The Best Months for Sportfishing in Florida
As boating and fishing industry experts, a question we get a lot is, "What is the best month to fish in Florida?" Any avid angler will tell you, the best time of year to sportfish is whenever you can get out on the water! However, a more precise answer will depend on the species of fish you’re going for.
The type of fish running along the coast of Florida can vary month by month as they migrate along the Gulf Stream and other currents. Rather than picking just one month, here's a breakdown of what you can expect to catch off the coast of Florida throughout the year.
Sportfishing in January tends to be a little better when you travel further south in Florida, from Biscayne Bay down to the Keys. This is the northern range for bonefish, and tarpon are common, too. Further offshore, you can catch wahoo, tuna, or sailfish. If you're sportfishing south of the Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico, redfish and flounder are prevalent in January, as well as sheepshead and speckled trout.
February sportfishing typically goes for the same species of fish as the month prior. The biggest difference, however, is the runs that begin out in the Gulf Stream, anywhere between Jacksonville and Miami. That's when you can really start catching sailfish, groupers, kingfish, wahoo, and cobia.
March brings two things to Florida’s coasts: spring breakers and tarpon. Also known as "silver kings," this saltwater treat becomes especially thick right when the weather really starts to get sunny. Grouper, snappers, and mackerel start running in the Keys, while redfish and triggerfish will be running south of the Panhandle. Freshwater fishing charters also start to pick up in March, because that's when the largemouth bass populations begin to flourish.
Spring is the time to start thinking about deepwater charters to try for big amberjacks or even marlin. Closer to shore, tarpon, bonefish, permit, and redfish are still running.
With warm weather and abundant fish populations, May is when the fishing charters really start to pick up in Florida. Largemouth bass are a super popular fish to go for this time of year. Mahi mahi, marlin, and tuna also begin running in large numbers offshore in the Florida Keys.
Summer vacation time is here, and Florida fishing charters will be in full swing once the vacationers all arrive. If you’re planning a fishing trip to Florida during the summer months, it's a good idea to book a charter well in advance. In June, charters will typically go for red snapper. Bottomfishing for amberjack, cobia, kingfish, and Spanish mackerel is also promising at this time.
Red snapper are still the dominant species in the water in July, and they're joined by large schools of grouper. Tarpon are also still plentiful south of the Panhandle. Deep sea fishing for tuna and mahi mahi is still popular and promising, as well.
By August, red snapper season is over in the Gulf of Mexico, but the mahi mahi, tuna, and wahoo are still running. Closer to shore, some fun-fighters that start biting around this time include snook, tarpon and the crevalle jack. There's also a short lobster season in August, which can sometimes be combined with another charter expedition in the Keys.
Once the summer vacation and tourist season start to die down, the fishing spots get a little quieter and even more enjoyable. The tuna are running in the Florida Keys once again, and sailfish will be migrating off the coast of southeast Florida. A large variety of panfish also starts running in freshwater areas.
Fall fishing kicks into high gear when October rolls around. This is the peak fishing time in the Panhandle, especially when it comes to catching red bullfish, red snapper, and blue marlin. Off the East Coast of Florida, you can try your luck with cobia, grouper, mackerel, and even barracuda. This is also the peak largemouth bass fishing month in Florida's freshwaters.
The warm waters in south Florida are still extremely hospitable for sportfishing in November. Mahi mahi start moving further up the East Coast at this time, and marlin fishing is still ideal in the Miami area. On the Gulf Coast, there are flounder, sheepshead, and speckled trout in abundance.
Though deep sea fishing has more or less concluded, there are still some big fighters out there to catch. Snapper and grouper are most common between West Palm Beach and Miami. The redfish are still thick on the Gulf Coast at this time. There are also many flounder, sheepshead, and trout running. Largemouth bass try to fatten themselves up at this time for winter, so freshwater fishing for bass usually brings in some nice catches!
The fishing season never really ends in Florida. So, if you’re wondering, “When is the best month for fishing in Florida?” it really depends on what you’re looking to catch! The main difference during the cooler months is that there are fewer charters running, while the warmer months bring more deep sea fishing opportunities.
No matter which month you choose to fish the Florida coast, Gemlux has you covered when it comes to the highest-quality outrigger setups, rod holders, and other fishing gear for your boat. To take comfort and quality with you wherever and whenever you fish, invest in the best for your vessel with Gemlux carbon fiber fishing gear and marine hardware.