Each year about 3 million people go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. From western Florida to the flats of southern Texas, families head out to land a wide variety of fish: Tarpon, Redfish, Tuna – even Marlin. First-timers and hardcore hardcore anglers alike hit the marinas to make their fishing dreams come true. If you plan on being one of them, check out our summer picks for the best fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
There’s no such thing as a bad fishing spot on the Gulf Coast, but these places take things to a whole new level! So without further ado, let’s take a dive into each of them and see what’s what.
Down in the Keys, July days will see you fishing for almost any game fish there is. Snook and Tarpon inhabit the warm waters around the flats, but a quick boat ride towards the Atlantic can get you an encounter with Blue Marlin, just like Hemingway used to do it.
The waters here are usually calm and clear. If you like sight fishing, you’re going to love fishing out of Marathon. Make sure to keep an eye on the horizon, since storms can develop quickly and ruin your trip. You can catch anything from Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna to Snapper and Grouper during a single outing.
Check out the fisheries near reefs and wrecks. Some five miles from dry land you will reach the edge of the reefs. There you can chase a variety of fish around the local wrecks. Work these patches with ballyhoo early in the morning and the gamefish won’t be able to resist.
During August, you will have the best chances if you go reef fishing. You can target Yellowtail, Mangrove, and Mutton Snapper, as well as some Grouper. It can get too hot during the day, though, so many anglers recommend fishing during the night time or early in the morning.
You should definitely try fishing around deeper reefs as the fish are hiding there. Or if you want a blast, test your luck with deep dropping and target monster Swordfish. The Swordie bite is on fire at this time of the year and nothing beats the feeling of pulling them up from the seafloor.
If you like to play hide and seek with your fish, you should definitely fish the Everglades in July. You can find 10 lb Snook every day and night – and night-time fishing trips are quite popular. The waters are calm and sight fishing is really exciting.
In July, you will find fine-looking Tarpon around bridges and docks. They are fun to catch at night and fight with brute force. Inshore, you can also get bull Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Snook. But, that’s not all – a good number of Sharks feed in these waters as well.
Make sure to beat the heat and start early in the morning. You will have an excellent chance of catching a lot of fish before the temperature starts going up. Fly fishing in the morning is quite something, and you can get Tarpon and Snook.
If you want to explore open waters, head towards the Gulf and target Grouper, Snapper, and Permit around the wrecks. Moving north, you will find superb fishing for Tarpon near Sandy Key and Rabbit Key.
There are a lot of Snook in the water and they respond well to live bait, such as pilchards. You should check out oyster beds to catch Redfish. They get into a feeding frenzy at the mere sight of live shrimp. Another backcountry fishing delicacy, Spotted Seatrout, will hide in shallow waters, near flats and areas with a lot of structure and grass.
3. Marco Island
As you leave the Everglades behind and head north across the Gulf of Mexico, you will come across The Ten Thousand Islands that make for fantastic fishing out of Marco Island. Your kids are going to love fishing for Redfish and Snook, while you can catch a big Tarpon. July is the peak season for Tarpon in these waters. Make sure to prepare well for the heat. This is the hottest month of the year, so either hit the water early in the morning or try night fishing for Snook and Tarpon.
There are many artificial reefs a couple of miles from the shore, where you and your friends can get Grouper, King Mackerel, Snapper, and a variety of Sharks. You can also try an offshore trip. Head 20 miles out into the Gulf to catch Amberjack, Barracuda, massive Grouper and Snapper, Mahi, and Wahoo.
If you want to explore nearshore reefs, you can target Mackerel, Jacks, and Bluefish, and some Blacktip Sharks as well. Start by chumming and let the bait descend, then switch to flashy jigs and wait for the bite to come. Not only can you get a good deal of reef fish that live near the surface, but you can also get some Mangrove and Lane Snapper.
For lovers of offshore bottom fishing, head out some eight miles west of Marco Island to get Gag and Red Grouper. No matter how skilled you are, they are fun to catch. While you’re there, make sure to explore deeper wrecks where you can get into a fight with really big Amberjack. It’s a special treat for the serious angler.
July is a perfect month to go fishing in Tampa. The waters are teeming with fish and you will go back home with a hefty dinner. If you want light tackle action for you and your little ones, stay in the bay and fish for Snook and Redfish. They are literally everywhere.
