Whether you’re a beginner or experienced angler, whether you prefer fresh or saltwater fishing, the State of Florida can arguably claim the title of “Fishing Capital of the United States.”
Through its National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts detailed interviews with residents across the nation about their participation in fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching.
With help of the Census Bureau, and issued every 5 years, this survey has consistently ranked the ‘Sunshine State’ at/or near the top of rankings of all 50 states for fishing participation, as measured by in-state and visiting sportspeople, number of days fished, fishing trip and equipment expenditures.
Some of the principal reasons for Florida’s high ranking among U.S. as a top fishing destination:
Amongst the veritable ‘boatload’ of government agencies, one stands out as a definitive go-to resource on what’s currently happening in Florida fishing: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).
Established in 1999, the mission of the FWC managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. Through its 3,000 employees and thousands of volunteers, based out of five regional offices around the state, the FWC is dedicated to protecting Florida’s 500 species of saltwater fish, 200 species of freshwater fish, and 575 species of wildlife.
With the ever-evolving environmental changes, protection of fish populations, and the impact of the coronavirus on fishing, the FWC is focused on tracking and communicating present and historic conditions and regulations for recreational fishing.
Before planning any fishing trips in Florida, three PDF publications posted on the myfwc.com website can give you the most current information on fishing regulations.
1) Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations – 2020
Updated on July 1, 2020 (from its earlier January 2020 iteration), this informative 24-page PDF document, provides succinct details on current regulations on Florida’s most popular saltwater gamefish, including:
The PDF elegantly presents:
2) QuickChart Guide: Florida Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations
If the 24-page Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations PDF is too unwieldy for you, check out the FWC’s 4-Page QuickChart Guide.
A textbook model for effective infographics, this FWC features colorful and photo-realistic paintings of individual species by Diane Rome Peebles, award-winning St. Petersburg-based fish illustrator.
3) Florida Freshwater Recreational Regulations – 2020-21
In July 2020, the FWC also posted a companion piece to its Saltwater PDF with a Freshwater equivalent.
This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated 28-page PDF provides a 2020-2021 summary of Florida's freshwater fishing rules and regulations including:
Here’s a collection of other resources that will keep you up-to-date and about Florida fishing regulations and conditions:
FWC Opt-In Communications To stay informed about #FloridaFishing, the FWC team also offers opt-in subscriptions to an assortment of periodic emails including newsletters, monthly columns, seasonal developments, and upcoming events.
Fish Rules App As a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission joined with other regulatory entities in the South Atlantic region to track and share fishing regulations in 18 U.S. States and the Bahamas. Here’s
The result is a new, work-in-progress Fish Rules mobile app to allow angler at a glance to “know if a fish is in season, how many you can keep, how big they have to be, and more.” The Fish Rules App saltwater fishing regulations for Federal and State waters from Maine to Texas.
Through Guidesly’s searchable Fish Species database you can find helpful information on fish names (Latin and common English), sizes, typical distribution habitats, weights and lengths, meal quality ratings, fish categories (e.g. game fish), fishing techniques (e.g. fly fishing), and other details on fish of interest.
Despite widespread recent news coverage about the negative impact of the pandemic in their state, authorities are bullish about fishing in Florida. Amanda Nally of the Marine Fisheries Management department of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission recently told Guidesly: “We’re encouraging people to get out on the water and fish, while practicing social distancing.”