Florida Fishing Seasons: Fall

Updated on August 10, 2022

As the weather cools and the summer frenzy in Florida dies down, anglers shift tactics and gear up for fall. The fall season carries some of Florida’s best fishing. The combination of shorter days and less direct sunlight cools water temperatures, triggering a mass migration of fish. Many species pass through the warm inshore waters on their migration paths, bringing with them a steady stream of large predators.

Freshwater

During the fall, Largemouth Bass in Lake Okeechobee and Lake Kissimmee start feeding on the surface to fatten themselves up for spawning season. This means that bass fishing is more fun than ever because anglers can really whack bass right off the surface. Some Florida anglers switch to a fly rod in the fall because the bass are so plentiful in the shallows.

Inshore

After spending all summer hiding in the deeper inlets and beaches, Snook move to the inshore flats, tempted by the cooling water. There they perch in areas with a current to wait for passing baitfish, so look out for anywhere with depth change. It’s likely a hungry snook waits in ambush.

The large summer schools of Redfish have broken up by early fall, but they are still plentiful around oyster bars and among the shallow grass flats. Redfish prefer shallow water, so a low tide is best to target them on the flats.

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Speckled Trout also come out onto the flats during the fall. The cooler the weather, the shallower they tend to be. During fall they stick to the deeper flats around 6 feet deep because they like the cooler waters. Fall is the best time to catch speckled trout since the water temperature is usually perfect.

Nearshore

Just off the beaches, millions of baitfish migrate closer to shore in search of warmer waters. They are quickly followed by tons of nearshore species. Kingfish, sharks, Cobia, and Spanish Mackerel venture closer to shore than they usually do during summer. As they follow their prey, they present a great target to nearshore anglers.

On the Atlantic coast, the famed mullet run brings almost every great Florida species nearshore. Tarpon, Jack Crevalle, Bluefish, Snook, Sharks, Cobia, Mackerel, and even the occasional Sailfish. Charters don’t have to go far to catch some amazing species. Some anglers even pull them in straight from the beach!

Offshore

Autumn is when offshore fishing starts to pick up in earnest, and huge pelagics are being caught left and right. Blackfin Tuna are a favorite out off the Keys, and Bluefin Tuna are available as well. Mahi Mahi are also a popular species to target on deep sea fishing trips during the fall.

Florida is famous for its Sailfish, which start to join the Gulf Stream in late fall. In November, sailfish season kicks into full swing. These massive billfish are famous for the beautiful sail running down their back, as well as their incredible runs on the hook. Once hooked, a sailfish can take over an hour to haul over the rain. They fight the line with powerful leaps, making them truly exhilarating to catch. Anglers flock to Florida in late fall to battle these crafty predators on the Atlantic.

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