How to Fish for Shark in Florida: The Complete Guide (2023)

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Sharks get a bad rep – undeservingly so, if we may add. Sure, there are some big-toothed and fierce ones that you may not want to come across, but there are also plenty of docile varieties that make great targets for anglers of all ages and skill levels. If you go Shark fishing in Florida, you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to fish for various members of this family.

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(Video) Shark Fishing in Florida: An Angler's Guide | FishingBooker

And speaking of families, Shark fishing trips are a great choice if you want to fish with your relatives. Stay inshore and there are plenty of species to target with the kids. Alternatively, those looking for battles with the big varieties may want to leave the little ones behind and head into deeper waters. In this guide, we’ll cover some of Florida’s top Shark species, how to fish for them, and where to go.

We’ll also go over the important fishing regulations you’ll need to follow in order to fish for Sharks lawfully. This is a highly regulated family of fish in the Sunshine State so make sure to pay close attention. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

What Sharks can I catch in Florida?

There are over 400 species of Shark in the world, and Florida is home to some of the biggest and meanest out there. Some are year-round residents, whereas others are only seasonal visitors. Like we mentioned earlier, Shark fishing regulations in Florida are tight and many species are off-limits. If you catch one of these, make sure to catch and release them immediately. For now, let’s turn our attention to those you can target freely.

Blacktip Sharks

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These light tackle fighters are an excellent inshore target if you’re fishing in Florida. Blacktip Sharks prefer their waters warm and shallow, meaning they’re well-dispersed across the state’s estuaries, bays, and coastal waters. They usually measure around 5 or 6 feet and are considered quite timid, making them an excellent target for various skill levels.

That doesn’t mean they won’t fight hard when they get a hold of your bait, though! You can fish for Blacktip Sharks year-round, though it’s a good idea to follow their migration patterns. Large schools move into the inshore waters surrounding Palm Beach County around January and stay through March. Come April, they’ll start heading back up north, towards the Carolinas, so don’t miss out on your chance to chase ‘em.

(Video) HOW To CATCH Blacktip SHARKS From The Beach! - Fishing in Florida

Bonnethead Sharks

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Head a little further out and you’ll also come across Bonnethead Sharks. Like Blacktip Sharks, this species migrates south to Florida in the winter months. They’re particularly abundant in nearshore waters, though you may also find them in the sand and mud flats. You’ll usually see Bonnethead’s measuring in the 2–3 foot range, reaching a maximum length of about 4 feet.

This makes them an excellent target for light tackle fishing and even fly fishing, no matter your skill level. Their timid and shy nature means they’re even suitable for kids fishing trips. Plus, their unique “bonnet” shaped heads make for a great photo opportunity. And if you’re looking for tasty table fare, Bonnetheads count for some of the most delicious Sharks out there.

Bull Sharks

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Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat – Bull Sharks are aggressive. These fierce predators will eat just about anything. They also inhabit various waters so you’ll need to have your wits about you if you plan on targeting them. In Florida, you’ll find them inshore, nearshore, offshore, and occasionally in freshwater.

To give you an idea of the sizes they can reach, Florida’s record-breaking Bull Shark weighs just over 500 pounds and measures 92 inches. The minimum size for harvesting Bulls in the state is 54 inches, and you’ll most likely reel in fish in the 6–8 foot range. If you’re brave enough to go after this predator, gear up with medium-heavy tackle and oily live bait.

Shortfin Mako Sharks

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To battle it out with Shortfin Mako Sharks, you’ll have to head into really deep waters. In Florida, these Sharks typically reside way out in the Gulf Stream, where they feed on the likes of Tuna and Swordfish. Makos can catch their prey on account of the astonishing speeds they move at. Often exceeding 40+ miles per hour, their speed also allows them to make spectacular leaps out of the water.

Pulling one onto the boat after getting a bite is half the fun. Makos are incredibly strong and very intelligent. That means they won’t give up easily. They’ll throw themselves onto the boat, bite it, and ram it, so make sure you’re adequately prepared. This species can exceed 500 pounds and measure up to 12 feet.

(Video) Complete Guide to SHARK FISHING | SHARK Fishing 101

And More!

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There are plenty more Sharks in Florida. Species like Nurse Sharks, Blacknose, Atlantic Sharpnose, Porbeagle, Thresher, Spinner, and Blue Sharks are also possible catches when you head out on your trip.

