Fishing Florida’s West Coast

Florida fishing is fast and furious all year long on the Gulf Coast. But not all saltwater fish are here year round.

Water temperature varies by season and spawning takes place at certain times of the year motivating fish to migrate with the seasons. Weather also influences fish feeding. Take a look at the Seasonal Fishing Chart from the Florida Wildlife Commission to see the best times to catch your favorites or see what’s biting during your Gulf Coast vacation.

The continental shelf along Florida’s western coast from Clearwater to Sarasota slopes very gradually below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Fifteen miles offshore and you’re in only about 40 feet of water. Running to the thousand-fathom curve? Be ready for a shock when the GPS reads 120 miles, give or take a few miles depending on your port of departure.

Because of the distance, most who aim for the deep blue are prepared to spend a few days (and nights) offshore. A typical marlin trip starts with an early-afternoon departure and an all-night chug at a fuel-saving 10 knots. Lines go in just before sunrise as that first warm glow lights the eastern skies.

Fish hard until the sun finally sets the Gulf ablaze to the west almost 14 or so hours later. Set up on the swordfish grounds or chunk for tuna and keep at it all night, then repeat for as many days in a row as you can stand. It’s a nonstop piscatorial marathon, limited only by fuel and the stamina of the crew.

While there are fish biting year-round along the Northwestern Gulf Coast, there are some months that are definitely better than others for catching certain species. Fall is fantastic because the temperatures are nearly perfect. In fact, the Destin Fishing Rodeo runs the entire month of October, and Destin is called “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for good reason! Spring brings superb cobia fishing – and it isn’t necessary to go out too deep. Simply troll slowly near the shore and use a tuna tower to sight the fish.


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