Best Fish In Florida

Florida is the state where you can find a paradise for recreational and professional aquatic activities, thanks to its bounty of fisheries. If you are familiar with fishing in Florida, you might have an idea of what tastes fantastic and what is not supposed to be edible.

However, if you are fishing and looking for some seafood delicacies for the first time, you might get overwhelmed with the abundance of fish available.

What is the best-eating fish in Florida? Grouper is the best eating fish you can find in Florida. While most fish species under the grouper family are best-eating fish, the black grouper might be the first one you should try. You need to try it and have a taste of this popular fish in this state.

This post will help you learn more about what fish is tasteful and should be served on your table. You might be surprised by the abundance of different fish species you can try in restaurants or fishing.

Best Tasting Fish In Florida

There are 70 plus species of fish found in Florida, and it might be challenging to rank them appropriately. They are unique in their own way, and it might be delicious to some people, and some have different opinions about it. Taste is that of preference, and no science can prove that one is better than the other factually.

Always remember that the best-eating fish will always be the fish caught and served on the same day and prepared to perfection. Here are some of the best eating fish you can find in this Sunshine State:

Grouper

Grouper is considered one of the top fish you can find in many dinner menus aside from mahi-mahi. Grouper has the leanest white meat with a distinct but wild flavor, large flakes, and some firm texture.

Black grouper, and red grouper, are the most widely distributed fish all over Florida waters and Goliath and Nassau Grouper are the ones that are being protected. Grouper is usually speared by many divers or caught drift fishing over a reef offshore with some bait.

Kingfish

Some people might be wondering why Kingfish even made it on this list, but the truth is that South Florida consumes a greater amount of it. It is also known as the King Mackerel. Kingfish is not technically the best fish to eat as a main course. It is because it tastes pretty gamey.

After all, it does have a high oil content. However, commercial king fishing is getting more popular lately for a big reason. It is all thanks to smoked fish dip.

You can expect that every restaurant in South Florida does have this delectable appetizer. This appetizer consists of shredded smoked Kingfish, mayonnaise, or sour cream, and each chef has their own blend of spices.

Just beware of these toothy critters as their teeth are razor-sharp, and check your current recreational regulations.

Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-mahi is also known as dolphin or dorado, and it is a very mild white fish with a lean and firm texture. It can hold together very well when you fry it or even grill them, and for many fish fingers in restaurants, you can expect that it is Mahi.

In addition, Mahi can be caught trolling offshore with dead bait rigged to some ballyhoo or Bonita strips. 

Usually, they are found in schools feeding on baitfish under floating seaweed or some debris. However, if you spotted a Mahi, you could also catch them using some sight-casting with bucktails or ballyhoo and a spinning rod.

Snook

Snook is considered to be illegal to be commercially sold or fish. It is because it is tagged for its wide restaurant distribution. This began in the early 1900s because it has a delicious mat and can be easily caught from a dock.

As a result, they are highly regulated as tropical fish, and for more information, you can check the Florida Wildlife Center website.

Once you have enough knowledge and permits, you can harvest a daily limit of one per day during the season.

Some restaurants will clean, prepare, and cook your catch for you, and its meat has a medium firmness and mild flavor. Considering it has largely chunky flakes, it can easily absorb dressings and marinades really well.

Swordfish

Swordfish is a high-end fish that is considered a premium entrée, and it is mainly sold exclusively cut as thick steaks. It has thick white meat with moderate fat content and a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

Swordfishing is known to be an artful form of fishing as it needs a lot of extensive research and experience for you to get one.

Fishing swordfish requires a highly migratory species permit that NOAA mainly issues, and if you would like to catch your own swordfish, you can avail different charter.

Booking a charter with a professional captain will give you more of the experience you are looking for. Many people are getting into swordfishing because of the thrill of catching it rather than the taste. 

Cobia

Cobia can be hard to find in some restaurants, and if you have the chance, you need to try it. Cobia’s meat is slightly firmer than snapper, grouper, Mahi, or even a snook.

It has a clean, fresh, buttery flavor without the high oil content you find in most swordfish. Unfortunately, Cobia is relatively rare, and there is a small window at the beginning of a fall when they migrate from the south for warmer waters.

During the first warm days of spring, many cobia move closer to the shore when the water temperature rises. They might pop up when you first approach a reef, but it is usually gone for good if you do not pitch a live bait.

Cobias are considered powerful fish and would be sad if you lose it; if you’ve got one on, be ready with two gaffs.

Snapper

Some people may argue that snapper is just as equal as having a grouper, but the deciding factor is actually that the snapper can be fried whole. If you fry a snapper, its skin comes out super thin, and it can get crispy while the meat inside stays moist and flaky.

So if you are looking to try this dish in all of its glory, you can try it in many restaurants in Juno Beach.

There are many kinds of snapper, but the most snapper you can find in many menus is the yellowtail snapper and red snapper. Snapper has some firm, lean white meat that has a sweet and fresh taste. Mangrove snapper is also popular, but they are much smaller filets since they live and feed in shallow mangroves.

Hogfish

Hogfish is most commonly known as hog snapper, and it has a mild flavor that consists of some sweet undertones. It is more like a grouper as it has a bit flakier texture compared to a Mahi and one of the best-tasting cooked fish in Florida.

