Image courtesy of nasa.gov
Each year, literally millions from around the world come to visit Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and other Orlando attractions. Fishing is not something people typically associate with an Orlando vacation, but the central Florida metropolis is in fact within a short driving distance of some of the best saltwater fishing.
If you’ve been on vacation with your family in Orlando and looking for a relaxing way to unwind from the hustle and bustle of standing in line and navigating traffic, a guided fishing tour is a good way to top off a great vacation.
Since Orlando is situated in the center of Florida’s peninsula, it is within reasonable driving distance of exceptional fishing grounds on both the Atlantic and Gulf coast.
We invite you to continue reading to learn more about some of these fishing spots within close proximity of one of America’s most popular vacation destinations.
Indian River Lagoon
Located only 40 miles directly east of the Orlando International Airport, the Indian River Lagoon is one of the most popular fishing destinations in the entire state of Florida. In fact, the entire Lagoon system spans nearly 40% of Florida’s east coast (156 miles) from just south of Daytona Beach all the way to Jupiter and is the largest chain of barrier islands in the entire U.S.
The Indian River, Banana River and Mosquito Lagoons are home to a plethora of different inshore fish, including Redfish, Snook, Speckled Trout, Tarpon, Black Drum and more.
The Lagoons are mostly grass flats with mangroves lining the shore. The average water depth is only 4 feet, which makes this Lagoon system one of the best spots for sight fishing.
Besides the fish mentioned above, the Indian and Banana River Lagoons are home to a variety of endangered species, including the Bottlenose Dolphin and Florida Manatee. In fact, the Indian River Lagoon system is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems of its kind in the entire world since it’s a combination of terrestrial, wetland and estuary type systems. Over 2100 distinct plant and 2200 distinct animal species call this area home. Another reason for the Lagoon’s incredible biodiversity is that it sits in a transition zone between a more temperate north and sub-tropical south. It’s amazing to see how some plants, animal, bird and fish species will live in one part of the Lagoon and not the other.
Out of all of the saltwater fishing opportunities near Orlando, the Indian River Lagoon area is by far the closest. Simply take the Bee Line Expressway (Hwy 528) east from the airport and theme parks. There are many fishing guides and charters that can offer a memorable excursion.
Most of Capt. Mark’s launch points are around Titusville – see the map below for directions from Walt Disney World.
2. Tampa Bay
In the opposite direction from Disney World and the Orlando theme parks is another major saltwater fishing area. – Tampa Bay. Like the Indian River Lagoon, Tampa Bay is a major estuary but located on Florida’s west coast. However, the Indian River Lagoon is long and skinny while Tampa Bay is more of a classic open-water estuary. In fact, Tampa Bay covers over 400 square miles and is the largest body of water of its kind in Florida.
The Bay is fed by several major rivers and dozens of smaller creeks. If you factor in the area that drains into the bay, the entire Tampa Bay systems covers an astounding 2200 square miles.
Tampa Bay is similar to the Indian River Lagoon in that surrounding natural shoreline consists of mangroves along with shallow grass and mud flats. Tampa Bay’s average depth of 12 feet is slightly deeper though.
In terms of fish and wildlife, both ecosystems are literally identical – residents and visitors alike enjoy fishing for Redfish, Snook and Speckled Trout, while Bottlenose Dolphin and Manatees are commonly seen.
Since it’s so large, there are literally hundreds of possible launch locations for a fishing charter in this area. From Orlando and Walt Disney World, it’s a little bit farther, but still an easy drive. Below is a map to one of the area’s more popular launch spots.
This of course is just a brief overview of the major saltwater fishing areas within an easy drive of Orlando. Other popular destinations like Crystal River on the west coast and St. Augustine on the east are unique in their own right, but offer many of the same fishing opportunities as the Indian River Lagoon and Tampa Bay.
Captain Mark Wright offers guided inshore and offshore fishing trips within an hour’s drive from Orlando in the Indian River Lagoon. His multi-decades fishing experience allows him to show visitors both the immaculate beauty of the Lagoon and the world-class fishing Florida is known for. We invite you to visit https://captmarkwright.com/ for more information about how you can build an exciting fishing excursion into your Orlando vacation. Click here for availability or visit our trip details page to learn more about what you can expect.