For anglers who want a good chase, head over to wrecks where you can fish for Permit. You can catch them early in the morning – just make sure to stay quiet as you can scare them away. Use shrimp and crabs to get Permit going. Tarpon are in the spotlight too – this is your chance to catch a big one before their bite slows down. The first two weeks of July are still the peak season. With a skilled guide you will have excellent chances of landing a mighty fish.
You can also find a lot of Specks (Speckled Trout) and Reds (Redfish) around grass flats, while the open waters of the bay will produce Spanish Mackerel and Mangrove Snapper. If you like speed and ain’t afraid of a big fight, leave the bay and fish the offshore fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. You could be coming back with Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Yellowfin Tuna. They are abundant, so it’s just a matter of your skill and stamina!
Come August, some of the fish will move to deeper waters, but you can find a good deal of bait fish around grass flats. Snook and Redfish are alive and kicking, especially after a rainy day. Tarpon, Sharks, Mackerel, and Jacks are present in good numbers, so make sure to explore Tampa Bay to the fullest. If you fish around rocky channels, you should find a lot of Mangrove Snapper.
Pensacola gets pretty crowded in July and fishing trips sell like hot cakes. Thousands of families come here for their traditional summer trip and go bottom fishing for Snapper and Grouper.
Known as the “Red Snapper Capital of the World,” fishing charters in Pensacola attract scores of anglers who come to enjoy the long-awaited Red Snapper fishing season. If you want a nice day on the water with your family and kids, these trips are just the ticket. Late July is also a great time to get deep-water treats like Tilefish and Scamp Grouper.
In addition to bottom fishing, you can catch Cobia and Mahi Mahi around reefs. Further out, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, and King Mackerel are all present in large numbers, and with some luck, you can get Blue Marlin and Sailfish.
If you want a relaxing fishing trip, check out spots around the Pensacola Bay. You can catch Sheepshead, Grouper, and Snapper, as well as Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Black Drum, and Bluefish. You will find all these fish in August as well. Reds and Trout will be taking the spotlight, while the Tarpon bite slowing down, but still good enough.
Before you go on your fishing trip, make sure to check out the fishing regulations and season closing dates. For instance, Red Snapper season will be over in August. Still, there are many more fish around the reefs that you can take back home, such as Mackerel, Triggerfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and many more. If the Amberjack season is still open and you want a good fight, be sure to try and get them.
6. Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island fishing charters have access to hundreds of Alabama’s artificial reefs where you can catch Red Snapper and Gag Grouper throughout July. Be ready for the heat, as July is the hottest time of the year. A lot of anglers also take a charter offshore to fish for Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Amberjack.
If you want to take your family for a boat ride and do some fishing inshore, you should look around inshore structures for Spotted Seatrout, Redfish, Bluefish, Black Drum, and Tarpon. You can also fish from the docks at night. Just make sure to bring insect repellent, as the mosquitoes can give you a nasty bite.
As August kicks off, the Tarpon bite is in full swing. Explore inshore fisheries to will also come across Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Black Drum, Jack Crevalle, and some Sheepshead. A bit further out, nearshore waters will produce Cobia, Bluefish, Jack Crevalle, and Pompano, as well as Spanish and King Mackerel. Spanish Macks will gradually slow down, but the Kingfish will be on fire. August is their prime time.
For hardcore anglers and adventure lovers, book an offshore charter to head miles into the Gulf of Mexico where you can snatch Triggerfish, Wahoo, Red and Gag Grouper (season allowing), Sailfish, Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna, and the apex of all sportfishing – White and Blue Marlin!
If you’re staying in Gulfport, you will be able to fish for an incredible variety of fish species. The Red Snapper season is open, but there are many more fish in the sea: Mutton Snapper, Jack Crevalle, Snook, Tarpon, and Permit, to name just a few.
You can also get Redfish, Bluefish, Black Drum, Flounder, Sheepshead, and Spotted Seatrout in inshore waters. This is a perfect time to come to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast: you can enjoy the heat of the summer and go back home with a tasty dinner.
If you charter a boat to take you farther offshore, you can fish for numerous Grouper species, including Gag, Red, and Black, but also for other fish, like King Mackerel, Cobia, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo. You can even test your skills against Yellowfin Tuna around offshore oil rigs.
August days in Gulfport can be highly humid, so make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid the summer heat if you can. Fishing will be good early in the morning, and if you want something special, go on a night fishing trip for Tarpon and Flounder.
8. New Orleans
New Orleans fishing in July is superb. You can spend the day fishing marshes and estuaries with your kids and go home with big, tasty fish.
