Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for May 2020
Gulf of Mexico
Offshore anglers have lots of options this month. The spring mackerel run is “on” and schools of Spanish mackerel can be found around the passes and offshore bars where they’ll be mixed with bluefish, blue runners, ladyfish and jacks. The action on kings has been off and on, with the best action around areas of hard bottom, wrecks or artificial reefs. There were some blackfin tuna last month but not as many as last spring, but hopefully we’ll see more in May. Some of the same wrecks and reefs where kings are being caught, including some in as little as 30 feet of water, are also holding permit which will take a free-lined crab, and Goliath grouper are starting to bunch up there too for their spring/summer spawn. Bottom fishing for red grouper has been reasonably good with keepers possible in as little as 60 feet of water, but more likely in deeper depths. No matter what depth you fish, expect to release quite a few undersized red grouper and quite a few gags, for which the season is still closed until June 1.
Tarpon have moved into Boca Grande Pass and have triggered the annual silver king madness in that big inlet, a frenzy of fish and fishermen that will last approximately two months. Boca Grande Pass receives a ton of publicity during tarpon season, but it is not the only place to catch a tarpon. Anglers fishing the deep holes in the harbor can catch tarpon without having to work around as many boats, and this fishery is getting underway now. Tarpon action will also be pretty good under the highway bridges at night in both the Peace and Myakka Rivers. Snook action on the flats has been steady as the fish continue to move out of the rivers and creeks, and there have been snook appearing out on the Gulf beaches. Anglers have been enjoying fun, mixed-bag action by anchoring mid-harbor, deploying a chum block, and waiting to see who appears. Spanish mackerel, small sharks (and some not-so-small sharks), and cobia have all been sniffing around chum slicks in recent weeks, providing some really fun fishing on those days when the wind lays down enough to make for comfortable conditions in the open water where this action is found.
Fishing Season Updates
- Charterboat season opens June 1, 2020
- Private boat season opens June 11, 2020
- Season closed May 2, 2020, will open March 1, 2021
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season opened May 1, 2020, will close June 1 2020
- 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.
- Season closed January 1, opens June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters: Bag limit now includes a 2 fish per boat maximum
- 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