Every trip, every season, and every day is different. Phases of the moon, tides, weather, water temperature, and time of year all affect what kinds of fish you might catch on a deep sea fishing charter. In addition to the species described below, you might also catch various species of shark, barracuda, cobia, spanish mackeral, triggerfish, and numerous others.

Also, visit this site for a great Florida fish identification guide.


One of the fish we bring home most often is the grouper. There are a number of grouper species found in Florida. The gag, red, scamp and goliath groupers are the most abundant species, but you might also find Nassau, Red Hind, Rock Hind, Black, and Yellowfin. Though they’ll eat just about anything, they won’t travel very far to feed. When a grouper hits your line, you’ve got to set the hook immediately and prevent the fish from pulling the bait back into its hole.


Over 15 varieties of snapper are found in Florida waters; the most common species in the Gulf are the mangrove, lane, and red. Snapper fishing is among the easiest styles of saltwater angling to learn. They will eat live shrimp, small live pinfish, squirrel fish, and ballyhoo or chunks of cut bait. These also happen to be the same treats that attract grouper. The rules for snapper fishing are complicated due to their popularity and slow growth rate.


Amberjack are large, strong fish that live offshore and grow over 100 lbs. They put up quite a fight and will test any angler’s strength. Most commonly found on menus in a smoked fish spread, the amberjack has a stronger flavor than grouper or snapper. AJ’s will eat almost any bait and are often caught while fishing for other species. With a 28″ minimum, you can bet on a fight to bring home a keeper.


Not to be confused with the dolphin, this fish is one of the most beautiful and delicious in the Gulf. Dolphin are a very structure-oriented gamefish, ordinarily hanging around weedlines or various pieces of flotsam. They are apparently not very long-lived, but grow very fast – reaching at least eighty pounds. They feed on squid, flying fish, and many other baits


Frequently called “smokers” for what they do to a reel when they first hit a line, Kingfish can be found in the spring and fall in the Gulf waters. Kings tend to hunt in schools, herding bait into a small area – baitfish often try to hide behind each other, with the resulting formation of a tightly packed “ball” of bait. Sharp teeth and fast movements create quite a stir when this fish hits a bait.


Blackfin tuna find their way into the Gulf in large schools. These fish are a lively fight, eating topwater baits but running with force as soon as they’re hooked. A shrimp boat on the horizon usually means an eager school of tuna; they tend to feed on the crustaceans and small fish the shrimpers toss from their nets.


Cobia are a delicious fish that live inshore or nearshore. Common cobia weigh around 30 lbs, though 50+ lb fish can be found a bit farther offshore. Adults are often solitary or travel with just a few other individuals, frequently in the company of sharks. This makes them a difficult species to target, and capture is therefore often incidental. Despite this, however, cobia is a highly sought after food fish.


Two species of flounder can be found in the Gulf waters near Tampa Bay: the Gulf Flounder (generally up to 15″ and 2 lbs) and the Southern Flounder (larger, up to 3′ and 20 lbs, but most are 1-5 lbs). Flounder provide an excellent, lean white meat. These fish prefer live to dead bait. Live shrimp retrieved slowly along the bottom often produce excellent results. Although many are taken by rod and reel, “floundering” or gigging offers the best challenge for this species. The flounder is vulnerable to this technique because it often enters the shallows at night to feed.


Permit live offshore near wreckage and rock formations and also inshore on turtle grass flats, sand flats, and outlining channels. The Permit gives a powerful fight once hooked with steady fast runs, and many quick changes of direction. Pound for pound their fight is as good as it gets. On average permit are selective rather than opportunistic feeders. They seem to have a varied diet, but usually feed exclusively on one organism per feeding period.


Similar to the Permit, the Pompano is smaller, usually weighing up to 8 lbs. Pompano are one of the most delicious fish to eat (they fetch the highest market price of any saltwater fish from the commercial fish houses in the continental U.S.), they can be caught from the surf on light tackle, and they put up a tenacious fight making numerous, long runs.


The elusive snook lurk usually inshore in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings nearshore. Most snook caught fall between 18 and 30 inches, but large specimens have pushed well beyond the 52-inch mark and weighed in at over 50 pounds. They are highly sensitive to water temperatures, preferring very warm waters; they can’t survive for long in water temperatures below 60 degrees.


The redfish, or red drum, has been found to weigh up to 94 pounds although most large ones average between 30 and 40 pounds. In shallow water settings, redfish are often seen “tailing,” or grubbing for food in such a manner that their tail fins are exposed above the surface of the water. Usually inshore in shallows and flats, large reds can also be caught from beaches and piers during the winter months.


Tarpon are one of the most exciting saltwater fish to catch. They are aggressive and put up a legendary fight. While they live mostly inshore, they spawn offshore. They grow up to 8 feet in length and sometimes weigh 200 pounds. The tarpon must gulp air from the surface to survive, even in highly oxygenated water. The term for this is “rolling.” Rolling tarpon can easily be spotted at the surface of the water by the an angler. Unfortunately, casting to a rolling tarpon will not always result in a strike and they can be rather finicky at times. They are among the toughest battlers once hooked and should be released unharmed if caught as they have virtually no food value.