Urban Fly Fishing on Southeast Florida Canals and Lakes
Updated: Apr 5
I've been fly fishing the Broward County canals and lakes pretty frequently for the last several months. For whatever reason, it's a fishery I largely ignored over the years except for the odd half-hearted attempt. For those of you unfamiliar with the inland waters from roughly Miami through West Palm Beach, they are quite unique to say the least.
Not only is there plenty of accessible water to fish, but the range of available species is straight-up impressive. Peacock and largemouth bass, tilapia, oscars, grass carp, snakeheads, and even saltwater species like tarpon and snook are just some of the species that thrive here in freshwater.
Finding fishable and accessible water is easy. Many of the spots (that aren't private) can be easily walked to or parked alongside—no bushwhacking or long hikes required! Just driving around and looking is a great way to find areas to fish, but using satellite images like Google Maps is the most efficient way I've found to locate prime waters. Using these images allows me to not just find potential spots, but I can also get a pretty good idea of whether some waters are private or not by zooming in and looking for fence lines or other deterrents. Once a possible spot is found, clicking on the Google Street View (if available for that spot) is another great way to get down on street level to get a feel for the possibility of access.
Keep tackle simple. Most of the time, a 5 to 7 weight rod works well coupled with a floating line or even a sink-tip line for deeper areas. My leaders typically taper down to a 12 or 15 pound tippet. I don't stress over flies too much, either. For pretty much everything except grass carp, simple streamers like clouser minnows and general baitfish imitations in a size 1 or 1/0 have attracted plenty of bites. Some folks swear by brightly-colored patterns, but I get plenty of bites fishing more natural tones. Basically, if it looks like a fish, it has a good chance of being eaten! Fish these flies at a lively speed around any ambush spots that are available—pilings, drop-offs, weed lines, points at canal intersections, and pipe/drain inlets can all be hot spots. As long as the weather isn't cold, success shouldn't be hard to come by.
This is a great fishery because it's readily accessible and I've found the fishing to not be a huge challenge. The targeted species may not always be encountered in great numbers at all times or in all areas, but I've found there's nearly always something that wants to bite a fly. If you ever find yourself in this region for a short stint and don't have a ton of time to fish, these waters can provide an easy and quick fishing fix.