Best Tuna Fishing in Florida

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Whether you are a local trying to broaden your options on the best places to fish for tuna in the state, or whether you are a tourist hoping to have a swell time on your next fishing trip, here are the best tuna fishing spots in Florida.

Best Tuna Fishing Spots in Florida

Hoping to take a trip to Florida to catch some huge tuna for yourself? There are over seven thousand lakes and ten thousand plus miles of rivers stretching across the state, which implies that there are numerous locations from which you could fish.

However, to prevent you from having a futile trial and error fishing experience, we have gathered the very best places within the state of Florida from which you could fish. They are:

  • The Florida Keys
  • Destin
  • Stuart
  • West Palm Beach
  • Cocoa Beach
  • Miami
  • Panama City Beach
  • Fort Myers
  • Tampa Bay
  • Jacksonville
Tuna fishing in Florida

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is widely referred to as the fishing capital of the state, and if you visited it even just once, you would understand why it has its reputation. The Florida Keys consist of small islands that stretch on for as long as a hundred miles and are surrounded by clear blue water and lots of fish.

Some of the Florida Keys’ most famous villages for fishing are Islamorada, Marathon, Key West, Key Largo, and Big Pine Key. The Keys boast of several varieties of seasonal and all-year-round tuna, such as Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin tuna, and Bluefin tuna. The good thing about these islands is that you can go tuna fishing at any season of the year.

However, if you are looking for specific tuna types, there are specific seasons during which you should fish. For instance, Blackfin tuna can be found in surplus in the Islamorada Hump, Marathon, and Key West during the summer months.

Destin

Known as ‘The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village’, Destin also ranks as one of the best fishing spots in Florida. It is a perfect spot for inshore and offshore saltwater fishing located between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, this city has a lot of tuna, especially yellowfin tuna.

Destin has warm weather which makes fishing practicable all year, from January to December. Both for inshore and offshore fishing, the best places to fish in Destin are Okaloosa Island Pier, Navarre Beach Pier, East Pass Jetties, 100-Fathom Curve, and The Edge.

Additionally, if you do engage in competitive fishing, then you do not want to miss the annual fishing festival that takes place in Destin every October, the Destin Fishing Rodeo, where thousands of anglers from all over the world compete for cash and other prizes.

Stuart

Although known as the Sailfish Capital of the World, Stuart is also an excellent place to fish for huge tuna such as Yellowfin tuna, Blackfin tuna, and even Skipjack tuna. As a result of the numerous water bodies that it houses, Stuart is also known as The Panama Canal of Florida.

Yellowfin tuna are best available in this city during spring and summer months -April to August, while Blackfin tuna season starts as early as March, up until the end of summer. Despite the number of water bodies within Stuart, anglers generally stand a higher chance of catching tuna offshore, along the coast, than inland.

Some of the best places to fish in Stuart include North Fort River, Rio, and Fort Piers.

West Palm Beach

Located in Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach is another attraction for anglers from across the world. Its popularity amongst the fishing community is mostly due to the city’s proximity to the Gulf Stream. Also, it is home to the largest charter boats in Florida that are available to provide you with a peak fishing experience.

The waters surrounding the city-run very deep only a little distance from shore, and so you can begin to gather big catches without even going far. The most common type of tuna to be found in the waters of West Palm Beach is the blackfin tuna, which is mostly available in spring and summer.

Some of the best spots within West Palm Beach to go fishing are Okeeheelee Park, Currier Park Fishing Pier, the Gulf Stream, the Intercoastal Waterway, and Bridge Reef.

Fishing boat returning from fishing in Florida

Cocoa Beach

Just about an hour from Disney, Cocoa Beach is the best place to go if you are in Orlando, and want an unforgettable fishing experience. It has seventy-two miles of shoreline that open right onto the Atlantic. There is also the nearby Banana River and the Thousands Islands, giving anglers several bodies of water to fish from. 

Blackfin tuna and Yellowfin tuna exist here in abundance, especially about forty miles out on the sea, where the Gulf Stream begins. The Gulf Stream can easily be accessed through Cape Canaveral, which is north of Cocoa Beach. Fishing in this city is best during the summer and slows considerably during the winter months.

The best places to depart from when going fishing in Cocoa Beach are Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Pier, -which stretches 800-feet long over the Atlantic-  Ramp Road Park and Cove Park.

