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Fishing in Cortez

The fishing community of Cortez is one of the oldest not just in Florida, but across the States. A thriving fishing village in the late 19th century, this settlement is now one of the last commercial fishing villages in the area. But, sportfishers will find ample opportunities here, as Cortez fishing charters are the most convenient way to sample the very best of Florida fish.

Fishing is not the only thing you can do in Cortez, though no one will blame you if spend days exploring the bays, flats, and mangrove-lined shores. Step back in time and take a tour of the Florida Maritime Museum; or take a stroll down the palm tree-spotted beachfront. This is the sun-drenched Florida you’ve heard of.

Cortez fishing spots

Tucked right behind Bradenton Beach, Cortez looks out on the Palma Sola Bay. A quick boat ride south will get you to the rich fisheries of the Sarasota Bay. Head north of the village and you’ll soon be near a mashup of fisheries where the Manatee River empties into the Tampa Bay. On the worst of days, there will be some bites. On the best of days, it will be an inshore heaven.

Palma Sola Bay

Fishing Palma Sola Bay means a good deal of Snook, Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Black Drum. These waters are a good starting point for novice anglers, wade fishers, and kayak fishing enthusiasts. Fishing becomes extraordinary come fall, but even early months of the year can give you a nice surprise.

Sarasota Bay

Sarasota Bay is just around the corner from Cortez, holding a healthy stock of Mangrove Snapper, Speckled Trout, Redfish, Black Drum, Flounder, and Mackerel. The game is on already in January where on a warm day you can get hefty Trout and some Redfish. As the water heats up, more baitfish will show up and give your target species a good reason to follow.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay has hundreds of hot spots where you can try anything from wade fishing to trolling for some Gag Grouper. Yep, it’s possible. The usual catches are Snook, Redfish, Tarpon, and Black Drum, but don’t be taken aback by an odd Kingfish foraging around.

The bay has a lot of artificial reefs where deeper waters produce real magic and where you can get Mangrove Snapper by the dozen. To make sure you don’t miss some of the action, book a trip with a local guide who’ll help get you the fish.

Gulf of Mexico

For centuries, the Gulf waters served as a well where commercial anglers stocked up on bread-and-butter fish that was then used to feed the nearby settlements. These days, the Gulf is a top place for sportfishing, no matter what you want to fish for. When you head offshore, you’ll find Spanish Mackerel, Kingfish, and Cobia. Then comes some great bottom fishing for Snapper and Grouper, and finally speed-loving Mahi, big Amberjacks and who knows - even a Wahoo.

Fishing techniques

Fishing out of Cortez will give you a chance to try numerous techniques. Stay around the flats and sounds and sample some of the tastiest (and feistiest) inshore species.

To get Redfish and Trout you will need to be good at light tackle game. Sight fishing for Redfish is always an interesting way to spend the day. Soft plastics or shrimp will get them going.

If you’re looking for Snook, seek sheltered waters, near grassy flats and use feather jigs.

The Tarpon will be on fire come summer, but you can get them already on warm March days. Experienced anglers should definitely try fly fishing.

If you’re looking for something a bit more extraordinary, how about wade fishing? Find a local guide, put your boots on, and come explore these honey holes.

Once you hit the Gulf waters, trolling and bottom fishing can get you far. Spanish and King Mackerel are strong opponents but trolling can get you an enviable catch, especially if you fish live bait such as mullet or sardines. Far offshore, you can troll for Tuna and Mahi, or even get Sailfish.

Bottom fishing around offshore reefs and wrecks will get you Grouper, Snapper, and Amberjack. But that’s just the beginning. Head 80 miles offshore and Cortez deep sea fishing will leave you speechless as you get to fight dozen Grouper and Snapper species.

Need to know

Anglers fishing aboard a licensed Cortez fishing charter don’t need a saltwater license. A way to a productive day on the water is to hire a private charter as these provide all the tackle, bait, lures, and gear, so you can focus on fishing. It’s always best to check with the captain before you set out to get fish.

No matter how far you’re planning to fish, you should pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, an extra layer of clothes. On offshore trips, you should bring Dramamine in case of motion sickness. You’ll also want to bring food and drinks, although some charters also provide food and beverages.

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Cortez Fishing Seasons

The turn of the year brings a solid stock of Tripletail and Trout. Snook are in brackish waters and take cover near the grassy areas. On a nice day, you could be coming home with quite a catch.

The Redfish bite is picking up. The bays fish well for Snook, Trout, Tripletail, and Black Drum. Once you reach deeper waters, you can also get Kingfish.

Temperature is going up and so is the number of fish. If you want a brawl, Amberjack are biting offshore, while back at home you can fish for Snook, Black Drum, Redfish, and Mackerel.

Anglers gather around Anna Maria to spot the early signs of Tarpon. If you want more variety, target Snook, Trout, and Flounder. They feed around more secluded waterways.

Offshore waters produce Wahoo and Mahi, but it’s a stretch to reach the fisheries. Fishing for Amberjack is productive too. Meanwhile inshore you can get Tarpon.

Inshore, Tarpon put an epic display of acrobatics. The Snapper season is open, so hop on a charter and get going. Offshore you can get Grouper, Amberjack, Mahi, and Kingfish.

Offshore fisheries cater to anglers of all levels of expertise. Snapper are everyone’s darlings, while Grouper and Amberjacks put up an incredible fight. If you like speed, troll for Kingfish, Wahoo, and Mahi.

The summer heat is in full swing and offshore waters produce Amberjack, Snapper, and Grouper. The Kingfish bite is steady, while back at home flats hold a good stock of Tarpon.

Stay close to dry land and fish for Redfish and Black Drum around mangrove shorelines. Or, get outriggers ready and troll for Kingfish and Spanish Mackerel.

Inshore waters fish well for Redfish and Black Drum, while offshore you can get Amberjack, Wahoo, or practice catch and release on Snapper and Grouper.

Trout are back and are super hungry. Not to mention they are also quite big, so landing a ‘Gator’ isn’t unusual. Explore the flats and mangroves to get massive Redfish and Black Drum.

Huge Redfish, epic Gator Trout, and a lot of Black Drum can all be found within minutes of departure. It's best you go fishing with a local guide to avoid missing any of inshore hot spots.

Cortez Fishing Calendar

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Top Fishing Techniques in Cortez

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Cortez

Barracuda (Great)

Barracuda (Great)



King Mackerel (Kingfish)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)





Grouper (Gag)

Grouper (Gag)