Gulf of Mexico
It may not feel like it yet, but the seasons are starting to change. Fall officially arrives on Sept. 22 but our days are already more than an hour shorter than a couple of months ago. There are hints that our fishing seasons are starting to change. There will be more mackerel, bonita, jacks and sharks along the beaches and around the passes now as the summer’s hatches of bait in the estuaries begin to move offshore. It’s early, but we may see some kings this month around offshore bait pods. Fishing around wrecks and artificial reefs will continue to be good for mangrove snapper, mackerel and barracuda. On deeper wrecks and reefs, outside of about 75 feet of water, yellowtail snapper and amberjack can be caught (amberjack season opens Sept. 1). Our always-reliable bottom fishing on live bottom areas starting in about 65 feet of water is dependable for lane snapper, porgys, and red grouper but red grouper is now catch-and-release only for the rest of the year.
Charlotte Harbor’s big four fish, the guys that get the most attention from anglers, are trout, redfish, snook and tarpon. Trout fishing has been steady on most grass beds in the lower half of the harbor and on down to the ICW. There is big news on redfish: the seasons for them opened on Sept. 1 in Charlotte Harbor for the first time in approximately four years. Check the regulations for updates, but be aware that there is now a new boat limit on redfish of no more than two reds per day per boat. This is in addition to the long-standing individual limit of one redfish per person per day. Redfish are scattered throughout the harbor but the best fishing seems to be in the vicinity of the ICW, along the backsides of the barrier islands and around the flats and creeks in places like Whidden Bay. Snook are also scattered around Charlotte Harbor but they are found further inland, even up into the rivers. Note: snook season had been scheduled to open on Sept. 1, but a last minute change in the regulations delayed the opening until March 1, 2023. Snook harvest is NOT allowed in Charlotte Harbor this month! Tarpon are a seasonal fish, sort of. Some tarpon do stay here through the winter but most of the adults depart in the Fall. Some tarpon will be caught into October, but by the end of September most years their numbers have dwindled so this is the last big shot at them. Good luck!