Miami

The City of Miami, located in southeast Florida, ranks as one of the largest cities in the state and has a whole lot to offer anglers in terms of great tuna catches. It is home to several beaches that directly open out to the Gulf Stream, giving offshore anglers a chance to fish for tuna in the deep seas.

There is also a provision for anglers who would rather fish closer to the shore -the Biscayne Bay, which is only a little distance away and filled with lots of great catch. Blackfin tuna, Yellowfin tuna, and Skipjack tuna are up for grabs all year long but are mostly available during Spring and Summer.

The best places for fishing tuna in Miami are the Biscayne Bay, the O.L Bodenhamer Wreck, the Gulf Stream, and the Blue Lagoon.

Panama City Beach

The slogan of Panama City Beach town is ‘the most beautiful beaches in the world’. Is this claim far-fetched? We think not. This town is popularly known for the miles and miles of white-sand beach that open up directly to the Gulf of Mexico, offering eager anglers a chance to fish deep for their favorite tuna.

Another water body that can be found surrounding Panama City Beach is St. Andrew’s Bay, which is great for fishing all year round. However, during winter, most of the fishes migrate from the Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, so fishing in the bay tends to slow down.

The best spots within Panama City Beach where anglers could go fishing are the Russell-Fields Pier, – stretching over 1,500 feet into the water- St. Andrews Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and West Beach Drive.

Fort Myers

Fort Myers, also known as the City of Palms, is one of the best fishing spots in Southwest Florida. Sharing borders with a tropical savanna climate and a subtropical climate, this little town has splendid weather all year round, making it a great spot for recreational tuna fishing.

The waters that flow between Fort Myers and Cape Coral are a nice place for inshore anglers, however, there might not be a lot of luck with catching tuna there. However, just a short boat ride away, you can access the deeper waters surrounding Pine Island and Sanibel which are filled with varieties of tuna.

Also, the Gulf of Mexico is also close by, in case you enjoy fishing in the deep seas, and want bigger tuna catches. If you are wondering the best spots to fish for Tuna in and around Fort Myers, you could consider Riverside park, Midpoint Bridge, Northshore Park, and of course, offshore.

Fresh catch from tuna fishing in Florida

Tampa Bay

Covering a distance of 400 miles, and holding about 200 species of fish, including all kinds of tuna, Tampa Bay ranks as Florida’s largest open-water estuary. Fishing here is as good as it gets. Not only does it have a great climate, but it is also directly fed by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Whether you prefer to fish inshore, nearshore, or offshore, Tampa Bay provides you with lots of tuna action. This is especially so in the Florida Middle Grounds, where Blackfin tuna exists in abundance. Blackfin tuna is available all year, with high season between May and August, and low season, December and February.

If you are looking to visit Tampa Bay for an ultimate fishing experience, here are some nice spots to go -Tampa, St. Petersburg, Hillsborough Bay, Fort De Soto Par,  and Clearwater.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville is the most populous city in the state of Florida, and also the largest city. Aside from being home to many people, thanks to its location right next to St. Johns River and the Atlantic, it is also home to several species of fish, including the tuna.

Yellowfin tuna are available in Jacksonville all year long, peaking in the Spring -March to June- and reaching a low in mid-summer -July to September- and mid-winter -January to February. For Blackfin, the high season is January to March and October to December, with the rest of the year being the low season.

The best places to fish for tuna in and around Jacksonville are Stinton Park, the Gulf Stream, -about 60 miles offshore- Bills Barge Wreck, Mill Cove, Amelia Island State Park, and Nassau Sound.

What Makes Florida the Best Place for Tuna Fishing?

Thanks to its strategic location between the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida provides anglers with several water bodies, ranging from reefs and bays to rivers and streams, making it one of the best places to fish for tuna enthusiasts. With all these, it is little wonder that Florida is called ‘The Fishing Capital of the World’.

A handful of tuna varieties can be found around the coasts of Florida, including Blackfin tuna, Yellowfin tuna, Bluefin tuna, and Skipjack tuna, with the most commonly targeted of them all being the Blackfin and the Yellowfin tuna.

Bottom line is that Florida and its towns, cities, and islands offer a wide array of opportunities to commercial anglers, recreational/causal anglers, and even competitive anglers.

Which Is Best for Fishing Tuna: Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, or the Florida Keys?

