August 2, 2019
The Sunshine State has some of the best fishing in the US and it has the most coastline of any state in the US. That’s more than enough room to accommodate shark fishermen and sun-worshippers on the beach.
If you plan to try for shark, then you must have a shore-based shark fishing permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The good news is the permit is free to anyone, no matter where you live.
• Are 16-years-old or older. Even those 65 and up who do not need a fishing license must have this permit.
• Target shark from the shore, beach, pier, jetty, bridge or causeway.
You must have this permit if you plan to fish from the land, see bullet point above, for any species and use:
• A metal leader more than 4-feet long.
• A fighting belt or harness.
• A hook 1.5 inches or bigger at the widest inside gap.
• A balloon or kite to float the bait out or have someone haul it out with a boat or kayak.
If you cast the bait, you do not need a permit.
You do not need this permit to catch sharks from a boat. Your charter captain will have all the permits needed to catch shark from a boat.
If you fish from land, you need a Florida saltwater fishing license as well. If you fish from a licensed pier you do not need a fishing license. You must have the shark permit if you are targeting sharks or fishing as described above. If you are in a charter boat, the captain has the needed licenses.
Non-offset, non-stainless-steel circle hooks are required for shark fishing from land or a boat. Circle hooks are preferred because if the fish swallows the bait, a hookup in the throat or stomach is unlikely. A circle hook most often catches a fish in the corner of the mouth. Removing the hook from the corner of the mouth os safer than going straight at the mouth.
While the permit is free, you must take a test to get it. Before you take the test, the FWC has four different “modules” with videos to watch. These teach you about sharks and the new regulations. At the end of each video, you have a review section to cover what you learned.
Once done with the modules, take the test. For more good news, the test is free. You can take the test as many times as needed. The bad news is you must get all the answers right to pass the test. Miss one question and you have to take the whole test again. You can review the modules any time if you need to refresh.
You have to take the modules in order the first time through. You must also watch all the modules before you can take the test. Once you run through all the modules, you can open any one to review it.
When you complete the test, you get an identification number that you use to get your permit. Keep the permit with you when shark fishing.
Sharks are overfished in much of the world’s oceans. Some species have declined so much they are now endangered or threatened. The shore-fishing regulation is an attempt to maintain a healthy shark population.
It is also a response to public complaints about anglers setting up on public beaches to catch sharks where people are swimming. Chumming sharks from land is now prohibited. If people are swimming in the area, find somewhere else to fish.
Read the full set of regulations here.
Planning a fishing trip?
Find a Fishing CharterSearch Trips