Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for January 2021
Gulf of Mexico
January is primarily a bottom fishing month for Gulf of Mexico anglers. Red grouper and lane snapper are scattered on patches of live bottom in 60 to 100 feet of water. Fishing for mangrove snapper is good on small nearshore ledges and on 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. Grunts, triggerfish, porgys and hogfish are on ledges in 30 to 50 feet of water and are so cooperative that a shrimp dropped anywhere near one of these spots usually doesn’t last long. Even though most anglers will be thinking bottom fish, even in mid-winter it’s possible to have a surprise school of Spanish mackerel or drag-burning bonita show up under your anchored boat.
Trout, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and redfish are popular winter fisheries in Charlotte Harbor, but remember that trout and redfish seasons are currently closed so they are catch-and-release only. Trout will be found in canals, boat basins and waterways during cooler weather, but they move out onto nearby flats if we get a few days of temperatures approaching the 80 degree mark. The old standby shrimp/popping cork rig is hard to beat for catching numbers of trout, but skilled anglers can sometimes catch larger fish on jigs. Redfish can be found in mangrove creeks and canals and are starting to appear upriver. Sheepshead spawning season is now ramping up and these tasty zebra-striped fish are schooling around pier and dock pilings and on the artificial reefs in the harbor. Mangrove snapper can be caught around bridge and dock pilings and canal rip-rap as well as at the mouths of tidal creeks. Black drum are being caught in the PGI canals, around the highway bridges, and at the artificial reef off Alligator Creek.
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 closed January 1, will reopen June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters effective March 1, 2020: 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