The Space Coast offers one of the most diverse fishing experiences in the United States. With the unique coastline creating opportunities for deep sea, river, lagoon, canal, freshwater and saltwater fishing, anglers of all types will find over 500 species of fish. Cocoa Beach fishing charters are available in a variety of options.
As any fisherman knows though, your luck is only as good as your knowledge so knowing where and when to go is key. Luckily for visiting anglers, the Space Coast offers plenty of charters and guides for world-class fishing all year ‘round.
In fact, this past April a tourist from England caught a 13-foot endangered sawfish while on a Fin & Fly Fishing Charter. Though he wasn’t able to keep the sawfish, he did hook several king mackerel.
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing
You can charter a private fishing boat and guide or you can secure a seat on a public fishing charter. Private charters generally quote their price by the trip. Public fishing charters charge by the person. As you can imagine, the public charters are more affordable than the private.
On the northern tip of the Space Coast, and closest to Orlando, lies Port Canaveral. While this beachside town and port are mostly known for hosting rocket launches and cruise ships, the port is also home to offshore fishing charters. The steep oceanic shelf that lies several miles off of Port Canaveral creates a haven for deep-sea fishing.
Private Fishing Charters
These offshore Cocoa Beach fishing charters offer 1/2 day, 3/4 day, and full day charters and generally range from about $700 for ½ day to $1600 for a full day. Expect a private charter to accommodate 4 adults and 2 kids. One of the most popular private charters is Dirty Dolly, which is captained by a retired U.S. Coast Guard officer with 20 years of experience in the local waters, so you know he knows where the fish are.
Public Cocoa Beach Fishing Charters
Public fishing charters are much larger, carry many more people and you pay by the seat. Obsession Fishing Charters is among the most established public charters. With a 65-foot boat that can accommodate up to 60 people, they offer full day and half day trips, as well as evening shark fishing trips. You are welcome to bring your own food and beverages (including beer) but they also sell beer onboard. All of their trips include a fishing license, rod & reel, tackle, bait, and ice. Full day trips also include a hot breakfast and lunch, while half day trips include a hot lunch. Evening shark trips do not include any meal or drink. Half day trips are an affordable $70 per person while the full day trip is only $105 per person, which is average among public fishing charters.
In order to help ensure that the charter has enough people to go out, be sure to make reservations so they know you're coming. They only require 20 people to go out, but if they don’t have at least 20 people, they will cancel the trip. You’ll fish at reefs, wrecks, and cones. How far out you go depends on if you’re on a ½ day or full-day charter. On half-day trips, they stay within 15 to 20 miles from the port with a travel time of about an hour and fifteen minutes. For full-day trips, they usually fish 20 to 30 miles from the port with a travel time of about an hour and thirty minutes.
What to Do with What You Catch
For many, the appeal of a fishing charter is the chance to relax and enjoy the fresh air while reaping the rewards of a successful day on the water. And what could be more rewarding than being able to take home your hard-earned catch for a delicious meal?
While you can certainly take the fish you hook back to Orlando with you, we recommend you make the trip even more memorable by having the crew filet your fish at the end of the day (for an additional tip) and then take it to Grill’s Restaurant (near where you boarded the charter) to be cooked up fresh for you.
Of course if you’re lucky (skilled?) enough to catch a trophy fish, the crew of Ocean Obsession can also hook you up with a taxidermist who can mount your fish and even ship it to you if you don’t want to make the drive back to pick it up. (Or use that as an excuse to come back for another fishing charter trip.)
The Orlando Princess and her sister ship, The Canaveral Princess, also offer half day and full day fishing charters for the general public out of Cape Canaveral. They charge a “general admission” rate of between $70-$90 per person (depending on length of trip) but then they have add-on charges if you want to sit/fish from on a certain part of the ship. At 95’ and 85’ feet respectively, the Orlando Princess and the Canaveral Princess are much larger than Obsession Fishing Charters. Like Obsession, they provide everything you need to fish plus similar amenities. However, unlike Ocean Obsession they do NOT allow you to bring your own beer on board nor do they sell beer on board. But if you feel the need to fish from your namesake, she’s waiting for you.
Inshore, Fly and Light Tackle Fishing
On the other end of the spectrum is inshore, fly or light tackle fishing. Sportfishing Magazine has nicknamed the Indian River Lagoon the “trifecta of inshore saltwater fishing” because it encompasses Mosquito Lagoon, the Banana River and the Indian River. That’s why this estuary on the Space Coast is considered a world-class fishing destination for fly- or light tackle fishing. Expect to catch Snook, Trout or RedFish; all of which congregate here because of the shallow and wide open water. It’s also an excellent spot if you want to try your luck catching Tripletail too!
