With the longest stretch of unsettled saltwater coastline in the continental United States, one of the longest unobstructed rivers in the nation and the largest concentration of first magnitude springs and spring-fed streams, our 14-county Natural North Florida region has excellent fishing resources.
Our Gulf Coast stretches from Panacea in Wakulla County to Yankeetown in Levy County and holds saltwater species like tarpon, spotted seatrout, redfish, groupers, cobia and pelagic species like king and Spanish mackerel.
Backwaters along our rugged coast are very fishable, with oyster reefs and limestone outcrops forming the basis for the fishery. The inflow of fresh water provides the necessary nutrients which allow the growth of this fish nursery and habitat.
SCALLOPING In addition to saltwater finfish species, our Natural North Florida Big Bend coast is also renowned for the only recreational bay scallop harvest in the United States. This event lasts about three months throughout the summer and is one of the mainstays of our coastal economies. Bay scallops are legal game in the Gulf from mid-June until mid-September, depending on location. Admittedly it is a short season but, while it lasts, its just about as much fun as you and your family can have. For complete information on the bay scallop harvest, bag limits, and regulations, please visit www.myfwc.com/fishing
FISHING LICENSE Florida residents and visitors need a Florida freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing license. Your license is required to be with you. Go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website to obtain a license and to learn more about fishing and boating in Florida. Alternatively, download the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Fish/Hunt app to obtain your license and receive other useful information such as boat ramp locations.
FISHING CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS Local fishing events include tournaments, as well as activities sponsored by local fishing and boating clubs. The Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club has monthly programs as well as family-oriented fishing events. The Gulf Coast Kayaking Club sponsors several fishing events throughout the year. Freshwater anglers might enjoy the programs and events sponsored by the Bassmasters of Gator Country.
Paddling is to Florida what hiking is to the great American west. Natural North Florida has over 750 miles of paddling trails, including Segments 5 and 6 of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail as well as the 171 mile Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Natural North Florida paddling trails are indeed natural. None of our rivers have dams, levies or other flood control structures.
Paddling trips in Natural North Florida can be as short as one hour where outfitters provide kayaks and canoes to 10 days or longer. All of our rivers are flatwater rivers as Florida has no true whitewater. The closest is a small segment of Class III whitewater on the upper Suwannee at a place called Big Shoals. However, those looking for a true paddling challenge and adventure can find it on segments 5 and 6 of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.
Natural North Florida river levels fluctuate widely depending on rainfall. If river levels are too low, paddlers may "bottom out" and have to portage. If water levels are too high (flood stage), they are dangerous and should be avoided until river levels return to normal. Paddlers should call ahead to one of the local paddling guides for information and recommendations on river levels and conditions.
Visit Natural North Florida has many paddling guides and outfitters who can provide you with kayak and SUP rentals for as short as one hour or can outfit you for a week-long (or longer) trip. Our paddling guides and outfitters can be found here.
The pins on the paddling page map provide detailed information on the paddling trails located in the region. Each includes a brief synopsis of the trail as well as links to a detailed map and guide. A Directions button is also provided. Open our website on your cell phone to the desired paddling trail, click the Directions button and receive turn-by-turn GPS directions to the trailhead (or at least somewhere close to it).
NATURAL NORTH FLORIDA IS HOME TO THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF NATURAL SPRINGS IN THE WORLD, AMAZING GULF COAST SUNSETS, WORLD-CLASS FISHING, PRISTINE RIVERS FOR PADDLING EXCURSIONS AND PEACEFUL TRAILS TO HIKE ON.
Formed in 1993, Visit Natural North Florida (aka The Original Florida Tourism Task Force) is a governmental entity formed through an interlocal agreement among county governments to promote tourism in north central Florida. The region encompasses Floridas Big Bend coastal area, spanning Wakulla County in the west down to Cedar Key/Levy County in the south, east to Gainesville, and north to the Florida-Georgia state line. The Task Force is a founding partner of the official tourism marketing organization for the state, VISIT FLORIDA.
The mission of Visit Natural North Florida is to promote the natural, historic and cultural attractions of the area in order to increase the number of visitors and to extend their stay. The goal of the organization is to enhance the economy, image and quality of life of the area through expanded revenues and employment opportunities. At the same time, Visit Natural North Florida encourages the preservation of the resources which bring focus to the area.