Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for August 2021
Gulf of Mexico
Much of the offshore attention this month will be on bottom fish as anglers take advantage of the simultaneous open seasons for gag and red grouper and amberjack. Gag reports haven’t been great this summer but fishermen have been picking a few on ledges in 75 feet of water or deeper. Red grouper catches on flat rock starting in about 65 feet have been much more consistent, and catches of lane snapper, vermilion snapper and porgys have been good in those same areas. Wrecks and artificial reefs in as little as 30 feet of water and on out to 90 feet are holding permit, mangrove snapper, cudas, and Goliath grouper. The Goliaths on some of these sturctures are getting so big that they are nearly impossible to handle on conventional fishing gear. Amberjack are on wrecks and artificial reefs starting in about 70 feet of water and deeper, and are stacked up pretty good since the season has been closed for a few months.
August is time for “Black water” tarpon fishing in the dark waters of central Charlotte Harbor in water that’s ten to twenty feet deep, for fish in the 60 to 125 pound range. Free-lined threadfins, scaled sardines or crabs are the most popular baits but pinfish, catfish and ladyfish will tempt these tarpon too. Be prepared to deal with the pesky sailcats which have an amazing ability to take your live bait just as you’re getting into a good wad of tarpon. August is also a good month for smaller “canal-sized” tarpon of five to twenty pounds which spend the summer in many of the local residential canals and boat basins. Catch-and-release snook fishing has been very good, and a few more redfish are showing now as well. Trout season opened in Charlotte Harbor this spring after a closure of nearly three years and trout fishing has been pretty good. Just about every structure in the harbor is now home to eating sized mangrove snapper and all that’s needed is a light tackle rig and either a few dozen live shrimp or some small live shiners or small pinfish. In Charlotte Harbor (state controlled waters) the minimum size limit on mangrove snapper is only 10 inches and with this small size limit it’s fairly easy to catch the makings of a fish fry.
Fishing Season Updates
- Open June 1 through August 2 for charterboats
- Open June 4 through July 28 for private boats
- Season opens August 1, closes January 1 unless quota is met earlier
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season opens August 1, closes November 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 May 31, 2022. Season will open June 1, 2022.
- 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 opened June 1, closes January 1
- New regulation in Florida waters effective March 1, 2021: 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