Like we mentioned earlier, there are also many protected species. This list includes Lemon Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, and Great Hammerhead Sharks. If you can accidentally hook one of these, just make sure to release it immediately.

How can I go Shark fishing in Florida?

Sharks fishing in Florida is best done from a charter boat or from the shore. Below, we’ll go into detail so you can choose the best option for you.

Charter Boat Fishing for Sharks

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Whether you’re heading out on an inshore adventure with the kids or on a multi-hour offshore trip, charter boat fishing for Sharks is an awesome experience. You won’t have to worry about things like fishing licenses, gear, or bait in most cases. On top of that, your knowledgeable local captain can share tips and tricks that will take your trip over the top.

Being aboard a boat gives you the luxury of changing spots if the fish aren’t biting, as well as the opportunity to test out different techniques. If you don’t have previous experience fishing for Sharks, heading out with a captain gives you extra peace of mind. Boating one takes even more skill than getting a bite and these fierce creatures can often be tough to tame.

Surf Fishing for Sharks in Florida

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Sharks come a lot closer to shore than most people realize. Luckily, most of Florida’s inshore varieties are timid, making it safe for swimmers and exciting for anglers. Many of the state’s inshore dwellers can be hooked from the beach using an 8–10’ surf rod. Often, they’re the biggest creatures swimming this close to shore, making for a thrilling day out.

(Video) Tips and Tactics for Getting into Shark Fishing from the Beach

There are a few more rules you’ll have to follow when fishing from shore, though. The first thing you’ll have to do is get your Shored-Based Shark Fishing Permit. This involves taking an online educational course, alongside purchasing a regular fishing license. Things like the use of metal leaders over 4-feet long and chumming also aren’t allowed. You’ll also need to make sure surf fishing on the beach is allowed and keep your distance from swimmers.

Best Places to Go Shark Fishing in Florida

Sharks are widespread throughout the Sunshine State and narrowing it down to only a few top destinations was no easy feat. What you’ll see below is only scratching the surface of what’s on offer, but it should help you get started.

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  • Florida Keys: The fishing epicenter of Florida for most species – Sharks included. Migratory species like Blacktip and Bonnethead love to spend the winters here. Proximity to the breeding grounds of larger Sharks like Bull and Mako round out the list of reasons why the fishing here is so good.
  • Sarasota: The waters surrounding Sarasota are the perfect grounds for Shark fishing. Head to Turtle Beach for surf fishing. You can also hop on a charter boat and head to the nearshore reefs to reel in larger species.
  • Destin: Sharks including Nurse, Spinner, Mako, Bull, and more all call the waters surrounding Destin home. It’s a top spot for adrenaline junkies chasing a trophy. You can try your luck in the Gulf or even explore the waters a few miles into the bay.
  • Fort Myers: If you’re fishing in the winter months, Fort Myers and Sanibel Island are great places to chase Sharks. Target Bonnethead and Blacktip Sharks inshore or move into nearshore waters to battle it out with aggressive Bull Sharks.
  • Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay is the perfect nursery environment for Sharks. The mouth of the Alafia River is a prime breeding spot for Bull Sharks, whereas Terra Ceia Bay, at the mouth of Tampa Bay, is an excellent spot for Blacktip Sharks.

Shark Fishing Regulations in Florida

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Like we’ve said throughout, Sharks are highly regulated species so it’s extra important to stay up-to-date on the rules. The first thing you’ll need to do is fairly obvious – buy a fishing license. This applies to all anglers between the ages of 16–65, with the exception of those fishing with a licensed charter captain. For more detailed information on Florida fishing licenses, check out this article.

The state divides harvestable Sharks into groups:

  • Group 1 Sharks include the likes of Blacktip and Bonnethead and have no minimum size limit.
  • There are several species in Group 2 including Nurse, Bull, and Spinner Sharks. To harvest one of these, a Sharks fork length must measure at a minimum of 54 inches.

Overall, the bag limit is one Shark per person per day, and two Sharks per vessel (regardless of whether there are more than two anglers on board). These rules are subject to change so make sure to check the FWC’s Shark page periodically.

Please note that Mako Sharks may no longer be harvested.

