94.7 million visitors came to Florida in 2013 and out-of-state fishing license sales exceeded 500,000 – far more than any other state in the U.S.

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ere’s some good advice about special properties to visit when you come to Florida. The assumption here is that you’ve an outdoor frame of mind, and even more enticing if you’ve an addiction to fly fishing that you hope never goes away.

The properties are state managed and called the Florida Aquatic Preserves. There are 41 of them, encompassing approximately 2.2 million acres of which all but four are located along Florida’s 8,400 miles of coastline.

The coastline coordinates are the shallow waters of marshes and estuaries that are rich nurseries and resources for many of the nation’s recreationally and commercially important fish and shellfish. They also host bird rookeries and consist of freshwater springs, salt marshes, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests.

Big Bend Florida. Audubon.org photo.

Big Bend Florida. Audubon.org photo.

The preserves are unique because they support and abundance of wildlife in habitats of pristine waters. If your kids are bored visitors at an aquatic preserve, disown them.

Although we have not fished anywhere near all 41 preserves, we paddled and motored through several and ended up having spectacular angling days every time – along with being treated to a myriad of birds leaving their rookeries at sun-up. A spectacle not soon forgotten.

Adding information about fly fishing these 41 preserves would take a book, and there is one available that covers South Florida – coast to coast. It does not focus on aquatic preserves, but is so informative about seasons, tides, species and how-to you’d be profligate not to get a copy. It’s titled The Ultimate Guide to Fishing South Florida on Foot by Steve Kantner. Click here . . .

About the Florida DEP’s Florida Coastal Office

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office (FCO) is responsible for oversight of the State’s 41 Aquatic Preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is the mission of FCO to conserve and restore Florida’s coastal resources for the benefit of people and the environment.

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Virtual tour of the state’s 41 aquatic preserves through pictures, videos and website links is found here . . .

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