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Ultimate Guide • Updated Fri, May 3, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Offshore Fishing

Beyond the sure-footing of the shoreline, the ocean opens up a whole new world of opportunity. The fish get bigger — as do the boats and gear necessary to successfully catch them. Excitement becomes palpable as each bite promises a thrilling encounter. Whether you’ve never been or know exactly what we’re talking about, AnyCreek is here to connect you with the outdoors like never before. Book a guided trip to get your next offshore fishing experience started today.

Captain Casey of Sea Señorita Charters piloting out to sea.

Captain Casey of Sea Señorita Charters piloting out to sea.

This article covers:

  • What is offshore fishing
  • Offshore fishing species to target
  • Offshore fishing seasons
  • Offshore fishing destinations
  • Offshore fishing equipment
  • Your next offshore fishing adventure
  • Offshore Fishing FAQ

What is offshore fishing

As far as what is considered offshore fishing, it's any type of saltwater fishing taking place some miles offshore. While answers vary to questions of how far offshore fishing starts taking place or what depth is necessary to be considered offshore fishing, there’s no better way to learn than by going out and experiencing it for yourself. You’ll discover larger fish to target, utilize sturdier gear to brave the demands of the sea, and wield stronger lines and hooks to battle these fish. In the same way local guides radically enhance the inshore fishing experience, deep sea fishing takes on a whole new dimension when done with the right guide.

Inshore vs offshore fishing

Inshore fishing confines itself within a more easily accessible range of waterways within the coastline, usually made accessible by poling a skiff. The fish found when inshore fishing — such as redfishtarponsnookbonefishpermit, and sea trout — can be caught using more technical styles of fishing including light tackle and sight fishing. Despite how massive these fish can get, you’ll be working with lighter test lines and with smaller rigs necessary to get the job done.

Offshore fishing provides access to the largest species of fish able to be caught in the ocean, meaning heavier-duty rodsreels, lines, leaders, and hooks are a must. Here, you’ll find grouper, sharks, tuna, mahi mahi, and various billfish. These fish tend to congregate around bottom structure like reefs and wrecks. With the right guide, you’ll know just where to go to find fish at greater depths while offshore fishing.

Offshore fishing species to target

Each fishing destination has its own trophy catch–from the marlin found off of Florida to the massive tuna offshore in the mid-Atlantic. If you’re interested in targeting certain fish, there may be certain regions best suited for your particular interests and availability. If you have any questions about the trip, you can always reach out to your guide ahead of time and they’ll be happy to align.


Marlin are the pinnacle of offshore fishing, renowned for their speed, power, and iconic appearance. With elongated bodies and spear-like bills, marlins often inhabit tropical and subtropical regions. Blue marlins and black marlins are the most sought-after, with blue marlins capable of exceeding 1,000 pounds and known for their spectacular aerial displays when hooked. Trolling with large lures or live bait is a common technique. These fish are powerful and aggressive, often requiring specialized rods, reels, and lines to withstand their epic fights.

You can catch marlin off the coast of Florida in destinations like the Florida Keys, particularly around Key West and Islamorada, as well as off the coast of Destin in the Florida Panhandle. Biscayne Bay also provides opportunities for marlin fishing.


Tunas are fast and formidable, known for their streamlined bodies and long-distance travels. Bluefin tunas are the largest, reaching weights over 1,000 pounds, while yellowfin tunas are smaller but still powerful, often weighing over 300 pounds. When hooked, tunas can dive deep and move with incredible speed, making them challenging to catch. Anglers use heavy-duty trolling setups with lures or live bait that mimic smaller fish. Tuna fishing demands robust gear and boats capable of handling their powerful runs. Their meat is prized in sushi and sashimi, adding to their allure among offshore anglers.

In Florida, you can catch tuna off the coast of Destin, where the deep Gulf waters offer an excellent habitat for these fish. The Florida Keys, especially around Marathon and Key West, are also popular tuna-fishing destinations.

Dorado (mahi-mahi)

Dorado, also known as mahi-mahi or dolphin, are celebrated for their vibrant colors and acrobatic displays. These fish have bright green and blue hues with golden highlights along their bodies, making them a striking catch. Dorado typically inhabit warm surface waters in tropical and subtropical regions. Anglers often find them near floating debris or seaweed. When hooked, dorado put on a show, leaping and twisting in the air. This spectacle, combined with their relatively light gear requirements, makes them a popular target for both novice and experienced anglers. Trolling with colorful lures or live bait often attracts dorado.

You can catch dorado in the Florida Keys, especially around Islamorada and Key West, as well as off the coast of Miami and Biscayne Bay.


Wahoo are speed demons of the ocean, known for their long, sleek bodies and razor-sharp teeth. These are among the fastest fish in the ocean, capable of explosive strikes on lures or bait. They typically inhabit tropical and subtropical regions, often around underwater structures or open waters. Anglers targeting wahoos need heavy-duty gear, as these fish can make powerful runs that test even the sturdiest equipment. Trolling with high-speed lures or live bait is a common technique for catching wahoos. Their speed and aggression make them a thrilling catch, but they require patience and skill to land successfully.

