BlogJanuary 2020

Florida Fishing in Winter: 6 Species to Target

Florida Fishing in Winter: 6 Species to Target

By Debbie Hanson

Jan 15, 2020

Ready to go fishing in winter in Florida? From inshore grass flats to piers and beaches, find out which species present the best winter fishing opportunities

If you want to go fishing in winter, consider planning a trip to a place that's known for warm winter temperatures, sunny skies, and variety of saltwater species. Winter fishing in Florida can be very productive if you know what to target, the best bait or lures to use, and the best areas to focus on.

These six saltwater fish species are worthy targets if you plan a winter fishing trip in Florida.


A member of the porgy family, sheepshead generally migrate to inshore waters from November through February. You can often find sheepshead near piers, docks, pilings, seawalls, and oyster bars. Use a size 1 hook (smaller hooks work better because sheepshead have small mouths and are notorious bait stealers) rigged with shrimp, a small crab, or barnacles.

2. Spotted Seatrout

Water clarity in the backcountry estuary environments is at a peak during the cooler months of the year, making it easier to locate seatrout on the grass flats near sandy potholes. One of the best rigs for winter trout fishing is a soft plastic shrimp lure on 15 to 20-pound fluorocarbon leader beneath a popping cork.

3. Redfish

Target winter redfish along mangrove shorelines up in brackish spring-fed rivers, around bends or deep holes, where the water temperature tends to stay more constant following a cold front. You can use a soft plastic shrimp, or try the Ned rig, which is most commonly used for winter bass fishing, but works equally as well for targeting redfish during the cooler months of the year.

4. Pompano

As a highly migratory species, pompano can be found moving up and down Florida coastlines seeking water temperatures between 70-80 degrees. When fishing in winter from the beach or shoreline, try casting shrimp-tipped jigs out into the surf using a light inshore spinning rod.

5. Black Drum

Black drum can be targeted in bays or estuaries around rocks, deeper holes, and pilings as well as offshore around structure near mud, sand or shell bottom. Use either shrimp or blue crabs on a conventional bottom rig with sinker and a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook to match bait size.

6. Tripletail

Found nearshore and offshore from central to south Florida tripletail are most often spotted around channel markers and crab trap buoys. Use a live shrimp on a 2/0 circle hook rigged underneath a popping cork for your best chance of success.

If you were wondering, what fish can you catch in the winter on a trip to Florida, now you know about six species you can target. Get your Florida fishing license and start rigging up those lines!

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.