(Video) How to Catch A Shark from The Land: for Beginners

Shark Fishing in Florida: Not As Scary As It Sounds

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See, Sharks aren’t so bad! In fact, most aren’t aggressive at all. Heading into inshore waters will see you come across plenty of docile creatures that are great targets for any angler. On the other hand, battles with deep-dwelling predators are on the cards too. There’s no better place than Florida’s warm waters to target them, so what are you waiting for?!

Have you been Shark fishing in Florida? How was it? Where did you go? Let us know in the comments below – we love to hear from you!


How do you fish for sharks in Florida? ›

The best way to catch sharks is with fresh dead baits. Sharks will find your baits very quickly if they are anywhere near the spot that you are fishing. You will need a strong metal leader and a stout reel at least a 5500 series; a medium/heavy 7 foot rod and lots of 50 to 100 pound braided line.

What month is best for shark fishing? ›

Shark fishing is best during later spring and summer. This generally means about May-September. This is the perfect time of the year not only for fishing but also just enjoying some time out on the water!

What is the best bait for shark fishing? ›

Amber Jack — is easy to catch on live sardines, shrimp, or other small baitfish, making them a perfect bait for sharks. Fish live or in chunks; sharks love them. They are full of oil and have a strong smell, which are two traits that attract sharks.

What is the best shark bait Florida? ›

Best Baits

Options for larger sharks include chunks of bonito, mackerel, mullet, barracuda or large menhaden (aka shad). For the sporty little guys of 2 to 3 feet, cut pilchards, threadfin herring and live shrimp do the trick.

What is the best month for shark fishing in Florida? ›

Makos, bulls, and blue sharks are excellent targets in the deeper waters. The best shark fishing in Pensacola is from March through October. The colder months lead them to more hospitable waters in central and southern Florida.

What time are sharks most active in Florida? ›

Avoid being in the water during low light hours (dawn or dusk) and at night when many sharks are most active and feeding.

What time of day is best to see sharks? ›

Sharks are the most active at dusk and dawn when they are hunting for food. You can reduce your risk of shark encounters by staying out of the water at these times of day.

How do you know when a shark is coming? ›

Pay attention to Nature's signs. Circling birds, splashing water, a dead whale, feeding seals and dolphins may also indicate a shark is near. Do not enter the water.

What attracts sharks the most? ›

Sound: Sound, rather than sight or smell, seems to be a shark's primary cue for moving into an area. Certain types of irregular sounds—like those made by a swimmer in trouble or a damaged fish—seem to attract sharks from great distances.

What is the easiest shark to catch? ›

Blacktips. Blacktip sharks are so popular because they're one of the most common land-based catches. Since they stay relatively small (6-7ft) you can target them with medium tackle, and they'll provide a sporty fight.

What beach in Florida has the most sharks? ›

Shark attacks at New Smyrna Beach have totaled 32 since 2010, averaging about three attacks per year. There have been 23 more shark attacks on this Florida beach than on any other beach, and it's thought that NSB has 10 times more shark bite incidents than any other place in the U.S.

What is the most shark infested waters in Florida? ›

New Smyrna Beach has seen more shark attacks than any other beach in the United States. The International Shark Attack File estimates that Florida has the most shark attacks worldwide each year. The location of New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County is where a disproportionate amount of them take place.

What part of Florida has the most shark bites? ›

Florida is regarded as the shark bite capital of the world, with New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County with the most shark bites to date going back to 1882 according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. New Smyrna Beach is on east coast of the state north of the Treasure Coast.

What time of day do most shark bites happen? ›

Most attacks world-wide happen between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm and mostly on weekend during the warmer seasons of the year.

How close do sharks come to shore in Florida? ›

So far, the experts were thinking of sharks being farther away from the Florida coast, but a recent video showed 15-20 sharks swimming very close to the shore. The sharks were estimated to be only 450 feet away from the Florida beach.

Where are sharks most active in Florida? ›

What Beaches In Florida Have The Most Shark Attacks? New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet, Cocoa Beach, and the Florida Keys are some locations that experience more shark attacks than others.

What beach in Florida has the least sharks? ›

Augustine. St. Augustine Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach are along the northeast corner of Florida's shore. No fatal attacks have been reported in St.

What colors are sharks attracted to? ›

Since sharks see contrast colors, anything that is very bright against lighter or darker skin can look like a bait fish to a shark. For this reason, he suggests swimmers avoid wearing yellow, white, or even bathing suits with contrasting colors, like black and white.

