Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for December 2020
Gulf of Mexico
Gulf fishing has been good for a mixed bag including red grouper, lane snapper, porgys, and vermilion snapper on areas of flat rock starting in about 60 feet of water and on further out. Bottom fishermen also look forward to December as the first month when significant numbers of large gag grouper begin to show up on the shallow ledges in less than 60 feet of water, negating the need to travel many miles out over the horizon in search of a fresh grouper dinner. Sometimes the best gag action occurs within easy sight of the beach. And as a bonus, those ledges are also holding mangrove snapper, spawning-sized sheepshead and some hogfish. A warmer-than-normal November resulted in water temperatures in the upper 70’s at the beginning of December and this has kept Spanish mackerel and kings along the coast. There’s plenty of bait offshore so the Spanish and kings should stick around until the Gulf water temperature drops into the 60’s.
Catch-and-release snook fishing was good all through November in upper Charlotte Harbor due to the mild fall weather. If nice weather prevails, then snook fishing could remain productive right through the end of December. Spotted sea trout are still on the flats due to the mild weather and there have been a few pompano and bonnethead sharks mixed in. Remember that the trout fishery is catch-and-release now too. A few cobia were caught in the harbor during November, with some up to about 30 pounds taken and there may still be some around this month. Redfish are starting to move into canals, creeks and upriver and should hang out in these areas for the duration of the winter. Periods of extremely cold weather can sometimes bunch the reds up in deeper holes, leading to furious action on smaller fish. Remember that redfish season is also closed until next spring. Sheepshead are starting to school up around docks, piers and bridges where they’ll become a mainstay for table fishermen for the next several months.
Fishing Season Updates
- Closed until summer 2021
- Season closed October 26, 2020, will reopen March 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 opened June 1, will close January 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