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Top Gulf of Mexico Destinations

Top Fishing Charters in Gulf of Mexico

Fishing in Gulf of Mexico

There’s a reason why the Gulf of Mexico is one of the country’s top destinations for saltwater anglers. Actually, there are multiple reasons, such as impeccable fishing for Red Snapper, Billfish, Tuna, and Tarpon—to name a few. Even if you aren’t an avid angler, odds are you’ve heard tales about these legendary waters. Whether you’re aiming to beat your personal best or you’re casting lines for the very first time, there’s a long list of Gulf of Mexico fishing charters to help you land the catch of a lifetime!

Known For

Inshore Fishing

From Texas to the west coast of Florida, there’s no end to the light tackle action you can enjoy while fishing inshore. Shallow coastal waters are home to Redfish, Speckled Trout (Spotted Seatrout), Flounder, Black Drum, Sheepshead, Jack Crevalle, Mackerel, Snook, Tarpon, and even Cobia when the season is right. Inshore Gulf fishing is a year-round affair, but many species have slightly different peak seasons depending on where you fish. You’ll find bays and estuaries in every Gulf-side state, and it’s hard to pick a bad place to cast your line!

Reef Fishing

The Gulf of Mexico is peppered with hundreds of artificial reefs, some of them just 1 mile from shore while others lie hundreds of miles out. Many reefs have Loran-C identification numbers so anglers can pinpoint them on nautical charts and set their course. While fishing the reefs just off the beach or a couple of miles from the coast, you'll catch King Mackerel and Cobia in addition inshore species like Sheepshead. In some areas, small Snapper and Groupers can be found on reefs close to shore.

In areas where the continental shelf lies closer to shore (such as the Florida Panhandle), nearshore fishing quickly gives way to offshore fishing, while charter boats out of other areas (like the west coast of Florida) don’t make it past nearshore fishing conditions until they’re almost 60 miles offshore. Once you head past waters over 50' deep, reef fishing produces a much wider variety of species. Cast a line between 50-100 miles offshore and you'll reel in various Snapper and Grouper species, Amberjack, Triggerfish, and Hogfish. Trolling on the way out and back produces seasonal predators such as Blackfin Tuna, Cobia, Barracuda, King Mackerel, and Spanish Mackerel.

For even better prospects, try your luck on the deep sea reefs 100+ miles off the coast. In addition to the biggest bottom fish of the Gulf, you'll have a chance to catch Mahi Mahi and a variety of Billfish. 

Many reef fish are biting year-round but you can’t always fish for them, due to regulations. Read on for more information concerning seasons for Red Snapper, Amberjack, and Grouper.

Deep Sea Fishing

Deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is some of the finest in the country. This sport will have you trolling the open water and anchoring up near oil rigs hundreds of miles offshore. Infamous oil rigs such as Ursa, Elf, Mars, and Thunderhorse attract baitfish and their predators like honey draws flies. Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Swordfish, Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna, Blue Marlin, and White Marlin are all in the cards. Overnight Gulf charters are a favorite among hardcore anglers who are keen to sleep on the journey to sea and wake up on top of the bite.

If you’re fishing out of Alabama, Louisiana, the east coast of Mississippi, or the Florida Panhandle, you don’t have to sail hundreds of miles offshore to experience magnificent big game fishing. A full day trip out of these places can get you to the underwater DeSoto Canyon and back again, with a chance to catch plenty of Billfish along the way.

Need to Know

Getting There

You can find Gulf of Mexico fishing charters on the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Finding a place to set sail won’t be hard, but choosing the best of them can be. Some of the Gulf’s top fishing destinations include Destin FL, Orange Beach AL, Biloxi MS, Venice LA, and Galveston TX. Every town has its reputation, and for some anglers this is the deciding factor.

Eager to try some of the Tuna fishing the Gulf is known for? Head to Venice! Marlin lovers will have a blast at Biloxi’s annual Gulf Coast Billfish Tournament, while Sailfish fanatics need look no further than Destin. Hunting for Swordfish? Try your luck anywhere off the coast of Texas and you’ll discover some of the most underrated fishing grounds in the country!

Regulations

Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico can get tricky when it comes to following regulations. The first thing you need to know is the difference between state waters and federal waters. Gulf coast state waters extend 9 miles from the shore; federal waters begin where state waters end and span offshore to 200 nautical miles.

