The beauty of living in and visiting Florida, is that you get to enjoy fishing expeditions all year round. The area is home to over 200 fish species, which earn it the title crown jewel among Florida fishing charters. Being the largest open-water estuary in the Sunshine States makes the Tampa Bay area excellent for fishing in season and the most prolific fishing area in Florida.
Before you book a fishing charter, you need first to choose the season that suits you best. First off, it’s important to note that Tampa Bay extends over 400 square miles, and the entire area is rich in diverse game fish. There’s no fish shortage in the area throughout the year, and the only way to guide you is to look at the most popular species and their seasonality.
Florida Species and Fishing in Season Openings
The bay harbors a wide variety of aquatic life, making it possible to bag a dozen species in a single fishing charter. Your options range from the infamous tarpons that roam the bay in endless passes to schools of tailing redfish resting on the glassy grass flats. Other local species that you’re likely to bait include grouper, trout, and variety of sharks.
The seasonal fishing guide below highlights what fish to catch at different times of the year.
During winter, new seasonal species swim into the bay for breeding and looking food. Taking a fishing charter during winter can help you locate a consistent variety of fish if you know what tactical approach to use. Just before first light, the water is colder, and the fish are stacked up on creeks and deep flats. As the day progresses, the fish will move out of the flats and will eat almost anything you throw at them.
- Redfish fishing– The season is best for a redfish fishing trip as these species stack up in deep creeks lined with mangroves trying to shield from the wind. When the weather is biting cold, you can find these fish by dragging your bait along the bottom. When the temperatures get warmer, the fish move out of the flats close to their backwater hangouts. Pass your bait along the small mangrove closer to the grass flats and fish potholes.
- Trout fishing– trout hide in deeper 3 to 7-foot grass flats with turtle grass bottom and potholes. You can lure them out by using white baits such as Mirrolure’s Lil Jon bait and Mirrodine. If you manage to catch one, know there’re several others in the vicinity. The tip is to keep throwing your bait.
- Snook fishing- during winter, Snook pushes far back into backcountry, sometimes going into private freshwater lakes. When snook fishing, look for these anywhere with a good mangrove cover. They also like places with a deeper drop-off just in case the temps drop further overnight. Hold your bait over the bottom, and you’ll get the bite. Like trout, Snook stack up in an area, so once you get the first one, keep fishing in the same bottom.
Summer is a great time of the year to take a family vacation to Florida and take advantage of the fishing opportunities around the state. You can increase your chances of a good day in the waters by fishing around the stronger tides. Fishing in season, you can get a variety of fish species including:
However, tarpon fishing during summer is more common with all fishing charters targeting the species. By June, there’re large schools of tarpon, and you can catch them by placing bait in front of them. If you want to have some extra fun, anchor in the patch of migrating fish and cast out a nice spread of baits, and you’re likely to catch 50% of all the hooks.
As the daylight gets shorter and night hours increase during fall, different fish species start preparing for winter ahead by feeding heavily. This change in behavior creates an excellent fishing opportunity for anglers since fish lower their guard when approaching hooked baits. If you’re keen on fishing in season, the fall season is a good time for:
- Trout fishing– the colder months of fall pushes trout into the flats and more shallow waters making them easier to catch. Larger trout measure at over 20-inches long and are more cannibalistic feeding on baitfish and other trout. During fall, you can find them on deep potholes and low tides.
- Pelagic species fishing– fall weather triggers the migration of pelagic species.
You can these fish along the beaches and inside any pass that empties baitfish into the Gulf. Kingfish fishing is easy during fall since these species follow baitfish, including menhaden, and blue runners hoping to devour them.
Bottom Line for Fishing in Season
Fishing in season can help you catch a variety of fish species as long as you know how weather changes impact their behavior. But don’t worry if you don’t understand fish behavior, Native Angler Fishing Charter‘s captain is experienced and will guide you. Contact us today to book your fishing charter! Thanks to our captain’s experience and passion for fishing, every charter is a one of a kind experience!