Fishing offshore in Naples is a much different experience than inshore or freshwater. There’s no land within sight and the seas can be a bit topsy-turvy. Once you snag one of the kings of the open ocean though, you’ll understand why veteran anglers love offshore fishing so much.
The Gulf Coast off Naples and throughout Florida is known for the best offshore fishing. Offshore can be considered anywhere from just off the beach to 150 miles out – most fishing charters will go at least 30 miles offshore to find deeper water and more plentiful fish.
While there are literally hundreds of different types of fish and marine life you could encounter, below are the more common offshore species fishing charters in Naples will be trying to find. Some of the following are only around during certain times of year while others are permanent residents.
We invite you to continue reading to learn more about the 9 most common fish a Naples offshore charter will be looking for during an outing.
- Snapper – Although there are many different types of Snapper, the Yellowtail is considered the most common off Naples. These fish are found in reefs and wrecks in water deeper greater than 30 feet, although younger ones can be found around inshore waters. Yellowtails travel in groups (e.g. “schools”) and feed on shrimp, worms, crabs and small fish. Red Snapper are also a popular catch among Naples offshore charters, but their numbers are much greater in northern Florida. Snapper are generally caught year-round.
- Grouper – Like the Yellowtail Snapper, Groupers are generally found along the bottom of the ocean in reefs, wrecks or rocky bottoms. The Gag Grouper is by far the most common and has a brownish gray color with dark side markings. They are highly desirable for the high-quality meal you can enjoy after your day fishing off Naples. Gags will feed on shrimp and small fish. One interesting fact about Gag Groupers is how they are all born females with some changing to male to breed. Although they can be caught year-round, harvesting during their breeding season is not allowed. Some species like the Goliath Grouper cannot be harvested at all.
- King Mackerel – Although found closer to shore around piers, King Mackerel are sometimes found farther offshore as well, especially during their breeding season in the mid-summer. The King Mackerel’s color can range from black to bluish green and silvery sides. They also have a lateral line that starts high up on its side but drops significantly past the second dorsal fin. Younger King Mackerels will have yellow spots. These fish are migratory and found off Naples during the winter months. They will migrate north during the spring. King Mackerels like to feed on small fish and squids.
- Cobia – This fish is long and slim with a broad head. Its lower jaw sticks out past its upper jaw. They have a distinguished dark brown stripe that runs from its eye to its tail. Cobias are found closer to shore and sometimes around bays and inlets congregating around pilings and buoys. Cobias spawn in the spring and early summer. Cobia love small fish and crabs. Adults average around 30 pounds. Like the Grouper and Snapper, Cobias are highly desirable for their meat.
- Blackfin Tuna – This fish is oval-shaped and dark along its top but silvery along its bottom. Its bronze stripe though means it’s sometimes confused with a Yellowfin Tuna. The Blackfin averages between 2 and 20 pounds and is the smallest of all of the Tuna species. Like other fish offshore from Naples, its meat is highly desired. Blackfins can be found in the top of the water column or farther down depending on what they’re hunting. They can feed on anything from shrimp to crabs, squid and small fish. Blackfin Tuna generally don’t live very long – 5 years is considered old.
- Amberjack – Like Grouper and Snapper, there are a wide variety of Amberjacks found throughout the world. The Greater Amberjack is by far the most common off Naples and is characterized by a dark stripe that goes from its nose to the dorsal fin that literally “lights up” when the fish is feeding. These fish are found offshore around rocky areas, wrecks or other artificial reefs in 60-240 feet of water. Greater Amberjacks are considered the largest of all Amberjacks. They feed on squid, small fish and crabs and spawn throughout the year.
- Spanish Mackerel – Found both inshore around grass beds and offshore around reefs, the Spanish Mackerel has a green-colored back that lightens to a silvery color along its sides. The Spanish is known for its bright, golden yellow spots along its side. They feed on small fish and squids. Adult Spanish Mackerel average around 14-inches long. They are also migratory – in the summer months, the Spanish will move to the northern Gulf coast, but once that water dips below 70-degrees, they’re coming south toward Naples and the Keys.
- Barracuda – Although various types of Barracudas are found throughout the world, they are more commonly found in tropical waters where there is plentiful food. All types of Barracudas have an elongated body with its signature pointed head, powerful jaws and small, smooth scales. Some are found in deeper waters far offshore, but they tend to prefer the continental shelf edge and coral reefs. Barracuda also prey on a wide variety of fish, including Grouper, Snapper, Mullet and so on. They are known to be very fast swimmers when in pursuit of a meal.
- Mahi Mahi – Known as a “Dolphinfish” or simply “Dolphin,” the Mahi Mahi has a bright green color along its top that changes to yellow along its sides. Its body also tapers as you move from its head toward its forked tail. They grow very fast and generally don’t live more than 5 years. Mahi Mahi also live exclusively in the open ocean and spawn throughout the year. They generally feed around weed lines on small fish and squid. They are considered one of the more popular sportfish for the quality of their meat, awesome fight and incredible beauty.
To include all of the fish you may encounter on an offshore fishing charter in Naples would take a considerable amount of time to say the least. However, these are the most common ones that charters will go after. Of course, which ones you end up pursuing will depend on how far out you go and the time of year among other factors.
If you’re visiting Southwest Florida and looking for an exceptional guide to take you to the right spots, the expert captains and guides at Naples Fishing Boat have extensive experience fishing both inshore and offshore waters. To learn more about offshore fishing charters in Naples, visit NaplesFishingBoat.com or contact us today.