Planning a Winter Fishing Trip (to Somewhere Warm)

Scuba divers underwater and fishing tour boat above the Caribbean Sea in Cozumel, Mexico

For some of us—those of us in the northern states—winter means ice fishing. But for a good number of us, where the ice doesn’t get quite thick enough and the fishing just slows, winter can be a painful period of time where it’s just cold outside and there are simply no fish to catch.

But we want to change that. Isn’t winter a great time for a vacation? Taking a trip somewhere warm? Somewhere there’s water. And fish, that are biting? Let’s take a trip. Think of it as snowbirding, but for fish.

Here are a few tips and tricks for planning a winter fishing trip, somewhere warm.


Man fishing out at sea in the warm weather on a winter fishing trip to escape the cold
Photo by Antonio Scantlebury on Unsplash

Since we’re talking somewhere warm(er), you’re probably looking at a trip to somewhere in the southern half of the states. Conveniently enough, there are several places further south that are well-known for their fishing year-round.


Florida is a popular spot for those nomads migrating away from the snowy north, and it should be for those of you hunting warm weather fishing too. There are plenty of lakes available to you, but Florida also comes with the joy of deep-sea fishing.


Louisiana has its bayou. There’s catfish. There’s redfish. There’s tuna. Then when you’re not fishing, you have all of that incredible Cajun and Creole food to devour.


Texas is massive. It’s difficult to narrow down the kinds of fishing available. Massive lakes, the gulf, rivers, and reservoirs: they all offer a different kind of fishing while offering plenty of opportunities to stay warm.

South Carolina

South Carolina has a renowned fishing scene. Around series of islands and further out to sea, some warm coastal waters will keep you comfortable while you fish—plus thanks to it being the offseason, the most heavily populated areas won’t be quite so overrun. (Looking at you, Myrtle Beach.)


California, especially southern California, can’t be overlooked. Weather can vary pretty drastically on the coast further north, but around San Diego, you’re looking at warm temps for plenty of nice, deep-sea fishing.

These are just a few popular options. There are literally hundreds of locations to take a southern fishing trip—it simply depends on what you’re after and how much you’re willing to spend to get there.

The Fish

man catching grouper while deep sea fishing during a winter fishing trip
Image by Bill Gernaat from Pixabay

This is more about the fish you’re interested in catching than what’s biting. Depending on where you go, you’ll have different options.

The beauty of deep-sea fishing is that fish don’t tend to take winters off. They’re always out in the cold water, and that doesn’t change much. Even in shallower waters, things may stay relatively consistent.

Redfish, sheepshead, mullet, sea bass, flounder and grouper, larger fish like tuna and tarpon, and in deeper waters marlin and sailfish. This isn’t to mention mahi dolphin and shark, which you’ll also find in some saltwater areas.

In fresher waters, bass are completely on the table. You may need to fish a little differently—like keeping a bait moving—to catch them, but monster bass are known to hit during the winter. In southern lakes and rivers, catfish will bite year-round.

A few smaller guys like bluegill and crappie bite well in the winter, as do sauger. Whatever you’re fishing for, come prepared with the right gear.

Charters and Guides

Charter fishing boat out to sea during a winter fishing trip
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

There are several perks to hiring a charter or guide when you’re on a little fishing vacation.

First of all, the guides know where the fish are. They fish these waters year-round, so they’re well aware where the fish migrate to during the winter months.

Second, it offers you an opportunity to sit back and relax and actually fish, rather than navigate unknown waters.

Third, charters can offer suggestions for gear to bring along. And suggestions for how to dress. Remember: just because it’s winter in the south, doesn’t mean you’re not going to get cool on occasion. Winter strikes when you least suspect it.

Finally, in the offseason, you may even be able to sweet-talk your guide into a little discount. But if you do, remember to tip well. They’re doing you a service, after all.

Have any questions or concerns? Leave a comment below!


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