This area of Florida is very popular for freshwater and saltwater fishing. We have broken down central Florida into 3 separate sections: Central Florida (Inland: Orlando, Disney World, Kissimmee, etc.), Central West (Tampa Bay area), Central East (Daytona Beach & other towns on the Atlantic Coast)
Lake County – Rating 9.0
Lake County is home to some awesome largemouth bass fishing. Some of the most popular areas to fish in Lake County are the Harris Chain of Lakes, Lake George, the Clermont Chain of Lakes, Holly Chain of Lakes and the St. John’s River. Big bass are very common in Lake County with 10 pound bass caught every year and 5 to 7 pound bass being fairly common. There are other species of fish here to catch, but they are often overlooked due to the bass fishing.
Kissimmee – Rating 8.75
Kissimmee, Florida is one of the most famous largemouth bass fishing destinations in the country. Lake Toho gets the most attention, but most of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes will give you a chance to catch good numbers of bass and as always, a big fish up to and above 10 pounds is possible here. Crappie, bream and catfish are available too, however, most anglers come for the bass fishing.
Orlando – Rating 8.25
Orlando is very close to some of the best bass fishing in Florida. Many people stay in the Orlando area due to Disney World and some of the other awesome amusement parks and entertainment in the area. You can stay in Orlando and fish or make the drive to some of the better lakes to fish in nearby Kissimmee and Lake County, Florida. Some anglers will drive up to an hour or a little more to find their big bass destination, but some anglers do stay closer to Orlando. Johns Lake is a good choice. Walt Disney World also has some awesome bass fishing available too. It’s just a little pricey.
Central West Florida
Cedar Key – Rating 9.5
Cedar Key is an awesome fishing destination, although, so many people have no idea of where Cedar Key is even located. For those of you that have found how awesome this area is, you can just keep smiling as all those cars just keep driving down past this area as they head farther south. For those of you looking to check this area out, you have a lot of options. Fish inshore for redfish, trout and other species of fish or go offshore and fish the Gulf of Mexico for snapper, grouper and much more.
Tampa Bay & its Beaches – Rating 9.5
The Tampa Bay area is one of the most popular fishing destinations in all of Florida. That is because this area is an awesome fishing destination, but also because of its location. It isn’t too far from Orlando, which helps draws a lot more people to the area to see the beaches. There are so many places to stay, tons of amenities, bait shops, fishing charters and just about everything you would need if you wanted to do this trip on your own. Fish from shore, the piers, inshore, nearshore or offshore. There are too many fish here to name them all.
Sarasota – Rating 9.25
Sarasota is one of the better beach vacation destinations in all of Florida. Combine the nice beaches in the area, some outstanding waters for fishing and plenty of amenities for a great vacation and it’s an easy place to have a good time. Fish inshore, offshore, along the beaches or from the surf and you should be able to catch something. There are lots of options here.
Steinhatchee – Rating 9.25
Steinhatchee isn’t a super popular vacation destination in Florida, however, if you like to fish, this is a destination you should at least know about. Fish inshore or boat out into the offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This isn’t a beach vacation destination, but if you get on a boat, you can still have a lot of fun here.
Crystal River – Rating 9.0
Crystal River is home to some incredible inshore fishing and for some who venture out farther, you can get into some good fishing offshore here too. The river here is fed by dozens of springs and some of the clear water here is a sight to see. Do a quick google search and you’ll find some awesome stuff here. Visiting this area just to see the Manatees is worth it.
Dunedin – Rating 9.0
Dunedin is located just north of the Tampa Bay area. This isn’t as popular of a vacation destination area, but you still have beaches nearby, some great fishing waters here, enough services in the area and less crowds. It may not be number 1 on most people’s list, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Homosassa – Rating 9.0
Homosassa is another destination that is known for its springs with crystal clear water and Manatee viewing spots. For the angler, this area has some awesome inshore fishing and if you want to venture all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico, you can find some good fishing there too.
New Port Richey – Rating 9.0
New Port Richey, like Dunedin, is a small town located just north of the Tampa Bay area. You will find good fishing here, plenty of services to accommodate you on your trip and some beaches are available too.
Palm Harbor – Rating 8.75
Palm Harbor is located just north of Dunedin. The barrier islands provide an awesome destination for enjoying the waters whether you are swimming, boating, just enjoying the beach or going fishing. Anglers target a variety of different fish in this area. Stay inshore, fish from the beaches or head offshore. You should be able to catch some fish here and the crowds will be lighter than what you will see in the Tampa Bay area.
Tarpon Springs – Rating 8.25
Tarpon Springs is located just north of Palm Harbor and not too far from the Tampa Bay area. This area is unique because you have plenty of waters to fish inshore with the Anclote River, a few barrier islands that you can tuck behind and stay out of rough water and Tarpon Lake for freshwater fishing. If you want to go offshore, you have quick access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Hernando Beach – Rating 7.5
Hernando Beach isn’t a popular vacation destination in Florida, but for some anglers, they have found a nice place to getaway to without the crowds. If you are coming to this area with a boat, come with a bigger boat because you won’t be able to get out of the winds here if it’s not a calm day. You have some areas to fish along the shorelines, but many anglers will go fish in the Gulf of Mexico out of Hernando Beach. The fishing is good here if you have the boat to stay safe in the Gulf.
Central East Florida
Sebastian – Rating 9.5
Sebastian is an awesome fishing destination. The Sebastian Inlet gives you a lot of options. Stay inshore and target the fish that come in and out via the inlet or go offshore and target a variety of fish in the Atlantic Ocean. Shore anglers do well here also.
Space Coast – Rating 9.0
The Space Coast is one of the more popular areas to fish inshore for redfish and trout. Most anglers stay inshore here, but you can run offshore also and fishing the Atlantic. If you plan on fishing inshore, be prepared to fish some skinny waters. You can find some areas where you may run into schools of 100 or more redfish if you hit it right.
Vero Beach – Rating 8.5
Vero Beach is a nice beach vacation destination. Fishing may not be very high on the priority list for many of the people that call Vero Beach home, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some very good fishing in this area. Inshore, anglers target a variety of fish in the Indian River. You won’t have quick access to the Atlantic Ocean, but who cares when you have all this protected water to fish.
Daytona Beach – Rating 8.0
Daytona Beach is a very popular beach vacation destination and there is no getting away from the crowds here. You will find plenty of people in Daytona throughout all times of the year, but way more so during spring break and through the summer time. Anglers usually head south to fish out of New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet. There are a lot of inshore waters to fish and access to the Atlantic Ocean is great for those of you looking to fish offshore.