A man waist deep in water holding a silver fish and his fishing rod

Freshwater Fishing

Sport fishing is allowed in designated areas in accordance with current Federal, State, and Refuge regulations except where posted as closed. Over 140,000 acres are open to freshwater fishing. Over 60 miles of trails and canals provide opportunities for bank fishing. Anglers may fish from an accessible fishing pier at the Headquarters Entrance in Boynton Beach, FL or at 20-Mile Bend in Loxahatchee, FL. Visit our Motorized Boating page to learn about boating and boat ramp locations. Refuge entrance fees apply.

What can I catch?
Over 40 species of fish have been detected on the refuge. Freshwater anglers may catch native species that include largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, bowfin (mud fish), redear sunfish, chain pickerel, Florida gar, bluegill, and warmouth. Additionally, anglers might also catch exotic species that occur in South Florida such as the Mayan cichlid, blue tilapia, butterfly peacock bass, oscar, spotted tilapia, sailfin catfish, bullseye, snakehead and others.

Rules and Regulations
Please visit our Facility Rules and Policies page for fishing regulations.

Fishing License
Visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website to learn about fishing license requirements.

Fish Consumption Advisories
Fish Consumption Advisories are published periodically by the State of Florida to alert consumers about the possibility of chemically contaminated fish in Florida waters. The advisories are meant to inform the public of potential health risks of specific fish species from specific water bodies. Learn more about Fish Consumption Advisories by visiting the Florida Department of Health’s website.

Alligators and other wildlife 
Do not feed wildlife. When fed, alligators lose their natural fear of humans and become attracted to people. It is unlawful to feed alligators or any other wildlife on the refuge. This includes allowing alligators to eat unwanted or released fish.

Fishing Guides
Fishing guides are allowed by permit only. To apply for a permit, follow the instructions on the Facility Services page for the Commercial Activities Special Use Application (FWS Form 3-1383-C).

Laws, rules, and regulations