Local Fishing Report
Reports Updated for March 2020
Gulf of Mexico
There’s lots going on out in the Gulf this month. March will see the spring mackerel run really crank up, a run that brings large schools of Spanish mackerel migrating northbound along the coast. A few early king mackerel will also be caught this month around nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs. Shark fishing will get seriously underway when the waves of mackerel arrive. Bottom fishermen get to keep triggerfish this month for the first time in a while after the season for these odd looking but delicious fish opens on March 1. Flat hard bottom in 60 to 90 feet of water is holding lane snapper, red grouper, vermilion snapper and porgys. Sheepshead spawning season is going strong right now and these striped porgies can be found around natural rock ledges and manmade artificial reefs out to about 50 feet of water.
Snook are already on the move, leaving their inland winter retreats and moving out onto the flats and along the shorelines all around the harbor where they’ll have to feed heavily in the coming weeks to prepare for the upcoming spring spawning season. Snook fishing will be all catch-and-release this year. Drifting the flats with a shrimp suspended under a popping cork will be a good strategy for trout as it warms up, and you shouldn’t be surprised if a cobia crashes your trout party since these big brown fish will be sharing the same flats. A few pompano have been mixed in with the trout and these silvery, hard-fighting fish should be around for at least another month or so. Sheepshead fishing should be strong as the winter spawn for these striped porgys continues. In recent years the spawn seems to be occurring later and later in the season and this could mean that the March will see the best action of the year. And here’s a news flash: there will be a smattering of tarpon caught this month in the harbor. It’s tough to predict when, where or how many, but every year there are a few tarpon taken in March. As a reminder: even though your regulations booklet is a little confusing on this, snook, trout and redfish seasons are closed in this region.
Fishing Season Updates
- Season opened January 1, 2020
- Season opened March 1, 2020, will close May 2, 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, 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.
- 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