Gulf of Mexico

Fishing: woman holding a freshly-caught red grouper fishOffshore anglers are fired up with the seasons for red snapper and gag both opening early in the month.  To consistently take red snapper it’s necessary to fish in deep water quite a way offshore, runs of 50 miles or more each way are common in this fishery.  With the seasons for both gag and red grouper also open it eases the pain of the hefty fuel bill associated with red snapper fishing since both of these popular grouper live in the same areas as the red snapper.  Don’t want to run that far offshore?  There are still plenty of fish to be caught.  Hard bottom areas in 60 to 80 feet of water, approximately 15 to 25 miles offshore are producing red grouper, lane snapper, vermilion snapper, porgys and other mixed bottomfish.  If that's still too far, artificial reefs much closer to shore, some as little as three or four miles out, are holding mangrove snapper, permit, barracuda, a few king mackerel and some very large Goliath grouper.  Schools of fast moving Spanish mackerel and chunky bonita can be found just offshore around the Boca Grande bars. 


Charlotte Harbor

Fun family fishing: showing off a speckled trout caught in Punta Gorda/Englewood BeachDuring most years the bulk of the talk about fishing in Charlotte Harbor is centered around the peak of the tarpon season.  It is tarpon time this year too, but since June 1, 2021 marks the opening of trout season in this region for the first time in about three years there has been lots of trout talk on the dock.  Trout have historically been among the most heavily targeted fish in SW Florida and there are lots of anglers ready to get back after them.  A word of caution:  size and bag limits on trout have changed substantially since the season was last open so make sure to consult the regulations before dropping any fish in the cooler.   Catching trout can be easy: pick a time when the tide is moving, find a flat with a healthy growth of seagrass, and drift around with shrimp under popping corks until you start catching fish.  Expect to catch ladyfish, jacks, and maybe a few pompano and a bonnethead shark or two while you’re trout fishing.  Back to those tarpon, they are  stacked in Boca Grande Pass and will bite when the winds are calm enough to fish them.  There are also some tarpon around the Cape Haze Bar, in the northern end of Matlacha Pass, and in the deep holes in mid-harbor.  Shark fishing is peaking now as well.  Modest-sized blacktips, bonnetheads, and blacknoses can be taken on bar edges all around the harbor and bigger bulls and hammerheads are cruising in 10 to 20 feet of water.