You can find many Hogfish in natural and artificial reefs, and many divers most commonly spear them. But according to experts, you can still catch them by hook and line method too.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna is known in many restaurants’ menus as ahi tuna, and this is considered the world’s most famous delicacy. The reason is that this fish is mainly used in sushi all over the globe. You can expect its meat to range from dark red to light pink, and it is usually enjoyed raw with some soy sauce and wasabi. Yellowfin Tuna is most caught on day trips to the Bahamas but considering it’s on every seafood menu in Florida, this has to be on this list.

Tuna fishing season starts around April, and this is when more advanced sportfishing teams use radar to find birds. This indicates where schools of tuna are actually feeding, and then they usually follow these powerful fish to catch them using live bait on rod and reel.

Some people will argue that the blackfin tuna is just as good as the yellowfin one, but all people have different preferences. Just do not confuse blackfin tuna with a Bonito or Skipjack Tuna, which are not very good to eat. Also, a blackfin tuna does not have stripes, while Bonita has its distinct longitudinal stripes.

Wahoo

Wahoo is on the list because it is known for its fresh wahoo ceviche, and it is one of the most popular delicacies in this state.

Wahoo, most commonly known as Oho, gets its name from the Hawaiian word, which basically means good to eat, and that is for a good reason. It has high-end white flesh and is best served as fresh sashimi or as a cooked meal.

These highly desirable fish are generally caught at high speed trolling offshore that have some brightly colored lures. Unfortunately, Wahoo is considered to be an unregulated species in Florida, which means that the default bag limit is two fish or at least 100 pounds per person a day.

Catfish

Catfish is the close second choice by many people for best-eating freshwater fish of Florida. It seems like there are more and more varieties of catfish you can find in this state every year. You can find some blue, brown, bullhead, flathead, and yellow bullhead varieties.

As a result, it comes off as an advantage for many anglers because catfish fillets are tender and delicate to your mouth. The flavor is mild, and sometimes it has some hints of wildness from the waters where they used to live.

The good thing about catfish is that even a small one can yield a lot of meat too, and they are considered to be food, simple, and comfort food to many people.

Tripletail

If you are looking for some nice white, flakey fish, you might need to tray some tripletail. The meat is delicate, has a rich flakey taste, and overall exquisite flavor.

It melts in your mouth, adds some shimmer of sea flavor, and wants you to have more after each bite. The best thing about tripletail meat is that it offers you many contradictions like many of the best meats.

It is considered to be meat that has an intense flavor but still can be mild. It is also dense, but it tastes so light to your tongue, not to mention compact, firm, flakey, and light. It has a very distinctive flavor that resulted from an echo of many briny creatures under the sea.

Tripletail can be found in many local markets, but often you will see tripletail being imported from Central America. It is still quite good but minus the luminosity of a fresh-caught fish, and you will still find plenty of people who will say pompano is the best. But tripletail is a triple threat.

Mackerel

Mackerel is a popular fish primarily part of the Mediterranean diet, but it is also well known among Florida fish. Mackerel might tend to get very oily and boney, but it is worth the trouble, and if you catch a Spanish Mackerel, you can either roast them or fry them whole.

Another option to try is to add some herbs, spices, and sauces, then try to grill them, and you will get the best out of it.

If you ever catch a King Mackerel, you can either roast the filets or even the whole fish. Smoking and grilling the whole will also work to give you more flavor when you try to eat them. Spanish Mackerel is also plentiful if you are making Spanish-style or Italian-style fish soups or stews.

Flounder

Flounder is known to be a popular fish that you can catch, cook, and eat worldwide. However, you can catch it in Florida as well, and the flesh of the flounder, when cooked, is very white, tender, sweet, with small flakes, so it is best to season it and not try to overcook it.

It is recommended that flounder tastes either broiled or sauteed using salt, pepper, butter, or olive oil. You can also add some spice or herb then efficiently serve it with rice, potatoes, and salad/ vegetables.

Mullet

Mullet is Florida’s state dish, it might vary depending on who you talk to, but Mullet will always be on top of everyone’s list. Mullet is known to be very oily with firm flesh and great skin, so this is a popular choice for smoking.

If you can smoke the Mullet you catch, do it, and you can transform it in so many ways in terms of taste.

You can also serve on its own as an appetizer or light dinner and then put them on salads. If you are not a fan of smoking, you can try grilling them or baking them, seasoning them with a marinade, and then adding some aromatics to them.

What Makes A Fish Taste Good?

Before diving into the list of available and best-tasting fish that can be found in Florida, you might be wondering what makes a fish taste good. For the most part, fish is not all that great, but there are plenty of ways to make it very flavorful. Likewise, there are ways that you can make any fish taste decent as long as you have the proper knowledge on taking care of it.

A Cajun blackened fish food can be done with any fish of your choice for a recipe. You need to catch something and cook it this way, and you will have a blast if you serve it on your table. If you use a fish that has a natural umami taste, has some nice texture, then you are into your culinary realm.

Take a blackened grouper sandwich as an example. It is one of the greatest foods you can find in Florida. Mahi can also be incredible when you don’t have the means to get a grouper. Some fish naturally taste amazing with just butter, and some you all need to do is add some spices to it.

Conclusion

To conclude, when you book a trip to Florida, you will have many choices of fish that you want to try. You can have it cooked in many different ways too, making the list of the variety of delicacies you can try a little bit longer.

Simply put, you will never run out of fish to try in Florida. During your visit, you can try grouper, snapper, Hogfish, and tuna, to name a few of the top best-tasting fish.

If you’re into fishing, you may arrange a charter where you can easily catch your own dinner. Most of the charters can clean and fillet your fish for you so you can take it back and cook it on your own grill.