Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for January 2020
Gulf of Mexico
January is primarily a bottom fishing month for Gulf of Mexico anglers. 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 all share those same locations and all make great eating, and are so cooperative that a shrimp dropped anywhere near one of these spots usually doesn’t last long. Even though most anglers heading out this month will be thinking bottom fish, even 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. Grouper fishermen must focus on red grouper now that gag season has closed.
Trout, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and redfish are popular winter fisheries in Charlotte Harbor, but remember that trout and redfish seasons are currently closed so these fisheries are catch-and-release only. 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 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. 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 also being caught in the canals, around the highway bridges, and in some of the deeper tidal creeks.
Fishing Season Updates
- Season opened January 1, 2020
- Season is closed, opens March 1, 2020
- New regulations: size limit is now 15″ fork length, bag limit is now one per person
- Season closed Nov. 1, opens May 1, 2020
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through August 31, 2020. Season will next open on September 1, 2020.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, catch-and-release only now through May 31, 2020. Season will open June 1, 2020.
- Emergency action by FWC: Gulf coast from Hernando Beach to Naples, all harvest is closed from May 11, 2019 through May 31, 2020. Season will open June 1, 2020.
- Season closed January 1, opens June 1
- New regulation in Florida waters: Bag limit now includes a 2 fish per boat maximum
- 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