Florida’s Forgotten Coast Seasonal Fishing Report
Ready to head down to the Forgotten Coast for an unforgettable fishing experience? Before you plan your angling adventure, check out our seasonal Franklin County fishing report here!
In Florida, bag limits, sizes and regulations vary greatly from month to month. Be sure to check the FWC website for most up-to-date information.
Provided by Fisherman’s Choice, The Sportsman’s Headquarters of Florida’s Forgotten Coast since 1993. Fisherman’s Choice is a locally owned and operated bait and tackle shop that offers a wide variety of bait and tackle for deep sea, inshore/offshore, bay, and freshwater fishing.
Winter waters are perfect for inshore and bay fishing on the Forgotten Coast. Try fishing for Sheepshead near the bridges this season. Small pieces of shrimp and small sturdy shank hooks with 30lb leader will do the trick. Stir the fish up by scraping the bridge pilings before you throw in your line.
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing:
Mangrove snapper, lane snapper, Key West grunts and black sea bass are in season this winter for offshore fishing. You can target these species with small hooks and little pieces of squid as bait, using light tackle, 30 lb. fluorocarbon leader and 3/0 circle hook. Target the areas outside of the big wrecks and ledges, otherwise the bigger fish hanging out in the wrecks and ledges will break off your line all day long.
Light line and small hooks are key for catching mangrove snapper. Chum the waters by throwing in bait chunks. They will swim up and become visible. At this point, throw a small piece of bait on a hook near them. Mangrove snapper can be picky biters, but this is the best time to catch a lot of them.
Though they are out of season, big red snapper and gag grouper are much closer to shore this time of year. While you cannot keep these species this time of year, you can have fun catching and releasing them like crazy, four or five miles offshore.
Winter is also a superb time of year for freshwater fishing in Franklin County.
The Apalachicola River system offers plenty of fertile fishing spots, and you can catch bass, bream, and stripers in many parts of the Apalachicola River.
If you want to catch loads of fish this winter, book a charter on the Forgotten Coast! Whether you prefer to fish inshore or offshore, one of these experienced local guides can help you land a boatload of fish.
Photo credits: @meetthebreedloves
Spring kicks off the fantastic fishing season in our waters, and the fish and fisherman are both out and about on the Forgotten Coast! Fishing is magical on the Forgotten Coast, whether offshore, inshore, from the shore or freshwater!
If you see someone fishing from the beach this Spring, they are probably fishing for pompano or whiting. While whiting is typically here year-round, pompano are traveling in schools and cruising the coastline in the Spring. To catch pompano and whiting, use FishGum, Sand Flea Fishbites, pink E-Z Shrimp, or shrimp. Wade out from the shore about 15 to 25 feet and cast toward a break in the sandbar. Try your luck with Silver Spoons in late Spring and the same casting strategy to catch mackerel.
If you haven’t given bay fishing on the Forgotten Coast a try, you are missing out on a fun and fruitful time! Fish around the oyster beds, breaks, and drop-offs for trout, redfish, or flounder, using MirrOlures, Gulf Baits, or shrimp. For black drum and whiting, fish by the bird sanctuary and around the old bridge.
Take me to the river! The Apalachicola River or the Carrabelle River offers excellent opportunities for catching bream and shell cracker. All you need is crickets, worms, and a little patience. They’ll be jumping in your boat in no time.
Grouper is one of the most targeted species of fish. They are delicious and FUN to catch! To catch them, chum the water and fish with 2/0 to 3/0 Circle Hooks, Cigar Minnows, chunks of squid, or jig spoons. The gag grouper season typically opens on April 1.
When the season opens, bottom fish for red snapper with 6/0 or 7/0 circle hooks, cigar minnows, Spanish sardines, or squid. For king mackerel, you can troll with 30+ baits or Rapala lures. You can catch cobia with a 3oz cobia jig or artificial saltwater eel bait.
We encourage you to contact one of our experienced Captains. They know all the ins and outs and secret spots to help you bring in the fish you are interested in targeting.
