miami, you'll find the city of West Palm Beach, Florida. Sandwiched between Florida's Treasure Coast and Gold Coast, West Palm Beach is a city of just over 110,000 people. It's also the oldest incorporated municipality in southern Florida.  It was incorporated as a city only two years before Miami in 1894. Today, West Palm Beach is a popular vacation destination because of its beautiful beaches, lively bars, plentiful shopping opportunities, and world-class fishing. Palm Beach Inlet provides easy access to some of the best fishing grounds in all of Florida. The diversity of the surrounding ecosystem and the sheer number of trophy fish nearby is a big part of why West Palm Beach fishing charters attract so many tourists every year. The best part about West Palm Beach is that there are so many exciting activities to do, but you can always have a relaxing day by the beach, at the pool, or on the water.


Right across the Intracoastal Waterway from West Palm Beach, you'll find the luxurious community of Palm Beach, Florida, which you'll find on an island in east-central Palm Beach county. Palm Beach is one of the nicest towns in the United States, with charming beaches, world-renowned resorts, upscale shopping districts, and fantastic fishing. It's the perfect vacation destination for anyone, especially for fishermen. According to Forbes, in 2017, at least 30 billionaires had homes in Palm Beach, which shows how desirable a location it truly is. 

West Palm Beach Fishing

Known for incredible saltwater fishing, West Palm Beach provides easy access to the Gulf Stream and Sailfish Alley. The Gulf Stream is essentially a strong current that pulls warm water from the Gulf of Mexico and brings it into the Atlantic Ocean, extending up the entire eastern coast of the United States. Many people don't know that Ben Franklin was the first person to chart the Gulf Stream's path on a map in the 18th century. Since the Gulf Stream passes so close to the shore here -- actually within sight of shore -- West Palm Beach provides a unique opportunity to target sailfish within view of the picturesque skyline to your west. 

Palm Beach Sailfish
8 ft Palm Beach Sailfish 

Sailfish are a highly sought-after gamefish because of their crazy fights filled with impressive leaps and their vast size, often clocking in between 6-8 ft and even possibly up to 10 ft long. In most areas of the world, it takes a much longer time to reach the fishing grounds. For this reason, West Palm Beach has a substantial charter fishing fleet filled with extremely knowledgeable charter captains who've hand-picked this location to do what they love. Additionally, the Silver Sailfish Derby, held annually in West Palm Beach and organized by the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, is the oldest running sailfish tournament in the entire world. 


The West Palm Beach Fishing Club also has an annual Full Moon Wahoo tournament and their KDW Classic, a one-day tournament with checks for the heaviest kingfish, wahoo, and dolphin in different categories. The West Palm Beach deep sea fishing culture is vibrant, competitive, and inclusive! Although sailfish are one of the most popular species targeted, they aren't the only billfish. Giant swordfish can be caught deep in the gulf stream, too. 


West Palm Beach has excellent inshore fishing as well, with tarpon and snook both highly sought-after gamefish. Seawalls, channel edges, mangrove shorelines, docks, and bridges in Lake Worth Lagoon are always great starting points for these inshore species. The mullet run every fall provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch nature in action. With schools of mullet everywhere and predatory fish constantly feeding, you'll be amazed at the scene that unfolds in front of you as well as at the consistent chances to land fish.


Palm Beach County also provides access to some of the best freshwater fishing in Florida and the entire country. Both bass species (largemouth bass and peacock bass) have world-class fisheries within driving distance. Only fifteen minutes to the south, Lake Osborne is just a short drive away, where there is some of the best peacock bass fishing in North America. Less than an hour west, Lake Okeechobee is one of the most famed largemouth bass lakes in the world. It took 32 lbs, 10 oz to win a BFL event on Okeechobee in February 2019. Both these lakes have some of the best freshwater fishing guides in the country, so West Palm Beach is truly a top-tier vacation destination for freshwater fishing enthusiasts, too!

 

West Palm Beach Weather

West Palm Beach Florida Average Temperature Min Max Mean

The seasonal weather above is the average maximum temperature, average minimum temperature, and average temperature for each month of the year.  Below find the average rainfall amount for the month, average wind speed, average heat index, average relative humidity percentage, average cloud cover percentage, and miles of visibility.  The chart below details the possible impact of a high Heat Index temperature.

