Best Months to Fish Florida's Gulf Coast

April 15, 2022
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April and October are the best months to fish Florida's Gulf Coast, with ideal water temperatures for both inshore and offshore species. Offshore, mangrove snapper, hogfish, cobia, kingfish, spanish mackerel, and sheepshead can be caught. Inshore, trout and redfishing are good during incoming tides. White bait, mud minnows, and finger mullet are also effective.

Prime Fishing Months on Florida's West Coast

April and October

  • Water Temperatures: These months are particularly favorable due to the transitional water temperatures, ideal for attracting a variety of fish, both inshore and offshore. As the seasons change, fish behavior and locations shift, making them more accessible to anglers.

Offshore Fishing in April

  • Target Species: In addition to mangrove snapper, hogfish, cobia, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, and sheepshead, other species like grouper and amberjack also become active. The diversity of fish during this time is due to the blending of cooler and warmer water currents.
  • Techniques and Locations: Successful offshore fishing often involves locating underwater structures like reefs, wrecks, and rock formations. Using live bait like pilchards, pinfish, or sardines can be particularly effective. It's also a great time for trolling for kingfish or using bottom rigs for snappers and groupers.
  • Cobia Fishing: Spotting cobia often involves looking for them near the surface around wrecks and rocks. Using live crabs or eels as bait can be particularly effective.

Inshore Fishing in April and October

  • Trout and Redfish: These months see an increase in trout and redfish activity. The incoming tide, especially in the morning and late afternoon, is prime time for these species. Using soft plastics, shrimp imitations, or live bait like shrimp or mullet can yield good results.
  • Snook Fishing: Snook become more active as the water warms up. They are often found near structure like docks, mangroves, and bridges. Live bait like white bait or finger mullet works well, but artificial lures like swimbaits or topwater plugs can also be effective.
  • Spoon Fishing: The use of Eppinger Rex spoons near the edges of keys can be particularly effective for redfish. The red hackle on these spoons mimics small injured fish, an irresistible target for predatory fish.

Water and Bait


  • Mullet Activity: Observing mullet behavior can give clues about predatory fish locations. Fishing near mangroves during high tide, when mullet are active, can be fruitful.
  • Bait Choices: Besides white bait, mud minnows, and finger mullet, other options like shrimp, crabs, or artificial lures tailored to specific species can also be effective.
  • Cast Netting: Learning how to effectively use a cast net can greatly increase your chances of catching live bait, which is often preferred by many game fish.

Advanced Tactics

  • Fishing the Channels: Near Crystal River, fishing around channel markers and energy channels can be a hotspot for various species. The structures in these areas provide shelter and feeding grounds for fish.
  • Boat Positioning: Properly positioning your boat to drift baits naturally with the current can increase your chances of a strike.
  • Reading the Water: Understanding how to read the water, like looking for color changes, current edges, and bait activity, can greatly improve your fishing success.

In summary, April and October are excellent months for both inshore and offshore fishing in Florida's Big Bend. With the right techniques, bait, and understanding of the environment, anglers can enjoy some of the best fishing experiences of the year.

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
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