Picking a favorite coast for fishing in Florida is almost impossible since they are all great spots for fishing. However, we shall try to get into the details of each coast, such as the varieties of tuna they have to offer, as well as the quantities, in order to determine the highlights and lowlights of each of them.

Atlantic Coast

The Atlantic coast of Florida stretches over 500 miles, from Jacksonville to Key West. Since the Atlantic is much larger than the Gulf of Mexico, it experiences more weather variations, such as strong currents, heavy winds, and bigger waves, all of which affect fishing.

The sheer size of this east coast makes available lots and lots of tuna varieties, ranging from blackfin and Atlantic yellowfin tuna to skipjack and bigeye tuna. Also, on the Atlantic coast, tuna can be more easily found closer to shore. This makes it a great choice for beginners or anglers who are not willing to travel very far out.

If you want gigantic tuna that puts up a good fight, then you might want to consider fishing on Florida’s Atlantic coast. The best spots to fish on Florida’s Atlantic coast are Biscayne Bay, Florida Keys, Islamorada, and New Smyrna Beach.

Docked boats in the Atlantic coast

Fishing Tuna on the Gulf Coast

Although much smaller than the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico is also an enormous body of water. However, because it is surrounded mostly by land -Mexico, and Texas to the west and Florida to the east-, it has a much calmer vibe than the Atlantic coast.

One major difference between both coasts is that with the Atlantic, the continental shelf drops quite steeply, while with the Gulf, the continental shelf drops gradually. Now how does this affect tuna fishing? Tuna, and other pelagic fish, however, live around a depth of 650 to 700 feet.

But the waters of the Gulf coast only have a maximum depth of about 300 feet as a result of the gradual drop of the continental shelf. The Atlantic, however, has water columns that run as deep as 1000 feet. Thus, for tuna fishing, anglers stand a better chance of fishing in the Atlantic than in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing Tuna on the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a group of islands that are famed for great fishing, clear waters, and beautiful beaches. The furthest island amongst the group is Key West, and it offers perhaps the best fishing amongst all keys.

This is because it has both the Atlantic coast on its eastern shores and the Gulf coast on its western shores. This makes it very great for anglers, as it gives them the chance to decide on which coast they want to try their luck fishing tuna.

Whether you are fishing on the east coast, the west coast, or in the keys, there are specific tuna species that are most common in Florida. They are:

Yellowfin Tuna

With a weight ranging from 30 to as much as 450 pounds, the yellowfin tuna is indeed the king of the tuna species. Aside from its beautiful appearance and great taste, another main reason lots of anglers fancy this fish is because of its fighting spirit and ability. This fish simply does not give up until it is conquered.

This tuna can be found in the depths of the Atlantic ocean, and in the eastern edge of the Gulf, off Cape Canaveral and Daytona Beach. Also, in humps around Key Largo and Marathon and of course, across the deep waters of most of the cities and towns mentioned above. The best approach for catching yellowfin tuna would be trolling.

Blackfin Tuna

The blackfin tuna’s appearance is quite small compared to the yellowfin, weighing only an average of 30 pounds. They are quite fast and also put up a good fight against being caught. They can be found mostly inshore and offshore, and a great place to fish for them is in the Western Atlantic.

Amongst the cities on our list, Tampa Bay and West Palm Beach hold the highest population of Blackfin tuna. The best methods for catching blackfin tuna are trolling, live-baiting and chunking.

Skipjack Tuna

The Skipjack tuna is by far the smallest of the tuna species, having an average weight of 10 pounds. It is also the most populous, as not a lot of people consider them a worthy fishing price or edible. Skipjack tuna offers a different flavor than your common tuna-like yellowfin and bigeye

They can be found inshore, offshore, and nearshore on the Atlantic, the Gulf stream, and several rivers and water bodies all around Florida. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Best Months for Fishing Tuna in Florida?

The best months for fishing tuna in Florida vary based on the tuna type and location. Generally, the best time to fish for skipjack tuna is in the autumn months, between May and August. Blackfin tuna are best caught between March and May, during their spring migration. Finally, yellowfin tuna can mostly be found between October and March.

For high and low seasons based on locations, refer to the reviews of the towns and cities that have been discussed above.

Conclusion

Now that you have read this article, you most likely understand why Florida is referred to as the ‘fishing center of the world’. To make the most of your fishing trip, you have to know the right locations to go, and the amazing tuna fishing spots listed in this article are likely to exceed all of your fishing expectations.