Recreational anglers do not need a fishing license in federal waters, but you do need to carry a state fishing license, depending on where your fishing charter launches. In Texas and Louisiana, anglers of a certain age need to buy their own fishing license. In Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, charter boats typically provide a license for you.

Regulations and closed seasons for certain species are not the same in every state and may be different in federal waters. Red Snapper, Amberjack, and various Groupers are highly regulated and can only be harvested at certain times of the year. Most notably, Red Snapper season in state waters is usually restricted to specific days in June and July, but may be open longer in federal waters through December or until the annual quota is met. The seasons depicted below are based federal fishing regulations.

Budget

Gulf coast fishing charters range widely in price, from party boat trips for $50-$100 per person to extravagant overnight excursions which cost thousands of dollars. Deep sea fishing trips are the most expensive, mainly to cover fuel costs. Fishing out of Alabama or the Panhandle is one way to find affordable deep sea fishing trips, since boats burn less fuel before reaching deep water. By contrast, half day trips around local bays can cost less than $400 for a small group of people.

It’s hard to do justice to these fishing grounds, but we’ve done our best to cover the basics! Now it’s time to head to the Gulf of Mexico for your next angling adventure and experience this world renowned fishery for yourself.

Gulf of Mexico
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Gulf of Mexico Fishing Seasons

It may be the dead of winter, but the inshore waters of the Gulf are looking lively! You can enjoy some of the best Speckled Trout and Sheepshead fishing of the year in Texas and Alabama.

Fishing inshore in any Gulf-side state for Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sheepshead and other species will keep you busy until the weather is fair enough to head offshore!

Cobia are beginning to appear off the coast of Florida, which means one thing: sight fishing! The season for Grouper and Triggerfish is now open in federal waters.

More anglers are heading offshore as large predatory fish start showing up. Wahoo and Blackfin Tuna are already at their peak in some areas, and you have a good chance of catching Mahi and Sailfish.

Deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is at its height in May. You could catch anything from Yellowfin Tuna or Mahi Mahi to monster Sharks while casting lines offshore.

Come June, many anglers are heading to nearshore and offshore reefs to make the most of Red Snapper season while it’s open. A day inshore will have you hooking into Flounder, Speckled Trout, and more.

July is tournament fishing month here in the Gulf! Take your pick of the Port Aransas Deep Sea Roundup, Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, or the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeos in Mississippi and Alabama.

All fish are typically open to harvest in federal waters this month, and most of them are at their peak! Try bottom fishing for Amberjack, Snapper, and Grouper, or troll for Marlin, Tuna, and much more.

Deep sea fishing continues offshore, and you can still enjoy good Tarpon fishing in some coastal waters. The Redfish bite is heating up as autumn gets underway. 

In Destin, Florida anglers are partaking in the Destin Fishing Rodeo, a month-long fishing tournament dating back to 1948. This annual tradition keeps visitors coming even after tourist season is over! 

Most big game fish have disappeared by now, but there’s plenty of action on the reefs to keep you busy! Inshore, winter favorites like Flounder and Speckled Trout are at their peak.

Winter fishing on the Gulf is all about reaping the rewards that swim close to home! Redfish, Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and Sheepshead will get your blood pumping on a cold winter day! 

Gulf of Mexico Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Gulf of Mexico

"Wonderful time"

Becky B. fished with Living a Dream – El Patron on August 15, 2019

Nice small town feel. We took our filleted fish to the nearby restaurant and they cooked it for us with a great spread of yummy sides.

"August fishing trip"

Brenda S. fished with Second Nature Charters on August 14, 2019

August is usually very hot and was today, but trip was fun and we caught fish!!

"August fishing trip"

Samuel P. fished with Redfish Lake Guide Service on August 14, 2019

Matagorda is known for great inshore fishing. Sunscreen fishing shirts, hat and get out there.

"August fishing trip"

Jack B. fished with Galveston Offshore on August 12, 2019

windy mostly....so ...those who dont like rough water... use motion sickness meds...took 2 fishing trips in rough an smooth water...an had lots of sick fisherman...

Top Targeted Species in Gulf of Mexico

Redfish

Redfish

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Cobia

Cobia

Snapper (Red)

Snapper (Red)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Tarpon

Tarpon

Flounder

Flounder

Amberjack

Amberjack

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