From its vast wetlands to its abundant fishing opportunities, the Everglades is a haven for anglers seeking memorable experiences. The region encompasses diverse habitats, including mangrove forests, grassy flats, and brackish estuaries, providing a thriving ecosystem for a wide range of gamefish.
Whether you prefer fly fishing or conventional methods, Everglades fishing charters offer exhilarating excursions. In the shallow waters, you can spot redfish, snook, tarpon, and spotted sea trout, presenting exciting sight-casting opportunities. Venture further into the labyrinthine mangroves, and you might encounter black drum, sheepshead, flounder, largemouth bass, bowfin, and other species. Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for alligators, orchids, and a variety of other amazing species of flora and fauna.
While the fishing itself is a draw, the Everglades also offers a backdrop of stunning natural beauty and rich history. Immersed in the unique ecosystem, you can appreciate the region's ecological significance and encounter a variety of wildlife, including alligators, manatees, and numerous bird species. Beyond fishing, the Everglades provides an opportunity to explore its picturesque landscapes, learn about its cultural heritage, and savor the delicious flavors of the local cuisine.
The vast and diverse habitats of the Everglades offer a wide variety of fish species living in freshwater, brackish, and saltwater environments. While fishing in the Everglades, anglers will have the opportunity to target some of the most revered game fish in saltwater. A few are highlighted below.
Redfish, also known as red drum, are abundant year-round in the Everglades' shallow waters and marshland, making them a popular target for inshore anglers. They are identifiable by their striking copper-bronze coloration, large scales, and a characteristic dark spot near the tail base. Redfish will typically grow to be about 40 inches and weigh 25 pounds. Despite their prevalence, don't underestimate the fight they put up when hooked. For more on how to target redfish in the Everglades, check out our Ultimate Guide to Florida Redfish.
Good snook fishing in Florida is largely determined by water temperature, but the Everglades uniquely offers great snook fishing opportunities nearly year round. You may find Everglades snook near shallow grass beds, oyster bars, brackish canals, mangrove-lined ponds, small bays, expansive flats, or winding creeks; regardless, the scenery is usually breathtaking. Snook have a distinctively sleek and elongated body shape, with a prominent lateral line running along their sides. Snook are opportunistic predators feeding predominantly on smaller fish, shrimp, crabs, and small invertebrates. Keep that information in mind when selecting your flies, baits, and lures. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing for Snook for more on this iconic South Florida pursuit.
In the Everglades, tarpon thrive in their natural state, unaffected by fishing pressure and boat traffic, creating an angler's utopia. Tarpon in the Everglades average 60 to 120 pounds, but can grow much larger. During calm and stable weather with water temperatures, tarpon will display their famous acrobatics. Check out this recent article for more info on tarpon fishing South Florida.
Speckled sea trout, also called the sea trout, are among the most common and favorite fish species of Florida anglers. Sea trout are easily identifiable with their distinct dark gray or green coloration on top and blueish-silver colorings underneath. Mature speckled sea trout can develop a mean set of vampire-like fangs, earning them the local nickname “gators.” They can be found inshore in the Everglades, particularly on grass flats. Check potholes and small indentations in the grass for sea trout lying in wait to ambush their prey. Most sea trout average around 4 pounds, but be ready to hook into a gator weighing well into the double digits.
Snapper are top of the list for both fun fishing and great eats. There are many species of snapper in Florida — including mangrove snapper, lane snapper, mutton snapper, and cubera snapper. Snapper can be caught near mangroves, inlets, bridges, docks, grass flats, and nearshore reefs. They mainly seek refuge in the nooks and crannies of large structure in the water column, waiting for their next meal to drift by with the tide. Live shrimp, whitebait, and small crabs are great bait options for anglers targeting snapper. We recommend using a light leader in clear water due to these fish’s excellent vision.
When it comes to bass fishing in the Everglades, largemouth bass reign supreme. These fish are abundant in the brackish and freshwater canal systems surrounding the Everglades. While trophy largemouths may not be typical, the sheer number of bass help to make up for it. Target bass around the plentiful vegetation, such as lily pads, cattails, and Kissimmee grass.
For a different sort of bass fishing experience, the vibrantly-colored peacock bass takes center stage. This fish is native to South America and was introduced in the 80s to Southern Florida. These fish are easily differentiable by their striking yellow and orange coloration. Peacock bass can range from 15 to 19 inches and weigh up to 5 pounds. The roadside canals, such as the "Alligator Alley" and Tamiami Canal, serve as some of the Everglades' best peacock bass fishing opportunities. If you are staying closer to Miami, the peacock bass fishing only gets better.
