The Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club targets ten species of fish, known as the “Big 10,” in our tournaments, “funaments” and contests. Awards also are given for two less common species known as the “Other 3.”
What’s Available When
During winter, offshore fishermen target grouper, amberjack, and giant spawner sheepshead. Also abundant are the tasty, but smaller, black seabass and grunts. Inshore, redfish are reliable all winter and seatrout are available in early winter. Spectacular runs of trout develop in the Suwannee and Steinhatchee rivers, but the trout usually clam up by the end of January.
The action really heats up in the spring. The grouper become more aggressive, spanish mackerel reappear, and a run of king mackerel passes through during April, followed closely by cobia. Seatrout move out of the creeks and rivers onto the grass flats, and even the reliable redfish seem to bite a little better. Flounder are scattered as always, and the big offshore sheepshead spawn quits in early April.
Fishing is tough in the summer. The heat is brutal, and the action slows way down for many species. Kingfish and grouper move far offshore. The spanish mackerel are off and on, as are the seatrout. Redfish seem unaffected by the heat, and big cobia cruise the grass flats and offshore structure all summer. The lucky, and usually unprepared, angler may even encounter a tarpon, but the best tarpon fishing is just south of Homossassa, beyond the GOFC tournament limits. Because of the summer’s heat, some Big Bend anglers switch to cooler activities like recreational scalloping and shrimping during July and August.
Autumn is the best time to fish the Big Bend. Everything is bigger and hungrier. A terrific fall run of king mackerel passes through in October and may persist into November if the weather stays warm. The spanish mackerel and cobia put on a big bite before abruptly departing by the end of October. However, to fill the vacancy, hungry grouper move from their summer haunts far offshore to nearshore waters as shallow as 20 feet. In November and December some of the best trout and redfish action of the year appears in the tidal creeks, and even the elusive flounder becomes easier to catch.
The Other Three Species