It’s spring. Waters around the state are warm and clear. I’m looking at my dive regulator that was just rebuilt and am resolved to take Teresa out really soon.
But it’s also tarpon season—my favorite fish and type of fishing hands down. And it’s mahi season. And the cobia are still around ... I guess we’ll have to go somewhere where we can scratch both the diving and the fishing itches.
Northern Palm Beach County
Dorothy had it right when she said, “There’s no place like home,” and that’s the stretch of coast between West Palm Beach and Stuart. We are so lucky to live in a place where we can load up the boat with tanks and rods and do both in one day. We love to see the turtles and the goliath groupers on our amazing, coral-studded reefs. And while goliath groupers are a protected species, grouper season is open for the other species that live fairly shallow, including gag, red and black groupers. So we might spear one for dinner. Or we might target cobia, dolphin and wahoo for dinner before, between and after dives.
Charter operators here are either dive operators or fishing guides, so if you want to dive and fish in the same day it’s a DIY thing. My recommendation is to come stay for a week in the Jupiter area—maybe at the Jupiter Beach Resort--and book several days of diving and fishing.
Key Largo arguably offers the best diving in the Keys. You can check out wrecks such as the legendary Spiegel Grove, then come inshore and enjoy the vibrant spur-and-grove coral reef ecosystems. You can stay right with the dive boats at Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort. Fishing on the reefs and just offshore of the reef tract is exceptional year-round. And it’s a short run to the teeming shallows of Everglades National Park, where you can catch dozens of inshore species including tarpon, snook and redfish.
Greater Tampa Bay Area
If you're a spearfisherman, you won’t believe how good the hunting is off Tampa for gag and red grouper, as well as hogfish and a wide variety of snappers. Cobia and king mackerel are also in the mix.
If you want to be best mom/dad ever, bring the kids and stay at the legendar Don CeSar.
Fishing with hook and line is also spectacular inshore and offshore. Restoration efforts in Tampa Bay continue to improve this vast, teeming nursery, which is arguably the healthiest urbanized bay system on the planet.
Clean water, healthy seagrass and mangrove forests are the reason that the fishing is so good inshore for snook, trout and redfish. And they’re the reason that the fishing is so good for the reef fish caught/speared offshore. Most of the gag groupers in the Gulf matured in the bay. It’s a really special place.