The diverse range of fish in the Everglades also entails a wide variety of seasonal fishing opportunities. Each season presents unique challenges and rewards for anglers. Understanding the species you aim to target during each season can inform your expectations and boost your chances of success. We recommend researching the fish species you intend to target before booking your fishing trip. Many fish species in the Everglades migrate or have seasons of lesser feeding activity, so try to coincide your trip with the heightened activity of fish you hope to target.
Here is some information on seasonal patterns for a few of our favorite Everglades fish species.
The cooler part of the year, from fall through spring, is the best time for bass fishing in the Everglades. While endemic to the region year round, largemouth bass are most active after the winter spawn period and feed continuously throughout the rest of the year.
Peacock bass thrive in warmer water temperatures. They are most active during the hotter months, April through September, when temperatures remain above 76°F. Peacock bass are daytime feeders and — like many other game fish — feed most actively during low light in the early morning and evening.
Snook are found year-round in the Everglades, but their behavior and locations vary by the season. From mid-December through mid-April, snook will favor shallow areas (small creeks, flats, and mangroves). In spring and fall, larger bays, cuts, and the mouths of rivers and creeks are more productive areas for targeting snook.
Redfish can be found in coastal Everglades waters throughout the year. The best fishing for redfish occurs between April and June, with another uptick in activity from September to October. Sightcast to tailing fish on the turtle grass or headwakes holding tight to mangrove shorelines.
The Everglades are home to both resident and migratory tarpon populations. Resident tarpon, ranging from 5 to 75 pounds, can be found year-round throughout the backcountry’s labyrinth of mangrove channels and lagoons. Migratory tarpon, typically mature adults, can weigh 50 to 200 pounds and enter the region to spawn annually from early spring to late summer.
Consider changing weather conditions, such as cold fronts or storms, and their impact on fish behavior. Lots of environmental factors like weather and seasons can affect the availability of certain species of game fish. Having a guide with experience fishing the Everglades under changing conditions can be invaluable to success on the water during your visit.
Each fishing season in the Everglades has its unique opportunities. Understanding fish behavior during these seasons and targeting specific species can enhance your chances of a successful fishing adventure. Florida saltwater recreational fishing seasons in the Gulf of Mexico differ from those of the Atlantic Ocean. Remember to stay updated with fishing regulations and check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for open seasons and regulations specific to your targeted species.
The diversity of species in the Everglades helps to make it an ideal destination for anglers of all ages. Fishing in the Everglades provides an opportunity to teach children about the ecosystem, conservation, and the importance of preserving natural habitats. Exploring the waterways, casting lines, and chasing that next bite is a great way to help kids learn and appreciate the amazingly diverse ecosystems of the Florida Everglades. Every fishing trip to the Everglades is a chance to learn about different fish species, their behavior, and the greater Everglades ecosystem. We work with some world-class fishing charters and guides in the Everglades who have specialized family-friendly fishing trips so everyone can learn. Guides can provide equipment, knowledge about the area, and guidance on fishing techniques.
Preserving the Everglades ecosystem and fisheries requires responsible angling practices. Familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations and licensing requirements that protect fish populations and habitats before you go on your trip. Visit official resources and websites for detailed information on licenses and current regulations as they can change. Depending on where you are fishing in the Everglades, you will need a Florida freshwater fishing license to fish in freshwater or to possess freshwater species or a Florida saltwater fishing license to fish in saltwater or to possess saltwater species or both. Children under 16 years of age do not require a license. If you are fishing with a licensed charter captain, you do not need to purchase your own fishing license. There are different regulations on fishing depending on where in the Everglades you plan on angling. Everglades National Park has strict rules on baits, bag size, rules on hooks, catch and release, and more.
When planning your fishing trip to the Everglades, you should consider a few key things. Choose the ideal timeframe for your trip — taking prevailing weather, fishing patterns, and water conditions into account. Also, figure out how you want to go about exploring the vast areas of fishable water in the Everglades. For self-guided excursions, make sure to understand the feasibility of planning and executing a self-guided fishing trip (obtaining necessary permits, researching campgrounds, understanding safety precautions, etc.). Or charter a fishing captain with expertise in navigating and fishing the Everglades waters. Guides have in-depth knowledge of the Everglades ecosystem, fishing hotspots, and local regulations.
Also, be sure to prepare appropriate clothing for the weather; bring sun protection, polarized sunglasses, and rain gear. Bring the types of rods, reels, lines, baits, and lures best suited for the fish species you intend to target in the Everglades. If you have questions about when to go fishing in the Everglades or the gear you should bring, you can always go to a local fly shop, or if you’ve hired a guide, reach out to them.
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