Best Surf Fishing in Florida: Top Locations and Tips

Florida is a paradise for anglers, boasting some of the best surf fishing spots in the country. With its extensive coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, we can enjoy a variety of fishing experiences, from the tranquil waters of the Gulf Coast to the more dynamic surf on the Atlantic Coast. 

The Sunshine State is home to diverse fish species, including black drum, Spanish mackerel, Tarpon, and the sought-after Florida pompano, making it a top destination for surf fishing. 

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to surf fishing, employing the right gear and techniques can make all the difference. Longer rods, pyramid sinkers, and fish finder rigs are just a few of the equipment essentials that will help you achieve better results. 

Florida’s vast array of fishing spots, from popular tourist areas like the Florida Keys to lesser-known gems found in the Intracoastal Waterway, ensures every fishing trip offers new, exciting opportunities.

Read on to learn more about the best surf fishing in Florida. 

Best Surf Fishing Locations in Florida

In our quest to find the best surf fishing spots in Florida, we have narrowed down the top locations to Pensacola Beach, Flagler Beach, Cocoa Beach, Sebastian Inlet, and St. Augustine. These destinations offer a diverse range of fish species and unique angler experiences.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach Pier
Pensacola Beach Pier

Pensacola Beach is a fantastic surf fishing destination along the Gulf Coast with easy access to deeper water. This area is popular with various fish, such as Spanish mackerel and black drum. 

We found sand fleas or live shrimp the best baits for an enjoyable surf fishing experience. We recommend fishing during high tide for the best results using live bait, fish finder rigs, and sand spikes.

Bait Shops Near Pensacola Beach

  1. Hot Spots Bait and Tackle – 360 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561, about 5 miles from Pensacola Beach. 
  2. Outcast Bait and Tackle – 3529 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563, about 7 miles from Pensacola Beach.
  3. Shoreline Bait and Tackle – 5700 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563, about 8 miles from Pensacola Beach.
  4. Gulf Breeze Bait and Tackle – 825 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561, about 6 miles from Pensacola Beach.
  5. Pensacola Beach Marina Bait and Tackle – 655 Pensacola Beach Blvd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561, right on Pensacola Beach.

Flagler Beach

Flagler Beach in Florida on a cloudy day
Flagler Beach

Flagler Beach is a popular destination for surf fishing enthusiasts on Florida’s Atlantic coast. With its long stretches of sandy beaches and abundant marine life, it is the perfect place to cast a line and try your luck at catching some big fish.

If you are targeting larger species, such as black drum or redfish, visiting during the winter months is recommended. During this time, the cooler water temperatures and reduced fishing pressure make for the best chance of success. 

Additionally, early morning is the ideal time to fish, as the fish are more active and feeding.

To increase your chances of catching fish, it is recommended to use live bait such as fiddler crabs and mole crabs on a fish finder rig during high tide. This will allow you to present your bait most naturally, increasing the likelihood of attracting a bite.

Flagler Beach is a great spot for surf fishing trips, with plenty of opportunities to catch impressive fish. With the right equipment and tactics, you can enjoy a memorable day of fishing on the beautiful Atlantic coast.

Bait Shops Near Flagler Beach

  1. Flagler Beach Bait and Tackle – 316 Moody Blvd, Flagler Beach, FL 32136
  2. High Tides at Snack Jack – 2805 S Oceanshore Blvd, Flagler Beach, FL 32136
  3. Fishin’ Hole – 101 Palm Harbor Pkwy, Palm Coast, FL 32137
  4. Hammock Bait and Tackle – 5368 N Ocean Shore Blvd, Palm Coast, FL 32137

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach and pier in on a sunny day in Florida
Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach offers easy access to deeper waters, making it an ideal spot for catching various fish species. Among the species found in Cocoa Beach are the Florida pompano and Spanish mackerel, which are highly sought after by anglers.

The best time to fish at Cocoa Beach is during the summer, when the warmer water temperatures attract a wider variety of fish. During this time, anglers can expect to catch a range of species, including snook, redfish, and tarpon.

To increase the chances of catching fish, it is recommended to use live bait, such as sand fleas or shrimp. Longer rods are also essential for casting into deeper waters where the fish tend to congregate. 

Anglers should pay attention to the tides and fish during the incoming and outgoing tides when the fish are more active. Cocoa Beach is a prime destination for surf fishing, offering a unique and exciting experience for anglers of all skill levels.

