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Fishing Lines Field Guide

Saltwater Fishing How-to Videos

Learn everything you need to know about Florida saltwater fishing.

The Fishing Lines field guide is a publication developed to provide information about Florida's marine resources. It includes articles about saltwater fishing, important habitats, fish handling, marine fisheries conservation and fish identification for 145 species. You can also learn more about how to fish and where to fish


Fishing Lines Field Guide:

This guide is intended as an educational tool. Information about Florida’s marine resources is provided so that you can get the most out of Florida’s vast recreational fishing opportunities and learn about the importance of conserving the amazing array of fish and wildlife that call Florida home.

This publication includes articles about saltwater fishing, important habitats, catch-and-release techniques, outreach and education programs, fisheries management and more.

Due to an extensive coastline and rich diversity of species, saltwater fish identification in Florida can sometimes be a daunting task. This identification guide contains important information for 145 commonly encountered saltwater species to facilitate proper identification and a better understanding of Florida’s fishes. Information such as distinguishing features, sizes, habitats, similar species and notes are provided for each listing to enhance your Florida saltwater experience.

Cite as: FWC 2016. “Name of Article” in Fishing Lines: An Angler’s Guide to Florida’s Marine Resources, 9th edition. Melissa Crouch (editor). Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management.

Illustrations in the fish identification section are copyrighted by Diane Rome Peebles and Dawn Witherington. This free publication is produced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Marine Fisheries Management, Outreach and Education Program with funding from Florida recreational saltwater fishing licenses and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program.

FWC strives to ensure information in this field guide is accurate, but assumes no liability for any errors that occur in this publication.

On the cover: Photo by Tim Donovan, FWC. Kayak angler fishes in Apalachee Bay near the St. Marks Lighthouse.

Fishing Lines Field Guide:

Greetings Anglers,

I’m so glad you’ve picked up the newly-remodeled version of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fishing Lines: An Angler’s Guide to Florida’s Marine Resources.

The new Fishing Lines has several changes we think you will find useful. This publication includes information on saltwater fishing, catch-and-release techniques, Florida’s marine habitats, conservation efforts, marine fisheries programs and an updated saltwater fish identification guide.

We all want Florida’s precious marine fisheries to thrive for years to come. FWC is constantly working to improve your fishing experience, but it is ultimately up to you to help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty and excitement of fishing in Florida’s unique ecosystems. Each one of us can take simple steps to do our part in conserving fisheries for the future.

A basic way to conserve fisheries is to become familiar with the fishing regulations and commonly caught species in your area. You can also learn how to properly handle fish that will be released to give them the best possible chance of survival. Be sure to keep trash out of the water and dispose of any fishing line and other garbage in a proper receptacle ashore. Finally, be sure to follow safe boating practices, become familiar with waterways, proceed carefully through seagrass beds and always abide by the law.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can positively impact our treasured fisheries. By following these simple steps, you can help conserve Florida’s marine resources for generations to come.

Have an idea on how to improve our communication with you? Share it by emailing or calling (850) 487-0554.

Tight Lines,
Jessica McCawley
Director, Division of Marine Fisheries Management
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Fishing Lines Field Guide:

Important Programs

Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

User pay, public-benefit flow chart of SFR program

How You Participate
The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is one of the most successful conservation efforts in our nation’s history. This program provides funding used to benefit fish and wildlife resources while enhancing recreational fishing and hunting opportunities across the country. Funding for the program is derived from a portion of the sale of motorboat and small engine fuels as well as equipment purchased by anglers, boaters, hunters, archers and recreational shooters.

Funds collected go to federal accounts used specifically for wildlife and sport fish conservation. The USFWS redistributes the funds to states based on the number of resident licensed recreational anglers and hunters, as well as the land and water area of the state. When states receive funding, they are required to make a 25% matching contribution to grant funds. In Florida, funds are managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Sport Fish Restoration
Every time you purchase fishing equipment or fuel for your boat, you are contributing to fisheries conservation. Even better, the small contribution you make with each purchase translates into millions of dollars toward restoration and management of fisheries each year. In fact, with your help, Florida receives around $13 million annually to support both freshwater and saltwater fisheries resources.

How You Benefit
Increased fishing and boating opportunities provided through saltwater projects such as:

  • Angler Outreach: Interacts with the public to provide information, answer questions, promote fisheries conservation and collect feedback from anglers.
  • Aquatic Education: Provides hands-on opportunities to learn about responsible angling, basic fishing skills and marine conservation.
  • Marine Fisheries Research: Researchers gather life history, genetics, health and other biological data used to develop fisheries management strategies.
  • Stock Enhancement Research: Researchers develop efficient methods of raising fish species to enhance natural populations.
  • Artificial Reefs: There are over 3600 artificial reefs in Florida, with about 100 new reefs constructed annually, providing enhanced fishing and diving opportunities as well as tools for
    fisheries research.
  • Boating Access – 15% of annual funds: Maintains existing public boat ramps and funds construction of new boat ramps, marinas and other public launching facilities throughout Florida.
  • Publications: Boating and angling guide pamphlets, fish identification posters, this field guide and more.
    Available to the public free-of-charge by calling (850) 487-0554 or visiting our publications page.

Fishing Lines Field Guide

Marine Fisheries Outreach and Education

  • Conserving Marine Resources

Marine Fisheries Outreach and Education

Marine Habitats and Fish

Fish Handling and Ethical Fishing

Saltwater Fishing and Boating Basics

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