You Want To Go Fishing on Florida's Gulf Coast? Here's What You Need To Know!
*UPDATED JULY 2018
You are dying to drop a line in the famed Gulf Coast waters of Florida. You've heard about, dreamed about it, and now it's time. What do you need to know before heading out with your rod and reel? Just a few things, and we can help you with that.
Read on before you embark on your quest to catch the big one (that hopefully does not get away). We're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about fishing on the Gulf Coast.
So let's get this fishing party started! Here are some of the answers to the Florida fishing questions you may have.
Where should I stay on Florida's Gulf Coast for the best fishing access?
Both Indian Rocks Beach vacation rentals and Indian Shore condos offer close and convenient access to the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway. Not to mention the local piers, inshore and offshore fishing, and Tampa Bay. Whether you choose a Gulf front rental or one on the Intracoastal side, either way you're close to the water and ready for some fishing adventures whenever you want them.
Where can I fish in Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores?
We're glad you asked. The answer is just about anywhere! You can fish from the beach, off a dock, from the pier, in the Intracoastal, in the Gulf of Mexico, from a boat, off a bridge, and from local parks with fishing access. It just depends what kind of fishing you're interested in doing.
What fish are biting on Florida's Gulf Coast?
Florida fishing is fast and furious all year long on the Gulf Coast. But not all saltwater fish are here year round. Water temperature varies by season and spawning takes place at certain times of the year motivating fish to migrate with the seasons. Weather also influences fish feeding. Take a look at the Seasonal Fishing Chart from the Florida Wildlife Commission to see the best times to catch your favorites or see what's biting during your Gulf Coast vacation.
Do I need to buy a fishing license?
Yes, you need to purchase a fishing license if you want to fish from land or sea. Well, there are a few exceptions to that general rule. If you are fishing along with a charter group (more about that later), you are covered by their license. If you're fishing at a pier like Clearwater's Pier 60, you are covered under their pier license with the paid entrance fee. If you are under the age of 16, a Florida resident over the age of 65, or a Florida resident home on leave (30 days or less) from the US Armed Forces, you do not need a fishing license.
The Florida Fishing and Wildlife Conservation Commission is the go-to resource for all of your Florida Gulf Coast fishing Q&A. You can read more about the requirements, exemptions and specific information on freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses on their website.
How much does a recreational fishing license cost?
Currently, a 3-day nonresident saltwater fishing license costs $17; a 7-day nonresident saltwater fishing license costs $30; and an annual nonresident saltwater license costs $47. For Florida residents, the fishing licensing has quite a few options to choose from, so it's best to visit this page to see what your best bet is.
Where can I buy a fishing license in Indian Rocks Beach?
You have a few options when looking to purchase a Florida fishing license. The cheapest option is to purchase a fishing license from the Pinellas County Tax Collector's Office in Clearwater because they don't charge any convenience fees. (The other locations are sub-agents and charge a nominal fee for purchasing a license, just FYI.)
Other Florida fishing license agents include local retailers like Walmart, sports retailer shops like Sports Authority, in addition to local bait and tackle shops. There are several Walmarts near to you in Largo and Clearwater, as well as local bait and tackle shops found in Indian Rocks Beach such as Indian Rocks Tackle. You have plenty of close, convenient options.
If you don't want the hassle of waiting in line or driving somewhere to get your fishing license, you can purchase a recreational fishing license online or via phone. Just follow the steps found here to order your Florida fishing license online (please be aware that a surcharge will be added to your purchase). Or you can call toll-free 888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356) from anywhere in the United States or Canada (surcharges also apply).
What are some of the best Gulf Coast fishing charters?
Check out the Beach Welcome Center for some recommendations on local charter fishing excursions. They also have recommendations for other things to do on Florida's Gulf Coast, so bookmark it or stop by in person. They'll hook you up (pun intended).
Are there any big annual fishing tournaments on the Gulf Coast of Florida?
Oh, yes! The Gulf Coast hosts a lot of fishing tournaments. A LOT. But for your reference, here are some of the annual Gulf Coast fishing tournaments nearest to Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.
Old Salt Fishing Club King of the Beach Spring Tournament, Madeira Beach
Fishing for Hearts Inshore Photo Release Tournament, Tampa Bay
Clearwater Fishing Tournament
Are there any fishing tips, tricks or advice from the locals?
Yes! Here is some insider information to make your day of of fishing the best it can be.
Go early and stay late.
Go early to get first dibs on what's biting and stay late to increase your chances of hooking the big one. More time on the water means more chances to catch fish.
Watch for schools of fish.
If you see schools of small bait fish, you can bet there are bigger fish nearby. Keep a close eye out and be ready.
Think like a fish.
Is it hot outside? Then look for the shadier spots in shallow waters and deeper waters offshore where the fish are more likely to hang out and stay cool. If it's a cool day, look for shallow spots with the most direct sunlight.
Follow the birds.
When fishing offshore, spotting birds in your area can be your best bet at finding larger species feeding on a school of smaller fish. Keep your eye on the horizon for birds swooping and diving towards the water, then head in that direction and cast your line!
Go with a pro.
For first time fishermen or visitors who might be new to fishing in the area, hiring a professional guide can be a great asset. Ask questions, observe and take as much advice from them as you can. This should give you the best opportunity to snag some fish.
Ask a local.
Don't be afraid to ask questions! Our local fishermen are you biggest asset and have years of experience fishing the local waters. If you're on the pier or beach, strike up a conversation and ask what's biting. Visit a local tackle shop like Indian Rocks Tackle and talk with the staff.
You can read more about the above and other awesome fishing tips on visitstpeteclearwater.com.
Do you have any great Gulf Coast of Florida fishing advice or tips?
Our comment section is always open. Please share with us and other local anglers!