With water surrounding almost the entire state, Florida offers a variety of opportunities for fishing and boating. Various bays, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, line the upper West Coast region, allowing anglers to fish onshore and off. The warm, tropical waters attract many species of fish and the small towns lining the coast have public boat launches, marinas, guides and charters.
Cedar Key is about 50 miles southwest of Gainesville. The tiny, fishing island is one of Florida's oldest ports. The town has various boat-launching sites, marinas, as well as fishing guides and charter services for the novice angler. Anglers fishing onshore can expect to catch redfish, speckled trout, black drum and sheepshead in the area's flats. For those venturing several miles offshore in the Gulf, catches of grouper, tarpon, shark and cobia are common.
Steinhatchee is about 70 miles west of Gainesville and approximately 50 miles north of Cedar Key. The town was once a thriving commercial fishing village until Florida enacted the "net ban," which virtually eliminated most of the commercial fishing industry in the area. Located at the mouth of the Steinhatchee River and the Gulf of Mexico, the area provides a habitat for a variety of saltwater fish species. Anglers can fish the grassy flats for year-round catches of speckled trout and redfish, as well as flounder and cobia in the warmer months. Offshore anglers will find red and black grouper, sheepshead around structures, sharks and tarpon. The city has boat launches and rentals, as well as charter services and fishing guides.
The small town of Suwannee is about 20 miles north of Cedar Key, at the mouth of the Suwannee River and Gulf of Mexico. Anglers fishing the grassy flats and oyster bars at the mouth of the river will find black drum, sheepshead, redfish and speckled trout. The warmer months bring pompano, sharks, tarpon and cobia to the flats area. Anglers fishing offshore can expect to catch gag grouper, king, Spanish mackerel, sharks, tarpon, and red and black grouper. The town has boat launches, marinas and charter services. Novice anglers will not have a problem finding a local fishing guide.