Gulf of Mexico
Fall officially arrives on Sept. 23 this year, but the days are already more than an hour shorter, which means changes to the fishing season. Expect more mackerel, bonita, jacks, and sharks along the beaches and around the passes as the summer’s hatches of bait in the estuaries begin to move offshore.
It' often possible to see some kings in September, around offshore bait pods. Fishing around wrecks and artificial reefs is also usually good for mangrove snapper, mackerel, and barracuda.
Also in September, yellowtail snapper and amberjack are often caught on deeper wrecks and reefs, outside of about 75 feet of water, but be sure to check on the official opening and closing of amberjack season before targeting. The always-reliable bottom fishing on live bottom areas starting in about 65 feet of water is usually dependable for lane snapper and porgys.
Note: Recreational harvest for red grouper is closed for the rest of 2023.
Charlotte Harbor’s big four fish, the guys that get the most attention from anglers, are trout, redfish, snook and tarpon.
Trout fishing is usually steady on most grass beds in the lower half of the harbor and on down to the ICW.
Visit myfwc.com and search "Snappers" for details and updates on redfish season and limits. Redfish scatter throughout the harbor but often 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 also scatter around Charlotte Harbor but they are usually found further inland, even up into the rivers. Note: make sure you have the latest regulations and bag limit information for snook before targeting.,
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 dwindle, so this month is the last big shot at them until next year.