Check out Right In Site Charters or Central Florida Sight Fishing Charters for the perfect fly-fishing or light-tackle experience. These charters are for two people and range from $450 for a half-day to $700 for a full eight hours.
Also remember your sunscreen, hat and sunglasses (polarized are best if you’re sight-fishing) and wear non-marking, white sole shoes to respect the Captain’s boat. As the sun reflects off the water, your chances of being burned increase greatly.
Unique Fishing Experiences
Two less common fishing experiences near Cocoa Beach that may be fun for the two of you are eco-fishing by kayak with Cocoa Kayaking and surf fishing with Captain Lukas.
Surf fishing is the ultimate Florida beach immersion experience. You’ve likely seen the guys on the beach with their poles in the water. Perhaps you’ve wondered if they actually ever catch anything. I know I did. Until I learned a few things from Captain Lukas. He is so knowledgeable and willing to share his knowledge. Once you have your fishing bait soaking in the Florida Atlantic waters and that ambitious fish takes a bite, Lukas will walk you through each step of how to land Florida saltwater fish in a safe and successful way.
This is a perfect fishing activity for those who want to avoid being confined to a boat for hours on end, or for those who get motion sick.
Like the other charters, Captain Lukas provides everything you’ll need for the experience, except the fishing license. For this experience, you’ll need to purchase a Saltwater Shoreline Only Fishing License, which you can do online at Florida Fish & Wildlife
Eco-Fishing by Kayaking
Fishing by kayak is a unique and eco-friendly way to fish and enjoy the beautiful views of Merritt Island. With a knowledgeable fisherman along for the ride, you'll learn all the best spots to catch top fish from a kayak like red fish, snook, tarpon, speckled sea trout, black drum, cobia, jack crevalle and tripletail.
Cocoa Kayaking provides all the gear you need, including the kayak, a cooler, fish finder, fishing rods and reels, tackle, artificial and live bait.
For those new to kayak fishing, your first time casting from a kayak might feel a little awkward. The boat is going to wobble around which might have you believe it is unstable and ready to flip. It might sound easier said than done, but you have to remember to relax and trust your boat for what it was built for. Kayaks are designed for stability and maneuverability, so if you keep your center of gravity low and even, you'll be fine. And once you get the hang of it, you'll be hooked on kayak fishing!
Sebastian Fishing Museum
If you’re a hard core fisher-person you may also be interested in visiting the Sebastian Fishing Museum in the Sebastian Inlet State Park. This tiny museum is devoted to educating people about the rich history and fishing industry culture of the area. The museum is dedicated to honoring three of Sebastian's early families who ran fish houses and paved the way for others to make a living as commercial fishermen. Inside the museum, you’ll find a replica of an original fish house and dock as well as handmade fishing boats, early fishing gear and nets as well as early-to-modern photos of fishing in the area.
There are several fishing charters out of Sebastian as well, but they are all private charters and Sebastian is another hour’s drive south of Cape Canaveral.
Fun Fact about Space Coast Fishing
The Space Coast is known as the Redfish Capital of the World. Used a lot in Cajun/creole recipes, redfish is a popular mild, sweet flavored fish with a medium-firm texture. There isn’t a redfish “season.” They can be caught year round. However, there is a limit to one per day and that one must be bigger than 18” and smaller than 27” for you to legally keep it. Redfish are also one of the very few fish who can live in freshwater or saltwater; thus the abundance of the species in the area and the moniker.
If you choose to stay the night on the Space Coast, we recommend one of the many hotels right on the beach. With incredible views and easy access to fishing, swimming, and other activities, these hotels are perfect for a romantic getaway.
- Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront: 1550 N Atlantic Ave; (321) 799-0003
- Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort: 3550 N Atlantic Ave; (321) 783-2230
- Lost Inn Paradise: 2902 S Atlantic Ave; (321) 783-4765
- The Resort on Cocoa Beach: 1600 N Atlantic Ave; (321) 783-4000
- Beach Place Guesthouses: 1445 S Atlantic Avenue; (321) 783-4045
- Coco Sands: 1381 S Orlando Ave (754) 422-7789
More Cocoa Beach and Space Coast adventures to explore:
- Chasing the Sun on a Sunrise to Sunset Florida Road Trip
- A Perfect Day at Historic Cocoa Village + Rockledge Gardens
- Three Perfect Days in Cocoa Beach
- Day Trip: 8 Hours in Titusville