Please note: Those engaged in recreational fishing on the Forgotten Coast are responsible for carrying the proper licensure and knowing about the area’s size minimums, maximums, and count limits. Feel free to stop by one of our bait and tackle shops for more information, or go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
Anglers love the Forgotten Coast in the fall. In addition to the cooler temps and quiet surroundings, the shorter days and cooler nights encourage several fresh and saltwater favorites to come out for a bite.
While the technical start of fall is September 22, fish consider it fall when water temps drop to the lower 70s and upper 60s. The water temperature changes tell the fish to head to deeper waters for protection against the cold. They gather and are very active. Don’t worry about fishing during the mornings and evenings like in the summertime. Fall fishing is at its best during a high tide.
Inshore fishing is all about redfish. Simply put, catching redfish is fun. They put up a tough but exhilarating fight, and they are delicious cooked almost any way! Redfish and trout can be found in the flats, mainly north of the Hwy 98 bridge in Apalachicola, off Carrabelle around both ends of Dog Island, or on the flats back toward Eastpoint around Yents Bayou. As the water cools, the redfish will start moving toward the river and get around the docks and flats in Postun Bayou. Shrimp are always the best bait but if you are using artificial bait, try gold or silver spoons with traditional grub in the colors of gulf red, white, or new penny. Redfish also like suspension mar lure in the colors of greenback or silver.
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing
The weather for offshore/deep sea fishing can be unpredictable. Checking the weather and what fish are in season is crucial before setting out. If you make it out to the deep, you will do well to target cobia around the channel markers/buoys. Natural or artificial eel or bright-colored jigs should do the trick. The channel markers/buoys are at the passes on either end of St. George Island, or for fishing in deeper waters, look on your offshore chart to find the K or S towers.
If you are surf fishing, keep in mind that the mackerel and pompano are gathering to go to deeper water. Look for the deeper areas between the sandbars from the shore and aim there using sand fleas, fish bites, or fish gum.
Bass, bluegill, and stump knockers start feeding this time of year. Crickets, worms, and light spinning tackle are perfect for this. Or look for striped bass and sunshine bass. They provide fun light tackle or fly rod action throughout the fall.
Fall Fishing is so much fun and can be a fruitful endeavor. If you’d like some coaching, book a fishing charter with one of our expert guides.
Photo Credit: Robinson Guide Service
Summer 2021 Fishing Report
School is out. Vacation time is near. It's the time of year when the sun, sand, and waters call you, and the desire to get out in it is almost unbearable. The Forgotten Coast is the perfect place to shake your kids loose of their devices, get outside, and go fishing. Not much beats the thrill of a great day on the water catching fish, but don't underestimate the value of making memories that will never fade spending time outdoors together.
The fish feel the summer vibe and heat too. The biggest fishing tip for this season is… as the temperatures rise, you should fish on the low tides or when the temperatures are cooler (morning and evening). Fish tend to conserve energy when the weather is hot, just like we do, and they prefer to eat in the cooler times of the day.
The Apalachicola Bay is rich with trout, redfish, sheepshead, drum, whiting, pompano, mackerel, and tripletail in the summer months.
Fish for trout and redfish from the flats and the bridges. Or you can wade fish. Cast and retrieve spoons or suspension lures like Mirr O Lure or Chug Bug, or use shrimp under a popping cork to catch redfish, trout, and flounder. In the deeper areas of the bay, you can fish for whiting, pompano, and mackerel.
Target sheepshead and drum by the bridge pilings. You should use fiddler crabs to catch sheepshead, but first, scrape some of the barnacles off the piling to chum up the water.
Fishing for tripletail can be easy. Any floating structure or crab trap inshore might have a tripletail or two hanging around it looking to feed off small fish and shrimp. Turn your engine off and drift by slowly. Use a small J-style hook with shrimp, artificial shrimp, fiddler crabs, mud minnows, or baitfish (not frozen), and don't let your bait sink more than a foot or two.
You can catch pompano, mackerel, whiting, redfish trout, or bluefish when you are surf fishing.
Pompano like sand fleas, mackerel like a silver spoon which resembles their natural food source, greenbacks, and you can catch whiting with almost anything.
