Fantastic! Orlando Fishing

Orlando! Most folks equate a trip to central Florida with Mickey Mouse and Shamu. These attractions and quite a few others make Orlando one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations.

There’s fantastic fishing around Orlando. Central Florida’s coastal areas supply some of the finest saltwater fishing Florida has to offer, and many of the area’s lakes and rivers supply world-class bass fishing. While the kids frolic with Goofy and Donald Duck, Dad can be hooked up with anything from a five pound largemouth to a 150 pound tarpon. Brief descriptions of the various options available to the visiting angler follow.


Disney World itself is in the bass fishing business. Guided bass fishing trips are available on Disney’s Bay Lakes at by-the-hour rates. Angling pressure is light, and the action is generally fast with many sizable bass caught. Dave Burkhardt fishes here regularly. He told me it’s the only place you’ll ever catch bass that have these funny little mouse ears!

One of the best kept bass fishing secrets near Orlando is the Clermont chain of lakes. Twelve lakes connected by canals are so clean that they’ve been designated an outstanding Florida waterway supply plenty of room to fish and explore. In addition to the bass, bream and crappie are available. The scenery and wildlife are both wonderful, and are well worth the trip.

orlando fishing, orlando bass fishing

Bass like this one are common catches around Orlando.

East and West Lake Toho are well known for their fishing. Kissimmee sits right on West Lake.

The St. John’s River and its tributaries offer wonderful areas to fish. The river basin covers a lot of area to the east of Orlando. Largemouth bass provide a dependable year-round fishery, and there are all types of fish holding structure. There are several species of sunfish, locally called “brim.” During the winter, crappie supply plenty of action.

During January, February, and March light tackle fishing for shad is a very popular sport on the St. John’s River in the Sanford area.

During May and June fly fishermen pay congregate at Homosassa, sightfishing  the crystalline waters for the greatest flyrod gamefish known to the inshore angler- the mighty tarpon. A few years back one of them caught the Big Mamoo, a 200 pound monster. Other fishermen want to duplicate the feat.

Orlando fishing, orlando tarpon fishing

Tarpon like this are available all along the Gulf Coast. Homosassa offers the biggest.

Homosassa has other fishing available. Redfish, seatrout, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and more are all available, some species year-round.

Homosassa lies to the west of Orlando. From Orlando driving time is about two hours.

Central Florida’s east coast is where the visiting angler can really find him or herself some quality saltwater angling, often without the services of a guide. Sebastian Inlet State Park is regarded by many as the premier snook hole in the entire country. Jetty fishermen fling all types of lures as well as live bait to catch the linesiders, which often exceed twenty pounds.

Redfish, bluefish, tarpon, flounder, and seatrout are other species taken from the jetties, the adjacent beaches, or the flats on the Indian River Lagoon side of the inlet, where waders can have a blast, too. Sebastian Inlet is about an hour and a half’s drive from Orlando.

Those who like to surf fish can find beach access and some excellent fishing in the vicinity of Sebastian Inlet. Closer to Orlando both Satellite Beach and Playalinda Beach in the Canaveral National Seashore offer outstanding angling for the beach angler. Redfish, pompano, flounder, bluefish, and whiting are most often caught from Playalinda’s twenty plus miles of undeveloped, pristine beach. At Satellite Beach, snook, pompano, sheepshead, whiting, and sometimes Spanish mackerel and tarpon are all caught in the surf. Since these are public beaches, early in the morning on weekdays will  supply the least interference from surfers, bikinis, and other distractions.

Those wanting offshore fishing can find it at Port Canaveral or Ponce Inlet. Charter boats from the Port fish nearshore for kingfish, cobia, tripletail, and tarpon, while those venturing further out find action from dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, and even marlin. The same type of action is available from Ponce Inlet. Also, at both locations bottom fishing for grouper and snapper is available from either charter or partyboats. Finally, both the Port and Ponce Inlet have long rock jetties which attract all of the typical inshore fishes, and the fishermen who chase them.

My favorite area to fish is in the Indian River Lagoon System. The Lagoon, over 150 miles long, stretches from Ponce Inlet down to St. Lucie Inlet. The System’s three main components are the Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian RiverLagoon, and the Banana River Lagoon, which are separated from the waters of the Atlantic by a thin strip of sandy coastal barrier.

One unique thing about fishing in this system- unless you are near an inlet, tides have almost no effect on the fishing. There is no tidal water movement. You just go fishing!

There are many areas around Titusville for wading anglers to get access to some beautiful grassflats covered with crystal clear water and some excellent sightfishing for redfish which average up to ten pounds. Most of these are either in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or the Canaveral National Seashore.

orlando redfish, orlando redfish trips, wading for redfish

Wading in the Mosquito Lagoon produced this redfish.

Dike roads in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge open up miles of wadable flats to the visiting angler. It’s entirely possible to fish both the beach and the Mosquito Lagoon in the same day. Information about the location of these dike roads is available from the Refuge headquarters, located on SR 402 east of Titusville.

In both Titusville and Cocoa you can rent kayaks and go paddle fishing on any of the three lagoons. And plenty of fishing guides offer their services here too.

Driving time to most east coast fishing areas is about an hour.

Why doesn’t Orlando have a reputation as a fishing destination? World class fishing awaits. The next time your family coerces you into visiting Disney World, bring your tackle and check it out. You will be most pleasantly surprised at Orlando’s fantastic fishing.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2011. All rights are reserved.