Can You Fish In The Florida Springs And Canals?

If you’re a fisherman considering a trip to Florida, you should familiarize yourself with the state’s fishing and hunting regulations. You can find many vlogs and blogs of Floridians fishing in canals and springs, so it’s safe to assume this is a popular pastime among residents and visitors alike.

In the Sunshine State, the species of your catch is more critical than the type of water you’re fishing in. Therefore, you will need a freshwater or saltwater license to fish in Florida’s thousands of canals and springs. Fishing without a license, permit, or tag will result in a fine.

Florida is known as the fishing place to be, and many anglers have these canals, springs, and oceans on their bucket list. 

So whether you are an old hand at fishing or a newbie longing to take a trip to the sunshine state, Florida’s springs and canals will bring you an adventure you will cherish for life.

Is It Legal To Fish In Florida’s Springs And Canals?

Yes. There are thousands of natural and human-made waterways throughout Florida, and you will find various fish species to catch. 

In addition, you may fish in springs and canals if you have the correct license and permission to do so. In the past, there were some places where it was illegal to fish. 

Still, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regularly updates the requirements and rules, so check the local regulations and rules before setting out on your fishing expedition. 

In addition, recreational fishermen may not use cast nets, gill nets, spears, trawls, etc., unless they have acquired a special permit or license.

If you plan to keep your catch, check the size and bag limits set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). You can find this information at

Fishing The Springs In Florida

Of the 320+ known springs in Florida, there are twenty-seven, 1st magnitude springs, about seventy, 2nd magnitude springs, and around hundred and ninety, 3rd magnitude springs in Florida. 

Magnitude is the volume of water discharged from the spring measured in feet per second. 

The quality of spring water is essential to consider since this will directly impact the wildlife supported in the spring water. In addition, the time the water spends in contact with mineral rocks, the presence of other, older aquifer water pockets, and saltwater all affect the spring water’s quality. 

Some fish prefer clear water, while others prefer murky, muddy water. 

Fishing in springs is viewed differently than in canals since many springs are in nature reserves and parks. 

These reserves and parks have their own fishing regulations and rules; you should enquire for specifics before heading out. Also, check out this nifty map showing over 1000 springs in Florida. 

Fishing The Canals In Florida

The advantages of these artificial canals are numerous, just like Florida’s natural springs. But unfortunately, the rapid growth of plant life sometimes makes it very difficult to manage these canals properly. 

Still, the state, counties, and private organizations are doing a tremendous job. These canals’ benefits include recreation, navigating between residences, flood prevention, and drainage.  

While the canal’s managers may have issues with the overgrowth of vegetation, anglers love it. Fish often congregate beneath, amongst, and in this vegetation. Looking through your polarised sunglasses, it is amazing how many species of fish swim and live in these canals. 

Throwing out your bait and seeing the fish come for it before you feel the tug brings another exhilaration. 

Species Of Fish In The Canals And Springs Of Florida

The variety of saltwater and freshwater fish in the canals and springs is something to behold. You can catch anything from needlefish, snook, and sea trout to largemouth bass, tarpon, catfish, red drum sharks, and almost any other fish species.

When you travel along highway 41, you have long canals bringing in fresh water from the everglades that have plenty of fish species to catch. 

As you move closer to the ocean, you will have more and more saltwater species. 

The main species you will find in freshwater springs and canals are:

  • Bass – Butterfly Peacock, Choctaw, Largemouth, Redeye, Shadow, Shoal, Smallmouth, Spotted, Striped, Sunshine, Suwannee, White.
  • Sunfish – Bluegill, Redbreast, Redear, Spotted.
  • Gar – Longnose, Florida.
  • Killifish – Bluefin, Rainwater, Seminole.
  • Other – Atlantic Needlefish, Blue Tilapia, Bowfin, Chain Pickerel, Snook, Crevalle Jack, Darters, Golden Shiner, Hogchoker, Lake Chubsucker, Mangrove Snapper, Mojarra, Mosquitofish, Redeye Shub, Sailfin Molly, Sheephead, Spotted Sucker, Striped Mullet, and snakehead.

Seawater fish you might find in canals are:

Tarpon, Black Drum, Red Drum, Bonnethead, Ladyfish, Bonefish, Nassau Grouper, Gag, Bluefish, Cobia, African Pompano, Florida Pompano, Grey Snapper, Lane Snapper, Atlantic Tripletail, Spotted Seatrout, Weakfish, Great Barracuda, Tautog, Little Tunny, Atlantic Bonito, Spanish Mackerel, Summer Flounder, Gulf Flounder, Southern Flounder, Snook, And The Occasional Bull Shark. 

You never know what you’ll catch, which is why the canals and springs of Florida are so exciting.

Are There Alligators In The Florida Canals And Springs

Yes and No, sometimes alligators find their way into the canals, but it is not the norm. Always presume the canals have dangerous creatures like alligators and sharks. 

Do not swim in a canal because health issues caused by stagnant warm water may be present in addition to the dangerous wildlife. 

Springs, on the other hand, should be clear of these threats. 

Understanding Fishing Licenses In Florida

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a few fishing licensing versions ranging from 3 days to 5 years. It also depends if you are a resident in Florida or visiting. Next, you must decide if you will fish in freshwater, saltwater, or both. 

There is a license for each of these options or a combination. You can also purchase a hunt and fish license combo if you plan to hunt or trap.

Your fishing license will vary depending on the fish species you intend to reel in. For instance, if you plan to cast from a boat or vessel versus land-based locations such as shoreline spots, there is an appropriate license for each situation. 

Furthermore, the license required will depend on the waterbody you will be fishing in. The laws differ for private and public water bodies in Florida.

It is essential to obtain the combination license if you don’t want to face a hefty fine, as it covers freshwater and seawater fishing. You can hook practically any legally targeted fish in Florida with a saltwater or freshwater license.

You will, however, need an additional permit or tag to snag a snook, tarpon, or spiny lobster. 

Besides these variations, there are extra permits for offshore fishing for Grouper or Snapper. In addition, you’ll need a license to target sharks from the shore, and if you find a Stone crab and Blue crab, you’ll also need a separate free license. 

Finding and purchasing a relevant permit is relatively easy. Buy online or from your local registered bait shop. Check if you qualify for an exemption here.

Final Word

Florida’s many natural and manufactured waterways are home to a wide variety of fish. Research Florida’s fishing and hunting regulations before your trip. 

Invest in the proper license, permit, and tags to ensure you are within the law. 

And then, go fishing with a Floridian in a canal and a spring. Whether you’re fishing for freshwater or saltwater, you’ll need a license to fish in Florida’s canals and springs. 

Failure to have the proper license will result in a hefty fine. 

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