For bigger fish from the shore, like redfish, trout, and bluefish, look for the troughs between sandbars. They can be seen every 200 to 300 feet along the beach. This is where the bigger fish lie in wait. As always, both the east end cut and west end cut (Bob Sykes Cut) are great for catching big reds.
Red snapper season is open in June and July! Red snapper and grouper can be caught in 80 to 100 feet deep waters. You will need to use squid with cigar minnow or Spanish sardines as you bottom fish. For vermillion snapper and kingfish, chum the water with sardine chum and use a 2 alt circle hook into a cigar minnow. Then freeline behind the boat (this means no lead weight on the line, just let it feed out.). You can also troll for kings and grouper with a stretch 30 line or Magnum Rapala.
Even if the water is rough, you can fish up the river. Use crickets or worms to catch brim and shell crackers. They linger over stump holes and downed trees.
If ever there was a time to visit the Forgotten Coast for fishing purposes, now is that time! It's summertime and the fishin's easy! If you prefer someone to take you out and show you the ropes, call one of our experienced fishing guides. They know the honey hole spots and can take you far out for snapper and grouper fishing.
Special thanks to Mr. Rex Pennycuff, Owner of Fisherman’s Choice in Eastpoint, for providing these tips.
Spring 2021 Fishing Report
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the boats are back in the water. Spring is here! Get out there and catch fish in the Forgotten Coast’s prolific waters. Mr. Rex Pennycuff, Owner of Fisherman’s Choice in Eastpoint, provided these tips for your best luck fishing this Spring.
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing
At the beginning of April, Gag Grouper season opened, and it will remain open until June 30th. Anglers have been seeing many small grouper and vermillion snapper about 9 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. Bring these popular fish to the surface by chumming the water. Then catch them using a 2/0 to 3/0 circle hook and cigar minnows or chunks of squid for bait. You could also try to catch them with jig spoons.
If cobia is what you are looking for, use a 3oz cobia jig or artificial saltwater eel bait. For king mackerel, troll with Stretch 30+ baits or Rapala lures.
We anticipate that red snapper season will open in June and last about four weeks. Again, this is up to FWC to determine the exact dates based on population numbers. To bottom fish for red snapper and grouper, use a 6/0 or 7/0 circle hook and cigar minnows, Spanish sardines, or squid.
You should know that Federal Waters are located 9 miles from shore and that State and Federal Fishing Rules and Regulations may vary depending on location. Please be aware of the regulations of the waters where you are fishing.
It’s the time for pompano, whiting, and mackerel! For surf fishing, use Fish Gum, Sand Flea Fish Bites, Pink E-Z Shrimp, or dead shrimp. Your best bet is to wade out about 15 to 25 feet from land, find a break in the sandbar, and fish around those areas for pompano or whiting. If you want to catch mackerel, silver spoons should do the trick.
Trout, redfish, and flounder are moving from deep water to the flats. Fish on or around the grass using MirrOlures and Gulp baits. Also, you can fish around the oyster bars and the breaks or drop-offs on the oyster bar using MirrOlures, Gulf baits, or shrimp.
For black drum and whiting (and the occasional trout or redfish), cruise out to the bird sanctuary and around the old bridge.
For trout and redfish, move inland north of the 98 bridge (in the East Bay/St. Marks area). Use Vudu shrimp bait, traditional soft plastic baits, a jerk shad bait, or curly tail jig. The best bait colors to use in this area right now are New Penny or White.
This Spring, bream, and shellcracker will be bedding in the Apalachicola River and Carrabelle River. You should be able to catch them fairly quickly with crickets or worms.
If you book a charter right now, ask about catching big redfish and trout in the cuts and fishing for king mackerels inshore. Be sure to book early for red snapper season! Typically this anticipated season starts on June 1st and only lasts about four weeks.
Want Guaranteed Fish? Hire a Pro!
An experienced fishing guide can help you land any of these species. The Forgotten Coast is home to a number of experienced inshore, offshore and fresh water fishing captains. View a full list of local fishing guides and book your trip today!
Top Photo Credit: Southern Salinity® Guide Service – Capt. Davidson