Surf Casting Florida

Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.

What can you catch surf fishing in Florida?

Florida is the fishing capital of the world in many peoples’ opinion. The waters around Florida are still teeming with life. The Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico’s beaches are just full of fun and delicious fish that you can catch. Every public beach in Florida allows visitors and resident to fish off of them. You do need a fishing license to fish off of the beaches.

Here is my list of the best fish to catch off of the beaches of Florida.

1) Pompano

2) Permit

3) Snook

4) Whiting

5) Tarpon

6) Bluefish

7) Spanish Mackerel

8) Flounder

9) Snapper

10) Redfish

I am a kayak fishing guide on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have been fishing the beaches, grass flats, mangroves and just about everywhere else in Florida for over 40 years. In the article below I will teach you how to catch most of the fish mentioned in my top 10 list above.

Let’s get started with the tastiest fish that swims.

Watch the video below and learn how to catch pompano surf fishing.

How do you catch a pompano surf fishing in Florida?

Pompano are one of the most sought after fishes that swim in the waters of Florida. They are excellent fighters for their size and they are one of the most delicious fish that swims in the sea. They are migratory and are usually only in an area for a few months before they move on to another beach.

When you put those three characteristics together; good fighters; good to eat and not usually available; you get a perfect storm of reasons why this delicious silver fish is a surf fishing rock star.

Surf fishing has a very cheap barrier to entry. You can expect to pay about $200 for an lower end surf rod and reel combination. When you consider that the price of pompano fillets, at your local fish market, will run you over $20 a pound, a good fishing day can pay for your gear easily.

The best way to catch pompano in the surf is to head to your local bait shop. All that you need is 5 pompano rigs; 5 or 6 pyramid sinkers ranging from 1 to 4 ounces; frozen shrimp, sand fleas or clam strips; and/or a bag of Fish Bites and you are all set for a full day of surf fishing for pompano.

Fish Bites are a new product that looks like a 1/4 inch stick of gum. They come in many flavors that pompano love. They come in clam flavor, shrimp flavor and sand flea flavors that pompano love.

How do you catch a permit surf fishing in Florida?

Permit are a cousin of the pompano but they get a lot bigger. The permit will commonly get caught off of the beach weighing 50 pounds. A HUGE pompano will weigh 6 or 7 pounds.

You can catch a permit with the same pompano rigs that you bought at the bait shop. They will even hit the same baits that you got at the bait shop. The one major difference is that a 50 pound permit can spool your reel if you don’t have at least 200 yards of fishing line on your reel.

When you spool up your reels with fishing line make sure to have at least 200 yards of line on it. You will need at least 15 pound test to give yourself a chance with a larger permit. Permit like it hot so you can’t really catch too many of them in North Florida off of the beach except in the hottest parts of summer. Even then many parts of the state won’t have them in their waters.

Permit are good to eat but most people catch them just for the sport of catching one. They are not as tasty as a pompano but they are good on a dinner plate.

Watch the video below to catch more snook off of the beach.

How do you catch a snook surf fishing in Florida?

Snook are one of my favorite fish to catch in the surf. Snook can be caught just about everywhere in Florida during the Summer months. However, they are not very cold water tolerant. They will usually move south before Winter comes in full force. North Florida does not have snook in the coldest Winter months.

Snook are usually very close to the shore. You can probably catch them with a cane pole if you could sneak up on one. They spend most of their time at the beach within 10 or 15 feet of the shore. They hunt the shallows for croakers, whiting, sardines, mullet and any other schools of bait fish that are running down the beach.

You do not need a surf rod to catch snook off of the beach. You can just bring your normal 6 to 7 foot fishing rod to catch snook when you are walking down the beach.

Snook are good to eat but there are strict regulations and seasons for keeping one. Make sure to check the regulations where you are fishing. The rules on the Gulf Coast are different from the rules on the Atlantic Coast. The rules are different for various regions of Florida too. So be careful if you are planning on keeping a snook.

How do you catch a whiting surf fishing in Florida?

Whiting are a very tasty little fish that are often caught by surf fishermen who are targeting pompano. The whiting (Southern Kingfish) are usually around a pound in size or smaller. They are really fun to catch too.

All that you need is the same pompano rigs that you got from the bait shop. There are also whiting specific surf fishing rigs that some bait shops have for sale. There feature a smaller hook size because whiting are much smaller than a pompano. If you are making your own rigs you can use a 1/0 circle hook or smaller for your dropper rigs.

Whiting will eat the same baits as the pompano will. Get yourself some frozen shrimp, clam strips, sand fleas or some Fish Bites and you are good to go for a fun day of whiting fishing.

Whiting are much less finicky when it comes to biting compared to a pompano. They will eat your bait if they are around. There are no size limits or bag limits on whiting in Florida. BUT most surf fishermen use a self imposed size limit of letting go whiting that are smaller than 10 inches long.

Watch the video below and catch more whiting surf fishing in Florida.

How do you catch a tarpon surf fishing in Florida?

Tarpon are my favorite fish to catch. It doesn’t seem to matter how many of those amazing fish that I catch. I don’t ever seem to get tired of the hard runs and awesome jumps that a tarpon will usually give me when they are hooked. If you have not ever caught one, then put it on your bucket list of things to do. You might be like me and tarpon are about the only fish that you want to catch most of the time.

You can catch tarpon off of the beach in Florida when the water temperatures climb above 75 degrees wherever you are. That is the magic temperature zone for hooking up with “The Silver King” as they come to your beach.

