Where To "Take a Kid Fishing" in Florida?
- Florida has 3 million acres of freshwater lakes, 12,000 miles
of rivers and streams, and more than 8,000 miles of coastline--all
of which have fish. No one in Florida is far from a location
where you can begin learning to fish and spending time together on
the water. Obviously though, some places will provide a much
better opportunity to catch fish than others. A big key
is structure and changes in the water flow patterns or bottom
- Freshwater Fishing: Freshwater fishing is probably more
accessible to most Floridians than saltwater and typically offers
an easier starting place for a novice angler.
- Lakes--Most large public lakes have shoreline access often
around public ramps or parks, and many even have fishing piers or
boardwalks.Catfish and bluegill can be caught with a cane pole from
these locations, but using a rod and reel will let you reach
farther out to where the fish may be (see how to for details).
With a boat, you can cover more territory and get to areas where
there are less disturbances from other anglers. You may also
find more fish, such as larger bass and schooling crappie, but
having a boat isn't essential. Look for vegetation fringes,
sunken logs, water inflows,or dropoffs in the bottom (having a
depth finder or topo map is helpful for this). On a hot day,
shady areas such as under piers or overhanging trees can be
- Rivers--You'll still find bass, bream and catfish in rivers,
but also some fishes that are more specialized for flowing water
like redbreast sunfish. Again watch for structural changes;
bends in the river or bottom contours that create eddies that help
stir up prey for the predators are helpful.
- Ponds--Many people do their first fishing in ponds, especially
ponds stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish, or perhaps sunshine
bass (see freshwater fish id). Urban ponds
in Jacksonville, Tampa/St. Pete, Orlando and around Miami-Dade are
managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to
provide excellent opportunities to "take a kid fishing." They
often host special fishing clinics (especially during the summer)
and fishing rodeos.
- Saltwater Fishing--Being on a peninsula, even one as large as
Florida, has its advantages and makes saltwater fishing nearly as
accessible to most Floridians as freshwater. Residents can
even fish from the shore without a license.
- Shoreline--Watching where the locals congregate to fish is a
good clue for finding fish from the shore. Sport fish will
gather where there are features that congregate their food items,
water flowing into the ocean, vegetation patches, or structure that
attracts algae and small bait fish are examples. There are
also numerous public fishing piers in saltwater that have tackle
and bait available on site as well as expert advice to help "take a
- Inshore--Small boats fishing within sight of the shore have
access to many fish that shoreline anglers can't reach. Small
holes or drop-offs, oyster bars and other features provide the
structure to concentrate fish.
- Offshore--A lot of kids have visions of catching a big shark or
marlin or seeing a sailfish leap and with proper guidance,
equipment and support they can participate in these thrills as well
but generally speaking those species are ones for them to aspire to
as they grow older and more experienced. But offshore also
provides some fast action for mackerels, groupers and other
offshore species that are well-suited to young anglers with adult