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Florida Fishing Regulations

Be Smart. Be Prepared. Be Safe.

Always research local fishing rules and regulations for the Area you will be fishing. Rules change frequently so do your homework. We highlight rules that most likely won't change in the near future on this website. We do not include species bag limits because they change frequently some several times a year so check the rules before you drop a line in the water in Florida.

Federal and State Waters

Atlantic & Keys - State waters extend to 3 nautical miles - Federal rules apply beyond the 3 mile mark & extend to 200 miles

Gulf of Mexico - State waters extend to 9 nautical miles - Federal rules apply beyond the 9 mile mark & extend to 200 miles

If you plan on fishing offshore in Federal waters review Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's Regulations and/or South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Regulations. Florida follows most of the federal rules but only you can be certain of them by doing your research before hand since rules are constantly changing.

FREE Florida Fishing Regulation GuidesFlorida Fishing Regulations Brochure

Florida's guides are Free and can be acquire locally in most bait shops or at marinas. These guides change semi-annually and contain a wealth of information including local fish identification, size & take limits, fishing gear rules, etc. The My FWC website also contains the most up to date information on fishing and boating in Florida.

A new online resource is eRegulations by FWC where you can stay up-to-date on current regulations. We summarize the most common rules on this website and offer resources for you to keep abreast of the regulations.

Tip Keep a copy of regulations with your fishing gearAlways keep an up to date copy of the Florida Fishing Regulations with your fishing gear for quick reference such as size limits and fish identification (most local's do). Remember to check the rules often as they change frequently in Florida.

For bag limits and sizes see the chart of Saltwater Species Quick Chart. For species that do not have an established bag limit, more than 100 pounds or two fish per harvester per day (whichever is greater), is considered commercial quantities.

Recreational fishermen are required to hold an Atlantic HMS (Angling category) recreational fishing permit in order to recreationally harvest Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (Sharks, Tunas, Swordfish, and Billfish) in federal waters. See the HMS Recreational Compliance Guide for details on this regulation.

Fishing in the Bahamas and Returning to the US with Your Catch?

Be sure to review FWC's rules which can be found here http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/regulations/bahamas. You can find the Bahamas regulations on Bahamas.com

Lobstering

Lobstering in Florida has it's own special set of rules, many of which vary by region and county. Always consult current laws before Lobstering
icon represents pdf documentBrochure Lobstering Monroe County icon represents pdf document Full Text of Florida's Laws
icon represents pdf document Lobstering Prohibited Biscayne Bay & Card Sound Rules icon represents pdf document Chart Biscayne Bay & Card Sound showing prohibited areas

Special Rules for Fishing Boats

Caution Sign

CIRCLE HOOKS - You must use non-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural baits in Federal waters.

If you are fishing on a boat, your catch must remain in whole condition until landed ashore (heads, fins & tails intact). Please refer to the Florida Saltwater Regulations guide for the specifics on each species.

All vessels fishing in federal waters must have aboard venting and dehooking tools and non-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural baits for the purpose of reducing mortality in reef fishes, including snapper, grouper and Goliath grouper. For more information read the regulations before going, there links at the top and bottom of this page to the two Federal regulatory agencies. For information on these tools required, see our Catch & Release page.

Do NOT bring Tarpon or Goliath grouper on board your boat or land. New state and federal guidelines PROHIBIT this activity. Release them while still in the water.

Shark fishing has it's own special set of rules. Review the Federal regulations and learn about Shark species and ID by viewing this document Icon indicating document is PDFShark Identification & Federal Rules.

Rules for Offshore Fishing in Special Marine Zones

FKNMS diver on reef
Source: http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/zones/ special/welcome.html

There are areas offshore around Florida that are protected by many different governmental organizations. We indicate these zones on our GPS Coordinates pages for easy reference. Visit our Fishing Reefs & Shipwrecks page for details on the Special Marine Zones and the rules within them.

There are also Federal deep water Marine Protected Areas offshore near Islamorada, Jupiter to Daytona, or Jacksonville adjacent to popular fishing areas?please check the MPA's locations before fishing in the deep waters and know the coordinates so you do not unintentionally fish these areas.

Catch and Release

Freshwater & Saltwater anglers are encouraged to practice Catch and Release to preserve our freshwater populations. For information see our Catch & Release page.

Unregulated Species

There are many regularly caught species that do not have specific rules or restrictions such as the Ladyfish, Cero Mackerel, Blackfin Tuna, Bonito, Great Barracuda and Jack Crevalle. Even though there are not specific regulations gear requirements still apply along with a default bag limit which is defined as commercial quantities requiring a special licence if you exceed the maximum limit for recreation fishing.