Bait Shops Near Cocoa Beach

  1. Whitey’s Bait & Tackle: Located at 9032 Florida A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951, Whitey’s Bait & Tackle is a popular choice for locals and visitors alike. They offer a wide selection of live and frozen bait, fishing gear, and accessories.
  2. Strike-Zone Fishing: With multiple locations in Florida, including one at 2771 W New Haven Ave, Melbourne, FL 32904, Strike-Zone Fishing is a great option for those looking for a more extensive selection of fishing gear and supplies. They also offer live and frozen bait.
  3. The Fishing Hole: Located at 2201 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931, The Fishing Hole is a family-owned bait and tackle shop serving the Cocoa Beach area for over 30 years. They offer a variety of live and frozen bait, as well as fishing gear and accessories.
  4. Brevard Live Bait & Tackle: This bait and tackle shop is located at 800 Scallop Dr, Rockledge, FL 32955, just a short drive from Cocoa Beach. They offer live and frozen bait and a selection of fishing gear and accessories.

Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Inlet and pier
Sebastian Inlet and pier

Sebastian Inlet is one of the best places in Florida for surf fishing due to its diverse range of fish species and the deep water access it provides. 

The surrounding scenery also adds to the allure of this location, making it a great spot for those who want to combine their love of fishing with the beauty of nature.

The fishing pier is one of the best spots for surf fishing at Sebastian Inlet. This pier is an excellent location for targeting larger fish and a popular spot for anglers looking to catch various species. 

Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, the fishing pier at Sebastian Inlet is a great place to start your fishing adventure.

If you are new to the area or simply looking for advice on the best baits and gear to use while surf fishing at Sebastian Inlet, check out the local bait shops. 

These shops are staffed by knowledgeable locals who can help you choose the right gear and bait for the type of fish you are targeting. With their help, you’ll be well on your way to catching your next big fish at Sebastian Inlet.

Bait Shops Near Sebastian Inlet

  1. Whitey’s Bait & Tackle: 9030 S US Highway 1, Sebastian, FL 32958.
  2. Sebastian Inlet Bait & Tackle: 9700 S Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951.
  3. Captain Hiram’s Bait & Tackle: 1606 Indian River Dr, Sebastian, FL 32958.
  4. Honest John’s Fish Camp: 750 Old Florida Trail, Sebastian, FL 32958.
  5. Strike Zone Fishing: 2771 W New Haven Ave, Melbourne, FL 32904.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine Beach
St. Augustine Beach

St. Augustine is a city located in the northeastern part of Florida, and it is known for its rich history and beautiful beaches. The city was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. 

Over the years, St. Augustine has been home to various cultures and civilizations, which have left their mark on the city’s architecture and culture.

Apart from its historical significance, St. Augustine is also a popular destination for surf fishing enthusiasts. The city provides ample opportunities to catch various Atlantic Ocean fish species, including blacktip sharks and tarpon. 

These fish are known for their size and strength, making them a challenge for even the most experienced anglers.

If you’re planning to go surf fishing in St. Augustine, it’s important to note that the best times to fish are during the early morning and late afternoon. During these times, the water temperature is just right, and the fish are more active. 

To increase your chances of catching fish, it’s recommended to keep your bait fish, such as mole crabs, close by in a cast net. This will help attract the fish and make them more likely to take the bait.

St. Augustine is an excellent destination for surf fishing enthusiasts looking for a unique and challenging experience. With its rich history and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder this city has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Bait Shops Near St. Augustine

  1. The Bait Shack – 4475 US-1, St. Augustine, FL 32086
  2. Devil’s Elbow Fishing Resort – 7507 A1A S, St. Augustine, FL 32080
  3. Avid Angler – 124 Charlotte St, St. Augustine, FL 32084
  4. The Outpost Bait & Tackle – 620 US-1, St. Augustine, FL 32084
  5. The Fishin’ Hole – 4445 US-1 S, St. Augustine, FL 32086

We have discovered that anglers are spoiled for choice regarding surf fishing locations in Florida. Whether the Gulf Coast’s calm surf or the Atlantic Ocean’s energetic waves, these destinations offer an unforgettable surf fishing experience. 

So, pack your beach chair, fishing gear, and sunblock, and head to some of Florida’s most fantastic surf fishing spots!