In Florida, wahoo are often caught off the coast of Destin, particularly during the winter months when they migrate through the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida Keys, especially around Islamorada and Key West, are also known for their wahoo fishing opportunities.


Sailfish are among the most recognizable offshore fish due to their large dorsal fins, or "sails," which they can raise and lower. These fish are incredibly fast, reaching speeds over 68 miles per hour, and are often found in warm and tropical waters. Sailfish are prized for their acrobatics, frequently leaping out of the water when hooked. Anglers targeting sailfish usually employ trolling techniques with live bait or lures. These fish require specialized gear to handle their swift runs and sudden changes in direction. The combination of speed, agility, and spectacle makes sailfish a favorite among offshore anglers.

In Florida, you can catch sailfish off the coast of Miami and Biscayne Bay, as well as in the Florida Keys, particularly around Key West and Islamorada.

Offshore fishing seasons

Here is a chart based on the provided information, covering the peak seasons and the best conditions to catch marlin, tuna, dorado (mahi-mahi), wahoo, and sailfish.

Offshore Fishing Seasons by Species

RegionMarlin peak seasonTuna peak seasonDorada peak seasonWahoo peak seasonSailfish peak season
Gulf CoastJune - September March - May; SeptemberMay - AugustMarch - JuneApril - September
Florida KeysFebruary - JulyAril - July; SeptemberMay - AugustJanuary - March; October - December March - July; September - November
Southern FloridaJanuary - April; September - December May - AugustYear-roundNovember - AprilJanuary - March; November - December
Central FloridaJune - September April - July; OctoberMay - SeptemberJune - September March - August
CaribbeanYear-roundYear-roundYear-roundDecember-AprilJanuary - May

Offshore Fishing Conditions by Season

SeasonBest Time
SpringMarch to June — As the waters warm, many offshore species begin their spawning or migration patterns, creating more activity and opportunities for anglers.
SummerJune to August — This is the prime time for catching a variety of species like marlin, tuna, dorado, and wahoo. Early mornings and late afternoons are best to avoid the midday heat.
FallSeptember to November — The cooling waters and post-spawn conditions bring fish closer to the surface, making them more accessible. Sailfish and tuna are particularly active during this time.
WinterDecember to February — Although it's cooler, this season has some of the most exciting offshore action. Focus on sunnier days when fish tend to move toward warmer surface waters, and look for them near floating debris or other structures.

Offshore fishing destinations

How to find offshore fishing spots can be a difficult question to answer, especially when you’re just getting started. We’ve compiled a list of some of our guide's favorite offshore fishing locations to get you a sense of your bearings.

Florida offshore fishing

Florida is synonymous with offshore fishing, offering endless options along its extensive coastline. From the Florida Keys to the Gulf Coast, you can find a wide array of fish species and charter services. The Gulf Stream, which runs along the state's east coast, brings big game fish like marlin, sailfish, and mahi-mahi within reach. Popular locations include MiamiKey West, and the Florida Keys.

Offshore fishing in Destin

Destin, located in Florida's Panhandle, is known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village." This reputation stems from its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico, where deep waters and abundant marine life make for excellent offshore fishing. The area's unique geography allows anglers to reach deep-sea fishing grounds quickly, providing more time for actual fishing. In Destin, you can target a variety of offshore species, including red snapper, grouper, amberjack, and even sailfish. Offshore fishing charters in Destin are well-equipped and often led by experienced captains who know the best spots to find fish. The region also has a vibrant fishing culture, with numerous tournaments and events throughout the year. Whether you're interested in a family-friendly charter or a more intense deep-sea fishing adventure, Destin has something for everyone.

Fort Pierce offshore fishing

Fort Pierce, known as the 'Sunrise City,' is a premier offshore fishing destination. This area provides easy access to the Gulf Stream, where you can target mahi-mahi, wahoo, and sailfish. Fort Pierce has a range of offshore fishing charters that cater to all skill levels. Its strategic location makes it a favorite among anglers looking for a quick trip to the deep waters.

Sarasota offshore fishing

Sarasota, located on Florida's Gulf Coast, is another fantastic offshore fishing location. The region is known for its vibrant marine life, with popular catches including grouper and kingfish. Sarasota's offshore fishing charters are staffed with experienced guides who know where to find the best spots, whether you're looking for a half-day trip or a longer adventure.

Fort Myers offshore fishing

Fort Myers, also on Florida's Gulf Coast, offers excellent offshore fishing opportunities. Anglers can target a variety of species, from red snapper to kingfish. The area has a range of offshore fishing charters, each providing unique experiences tailored to your skill level and fishing goals. Fort Myers is a great starting point for exploring the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

South Carolina offshore fishing

Offshore fishing in South Carolina is a thrilling experience that brings together the charm of Southern hospitality and the excitement of deep-sea adventure. Charleston, the state's most well-known offshore fishing hub, provides easy access to the Atlantic Ocean's bountiful waters. Here, anglers can pursue a variety of prized species, including mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna, and even the elusive marlin during peak season. The Gulf Stream's warm currents, just a short boat ride away, are home to diverse game fish, ensuring a dynamic and rewarding fishing experience. Charleston's offshore fishing charters are led by experienced guides who navigate to the best spots, including reefs and wrecks, to maximize your chances of a successful catch. Whether you're a seasoned offshore angler or new to the sport, South Carolina's offshore fishing offers a unique and exhilarating journey into the deep blue.

