Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for May 2022
Gulf of Mexico
Shark fishing in the nearshore Gulf has been off the charts. Water depths of 30 to 50 feet have been hot for adult blacktips, big sandbar sharks and some unstoppably huge bulls. The spring mackerel run has been mixed with good numbers of Spanish mackerel but as of this writing (around May 1) the king mackerel run has been sporadic. Hopefully this fun fishery will settle in as the month progresses. Fishing on nearshore artificial reefs has been good with mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, cobia and the ever-present Goliath grouper keeping things interesting. Permit will be arriving in numbers on these sites this month too. Further offshore, in water starting at about 65 feet deep, mixed bag bottom fishing for red grouper, lane snapper, porgys and other reef fish is good. Amberjack season opened May 1 after a six month closure and these hard-pulling fish are swirling around wrecks and reefs starting in about 75 feet of water.
May has historically marked the beginning of the SW Florida tarpon season but this year the fishing started perking up in April. Boca Grande Pass rightfully gets a ton of attention since it is the center of the tarpon fishing universe, but SW Florida anglers are lucky to be able to find tarpon in many parts of the estuary. It’s also cool that tarpon can be caught in a variety of ways as they are found in the Gulf passes, in the deep holes mid-harbor, under bridges and in the river mouths. Catch-and-release snook fishing heats up in the Spring too and May often offers some of the best snook action of the year as these fish go into a pre-spawn feeding mode. Life is blossoming on the flats all around the estuary so fishing with shrimp over beds of sea grass is a good way to stay busy with a mix of trout, ladyfish, jacks, Spanish mackerel, cobia, bonnethead sharks and possibly a stray bluefish or pompano. Shark fishing in Charlotte Harbor, targeting small fish of up to about four feet in length, is great fun and really takes off this month. Species caught can include blacktips, bonnetheads, blacknoses, Atlantic sharpnoses, bulls and small hammerheads.
Fishing Season Updates
- Open June 1 through August 18 for charterboats
- Private boats: Open dates are June 17 through July 31, and weekends of Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16, Oct. 22-23, Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 25-27
- Season opened on March 1, 2022, will close on June 1
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season open: no closure planned in 2022
- Season opened January 1, 2022, mid-year closure likely
- Season opened May 1, will close June 1
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through August 31, 2022. Season will next open on September 1, 2022.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through August 31, 2022. Season will open Sept. 1, 2022. New bag limit: one per person but two fish max per BOAT
- Gulf coast from Sarasota Bay to Naples, season opened 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 of 6 per BOAT per day
- Season closed January 1, will reopen June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters effective March 1, 2021: Bag limit reduced to five per person, size limit increased to 14 inches, season closed Oct. 15 through Nov 30