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.
Winter 2019 Franklin County Fishing Report
Provided by Capt. SGT Peterson, an expert guide who offers deep sea, inshore/offshore and bay fishing trips in Apalachicola, St. George Island & Carrabelle.
Winter is a productive time of year for inshore and bay fishing on the Forgotten Coast. Sheepshead have been biting near the bridges this season. To catch them, use live crabs or small pieces of shrimp with small, sturdy shank hooks and 30 lb. leader. Scrape the pilings of the bridge to get the sheepshead fired up, throw in your bait and hold on!
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing:
In the winter months, mangrove snapper, lane snapper, Key West grunts and black sea bass are in season for offshore fishing. Anglers can target these species with small hooks and little pieces of squid as bait. Use light tackle, 30 lb. fluorocarbon leader and 3/0 circle hook. Don’t fish right on top of the big wrecks or ledges because the bigger fish hang out in these areas, and they will just break off your line all day. Instead, target the outskirts of these areas.
When fishing for mangrove snapper, light line and small hooks are key. You can chum them up by throwing chunk baits into the water. At times, they’ll swim up and you can see 10 to 15 of them behind your boat eating the bait. When they get stirred up like this, throw a small piece of bait on a hook near them. Sometimes, you can actually watch them bite your bait. Mangrove snapper can be very stingy biters, but if you’re lucky you can catch a lot of them quickly.
In the winter, big red snapper and gag grouper are much closer to shore, usually just four or five miles from the coast. While you cannot keep these species this time of year, you can catch and release them like crazy, which is really fun.
Winter is also an excellent time of year for freshwater fishing in Franklin County. The Apalachicola River system spans many miles, offering plenty of fertile fishing spots. This time of year, fresh water anglers can catch bass, bream and even stripers in some 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 boat load of fish.
Fall 2019 Franklin County Fishing Report
Provided by Kathy Robinson, Owner of Robinson Brothers Guide Service in Apalachicola
Fall is the most productive time of year for flats and bay fishing for trout, redfish and flounder on the Forgotten Coast. From October through most of December, inshore anglers are targeting redfish (especially bull reds) and speckled seatrout. In the month of September, anglers can target tarpon with live bait or plugs. From September all the way through Christmas, fall flats fishing for redfish is unprecedented in Franklin County.
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing:
In the fall, offshore fishing along the Forgotten Coast is productive, but the weather can be unpredictable. In Franklin County this time of year, temperatures vary from the upper 80s to the low 40s, sometimes in the same day. On a nice day, saltwater anglers can catch tripletail, black drum, flounder and sheepshead in our area. Be sure to know your closed seasons.
Freshwater fishing for bass and bream is a fabulous way to spend time on our local waters in the fall months, and the Apalachicola River system is immense with tons of hot fishing spots. Sport fishermen cast from smaller skiffs in shallow water with light spinning tackle and artificial lures as well as with fly rods. This time of year, catch and keep anglers fish in a little deeper water from larger center console bay boats using spinning tackle and bait casters.
If you want to catch loads of fish with an expert captain, book a charter on the Forgotten Coast! Ask one of our local guides about catching redfish, trout and flounder inshore this fall. Franklin County offshore trips also are available this time of year but are weather dependent.
Spring 2019 Franklin County Fishing Report
Provided by Rex Pennycuff, Owner of Fisherman’s Choice in Eastpoint
Offshore/Deep Sea Fishing:
In state waters (up to nine nautical miles out in the Gulf of Mexico), anglers have been seeing a lot of small grouper. These are mixing in with a lot of vermillion snapper. Chum the water to bring these species to the surface, and then catch them using a 2/0 to 3/0 circle hook and cigar minnows or chunks of squid for bait. You can also try to catch them with jig spoons.
The hottest thing coming up for offshore is red snapper season, which opens the first of June and lasts about four weeks. To bottom fish for red snapper and grouper, use a 6/0 or 7/0 circle hook and cigar minnows, Spanish sardines or squid.
This time of year, you’ll also come across cobia and king mackerel offshore. Attract cobia with a 3 oz cobia jig or a saltwater eel artificial bait. Troll for kings with Stretch 30+ baits or Rapala lures.
For surf fishing, the best bait to use right now is sand flea fish bites, pink E-Z shrimp or dead shrimp. Wade out 15 to 25 foot 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 around over grass or around an oyster bar. Try using MirrOlures and Gulp baits, and fish the breaks or drop-offs on the oyster bar. Shrimp is another good natural bait for these species.
Cruise out to the bird sanctuary and work around the old bridge to catch big black drum and whiting with the occasional trout and redfish.
Move inland north of the 98 bridge (in the East Bay/St. Marks area), and try bait fishing for trout and redfish. In this area, Vudu shrimp bait is also real popular as well as 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.
Over the next month, bream and shellcracker will be bedding in the Apalachicola River and Carrabelle River. You should be able to catch them fairly easily 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! The season starts on June 1 and only lasts 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