Tarpon are easy to spot early in the morning because they will gulp air to supplement the dissolved oxygen in the water. They evolved a lung-like layer that surrounds their swim bladder to help them breathe in low oxygen environments.

They gulp more in the mornings because the diatoms and algae that produce oxygen in the oceans needs the Sun for photosynthesis. There is no photosynthesis at night so tarpon have to gulp air from the atmosphere to get enough oxygen in their system.

They are easy to target by casting your lure or live bait in front of them once you figure out which way they are heading after they gulp some air. Try and cast 4 or 5 feet in front of them and get ready for a fight if they get hooked. They are the best inshore fighting fish that there is if you ask me.

You will need a rod with 150 yards of line if you get a decent sized one on the line. If you get a big 100 plus pound tarpon, then you will need 250 yards and a 5500 or above series reel if you expect to get them to the beach. You are not allowed to bring a tarpon over 40 inches long out of the water. You have to go swimming with them if you want a photo.

Watch the video below and catch more tarpon with lures.

How do you catch a bluefish surf fishing in Florida?

Bluefish are a very fun fish to catch off of the beach. They are great because they will eat just about anything that you get in front of their face. You can use cut bait on the bottom and they will sniff it out and eat your hook. You can pitch a live bait of some sort anywhere near them and they will come and get it. AND just about any spoon or shiny thing that you are using for a lure will often get a bite too.

In other words, a bluefish is that fish that makes the worst fishermen look good when they are in the surf. I very rarely fish for bluefish but I catch a ton of them.

They are voracious in their appetites and they will often beat the snook, tarpon and anything else that you are targeting to your baits and lures.

Just remember to fish for them with a wire leader or you will lose a bunch of hooks or lures. They have amazingly sharp teeth that can cut through just about any leader smaller than 40 pounds. If they are running small around 2 or 3 pounds you can get away with a lighter leader but even the little ones will cut you off with ease if the line gets in their mouths.

How do you catch a Spanish mackerel surf fishing in Florida?

Spanish mackerel are another one of the super fun fish that you can catch surf fishing. These are another toothy denizen of the surf zone that will readily hit small lures. That is the best way to catch mackerel in the surf, in my opinion.

They are a fish that likes to eat anchovies, minnows, sardines, herring, finger mullet and other small fish schools that run down the beaches of Florida during their annual migrations. You can catch them 5 feet from shore during the higher parts of the tides and other times you will need a surf rod to get out to them. A one or two ounce silver spoon is the way to go if they are out far. When they are close you can get at them with a 1/2 ounce spoon or a feather jig.

They are great fighters and are okay to eat. To me they are on the fishy side but are worth eating if prepared correctly.

Watch the video below and catch more Spanish mackerel with lures.

How do you catch a flounder surf fishing in Florida?

Flounder are another fun fish to catch off of the beach. They will often be found in groups as that find hiding spots to ambush passing prey items that get too close to them. Beach sand is a great medium for them to bury themselves to hide from predators and potential prey.

Flounder will often set up an ambush point next to some sort of structure. If the beach that you are fishing at has scattered rocks in the surf, then you should cast your bait or lure near that rock. The pilings of a pier is another good spot to find flounder in the surf.

If there is bait in the area, then the flounder will probably be there even if there is no structure for them to hide next to. They will just bury in the sand.

When you are fishing for flounder a slow retrieval is your best bet. A flounder is no speed demon and will not be able to catch a fast moving lure. Bounce your jig on the bottom. You will basically be dragging it with a twitch, twitch every now and again.

The 2 best lures for flounder fishing are a Berkeley Gulp shrimp with a red jig head weighing from 1/8 to 1/2 ounce and a white buck tail jig. Either one of those lures will catch you a bunch of flounder in the surf if they are around. I like to add some smell to the buck tail jig like a small piece of a Fish Bite or frozen shrimp.

How do you catch a snapper surf fishing in Florida?

The snapper like to be around some sort of structure like pier pilings or a reef. This goes for mangrove snapper and mutton snapper specifically. They will congregate in schools to feed upon small fish, crabs, shrimp and other small marine creatures.

It is hard to beat a piece of shrimp on a 1/0 circle hook for catching snappers around the reefs. They are great at stealing your baits so that is why you want to use a very small hook when targeting them. Most of the snappers that you will catch around the reefs will be less than 2 pounds but occasionally you will hook into a bigger one.

Snapper will also hit a 3 inch paddle tail shad type of lure with a 1/8 ounce jig head. I like a white shad with a red 1/8 or 1/4 ounce jig head the best. Small spoons are another good choice when there is a lot of small fish in the area.

How do you catch a redfish surf fishing in Florida?

In my area, we don’t catch too many redfish in the surf but further up in Central and North Florida they catch them all of the time in the surf. The best baits off of the beach are dead baits with a heavy sinker to keep the bait from moving with the current and the waves.

A standard bait is a fresh dead mullet or lady fish. Cut your mullet or lady fish into 5 or 6 inch pieces to catch one of those big bull reds that run the beaches in schools. A blue crab that is cut in half is another good choice for catching redfish off of the beach.

You will and to have a 5/0 circle hook for the big redfish and between a 1 and 4 ounce pyramid sinker to keep your bait still on the bottom. Sometimes you can sight fish for them right in the trough next to the beach with lures like a paddle tail shad or a buck tail jig. You just have to find the right beach.

Sometimes they will hit your pompano rigs with Fish Bites, shrimp or sand fleas for bait. You just never know when that hard pulling pompano turns out to be a redfish.

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