West Palm Beach Florida Average Rainfall Wind Humidity Clouds Visibility

 

Top 10 Fish Species in West Palm Beach

The top 10 species you'll find fishing around West Palm Beach are sailfish, wahoo, tuna, kingfish, tarpon, snook, cobia, dolphin, snapper, and jacks.

West Palm Beach Fishing Tips

Every South Florida fall brings the mullet run from Stuart to Key Largo. Whether fishing inshore or offshore, you never know what species you'll catch next because all sorts of predatory fish will be chasing mullet. You don't even need live mullet to have success catching game fish... topwater plugs, soft plastics, spoons, or even half a dead mullet often do the trick. 


However, live mullet can sometimes be your best bet. Start by netting a couple of dozen when you see a school. The next school of mullet you see, sit back and try to decipher what's feeding on them and react accordingly. Tarpon will leap and blow up out of the water, jacks will charge directly into the school, and snook will hang out below, sucking in the baitfish. Toss a freelined mullet at the outer edge of the school. When you can feel your bait swimming erratically and get nervous, you know you've got a predator nearby. Once you feel a fish take your bait, wait a few seconds before closing the bail and reeling tight.  That way, you'll let your fish have time to hook himself. 


You've got a shot at any species when you're live lining mullet, but many inshore anglers are always hoping it's a tarpon. Fishing out of West Palm Beach, you've always got a chance! One other recommended bait is artificial shrimp. Later in the run, it can be a change of pace for predators, and there's the additional benefit that bait stealers don't peck at a plastic shrimp-like they do a live one. Make sure to slow it down if you aren't catching anything.


Of course, proximity to the Gulf Stream is one of Palm Beach fishing's most significant and most well-known benefits. It's possible to catch sailfish as close as half a mile from inside the head buoy of Palm Beach inlet. It's smart to cover ground when fishing for sailfish since they move around so much. One great spot that many overlooks is the area just outside Palm Beach inlet. Between the Breakers Hotel to the south and the condominiums just north, there are six artificial wrecks that can be productive. 


While you can always catch plenty of fish trolling, as well as plenty of variety from tuna to wahoo to kingfish and dolphin, kite fishing is the tactic of choice for most serious tournament anglers. Kite fishing is pretty technical, but those fishing captains who've mastered it reap the results, especially with sailfish. Likewise, with kite fishing, you never know what species will eat your kite bait next. When fishing a center console, kites allow you to battle a fish from the front while you continue to work the kites in the back. Mullet remains an excellent bait to use. There's so much water to cover in the gulf stream, so for inexperienced anglers, a fast troll might be better suited to cover ground. However, drift fishing allows you to catch fish in all levels of the water column, from sailfish to grouper. For the best experience, it's often smart to hire a charter captain to show you the ropes. The West Palm Beach charter fleet is one of the most elite groups in the world, and you really can't go wrong. Lots of the top captains keep their boats at Sailfish Marina. 
 

Bass Boat on Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee Bass Fishing

Freshwater fishing, the go-to for largemouth bass is Lake Okeechobee, while the best spot for peacock bass is Lake Osborne. On Lake Okeechobee, anglers consistently catch big bass on both live shiners as well as artificials. If you're fishing shiners, it can be best to spend the extra money on wild shiners since livelier bait catches more fish consistently. If you want to learn more about Lake Okeechobee fishing, check out this article.

 

West Palm Beach Seasonal Fishing

Here, fishing is a year-round affair, and there are always West Palm Beach fishing charters running. The best sailfishing is from November to March, but it's also possible to catch large numbers of them in the summer. You can catch grouper and snapper consistently throughout the entire year. The best tarpon fishing is in the spring, while the best snook fishing takes place during the summer. Wahoo fishing is hot in the fall but solid pretty much the whole year. For freshwater fishing, the best time for largemouth bass is the fall, winter, and spring, while peacock bass fishing is most consistent in the summer. 


