Gulf of Mexico
January is a good month for catching table fish in Gulf waters. Red grouper and lane snapper are scattered on patches of live bottom in 60 to 100 feet of water and the seasons are now open on both these popular fish. Mangrove snapper are 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 spawning sheepshead. Grunts, triggerfish, porgys, mangrove snapper and hogfish are on ledges in 30 to 50 feet of water and are so cooperative that a shrimp dropped anywhere near one of these spots usually doesn't last long. Cobia might be found around any of the artificial reefs this month, sandbar sharks will steal hooked grouper and snapper, and roving schools of bonita and Spanish mackerel can put in an appearance at any time.
Trout season is open and chunky fish will be found in canals, boat basins and waterways during periods of cooler weather. But they’ll move out onto nearby flats if we get a few days of temperatures approaching the 80 degree mark. The old standby shrimp/popping cork rig is hard to beat for catching numbers of trout, but skilled anglers can sometimes catch larger fish on jigs or on topwater plugs. Redfish can be found in mangrove creeks and canals and are starting to appear upriver. Sheepshead spawning season is now ramping up and these good-eating fish are schooling around canal mouths, pier and dock pilings, and on the artificial reefs in the harbor. Catch-and-release snook fishing is good around dock lights at night and in tidal creeks during the day. Black drum are being caught in the PGI canals, around the highway bridges, and at the artificial reef off Alligator Creek.