Listen Now! Florida's fishy ranking for top fishing states, the mullet run and more

Tim Walters
Treasure Coast Newspapers
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TCPalm outdoors columnist Ed Killer and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp hoist this greater amberjack April 20, 2021 while fishing with Capt. Patrick Price aboard DayMaker charters in Stuart.

I recently received a press release that caught my attention.

It said: “Lawn Love (lawnlove.com) ranked every state in the U.S. to determine 2021’s Best and Worst States for Fishing. We looked for states with high levels of community interest in the sport, an abundance of water sources, easy access to gear, and affordable fishing licenses, among other factors. How does Florida stack up?”

Of course, I figured Florida would be No. 1, or least No. 2 or 3, right?

Wrong.

Based on some sort of calculation I still haven’t figured out (maybe it’s “new math”), Florida came in at No. 5, behind, in order from 4 to 1, Rhode Island, Maine, Michigan and Alaska.

It’s tough for me to see a small state like Rhode Island being ranked higher than Florida, given what the fishing and boating industry means to the Sunshine State.

Maine is known for lobster, and I’ve watched “North Woods Law,” I know how diverse it is up there. But Florida has an ocean, a gulf, lakes, freshwater fishing, you name it.

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Michigan seems like a one-trick pony when it comes to fishing on its lakes. Although, I guess there’s no way we’ll ever have ice fishing in Florida. But you also won’t see spiny lobster in the Great Lakes.

I’m sure Alaska deserves to be in the conversation.

Upon seeing this, I reached out to TCPalm’s longtime outdoors reporter Ed Killer because I wanted to talk about this and many other things.

Ed is the latest guest on “The *State* of Florida Sports Podcast, powered by the USA STODAY Network.

Aside from these rankings — which really disgusted Ed, we discuss the recent mullet run, the beginning of boat show season — I love that season — a major upcoming environmental decision on Lake Okeechobee that will have far reaching impact, and how hurricane season has impacted — or hasn’t impacted, Florida’s East coast.

I also reached out to the outdoors reporters from across our state network and got their top spots to fish in the state.

USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA Deputy State Sports Editor Tim Walters

I’ll share that after telling you the podcast can be downloaded wherever you listen to podcasts, or simply type in “The *State* of Florida Sports Podcast” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find several options to listen on, including Spotify. We also can be found on any of the 17 USA TODAY-Network Florida websites.

It’s as easy as hitting play.

Now, back to the list. Our outdoor experts will show you spots from around the state that prove Florida’s fishing diversity, and why we should be the No. 1 state for fishing in the U.S.

Gary Simpson, Gainesville Sun

  1. Florida Keys
  2. Lake Okeechobee
  3. Fellsmere Reservoir / Headwaters Lake.
  4. Harris Chain of Lakes
  5. Steinhatchee

Cliff Mundinger, Tallahassee Democrat

Freshwater

  1. Lake Talquin
  2. St John's River
  3. Lake Toho
  4. Lake Okeechobee
  5. Lake Jackson

Saltwater

  1. St Marks
  2. Mexico Beach
  3. Steinhatchee
  4. The Keys

Bill Sargent, FLORIDA TODAY

  1. Islamorada back country
  2. Lake Okeechobee west shore
  3. Stuart-Jensen Beach
  4. Everglades City-Chokoloskee
  5. St. Johns River lakes
  6. Ocean surf Melbourne Beach to Sebastian inlet

John Patton, Ocala Star-Banner

  1. Wildcat Lake
  2. Halfmoon Lake
  3. The St. Johns River
  4. Crystal River
  5. Ocklawaha River

Capt. Will Geraghty, Naples-Fort Myers

  1. Everglades National Park
  2. Pully Ridge (Offshore Gulf of Mexico)
  3. Boca Grande
  4. Islamorada
  5. Lake Kissimmee Central Florida

Ken Willis, Daytona Beach News Journal

Freshwater

A wide range of the St. Johns River, particularly from Lake George down to Lake Harney.

Saltwater

  1. The Gulf Coast and backwaters of SW Fla, from Chokoloskee to Flamingo.
  2. The Gulf Coast and backwaters from the mouth of the Suwanee River south to Crystal River.
  3. On the East Coast, the intracoastal waterway from Port Orange south to Melbourne, with particular attention given to Mosquito Lagoon near the Volusia/Brevard border, as well as Ponce and Sebastian inlets.
  4. The Keys.

Ed Killer, TCPalm

  1. Sebastian Inlet State Park
  2. St. Lucie River, Stuart
  3. Flamingo, The Everglades
  4. Boca Grande Pass, Fort Myers
  5. Headwaters Lake, Fellsmere

Angler Max Lichtig, Palm Beach Post

  1. Sebastian Inlet
  2. The reefs off of Palm Beach.
  3. Tampa Bay
  4. Lake Worth Lagoon around Munyon Island and MacArthur Beach State Park-
  5. Lake Worth Spillway

Capt. Willie Howard of Capt. Willie’s Offshore Fishing Charters 

  1. Off of Lost Tree Village in 70 to 120 feet
  2. Off of The Breakers in 115 to 120 of water
  3. Juno Beach Ledge which is off the Jupiter/Juno Beach
  4. Area known as Flat Tops just north of Lake Worth Pier
  5. The reefs off of Lantana in front of Eau Palm Beach
  6. Just south of Lake Worth Inlet an area known Governor's Riverwalk Reef

Alex at the Snook Nook in Jensen Beach 

  1. The "10 Cent Bridge" is good year-round
  2. The Stuart Causeway
  3. Hole in the Wall by the St. Lucie Inlet
  4. The Crossroads (where the St. Lucie Inlet and Indian River Lagoon intersect)
  5. St. Lucie Inlet around rock piles and jetties

In analyzing the fishing spots from our experts, it looks as though the state’s best fishing spots are the Keys (around Islamorada), Steinhatchee, on the Gulf directly west of Gainesville, Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, areas near the Panhandle — in other words — the ENTIRE STATE!!

So next time anyone wants to rank Florida in fishing, consider how big the state is, the diversity of the fishing, the number of recreational boats on the water and the climate that allows fishing in reasonable climates all year long.

Walters can be reached twalters@gannett.com

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