Great Fishing Locations in West Palm Beach:

  • Palm Beach Inlet
  • Lake Worth Lagoon
  • Lake Okeechobee
  • Lake Osborne

 

West Palm Beach Fish Species Seasonality:

West Palm Beach Florida Fish Species Seasonality Chart
West Palm Beach Fishing Fish species
Wahoo 

Habitat: Nearshore, Offshore, Reef

Weight: 15 - 35 Pounds

Length: 8" - 100"

Cobia

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 80 Pounds

Length: 24" - 79"

Red Grouper

Habitat: Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck, Ocean Floor

Weight: 12 - 25 Pounds

Length: 17" - 35"

Peacock Bass

Habitat: River, Lake, Canal

Weight: 3 - 15 Pounds

Length: 10" - 29"

Swordfish

Habitat: Offshore, Deepwater

Weight: 100 - 400 Pounds

Length: 48" - 179"

Blackfin Tuna

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 2 - 20 Pounds

Length: 7" - 43"

Tarpon 

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 25 - 63 Pounds

Length: 48" - 96"

Little Tunny 

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore

Weight: 5 - 15 Pounds

Length: 24" - 48"

Crappie

Habitat: River, Lake

Weight: 0 - 5 Pounds

Length: 4" - 19"

Common Dolphinfish

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 15 - 30 Pounds

Length: 40" - 83"

Greater Amberjack

Habitat: Offshore, Reefs, Wrecks

Weight: 40 - 200 Pounds

Length: 60" - 75"

Blacktip Shark 

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Continental Shelves, Insular Shelves

Weight: 100 - 150 Pounds

Length: 60" - 108"

Blue Marlin 

Habitat: Offshore, Open Water

Weight: 200 - 400 Pounds

Length: 132" - 197"

Atlantic Sailfish

Habitat: Offshore, Nearshore

Weight: 50 - 142 Pounds

Length: 90" - 124"

Goliath Grouper 

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Reef, Backcountry, Flats, Wreck

Weight: 75 - 150 Pounds

Length: 50" - 98"

Barracuda

Habitat: Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 5 - 15 Pounds

Length: 24" - 39"

Largemouth Bass

Habitat: Lake, Pond, Rivers

Weight: 2 - 22 Pounds

Length: 15" - 32"

Snook 

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 12 - 29 Pounds

Length: 16" - 50"

King Mackerel

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 20 Pounds

Length: 19" - 72"

Things to do in West Palm Beach:

 

1. West Palm Beach Fishing Charters

Charter fishing is definitely one of West Palm Beach's most popular recreational activities for locals and visitors alike. There's a large fleet of charter boats run by experienced captains, so it's easy for anyone to book an inshore or offshore fishing trip, whether a beginner or experienced angler. 

2. Sunfest Music Festival

Every spring, West Palm Beach hosts Sunfest, Florida's largest waterfront music and art festival. Almost 300,000 people attend each year to see artists like Diplo, Bebe Rexha, Keith Urban, J. Cole, and Pitbull, among others. There's also usually great live music in the city year-round.

3. Shopping

Rosemary Square offers a shopping district and open-air plaza in downtown West Palm Beach. Not too far away are Antique Row and the candy-colored storefronts of Northwood Village. The Palm Beach Outlets offer savings on over one hundred name brands like Nike and Saks Fifth Avenue, but Palm Beach offers upscale shopping, too.

4. Family Activities

A little south of downtown, the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation and the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium are perfect for fun up-close encounters and learning experiences. Manatee Lagoon is another one of West Palm's best attractions. It's the top place in Palm Beach County to get a good view of a manatee up close.

 

Best Beaches around West Palm Beach:

There's plenty of spectacular beaches within a short 20-minute drive from the city. 

1. Juno Beach 

Located in northern Palm Beach County. Juno Beach has miles of dog-friendly beach available.  It's perfect for a family vacation. From May to October, Juno Beach is also home to a major sea turtle nesting ground.

2. Municipal Beach

Palm Beach's Municipal Beach is just a short walk from Worth Avenue. This public beach is kept seaweed-free by the town, which is a great perk. 

3. Peanut Island Park

Tight near Riviera Beach, Peanut Island Park is in the heart of the lagoon.  Boating, snorkeling, and fishing are popular activities here. And there's even a seventeen site campground!