A Fisherman’s Paradise

The Florida Keys is a coral archipelago stretching far into the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Surrounded by emerald green and turquoise waters, the unique geography allows for numerous launch points to some of the most diverse and productive salt waters in the world.

The coral shores of the Keys lead to pristine flats and coral reefs. Reef edges, in turn, act as the final step out into deep water. Anglers in flats skiffs explore the deep channels and the extensive grass-and-sand flats. Light-tackle boats take advantage of the wrecks and reefs. Sport fishermen roam the open waters in search of pelagic fish like dolphinfish, cobia and tripletail.

The Keys are also the premier saltwater angler's paradise that allow recreational harvesting of fish such as yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, red snapper, hogfish, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, red grouper and many other wonderful species. Many saltwater anglers also flock to the Florida Keys to pursue the biggest tarpon so they can set the Florida State record or International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. Even though tarpon is considered a “catch and release” fishery, tarpon may be harvested under extremely limited circumstances with a tarpon tag.

One of the Florida Keys’ most popular and sought after delicacies is stone crab claws. The Keys is Florida’s leading regional supplier of this sweet and succulent seafood. Monroe County, Florida, home to the Keys, averages about 40% of the state’s stone crab harvest. Recreational harvesters are also welcome to harvest stone crabs in the Keys. Stone crabs are not only a gourmet treat, but a vital resource and huge economic engine in the Florida Keys.

Finally, the Florida Keys is the best destination for spiny lobster recreational harvesters. At the top of every diver’s to-do list is enjoying lobster season in the Florida Keys. Spiny lobsters are majestic crustaceans that are sought after for their sweet and delicate tail meat.


A recreational saltwater fishing license is mandatory to harvest and land fish (including stone crab claws) in the State of Florida. To harvest spiny lobster, an additional lobster permit is required. For tarpon, a tag may be purchased when the saltwater angler is pursuing a State or IGFA record. The license, permit, and tag are all available by calling 888-Fish-Florida, in person at the county tax collector’s office or license agent, and online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Please be aware that federal authorities may require separate licenses and permits for federal waters.


Glossary of Terms

Atlantic State waters: from the shores of Florida to 3 nautical miles out to sea.

Gulf State waters: from the shores of Florida to 9 nautical miles out to sea.

Atlantic and Gulf federal waters: extend from where the state waters end and out to about 200 nautical miles or where another country’s water begins.

Total length: is the straight-line distance from the most forward part of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail squeezed together while the fish is lying on its side. Species measured by total length include:

Fork length: is measured from the tip of the jaw or tip of the snout with a closed mouth to the center of the fork in the tail. Species measured by fork length include:

Powerhead: a device mounted on the shaft of an underwater spear gun. It is used for personal protection against shark attacks. Powerheads can chamber a variety of handgun, rifle, or shotgun cartridges.

Bang stick: is a powerhead mounted on a metal shaft or wooden pole. Scuba divers carry a bang stick with a 26 inch rod and ball assembly for protection against sharks.


Penalties overview

There are, however, several rules and regulations for recreational lobster harvesters, recreational stone crab harvesters, saltwater anglers, and sport fisherman that they must always be aware of and follow. These rules and regulations can change depending on the body of water (Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico) and what jurisdiction (Federal or State) governs the waters. A violation of the saltwater fishing rules, lobster harvesting rules, stone crabbing rules, and tarpon regulations can lead to a criminal conviction, very high fines, very high monetary civil penalties, suspension of fishing licenses and permits, and possibly jail or prison time.


Useful Links

Rules governing State of Florida saltwater fishing can be found at:


Rules governing Atlantic federal waters can be found at:


Rules governing Gulf federal waters can be found at:


Map of important fishing boundaries and management zones can be found at: 


Contact an aggressive criminal defense attorney in Key West, Florida


The State of Florida treats marine life violations extremely seriously and seeks jail time for many marine life violations. The Jamindar Law Firm is focused on aggressively defending locals and tourists against marine life violations in Monroe County, Florida. To schedule a free initial consultation, call me at 305-204-6869 or contact me online. My office is conveniently located at 422 Fleming Street on the edge of the Key West Historical District.