Prohibited Species

It is unlawful to harvest, possess, land, purchase, sell, or exchange the following species:

Florida Prohibited Species
  • Goliath Grouper (Jewfish)
  • Nassau Grouper
  • Atlantic Angel Shark
  • Basking Shark
  • Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark
  • Bigeye Sixgill Shark
  • Bigeye Thresher Shark
  • Bignose Shark
  • Caribbean Reef Shark
  • Caribbean Sharpnose Shark
  • Dusky Shark
  • Galapagos Shark
  • Great Hammerhead
  • Largetooth Sawfish
  • Lemon Shark
  • Longbill Spearfish
  • Longfin Mako Shark
  • Manta Ray
  • Mediterranean Spearfish
  • Narrowtooth Shark
  • Night Shark
  • Roundscale Spearfish
  • Silky Shark
  • Sand Tiger Shark
  • Sandbar Shark
  • Sawfish
  • Scalloped Hammerhead
  • Sevengill Shark
  • Silky Shark
  • Sixgill Shark
  • Smalltail Shark
  • Smalltooth Sawfish
  • Smooth Hammerhead
  • Spiny Dogfish
  • Spotted Eagle Ray
  • Sturgeon
  • Tiger Shark
  • Whale Shark
  • White Shark
  • Florida Queen Conch
  • Stony,Hard and Fire Corals
  • Sea Fans
  • Bahama Starfish
  • Longspine Urchin

Source: http://myfwc.com/fishing and http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/regulations/sharks/

Prohibited Freshwater Fish as Bait

Chumming

Chumming in Florida is more common than most states. We have little structure for fish to congregate, so bringing the fish to you with fish chum is a must. Although using fish chum, burley, or Groundbait in Florida is legal, there are some rules to the road. We have a full section dedicated to Fish Chumming in Florida, give it a visit for rules, tricks and tips.

Florida Fishing Licenses

Florida Fishing LicenseAs with most states, you must have a fishing license for recreational fishing in Florida. Your fishing license helps support the agencies that enforce the rules and maintain our waterways.

There are exemptions to this license requirement including children under 16 years of age and residents over 65 years of age are exempt. There are more exceptions, check the Exemptions page at Florida Fish & Wildlife.

When fishing, always carry your fishing license or proof of exemption (a valid drivers license or photo ID showing your age and residency).

Recreational licenses and permits can be purchased by phone, on the internet, and through out the area in marina's, bait & tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and at any county tax collector's office.

The fee's for licenses depend on whether you are a resident of Florida or non-resident. There are also special stamps or permits you must purchase if you plan to fish or trap for Snook, Tarpon, and Lobsters.

 

Hook-and-Line Gear

Monofilament fishing line disposal unitHook-and-line anglers must tend their gear at all times to prevent people, marine life and shore life from becoming entangled in the line or injured by the hook.

It is against the law to intentionally discard any monofilament netting or line into or onto state waters. Monofilament line can entangle birds, marine mammals, marine turtles and fish, often injuring or killing them. At most public fishing areas you will find Fishing Line disposal containers, please use them.

The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.

For more information and to find a location near you visit FWC Recycling Locations, http://www.fishinglinerecycling.org. and http://marinecleanupinitiativeinc.org/

 

 

Nets

Bass Pro Shops? Bait Cast Net - 3.5' Radius - Nylon - 3/8

The following types of nets may be used for recreational purposes in Florida waters:

Spear Fishing

Spear Gun Spearing is defined as "the catching or taking of a fish by bow-hunting, gigging, spear fishing, or any device used to capture a fish by piercing its body." Spear fishing is defined as "the catching or taking of a fish through the instrumentality of a hand or mechanically propelled, single or multi-pronged spear or lance, barbed or barbless, operated by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water." The use of power heads, bangsticks, and re breathers remains prohibited.

Prohibited for Harvest by Spearing in Florida
African pompano Manta ray Sturgeon
Billfish (all species) Permit Spotted seatrout
Blue Crab Pompano Stone Crab
Bonefish Red drum Tarpon
Goliath Grouper Sharks Tripletail
Nassau grouper Snook Weakfish
Lobster Spotted eagle ray  
Families of ornamental reef fish (surgeonfish, trumpetfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, porcupinefish, cornetfish, squirrelfish, trunkfish, damselfish, parrotfish, pipefish, seahorse, puffers, triggerfish except gray and ocean)

Dive Down Flags

Dive Down Flags are required by law for snorkelers, divers, and spearfisherman who either dive from a boat or from land.

Explosives, etc.

The use of power heads, explosives, chemicals or the discharge of firearms into the water to kill or harvest marine life is prohibited in state waters.

Regulatory Agencies

Southwest Florida, Collier County, and Naples fisheries occur in both state and federal waters. Our waters are managed by several agencies to keep our waters healthy and safe:


This information is provided only as a courtesy and there are NO guaranties, warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Florida Go Fishing assumes NO liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information contained here. If you find an error or omission in the data, please feel free to contact us with the correct information and we will verify and correct it as soon as possible.