Best Times & Seasons to Catch Permit in Florida (Full Guide)

Today we discuss the Best Times & Seasons to Catch Permit in Florida. If you’re an avid angler looking for a thrilling challenge, catching a permit in Florida should be on your bucket list. Permit, also known as “Florida pompano,” is a highly sought-after fish species known for its strength and elusive nature.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best times and seasons to catch a permit in Florida. From understanding their behavior patterns to exploring the optimal fishing techniques, this article will equip you with all the knowledge you need for a successful permit fishing adventure.

Understanding Permit Behavior:

Before diving into the best times and seasons to catch permits in Florida, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of their behavior.

Permit are highly intelligent and cautious fish that inhabit shallow coastal waters, including flats, channels, and reefs. They can be found throughout Florida, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

Permit are known for their feeding habits, primarily targeting crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp, and small lobsters.

They have a keen sense of smell, making them sensitive to bait presentation and scent. Permit are also known for their incredible speed and acrobatic jumps when hooked, making them a challenging target for anglers.

Best Times & Seasons to Catch Permit in Florida:

Spring Season (March-May):

Spring is an excellent time to target permits in Florida. As the water temperatures rise, permits become more active and begin moving into shallower waters to feed. During this season, permits can be found on the flats, around grassy areas, and near passes and channels.

When targeting permits in the spring, it’s essential to focus on areas with strong tidal movements. Rising tides bring in fresh bait and trigger feeding activity among permits. Fishing with live crabs or shrimp near the bottom can yield great results during this season.

Summer Season (June – August):

Summer is another productive season for permit fishing in Florida. With warmer water temperatures, permits become more abundant and active.

They can be found in both shallow and deeper waters, including flats, channels, and nearshore reefs.

During the summer months, early mornings and late afternoons are often the most productive times to target permits.

As the sun rises higher in the sky, permit tends to move into deeper waters to seek shade and cooler temperatures.

Fishing with live bait such as crabs or shrimp on the flats or near structures can increase your chances of hooking a permit during this season.

Fall Season (September – November):

Fall is considered one of the best seasons for permit fishing in Florida. As water temperatures start to cool down, permit become more active and aggressive in their feeding habits. They can be found on the flats, near bridges, and along sandy beaches.

When targeting permits in the fall, it’s crucial to pay attention to changing weather patterns. Approaching cold fronts can trigger feeding frenzies among permits as they prepare for winter. Fishing with live crabs or shrimp near structure or using artificial lures that mimic crustaceans can be highly effective during this season.

Winter Season (December – February):

While winter may not be the most popular season for permit fishing in Florida, it still offers opportunities for anglers willing to brave the colder weather conditions. During this season, permits can be found in deeper waters, including channels, wrecks, and reefs.

When targeting permits in the winter, it’s essential to focus on areas with warmer water temperatures caused by natural springs or power plants.

These areas act as magnets for fish seeking refuge from the colder surrounding waters. Fishing with live crabs or shrimp on the bottom near the structure can attract permits during this season.

Tidal Influence on Permit Fishing:

Understanding tidal movements is crucial when targeting permits in Florida. Tidal changes play a significant role in bait movement and fish behavior. During incoming or rising tides, permits are more likely to be actively feeding as bait is brought in by the current.

Focusing your fishing efforts around high tide periods can significantly increase your chances of success. Look for areas with strong tidal flow, such as passes, channels, and points where baitfish congregate. Fishing with live bait or using lures that imitate natural prey can entice permits during these tidal periods.

Best Fishing Techniques for Permit:

When it comes to targeting permits in Florida, certain fishing techniques have proven to be effective in increasing your chances of success:

Sight Fishing:

One of the most thrilling ways to catch permit is through sight fishing. This technique involves actively scanning the water for feeding or cruising permit and presenting your bait or lure directly in their path. Polarized sunglasses are essential for spotting these elusive fish in shallow waters.

Bottom Fishing:

Bottom fishing with live bait such as crabs or shrimp is a popular technique for targeting permits. Rigging your bait with a circle hook and allowing it to settle on the bottom can attract a feeding permit. It’s crucial to maintain a tight line and be patient when waiting for a bite.

Fly Fishing:

For anglers looking for a challenging and rewarding experience, fly fishing for a permit is an excellent option. Permits are known for their selective nature and can be quite picky when it comes to fly presentation. Using crab or shrimp imitations tied on saltwater-specific flies can increase your chances of enticing a permit to bite.

Artificial Lures:

Using artificial lures can also be effective in catching permits. Lures that imitate crustaceans such as crabs or shrimp are particularly successful. Slowly retrieving these lures near the structure or along the bottom can trigger strikes from the feeding permit.

Best Locations for Permit Fishing in Florida:

Florida offers numerous locations where anglers can target permits throughout the year. Here are some of the best locations for permit fishing:

Florida Keys:

The Florida Keys are renowned for their exceptional permit fishing opportunities. The flats, channels, and bridges in this area provide prime habitat for these elusive fish. Key West, Marathon, and Islamorada are popular destinations for anglers targeting permit.

Tampa Bay:

Tampa Bay offers excellent opportunities for permit fishing throughout the year. The expansive flats and channels provide ample space for these fish to feed and roam. Areas such as Fort De Soto Park and Weedon Island Preserve are known for their productive permit fishing grounds.


Miami is another hotspot for permit fishing in Florida. Biscayne Bay and the surrounding areas provide ample opportunities to target these prized fish species. Areas such as Government Cut and Stiltsville Flats are known for their productive permit flats.

Southwest Florida:

Southwest Florida, including places like Naples and Sanibel Island, offers fantastic opportunities for anglers looking to catch permit. The extensive grass flats, passes, and backcountry waters provide ideal habitat for these fish to thrive.

Regulations and Conservation:

When fishing for permits in Florida, it’s essential to adhere to all state regulations and practice responsible angling techniques. Here are a few key regulations and conservation practices:

  • Always have a valid Florida fishing license.
  • Follow size and bag limits set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • Handle fish with care and release them properly if not intend to keep them.
  • Use circle hooks when bottom fishing to reduce injury to fish.
  • Be mindful of protected areas or seasonal closures.

By respecting these regulations and practicing responsible angling, we can ensure the long-term sustainability of the permit population in Florida.


Catching permit in Florida requires skill, knowledge, and patience. Understanding their behavior patterns, targeting them during the right seasons, and using effective fishing techniques can boost your chances of success. Florida offers many opportunities for anglers to catch this prized species, whether sight fishing on flats or bottom fishing near structure. Remember to follow regulations and practice responsible angling for the future of permit fishing in Florida. Gear up, plan your trip, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure chasing after these elusive silver ghosts!

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