Do most shark attacks happen in shallow water? ›

Most attacks occur in nearshore waters, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars where sharks feed and can become trapped at low tide. Areas with steep drop-offs are also likely attack sites. Sharks congregate there because their natural food items also congregate in these areas.

What is the best leader for shark fishing? ›

Nylon coated wire cable

This is our preferred wire for blue shark fishing. We use a 4 foot bite leader of 1.3 mm diameter / 450 lb breaking strain nylon coated wire joined to 12 Feet of 300 lb / 1.6 mm nylon monofilament to resist abrasion from the sharks' rough skin.

What size rod for shark fishing? ›

Recommended Shark Tackle. The rod we recommend for shark fishing chunking is a 5'6″ to 6'6″ conventional stand-up rod rated for 50-80lb mono. Going to heavier shark tackle will allow the angler to put more pressure on bigger fish and shorten the fight time, but may take some of the sport out of fighting smaller fish.

What month are sharks most active? ›

Summer through Fall is hunting season–specifically, April through October. Great whites will come closer to the shoreline to search for sources of nutrition, with 8:00 am-6:00 pm being when sharks are most active. That said, sharks prefer to swim around the shores throughout dawn, dusk, and night.

What weather attracts sharks? ›

Without rain falling into the ocean and diluting it with freshwater, the salinity (salt content) of ocean water close to shore becomes more concentrated, or saltier than usual. So anytime there's a dry spell or drought, sharks — which are salt-loving creatures — are drawn closer to shore in greater numbers.

Can you catch sharks in the middle of the day? ›

In fact, we get a lot of calls from many anglers who want to go shark fishing at night. It's true, sharks do feed at night, but they also feed in the morning, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon... catch my drift? My opinion, and one shared by many of our captains, is that sharks feed all the time.

What to do if a shark is circling you? ›

Sharks typically attempt to circle behind you to take a bite, so they will feel less comfortable if you keep an eye on them. Keep calm and slowly back away. If none of the above options are viable, you should fight back and focus your attacks on the shark's eyes and gills because of the areas' sensitivity.

How shallow will sharks swim? ›

And that's fine. Everybody can make their own personal decision, but realizing that sharks can get into water as shallow as five of six feet deep is something that people need to realize.”

What does it mean when a shark is circling? ›

Sharks do not circle in the water before they attack, it is simply their way of trying to form an image of what they are confronting in the water. According to my own numerous observations this motion is a sign of pure curiosity and not an incentive to circle its prey and feed.

What smell do sharks hate? ›

It has traditionally been believed that sharks are repelled by the smell of a dead shark; however, modern research has had mixed results. The Pardachirus marmoratus fish (finless sole, Red Sea Moses sole) repels sharks through its secretions.

What do sharks fear the most? ›

Quick Answer: They are Fast, Smart, and Work as a Dolphin Team. Sharks and dolphins are two of the most formidable creatures in the ocean, but while sharks are often seen as fearsome predators, they are known to be intimidated by dolphins.

What is the best color to avoid sharks? ›

We personally prefer to use dark blue or black fins, mask, tank, and wetsuit while diving. Make a point of wearing your dive watch under the cuff of your wetsuit, thereby eliminating any chance of light reflection off the face of the watch attracting a shark or barracuda.

What is the #1 deadliest shark? ›

1. Great White Shark. Great white sharks are the most aggressive sharks in the world has recorded 333 attacks on humans, with 52 of them being fatal. The inclusion of this particular species probably comes as no surprise since movies, particularly Jaws, and television shows are quick to show their aggression.

What is the 2 most aggressive shark? ›

According to the International Shark Attack File, the Tiger shark ranks No. 2 behind the white shark in the number of reported attacks on humans. The shark-monitoring group notes that the animal's "large size and voraciousness" qualify it as a formidable ocean predator.

How long to let a shark run before setting the hook? ›

The Battle

Once the fish takes the bait, we give it a good 5- to 10-second count before we set the hook. This gives the shark time to get the bait set in its mouth.

Where do sharks hang out in Florida? ›

Many shark species are common in Florida's nearshore waters and bays. More than 13 species of shark use these areas as nursery grounds for their pups. Scientific data show that many shark species migrate in and out of Florida's waters each year.

