As anglers, we often think about how the seasons will affect the practical experience on our offshore fishing boats — Is it warm? Sunny? Do I need a windbreaker or a lightweight tee?
But the seasons dramatically affect life beneath the surface, too, and not just in northern lakes that experience fall and spring turnover. Rather, keeping track of the seasons is a worthwhile endeavor for every kind of angler, offshore included.
For most of us in the continental United States, the Gulf Coast is the place to visit if you want to soak in the earliest spring fishing — and the region, teeming with biodiversity, is also home to specific spring migration patterns you’ll want to know about before casting your line. Just read on to learn more!
Where Do You Winter?
Just like humans, Gulf Coast fish like to spend winter in a warm climate to escape seasonal frosty temperatures — but unlike us, their trip is totally free! They just need the swimming stamina to get there.
Where migratory fish ride out the winter isn’t too surprising, when you really think about it. They choose destinations that maintain balmy, tropical brilliance all year long — even when the rest of the country is bundling up in boots and coats.
According to AL.com, migratory fish tend to winter in a few places. One group hangs out near the stretch of Caribbean Sea closest to the Florida Keys — while the other opts for the Gulf of Mexico, closest to the southern tip of Texas.
Taking The Scenic Route
When the fish begin their journey north in the weeks leading up to spring’s arrival, you can tell — there’s a buzz in the water! The Sunshine State is already considered a pretty great place for year-round fishing, but hot species like tarpon come around in surprising numbers when spring rolls around. There are more fish in the water and they’re hungry, too, making now a great time to test your saltwater skills — even if you haven’t had success before.
For the ultimate saltwater spring, why not follow the fish up the coast? If you’re in Florida, you’ll want to cruise up from the Keys toward Naples, Tampa, and the Florida Panhandle to keep up with the influx of fish. You can also plan an itinerary that takes you from Texas to Louisiana to catch the springtime surge at the other side of the Gulf.
(A tip for making the most of your spring excursion? Opt for trolling to cover large stretches of H2O on your search for migrating fish — once you find them, you can take it a little easier. There should be plenty of bites!)
Meet The Neighbors
Which fish species can you expect to meet on their migration north? As AL.com explains, the ocean’s “highly migratory species” include predators like cobia, wahoo, bluefish, tuna, tarpon, marlin, and swordfish — so if you’ve been hoping to land one of those to start your spring fishing adventure, now is a great time to be on the lookout.
Spring fishing awaits! We hope that today’s guide helps you harness seasonal patterns for your best fishing year yet.
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