Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for April 2021
Gulf of Mexico
April is a great month to be offshore in Southwest Florida because there are lots of fishing options. Bottom fishing for grouper and snapper continues to be reliably good, but king mackerel and Spanish mackerel showed up early last month due to our warmer than normal Spring and the peaks of their seasonal runs should occur this month. Huge schools of Spanish mackerel can be found just off the beach or out to about 15 or 20 miles offshore. King mackerel, the larger cousins of the Spanish mackerel, might be found anywhere from a mile offshore on out to 30 or 40 miles from the beach. Both species are schooling fish which rarely travel alone so the action can be hot and heavy when either variety is located. Trollers consistently take the most Spanish mackerel and king mackerel, but live bait anglers often catch the largest kings. Don’t be surprised if you hear about blackfin tuna catches too since last year saw quite a few blackfins taken during the early part of the spring king run, and since at least one sailfish was caught last month so that’s at least a slim possibility too. For yet another option, wrecks and artificial reefs are holding barracuda, permit, goliath grouper and mangrove snapper.
A warmer than normal spring has seasonal fisheries starting early in Charlotte Harbor this year. Trout, snook and redfish are acting like it’s summer already. Tarpon will probably get seriously started soon too. Spanish mackerel have been off-and-on in the harbor since early March and their numbers should go up and up this month. We’ve seen more pompano this spring than for the last few years and there have been small permit mixed in with them. There have also been more bonnethead sharks on the flats than any spring in recent memory, and we’ve caught more cobia than normal this year too. It has been a good winter for sheepshead, but they are starting to wind down now that their spawning run is coming to an end. Shark fishing for blacktips, spinners, bulls, blacknoses and small hammerheads will really crank up this month.
Fishing Season Updates
- Closed until summer 2021
- Season opened March 1, 2021, closes June 1, 2021
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season closed on November 1, will reopen May 1, 2021
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through August 31, 2021. Season will next open on September 1, 2021.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 31, 2021. Season will open June 1, 2021.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, all harvest is closed from May 11, 2019 through May 31, 2021. Season will open June 1, 2021.
- New size limit slot: 15″ minimum, 19″ maximum, only one per BOAT over 19″
- New bag limit in SW Florida zone: 3 per person per day max
- Season closed January 1, will reopen June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters effective March 1, 2021: Bag limit reduced to five per person, size limit increases to 14 inches, season closed Oct. 15 through Nov 30
- New rules effective July 1, 2019: must use non-offset, non-stainless circle hooks when targeting sharks in state waters, must have a permit for shark fishing from land, must carry a device capable of cutting hooks or leaders, cannot remove prohibited species from the water
- New bag limit effective 1/1/2020: 2 fish per person or 10 per boat, whichever is greater
Shortfin Mako Shark
- New recreational size limit effective 1/1/2020: increased to 83 inches fork length