Offshore fishing in Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina, is a unique blend of historic charm and prime offshore fishing. The city's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean allows anglers to access deep-sea fishing spots relatively quickly. Popular offshore targets include mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna, and even marlin during the peak season. Offshore fishing charters in Charleston often head to the Gulf Stream, where the warm currents attract a diverse range of fish. Charleston's offshore fishing scene offers a variety of experiences, from day trips to multi-day excursions. The region's underwater structures, such as reefs and wrecks, provide excellent habitats for game fish, making it a favorite spot for both seasoned anglers and newcomers. The city also hosts fishing tournaments, adding to its appeal as an offshore fishing destination.

Offshore fishing in Texas

Texas boasts access to the Gulf of Mexico, providing a wealth of offshore fishing opportunities. Here, you can target species like red snapper, marlin, and tuna. Popular destinations in Texas include Galveston and Port Aransas, where experienced captains lead expeditions into prime offshore waters.

Offshore fishing equipment

Offshore fishing demands robust and reliable gear designed to withstand the harsh marine environment and the challenges of deep-sea angling. From the rods and reels to the lures and lines, each piece of equipment is essential for a successful offshore expedition. Here's an overview of the key components and their specific features that meet the demands of offshore fishing.

Offshore gear.jpeg
Saltwater rigs trolling behind the boat. Courtesy of Sea Señorita Charters.

Offshore Fishing Line

When it comes to offshore fishing lines, strength and durability are paramount. The best lines for offshore fishing are designed to handle heavy loads and resist abrasion. Braided lines are a popular choice due to their high tensile strength and minimal stretch, allowing anglers to detect even the faintest bites. Monofilament lines offer more flexibility and shock absorption, making them ideal for situations where fish might make sudden, powerful runs. When targeting larger species like marlin or tuna, you might use braided lines with a breaking strength of 80 to 130 pounds. Monofilament leaders with a strength of 100 to 200 pounds are often used for shock absorption and abrasion resistance.

Offshore Fishing Rods

Offshore fishing rods must be capable of withstanding the intense pressure of deep-sea fishing. These rods are typically longer and sturdier, designed to handle large fish and rough sea conditions. Heavy-duty materials like graphite and fiberglass are common, providing both strength and flexibility. The action and power of these rods vary, allowing anglers to select the right rod for their target species and fishing techniques. For marlin or large tuna, you'll likely need a rod with heavy power and moderate to fast action, capable of handling 50 to 130-pound lines. Lighter rods with medium power can be used for species like dorado or smaller tunas, typically paired with 20 to 50-pound test lines.

Offshore Fishing Reels

The offshore fishing reel is the heart of the gear setup, responsible for managing the line and providing the drag needed to fight big fish. Offshore reels are usually larger and more robust, with high line capacities and durable components. Lever drag systems are preferred for their smooth and precise control, while star drag reels offer a more straightforward and reliable setup. Reels made from corrosion-resistant materials like aluminum and stainless steel are essential for longevity in the salty marine environment. When targeting marlin or big tuna, consider using a large conventional reel with a high line capacity, designed for 50 to 130-pound lines. For smaller species like dorado, smaller conventional reels or large spinning reels with a capacity for 20 to 50-pound lines are suitable.

Offshore Fishing Lures

Offshore fishing lures are designed to attract large predators from a distance. These lures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including trolling lures, poppers, and jigs. Offshore lures are typically brightly colored and designed to create significant movement in the water, simulating the appearance and behavior of prey fish. High-quality hooks and durable construction are critical, as these lures need to withstand aggressive strikes and long battles. Trolling lures are commonly used for marlin and tuna, often with squid-like skirts or fish-like profiles. Poppers and surface plugs can be effective for dorado and wahoo, providing surface action to attract attention. High-speed jigs and deep-diving lures are also used for various offshore species.

Offshore fishing apparel

Offshore fishing apparel plays a crucial role in ensuring comfort and safety during extended periods on the water. Offshore fishing clothing is designed to protect against harsh weather conditions, UV exposure, and saltwater spray. Quick-drying materials and breathable fabrics are common, along with additional features like reinforced knees, waterproof seams, and multiple pockets for storage. Polarized sunglasses are essential to reduce glare and improve visibility, helping anglers spot fish and navigate safely. Clothing designed specifically for offshore fishing often includes sun protection and moisture-wicking properties to keep anglers cool and dry.

Your next offshore fishing adventure

Offshore fishing opens up a world of excitement, where each trip promises exhilarating encounters with some of the ocean's most magnificent game fish. To get started on your ultimate offshore fishing adventure, book a guided trip with AnyCreek today. Our experienced guides know the best spots and techniques to make your trip a success. From the Northeast to the Florida Keys, the perfect offshore fishing experience is waiting for you. Don't miss out—reserve your trip and let the excitement of offshore fishing take you to new depths.

Offshore Fishing FAQ

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