Gulf of Mexico

Fishing: close up of mangrove snapper fish

Red snapper season usually opens in July—but always check for exact dates—and many anglers look forward to targeting these fish during the few weeks each summer that the season is open. Keep in mind that catching them requires a long run offshore. Few are caught in less than 100 feet of water and most success comes from water depths of about 125 feet or more, sometimes much more. This means that runs of more than 40 miles offshore are likely.

“Other” snapper can be targeted much closer to shore, including lane snapper, mangrove snapper, vermilion snapper and yellowtail snapper, all of which can be taken in less than 100 feet of water. Lane snapper fishing is usually very good during July on natural bottom areas of flat rock in as little as 60 feet of water. Mangrove snapper tend to stack on rocky ledges and artificial reefs just a few miles off the beach.

Not all the fishing in July is on bottom, though. Spanish mackerel action can usually be found around the bars outside Boca Grande Pass and further offshore, anywhere there are schools of bait. Bonita, jacks, and sharks will also show around those bait schools.

Charlotte Harbor

Fishing: Tarpon on the line, jumping out of the waterCharlotte Harbor in July is the perfect summer fishing mode. Look forward to catch-and-release fishing for snook as well as a fair number of catch-and-release redfish.

Big tarpon scatter throughout the estuary and can show anywhere there is more than six or eight feet of water. Likely areas to tangle with an adult tarpon include the mouth of the Myakka River, the deep holes mid-harbor, the north end of Matlacha Pass, and around the highway bridges in Punta Gorda and El Jobean. Juvenile tarpon like to school in some of the deeper canals and boat basins.

Shark fishing is usually strong for blacktips, bulls, blacknoses and Atlantic sharpnoses, as well as lemons and the occassional hammerhead. A common tactic is to get a chum slick going to attract sharks and then freeline shrimp or shiners for Spanish mackerel while waiting for sharks to show.

Cobia will still be hanging around in the harbor, but remember to check for updated size limits before targeting.