Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated January 2019
Gulf of Mexico
January is primarily a bottom fishing month for Gulf of Mexico anglers. Mangrove snapper fishing can be found on small nearshore ledges and artificial reefs in as little as 20 or 25 feet of water and those same spots are starting to hold sheepshead now that their spawning season is getting underway. But the wintertime fishing on these shallow ledges may be slower than normal this year due to last summer’s red tide, so you may be better off to spend some money on fuel and fish further offshore. For the last few months the fishing has been good in water depths of more than about 65 feet. Grouper fishermen must focus on red grouper now that gag season has closed. Snapper fishing has been very good for lane snapper, mangrove snapper and vermilion snapper on the same flat rock areas where red grouper are found. Even though most anglers heading out this month will be thinking bottom fish, in mid-winter it’s possible to have a school of Spanish mackerel show up under your anchored boat, and bonita come and go all through the year.
More Charlotte Harbor anglers will spend more hours targeting trout this month than any other species. Trout will be found in canals, boat basins and waterways during cooler weather, but may move out onto nearby flats if we get several days of temperatures approaching the 80 degree mark. The old standby shrimp/popping cork rig is hard to beat for numbers of trout, but skilled anglers can sometimes catch more fish on jigs. Redfish can be found in mangrove creeks and canals and are starting to appear upriver, but remember that it’s catch-and-release only this winter. Sheepshead spawning season is now getting underway and these tasty zebra-striped fish are bunching up around pier and dock pilings and on the artificial reefs in the harbor, and a few table-sized mangrove snapper are inhaling baits at those same locations. Black drum are also being caught in the canals and in some tidal creeks.
Fishing Season Updates
- Season closed August 17, opens March 1, 2019
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season closed November 1, opens May 1, 2019, closes June 1
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 10, 2019. Season will next open on September 1, 2019.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 10, 2019. Season will open May 11, 2019.
- Season closed January 1, opens June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters: Bag limit now includes a 2 fish per boat maximum
- New bag limit effective July 1: 8 fish per person, 50 maximum per boat
- New size limit effective July 1: 18 inches (up from 15 inches)
- New regulations effective July 23 in Federal waters: 5 fish per person within the 10 fish aggregate snapper bag limit, new minimum size limit of 18 inches