Local Fishing Report

Reports Updated November 2018

Gulf of Mexico

Reports of king mackerel just to our north indicate that the fall king mackerel run will crank up for real in November this year.  Kings ranging in size from five pound schoolies up to forty pound smokers should be found from a few hundred yards to a few dozen miles offshore.  While these fish can be found almost anywhere, anglers are most likely to find good fishing by concentrating on areas where there are schools of bait or on areas where there is structure on the bottom.  Don’t be surprised if you catch other fish while hunting kings because bonita, sharks, blackfin tuna, huge jack crevalle and sometimes jumbo redfish may also be found sharing the food chain with the migrating king mackerel.  Spanish mackerel, fish that are mostly in the one to four pound range, are smaller cousins of the king mackerel and should be thick along the coast this month with the best action usually found around the passes and inlets.  A mix of bluefish, ladyfish and blue runners will often be found mixed with the Spanish mackerel and when this happens it can result in unbelievably hot action.  Bottom fishermen also look forward to November 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.

Charlotte Harbor

Mixed Spanish mackerel, bluefish, blue runners, ladyfish and jacks pound bait schools in the harbor during November.  Surface action is easy to spot but if you need help, birds can be your best friends when it comes to finding the fish.  The lower harbor and the bars around the Gulf passes are almost always active this time of year, but the action can be as far inland as the I-75 bridge on the Peace River, or upriver of El Jobean on the Myakka River.  You might, just might, find a stray tarpon around the edges of the frenzies, but most of the silver kings left the area around the end of October.  There is a show of flounder along the barrier islands in November, the back sides of Gasparilla Island and Cayo Costa are good, as are the edges of the inlets.  Bouncing baits along the sandy bottom in two to six feet of water where you can find a current running is a good flounder bet.  The best trout fishing has been on the flats in two to three feet of water in the upper harbor, and on slightly deeper grass flats in the lower harbor and nearer to the Gulf.  When temps cool a bit further look for trout fishing in canals, creeks and boat basins to perk up. The winter sheepshead fishery is starting to come alive, there are fairly good numbers of sheepshead appearing in the canals and around docks and this fishery will get hotter and hotter as the weather gets cooler and cooler.

Fishing Season Updates

Triggerfish

  • Season closed August 17, opens March 1, 2019
  • New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person

Greater Amberjack

  • Season closed November 1, opens May 1, 2019

Snook

  • Emergency action by FWC:  Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 10, 2019.  Season will next open on September 1, 2019.

Redfish

  • Emergency action by FWC:  Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 10, 2019.  Season will open May 11, 2019.

Gag grouper

  • Season opened June 1, closes January 1

Cobia

  • New regulation in Florida waters: Bag limit now includes a 2 fish per boat maximum

Sheepshead

  • New  bag limit effective July 1: 8 fish per person, 50 maximum per boat

Tripletail

  • New size limit effective July 1: 18 inches (up from 15 inches)

Mutton Snapper

  • 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