Some people travel far and wide for a chance at these top five Florida inshore gamefish. For me they live in my backyard and are also an obsession.
Tarpon the Silver King
Famous for their jumps, aerobatics and legendary fights that can easily be more than an hour, Tarpon are the Silver Kings of Florida inshore gamefish.
They will take live or dead bait (shrimp or crabs or mullet) or flies. During their spring and fall runs its not uncommon to catch a 150 pound plus tarpon. It’s the hunt, chase and fight for these monsters that brings me back every spring and fall knowing the outcome can be disappointing with a large tarpon throwing the hook or a punishing fight that makes every muscle sore and wishing for a moment I had a different hobby.
Bonefish Grey Ghosts of the Flats
Pound for pound it’s harder to find a tougher fish. Once hooked they run like a launched torpedo and can easily peel off a 100 yards of line before you can stop them.
Bonefish are notoriously wary and great skill must be taken both in approach and presentation when fishing for them. Noises from the boat or even the boat’s shadow can spook them. Trust me, I’ve scared more than one school of fish in excitement to get a cast off or dropping a water bottle!
Fishing for bonefish is more like hunting. You are sight fishing in extremely shallow water (1-2 or 3 feet max) and looking for tailing fish in the flats, or even their shadows when they cruising or feeding on crabs, shrimp or other crustaceans.
Bring polarized sunglasses and patience. You’ll need both when sight fishing for the grey ghosts of the flats.
Hooked on Snook
Whether on spinning tackle using lures or live bait or fly fishing, snook are one of my favorite fish to target. Biscyane Bay and Everglades National Park are like a snook playground of sorts with mangroves, creeks and channels for them to ambush their prey.
Hard hitting, head shaking or jumping, snook never disappoint regardless of their size. And when the mullet are running in Biscyane Bay you can hear the water explode when the snook smash the bait. Then you know you are in Snook Country. And once you hear that sound you become hooked on snook.
When bonefishing you are looking for shadows but with Redfish it’s either tailing fish or more than likely mud puddles in the water where they are foraging for crustaceans. Redfish are a favorite of inshore and flats fisherman for their fight as well as their tablefare.
I like my redfish blackened and fresh from the boat.
I have yet to land a permit in south Florida waters. I was lucky to catch one in the Keys years ago on a jig with shrimp, but I really want to get one on the flats of Biscayne Bay. Maybe this year the fishing gods will bless me with a permit.