When it comes to shallow water fishing there are three subset zones that are actually completely different from each other. You have flats, back country, and “nearshore”. Though you can target some of the same fish in each zone, each zone also brings its own unique species and tactics.
In Florida, flats fishing is a hugely popular way to fish the salt here. We have expansive shallow water areas off of every coast that allows anglers to sight fish for the species that work this zone. In a “flat” you can find anything from sandy bottom, to grass beds, to oyster beds, or any combination of these. Depending on where you are in the state, you can find a variety of different species. Some areas have bonefish where others do not, permit, and tarpon can also be zone specific – to name a few. I think one of the most common species is Redfish. However, even places like Biscayne Bay can be void of them. Flats fishing tactics generally include silence, good visibility, and light tackle.
Now the “flats” actually split between the other two zones. Closer to land, or even behind the official shoreline, is the backcountry. Backcountry fishing takes place in areas behind mangroves, inter coastal waterways, and for places like Everglades National Park – expansive backwater systems that can sometimes contain brackish water. In these areas you can again expect variety depending on where you are in the state. From central to South Florida you can expect your backcountry trips to include popular species such as Tarpon, Redfish, Snook, and Sea Trout.
Now in the opposite direction from the fats, towards the open ocean, is a zone commonly referred to as the nearshore zone. The nearshore zone allows for a great mix of fishing. Anything from pelagic ocean species, to the species you will find on the flats can be found here. This space also allows for much larger boats to fish shallower waters to get in a great mixed bag. This is especially popular with fishing charter services as the clients tend to have the most fun here, the ride isn’t too long, and the larger boats allow for more guests.
In the end it will come down to what you want to fish for and how you want to fish it. I think the best remedy is to do all 3.