Top 5 Fish To Eat in Southeast Florida

Lorea Thomson
Posted by Lorea Thomson
Updated on
Published in Boating

If you are from Southeast Florida, you already know, but if you are new to the area, one of the best ways to enjoy the area is by eating what the locals eat...FISH! Saving the best for last, here are the top 5 fish to eat in Southeast Florida!

5. Grouper

Grouper is the most common up-sell on a dinner menu from mahi-mahi. They have delicious lean white meat with a distinct yet mild flavor, large flakes, and a firm texture. Gag grouper (or black grouper), as well as red grouper, are the most widely distributed in Florida, and goliath and Nassau grouper are protected from harvest in Florida waters. Grouper is usually speared by divers or caught drift fishing over a reef offshore with baits near the bottom. For current recreational regulations, visit the FWC Website.

4. Snapper

Some people may argue with me that grouper should be higher on the list than snapper, but the deciding factor for me is that snapper can be fried whole, which is one of my favorite dishes. Its skin comes out super thin and crispy, and its meat stays super moist and flaky. If you’re looking to try this dish in all of its glory, go to Captain Charlie’s Reef Grill in Juno Beach. You won’t be disappointed! There are many different kinds of snapper, but the most common snapper you’ll find on a menu is red snapper and yellowtail snapper. Snapper has firm lean white meat with a mildly sweet and fresh taste. Mangrove snappers are also pretty tasty, but they’re much smaller filets since they live and feed in the shallow mangroves so it's not as cost-effective for a restaurant to serve mangrove snapper. Different kinds of snappers are caught in different areas, but most of them are caught bottom-fishing on natural and artificial reefs. Queen snapper are caught deep-dropping with squid, and mangrove snapper is caught fishing with light tackle and live shrimp on the edge of mangroves.

3. Hogfish

Also known as hog snapper, hogfish has a mild flavor with sweet undertones, much like grouper. It’s a bit flakier than mahi-mahi, and one of the best tasting cooked fish in Florida. Hogfish is found around natural and artificial reefs and most commonly speared by divers, but it’s possible to catch them by hook & line too. For current regulations, visit the FWC Website.

2. Yellowfin Tuna

Known on a menu as ahi tuna, this world-famous delicacy is the most common sushi eaten in the world. Its meat ranges from dark red to light pink, and it’s usually enjoyed raw with soy sauce and wasabi or sesame-crusted and lightly seared medium-rare. I almost didn’t include yellowfin tuna on this list because most are caught on day trips to the Bahamas, but considering it’s on almost every seafood menu in Florida and my personal favorite, I had to throw it on here! Tuna fishing season begins around April, when more advanced sportfishing teams use radar to find birds that indicate where schools of tuna are feeding, then they follow these powerful fish to catch them with live bait on rod and reel. If you’re looking for tuna closer to Florida, your best bet is to troll for blackfin with tuna darts in the same fashion as you would troll for Mahi. Some people argue that blackfin tuna is just as good as yellowfin. I disagree, but we’ll let you be the judge- just don't confuse blackfin tuna with Bonita or skipjack tuna, which are not very good to eat. A blackfin tuna does not have stripes, skipjack has longitudinal stripes, and Bonita has diagonal stipes. To keep a yellowfin tuna, you must have a “Highly Migratory Species” (HMS) Permit issued by NOAA, but blackfin tuna is currently an unregulated species in the state of Florida. For current regulations, visit the FWC Website.

1. Wahoo

I have wahoo on the list as #1, because if you haven’t tried fresh wahoo ceviche, you haven’t lived! Wahoo, or ono, gets its name from the Hawaiian word which means “good to eat”, and for good reason. Its high-quality white flesh is a delicacy in South Florida, served as fresh sashimi or as a cooked meal. These highly desirable fish are usually caught high-speed trolling offshore with brightly colored lures, and are considered an elusive species to target. Wahoo is currently an “unregulated species” in Florida, which means the default bag limit is two fish or 100 pounds per person per day, whichever is more. For current regulations, visit the FWC Website.

Well, there are the top 5 fish to eat in Florida. If you do not have your own boat and would like to catch your own dinner, we recommend booking a charter with a professional captain like Reel Candy Sportfishing or Adrenaline Rush Charters in Jupiter, Fish On Sportfishing Charters in Palm Beach, or Captain Chris Lemieux in Boynton. 


Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.