Solomon Rodney, 37, said he assumed the missile was inactive or already exploded because of a hole in its side so it rode atop his boat for 10 days before he returned to shore and turned it over to a bomb squad from MacDill Air Force Base, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Tuesday.
Rodney said he was surprised to hear the missile was live.
"If it was going to explode, it was going to explode a long time ago," he said after the missile had spent 10 days on his boat.
"This is a live air-to-air missile," Pinellas County sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said Monday. "It is 8 feet long, and the MacDill team is dismantling it."
Rodney said the MacDill team told him not to bring anymore missiles home from his fishing trips.
"They told me if you find another one, just let it go," he said.