What part of Florida has the least amount of sharks? ›

The gulf coast has much fewer sharks on Florida beaches. Only 42 unprovoked shark attacks have happened here in 140 years. This is only 5% of unprovoked Florida shark attacks. The panhandle is even less likely to encounter sharks in Florida beaches.

What beach has the most shark sightings? ›

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

New Smyrna is known as one of the foremost the shark attack capitals of the world. Be careful when surfing out in the Atlantic. Common sharks to see in New Smyrna beach include blacktip, spinner, and tiger sharks.

What sharks jump out of the water in Florida? ›

Spinner shark Spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna) is a large and slender, fast-swimming shark that often leaps “spinning” out of the water. It feeds primarily on fishes like sardines and herrings but also on small sharks and rays.

What beach has the least shark attacks? ›

Connecticut Waters

Connecticut has only had a single shark attack in its waters, making the state's beaches some of the safest in America. The small state is bordered by Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and the Long Island Sound.

What is the most common shark in Florida? ›

The Lemon Shark is the most common shark we see off the coast of Florida. Lemon Sharks are known to migrate to our waters annually for a mating aggregation.

What state is number one for shark attacks? ›

1. California. The beautiful Californian coast, a haven for surfers and beachgoers, has experienced over 120 unprovoked attacks.

Can you go shark fishing in Florida? ›

Florida Shark Bag Limit

The daily bag limit for sharks is restricted to one (1) shark per person per day. The vessel limit – the limit per boat or ship – is two (2) sharks. The maximum number of sharks that can be retained on a boat, regardless of size, is two, even if there are more people or anglers on board.

How do you fish for sharks on the beach? ›

The tried and true most reliable way to get in front of sharks is with a kayak. You put your bait in the back, have your fishing partner hold your reel on the beach in free spool, then kayak to where you want your bait. Drop your weight first, then drop your bait.

How much does it cost to go shark fishing in Florida? ›

How much do Florida bull shark fishing charters cost? for bull shark in Florida prices can range anywhere from $300 to $3,000 and up, but the average price for a half day trip for bull shark in Florida is $775. The average price for a full day trip for bull shark in Florida is $1,546.

Do you need a shark fishing license in Florida? ›

Shark fishing from shore? Be sure to take the Shark-Smart Fishing educational course at and get your Shore-based Shark Fishing permit. Both are required when fishing for shark from shore and must be renewed annually.

What month is shark season in Florida? ›

This pattern explains why shark activity is at its peak in Florida waters during April through October, which coincidentally, is also the time period that humans are more likely to be in the water. Yet shark bites still remain very rare.

What pound test for shark fishing? ›

We recommend using between 50-200Lb test braided fishing lines when fishing for sharks. Most people fill their reels 2/3 with braid and then topshot it with mono.

What gear do you need to catch a shark? ›

Use a 7 to 10-foot heavy-duty, fast-action saltwater fishing rod or surf rod with plenty of backbone. Use a heavy conventional saltwater star-drag reel with a very high line capacity (5200/100-pound braid) and low gear ratio.

Where is most shark in Florida? ›

Florida is regarded as the shark bite capital of the world, with New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County with the most shark bites to date going back to 1882 according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. New Smyrna Beach is on east coast of the state north of the Treasure Coast.

What size hook for sharks in Florida? ›

For sharks in the 3-5 foot range, use a 5/0 circle hook. If you think you'll catch sharks larger than the 3 to 5 footers, we recommend a 12/0-14/0 circle hook. We recommend circle hooks that are forged to prevent bending and breaking. Hooks can bend and even break from a large fish.

What is the best time of year to shark fish from the beach? ›

However, some species of sharks, such as blacktip sharks, can be caught year-round. If you're targeting bull sharks or hammerhead sharks, the best time to fish is typically from May to September when they are more common in the inlets and nearshore waters.

What is the most common shark caught in Florida? ›

Lemon Sharks are one of the most abundant large sharks in Florida waters. Lemons are big sharks that prefer inshore shallow waters. They are often seen on shallow flats and shallow reefs on the edge of the Gulf Stream. Lemon Sharks are somewhat docile but are capable of large bursts of speed and aggression.

What beach in Florida is known for the most shark attacks? ›


Shark attacks at New Smyrna Beach have totaled 32 since 2010, averaging about three attacks per year. There have been 23 more shark attacks on this Florida beach than on any other beach, and it's thought that NSB has 10 times more shark bite incidents than any other place in the U.S.


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