By Terry Gibson
As the Fishing Capital of the World, Florida is the envy of northern states because we enjoy the best fishing spots year-round and there's always something running. Here's a list of popular species, and a description of the best places and times of year, January through July, to intercept them.
It's the peak of the sailfish run, and the fishing for this species has been better than even the oldest veterans can remember. You can't lose running out of the Florida Keys, especially from Key West, Islamorada or Key Largo. And Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, the Palm Beaches, Stuart and Fort Pierce are just as good.
Cobia are one of the hardest fighting and most delicious fish in the ocean. The wrecks in Florida Bay are loaded with them, and you can reach them from the Keys or from Everglades National Park. There's also a legendary manta ray migration off the Treasure Coast that the fish follow in droves. Fishing's good from Stuart through Port Canaveral.
Dolphin, better known as mahi, are migrating back north. It's hard to troll a ballyhoo for a few hundred yards and not find a dolphin off the Keys this time of the year. Plenty are caught off the southeast coast, and the biggest are landed a little later off St. Augustine and Jacksonville.
Tarpon fever grips the state, especially in the Keys, Biscayne Bay and along the Treasure Coast. Stuart has a superb fishery along its beaches and in the rivers.
The schoolie bass action on most lakes is frenetic, with 40- to 60-bass days common on the best lakes.
Spiny lobster mini-season is on. Most of the bugs come from the Keys, but plenty are caught off the reefs off the Florida mainland.