Florida Saltwater Bucket List

Many fishing experts, professionals, and enthusiasts would cite Florida as the sportfishing capital of the world. Florida certainly ranks among the best for the pursuit of classic freshwater quarries like bass and catfish species. However, the biggest fish, hardest fights, and most challenging tests of angling endurance are only found in the deep (or shallow) blue sea. Being prepared to hunt the following titans of saltwater angling is a must. So pack some sunscreen, stay hydrated, put on your performance fishing shirts, and hold on tight.


Florida’s subtropical and tropical climate can transition quickly from beautifully sunny and sultry to punishingly hot and humid. Days on the open water of Florida’s coastal fisheries are no joke. Bring more food and water than you think you’ll need, and protect yourself with sunscreen and clothing that covers most of your skin. To keep covered without overheating, choose professional-grade fishing shirts made from lightweight, breathable, high-performance polyester or technical fabric. Bring a hat, polarized sunglasses, and consider a high-performance fishing mask as well. Now, onto the fish.


It might be hard to argue with the claim that marlin, kings of the billfish, are also the ultimate gamefish. Blue marlin are sleek, beautiful, predatory torpedoes that have been recorded up to 16-feet long and over 1500 pounds. Black marlin have been clocked at speeds as fast as 80 mph underwater. Not to mention that their faces are equipped with a spear, and they fight like no other. What’s the best thing to bring to this fight? Patience. Reeling them in can take time, in short, quick bursts, but the payoff of landing one is worth

the fight.


While smaller than their marlin cousins, sailfish are no less feisty. Due to that size difference, some anglers underestimate the tenacity and power of these hard-shaking, high-jumping, fierce-fighting beauties, to their detriment. Thought by many to be the fastest fish in the ocean, sailfish can leap as fast as 70 mph. They can explode into drag-screaming runs that have literally pulled unwary anglers into the drink. And that’s nowhere you want to be with an angry sailfish. Like the marlin, they are always armed. 


Many argue that pound for pound, the tarpon is the best fighter in the ocean. There’s virtually no argument that they are the most acrobatic. Tarpon can reach 8 feet and push 300 pounds and are famous for leaping up to 10 feet straight up or 20 feet horizontally! When tarpon jump, they’re also prone to rattling their gills in a striking display of defiance. Plus, their skittish disposition and bony mouths make getting them on the line in the first place a challenge.

Photo Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife

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