The Everglades system in Florida is regarded as one of the best fisheries in the United States, if not the world. If your target species can live in warm water, then you can likely find it here. And yes, that includes both freshwater and saltwater species. Pure saltwater expeditions exist just miles from freshwater experiences, and many would argue the brackish estuary in between offers some of the most exciting fishing. This diversity creates a problem for visiting anglers who simply don’t know where to start. Other fishing destinations offer obvious itineraries, but fishing the Everglades takes a little more thought and planning.
What Fish Are in the Everglades?
The Everglades’ waters offer world-class fishing for tarpon, redfish, speckled trout, snook, largemouth bass, peacock bass, bowfin, and crappie. And if you’re not particular about targeting popular game fish, you can have a blast fishing for black drum, pompano, sheepshead, and bluegill. But it’s really the tarpon, redfish, and bass species that draw anglers from all over the world. Finding the most productive water can be a challenge though, so once you decide on a basecamp location, find a guide or hit up the local shops for the current beta (in exchange for buying some gear from them), if you plan to DIY.
Where To Fish the Everglades
The best freshwater fishing in the Everglades is found in the vast network of canals, particularly in the northeast corner of the Park, while the best saltwater fishing is found in the many bays along the coast to the west and south. Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres of Florida wilderness, which means finding your own special spot takes only a little determination and adventure.
Many anglers choose to base their bass fishing adventures out of the east side of the Park, near Weston, FL. This area gives bass anglers easy access to some of the best canals and lakes in the Everglades system, including Holiday Park and Sawgrass.
Though the tarpon are in Everglades’ waters year-round, the season really heats up in the spring (March through early June). Everglades City is the last bit of civilization before accessing the western side of the Everglades, where some of the best tarpon fishing exists along the mouths of rivers like the Harney and Lostmans. There’s a lot to physically and figuratively navigate to get to some of these areas. And with about 485,000 acres of saltwater fishing within the designated park boundary, your best bet for hooking into a tarpon or redfish lies in hiring a seasoned guide.
Do You Need a License To Fish in Everglades National Park?
Fishing is one of the primary tourism drivers in Everglades National Park, and it’s common for visitors to fish while in the park. But, you do need to have a valid Florida freshwater or saltwater fishing license on your person if you plan to fish anywhere in the state, including in Everglades National Park. Unlike some National Parks, however, Everglades does not require a Park-specific fishing license, so once you’ve obtained your Florida license(s), you’re all set.
What To Wear When Fishing the Everglades
The heat and sun are the biggest factors in the Everglades, so plan on dressing in lightweight performance clothing that provides UV protection and covers as much skin as possible. Sun hoodies and lightweight fishing pants or shorts are the standard “uniform” for South Florida fishing, but comfort and protection are the only fashion rules, so just make sure you’re prepared for the climate. The weather, on the other hand, can be unpredictable, making a breathable, waterproof jacket a necessary addition to your packing list.
Any local or guide service will also insist a good fishing hat and polarized sunglasses are required fishing apparel. The hat protects your face from and blocks the sun for better visibility, while polarized sunglasses block glare off the water and protect your eyes from hooks (especially if you’re fly fishing). And you may not consider it clothing, but in the case of South Florida, sunscreen is a mandatory layer.
The Everglades offers some of the most unpressured fresh- and saltwater fishing in the South if you’re willing to work for it (and with a guide, it’s no work at all). If you’ve been fence-sitting about booking a trip, we think there’s no better time than the present to drift off course to this epicenter of sportfishing.