Gulf of Mexico
The Fall runs of Spanish mackerel and king mackerel seem to be running later than usual this year, which is good news for December offshore fishing in SW Florida. There is plenty of bait offshore so the Spanish and kings might linger in the area, which in seasons past has sometimes resulted in good mackerel action as late as Christmas. Bottom fishing has been steady, though with the seasons for red grouper and lane snapper both closed until January you’ll be releasing a lot of fish. As an alternative, gag grouper and mangrove snapper are both open this month and both can be found on artificial reefs or natural rock ledges in as little as 30 feet of water. As a bonus, hogfish and big sheepshead are starting to move onto those same sites, so baiting with live shrimp is a great idea!
Charlotte Harbor’s anglers have been doing well on trout this Fall with the season now opened after a closure of about three years. Check the regulations, since size and bag limits have changed since the season was last open. Look for trout on any flats where there’s a bit of sea grass, though they’ll vacate the flats in search of deeper water if the weather turns cold. The trout flats are also producing a smattering of pompano, a cobia or two, and a few bonnethead sharks. Redfish action in the upper harbor has been steady and this should continue through the end of the year. Reds are slowly migrating inland and can now be found in tidal creeks, residential canals and the river mouths. They’ll stay in these locations all Winter before heading back out in the Spring. Anglers looking for a meal can target sheepshead by fishing around rocks, docks and pilings.