Top 5 Tips for SWFL Fishing this Summer!

Stay Up to Date with Red Tide

Because red tide was so detrimental to our essential fisheries, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has extended conservation measures in SWFL as of May 1, 2019. Snook and red drum will remain catch-and-release until May 31, 2020, and spotted sea trout will be catch-and-release including no commercial harvesting through May 31, 2020. FWC staff will be monitoring these numbers carefully to ensure they are rebuilding properly in hopes that they can reopen to harvest earlier than May 31, 2020.

Get Your Light Action Rod Ready, it’s Red Snapper Season

Red snapper season opens in Gulf state and federal waters on June 11th through July 12th and for federally-permitted for-hire vessels June 1st through August 1st. The total length minimum size for Red Snapper harvesting is 16 inches and two fish bag limit. If you’re interested in helping improve FWC’s data collection, check out the Gulf Reef Fish Survey.

Gear up for the Next Spiny Lobster Season

Because Spiny Lobster season only lasts for two days from July 24th – 25th, things can get a little crazy out there as many lobster spots are passed down from generation to generation. If you are new to lobstering, a tip for boaters is to troll around a rocky bottom area with about 5 to 15 feet of water, and mark the spots where you see lobsters on your GPS or use a buoy. Common places that you can catch your limits are shipwrecks or along the shoreline like Duck Key. The only problem with these locations is you probably won’t be the first or even second group there. The key is to find your secret spot and go back year after year(and don’t forget the tickle stick)!

Get Started Early or Stay Out Late… it’s Tarpon Time!

Look no further than Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor, and Apalachicola Bay to begin your exploration for Tarpon. It is common that feeding times are either early in the morning or late in the evening. Setting the hook for this aggressive feeder can be challenging, but remaining driven and maintaining your grit is essential. Here are a few other tips to catching this ferocious and fisherman story-worthy beast:

• Double the end of your line at about 6” with a Bimini Twist Knot and attach about 8” of 100 lb monofilament line with a swivel

• Typical baitfish include pilchards (sardines), mullet, and pinfish

• To ensure the baitfish to stay alive and swimming as long as possible, make sure to hook the bait behind the anal fin or front of the dorsal fin

• Chumming can help attract Tarpon

• Trolling with your lure (slowly gator spoons or Rapala magnum) has been effective for other anglers in the past

• After reeling in the tarpon, remember to hold it upright in the water, moving it back and forth to enhance water circulation through its gills

Being Over-prepared is Better than Underprepared

We have all seen one of our buddies with raccoon eyes and a blistered nose because he said, “I don’t need sunscreen.” We know first-hand that Florida’s sun can be brutal, even on an overcast day. Make sure to pack sunscreen and stay hydrated by bringing some water along. But for many, it isn’t a fishing adventure without forgetting something in your tackle box! So, that’s why you should always make sure to include extra line, sinkers, hooks, pliers, various lures, and, of course, nail clippers. It is always a good idea to have a spot in mind of where you want to fish before you head out, which can give you a head-start from the other anglers. There is nothing worse than showing up to your go-to spot with someone who has already set their anchor. Good luck out there and happy fishing!