Best Time to Surf Fish in Florida

When it comes to surf fishing in Florida, timing is crucial. To make the most of your experience, consider the time of day, water temperatures, and tides. The best time to surf fish in the Sunshine State is early morning or a few hours before dusk, as fish hunt and feed in low-light conditions.

While you can enjoy surf fishing all year on Florida’s beaches, certain months offer unique opportunities to catch specific fish species. For instance, winter brings cooler water temperatures, attracting species such as black drum and Spanish mackerel. 

On the other hand, the summer months are perfect for targeting larger fish in warmer waters, like tarpon and blacktip sharks.

Another factor to consider when planning your surf fishing trip is the tide. High tide is generally the best time, as bait fish gather in deeper water, closer to shore. 

This attracts a variety of fish species and increases your chances of a successful catch. Check the local tide charts and plan your fishing excursions accordingly.

When surf fishing in Florida, focus on the early morning and evening hours, pay attention to water temperatures and tides, and explore the variety of fish species and locations available.

By following these tips and using the appropriate bait, you will have an enjoyable and successful surf fishing experience.

Fishing Guide: Best Surf Fishing Bait

Fish Species to Target

A school of Pompano
A school of Pompano

When planning your surf fishing adventure in Florida, knowing which fish species to target is essential. Florida’s coastline offers a diverse range of game fish to catch, making your fishing experience exciting and rewarding. 

This section will discuss some top species to target during your Florida surf fishing expedition.


Florida Pompano is a popular game fish for surf anglers on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. Live bait such as sand fleas, fiddler, and mole crabs are ideal for enticing pompano. 

The best time to target them is during high tide, especially in deeper water areas near sandbars. Popular spots for pompano include Miami Beach and Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Coast.


Whiting, also known as Southern Kingfish, is another common species to target in Florida’s surf. These small fish can be found in the calm surf along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines. 

Using live shrimp, sand fleas, or cut bait on a fish finder rig is the best choice to catch whiting. Beach fishing near grass flats, such as Tampa Bay, is an excellent tactic for targeting whiting.


Redfish, or Red Drum, are plentiful along the Intracoastal waterways and surf zones of Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Live or cut bait, such as mullet, baitfish, or shrimp, are excellent for targeting redfish. 

Winter months are the best time to catch redfish, especially in shallow waters of public beaches on the Atlantic coast like St. George Island. On the Gulf coast, try targeting redfish in the grass flats surrounding barrier islands like Boca Grande.


Snook is a popular species for Florida surf anglers seeking big fish. They are commonly found in the surf during warmer water temperatures, particularly in summer. Live baitfish, such as mullet or pinfish, and artificial lures are effective for catching Snook. 

Searching for deeper water and longer rods near the beaches of South Florida, such as Fort Pierce and Biscayne Bay, is a great way to find Snook.


Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts offer excellent opportunities to target large Tarpon. Live bait, specifically live shrimp or baitfish, is the best approach for attracting these powerful game fish. Casting near reef structures or channels with strong currents is the best way to hook a Tarpon. 

Top spots for Tarpon include the Florida Keys, such as East Pass, San Carlos Bay on the West Coast, and Caloosahatchee River near Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast.

With the many species of fish available along Florida’s coastline, surf fishing trips can yield incredible results. Visit local bait shops for advice on the best fishing spots, gear, and bait, and enjoy exploring public beaches, barrier islands, and surrounding fishing piers. 

Remember, always maintain a high level of respect for marine life, other anglers, and the environment when embarking on your Florida surf fishing adventure!

Fishing Guide: Best Bait for Shark Fishing

Surf Fishing Techniques

Man Surf Fishing

If you’re looking for the best surf fishing experience in Florida, we have some proven techniques to help you land impressive catches. From live bait and seasonal timing, here are some tips to increase your chances of success when fishing on Florida’s coastlines.

One of the key aspects of surf fishing is choosing the best bait for the fish species you’re targeting in Florida. Live bait, such as sand fleas, fiddler crabs, and mole crabs, are excellent choices for many species. 

Artificial lures, like the fish finder rig, can also be effective in enticing fish to bite. Beach fishing on Atlantic Ocean coastlines or the Gulf of Mexico often yields a variety of fish, so adjusting your bait choice to the specific location can make a difference.