You will find big Redfish, Black Drum, Flounder, Tripletail, Sheepshead, and Jack Crevalle hiding around grassy areas near the shore. It’s best you look around bay edges and duck beds. Speckled Trout are thick this month – you can catch them pretty much everywhere.
Inshore fishing trips around New Orleans are perfect for families with young kids. You will stay in shallow parts of the bay and have access to good fishing not far from dry land. Days are hot, but a sudden storm can take you by surprise, so make sure to pack some rain gear and talk to your captain about the weather before you head out.
If you’re staying in New Orleans in August, you will have excellent chances of landing a variety of inshore species. Speckled Trout are hiding throughout the Breton Sound and Black Bay, along with Redfish and Black Drum.
We can’t talk about the best fishing in the Gulf of Mexico without at least mentioning Venice. Redfish are always biting around here, and July’s no different. They invade inshore waters, and you can catch them on shrimp and crabs. Check out grassy flats and marshes and you will be pulling in 12 lb Redfish. It’s a perfect way to spend the day for both hardcore anglers and families with kids. You can also get Flounder, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and Tripletail.
The real treat lies a few miles off the Louisiana coast where you can get Mahi Mahi, Mangrove Snapper, Warsaw and Gag Grouper, Amberjacks, Cobia, and King Mackerel. Up for eve, more of a challenge? Head offshore and chase Sailfish, Blue and White Marlin, and Swordfish – it’s sportfishing at its finest.
Out of all the fishing spots in the Gulf of Mexico we mentioned so far, Venice fishing is best known for Yellowfin Tuna. Their bite is excellent in July and it gets better with each passing day, all the way to October. These brutes swim around offshore oil rigs and weigh up to 50 lb on average in July, but more skilled anglers snatch 120 lb monsters. You could be the next champion of the day!
August is just as good. If you and your family want a light tackle adventure, go fishing for Black Drum, Sheepshead, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. But that’s not all. Ever heard of a “Louisiana pumpkin patch?” No, it’s not an early Halloween. A pumpkin patch is a body of shallow water, with grass and a horde of Redfish swimming around. They become golden in color and it’s a real sight to admire.
The Redfish of the Louisiana waters are so legendary that you will find anglers elsewhere around the Gulf comparing their Red to “a true Louisiana pumpkin.” August is a great time for some pumpkin hunting!
10. Port Aransas
You can enjoy excellent fishing trips in Port Aransas in July. It is a month of solid inshore fishing, with bull Reds and Speckled Trout taking the spotlight. But that’s far from all. You will also find Black Drum, Tripletail, and Sheepshead hiding around grassy patches.
In Texas, state waters are open for Red Snapper year-round, but in July you can also fish federal waters. These bottom fishing trips around coral banks sell fast as families and friends head out to fill their coolers with juicy flesh. This is why so many anglers head out fishing into the Gulf of Mexico year after year.
You can get other fish besides Snapper and Grouper. Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo inhabit deeper waters, some 40+ miles from the coast. If your kids aren’t too young, these trips are a great way to spend a summer day outside. Fishing stays top-notch throughout August, as Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays continue to produce limits of Speckled Trout and Redfish.
11. South Padre Island
South Padre Island has amazing fishing in July. You can spend the day on beaches and swim these calm waters, then go fishing around the bay, jetties, and flats for Redfish and Speckled Trout. Other species, such as Black Drum, Sheepshead, and Flounder, are also large in numbers and make for a great family trip and a fine dinner.
Once you’ve explored fishing opportunities around the bay, turn towards the Gulf of Mexico and take an offshore charter. You could be coming back with Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna.
South Padre Island is popular among fly anglers and folks who love wade fishing. Make sure to go wading with a local guide as they know the good spots and will put you on fish.
SPI fishing is real magic in August. It’s the start of Speckled Trout high season, and Flounder are also biting with full force. Specks are numerous around the Intracoastal Waterway. You will find Red Drum in the Laguna Madre, and if you fancy fly fishing this is some of the best there is.
Summer Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico: There’s Nothing Better
It was tough to settle for less than a dozen destinations in the Gulf, but we’ve done our best to show you where the real action is. These are just the tip of the iceberg, though, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and explore what these wonderful waters have to offer. Chances are, you’ll like what you find.
Which of these Gulf Coast fishing spots have you fished before? What fish did you catch? What fish do you want to catch on your next trip? If you’d like to know some more details about fishing in these places, let us know in the comments below. Otherwise, find a charter near you and start reeling in trophies!