  • Live Bait: Sand fleas, fiddler crabs, live shrimp, and mole crabs
  • Artificial Lures: Fish finder rig

Fish species like black drum, Spanish mackerel, and Florida pompano can be found in deeper water on the Atlantic coast or in the Gulf, so it’s essential to cast your line out far to increase your chances of catching them. 

Using longer rods will help you reach those distant spots, and a sand spike can assist in keeping your rod stable in the surf.

When it comes to surf fishing trips, timing is everything. Our best success comes from fishing during high tide, as bait fish are more likely to be found inshore due to the rising water levels. 

On the other hand, fishing during the early morning can be quite productive, as marine life is usually more active.

Finally, keeping an eye on local water temperatures is a good idea, as certain fish species are more abundant during the warm summer or winter’s cooler temperatures. 

Check out Florida pompano during winter and shift to species like Spanish mackerel in summer.

Fishing Guide: Best Bait for Tarpon

Surf Fishing Equipment and Bait

Angler Baiting a Hook for Surf Fishing

We recommend investing in some essential fishing equipment and bait for a successful surf fishing trip in Florida. Using the right gear and live bait can increase your chances of hooking larger fish and making the most of your Florida surf fishing experience.

Equipment for Surf Fishing

Start by choosing a long rod, about 11 to 14 feet in length, which will enable you to cast your bait far into the breaking waves. Pair your rod with a light to medium-action reel and 12 to 20-pound test line for best results. 

It’s also a good idea to bring a sand spike to secure your rod while waiting for a bite and a cast net to catch bait fish along the shore. 

A fishing cart is another great way to transport and organize your gear, especially when accessing prime locations like Miami Beach, Cocoa Beach, or the numerous public beaches of the Gulf Coast.

Remember that the best time to head out for surf fishing is early morning, high tide, or optimal water temperatures. These are the conditions when fish species such as pompano, black drum, and Spanish mackerel are most active.

Surf Fishing Bait

Now let’s talk about bait. One great choice for surf fishing in Florida is live shrimp, a versatile option that attracts a variety of fish. Sand fleas, also known as mole crabs, are popular bait for targeting fish like Florida pompano, whiting, redfish, and more.

We also suggest giving artificial lures a try. Choose spoons, plugs, or jigs in yellow, white, or pink shades. These can attract fish in clearer water or when live bait isn’t readily available.

As you explore top surf fishing spots in Florida, such as Fort Myers, the Florida Keys, Tampa Bay, and St. George Island, remember that each location may have unique fish species and bait preferences. 

Be sure to visit local bait shops to stock up on recommended bait options and get valuable tips from Florida residents.

Florida Fishing Licenses and Regulations

Sign that says Fishing Licenses

Before you go out surf fishing in Florida, we must familiarize ourselves with the necessary licenses and regulations. 

Regardless of whether we’re casting our lines off the shores of Miami Beach or exploring the surf fishing potential of the Gulf Coast, we need to ensure proper compliance with state requirements.

So what kind of licenses should we obtain? If you’re a Florida residents, you can apply for a free shoreline saltwater fishing license, which covers beach fishing but isn’t valid when fishing from a boat. 

For non-residents, there are options for purchasing a saltwater fishing license for 3-day ($17), 7-day ($30), or 1-year ($47) durations.

License TypeFlorida ResidentNonresident
Shoreline Saltwater FishingFreeN/A
3-Day Saltwater FishingN/A$17
7-Day Saltwater FishingN/A$30
1-Year Saltwater FishingN/A$47

We must always comply with fishing regulations by venturing out to popular surf fishing destinations such as Cocoa Beach or exploring lesser-known spots along the Atlantic Coast or the Gulf of Mexico. 

This includes seasonal restrictions for fish species like black drum, Spanish mackerel, and Florida pompano, as well as the size and catch limits.

Conclusion – Best Surf Fishing in Florida

Whether you prefer fishing off the pristine shores of South Florida, casting your line from a fishing pier, or reeling in a catch from the abundant grass flats, one thing is sure: the state of Florida offers surf anglers an unmatched experience. 

So, grab your beach chair, pack your fishing gear, and head out to explore the endless surf fishing opportunities in the Sunshine State. 

That’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. We love hearing from our readers. Until next time Happy Surf Fishing!

Cory is a content writer-editor and founder of Tackle Box Talk. Favorite Quote: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

Leave a Comment