Inshore Saltwater Fishing Guides and Tips

Inshore Saltwater Fishing


Inshore Fishing and Saltwater Fish Species in the Gulf of Mexico

Inshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico offers a diverse and thrilling angling experience, with a wide range of saltwater fish species that captivate both novice and seasoned fishermen alike. The Gulf's inshore waters teem with remarkable game fish such as redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and snook.

These species are highly sought after for their fighting spirit and delectable flavor, making them popular targets among anglers. Inshore fishing provides an opportunity to navigate the intricate network of bays, estuaries, and marshes, where these species thrive.

Whether casting from the shoreline or exploring the intricate channels, inshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico promises an adventure filled with thrilling strikes and the chance to reel in some of the most coveted saltwater fish in the region.

A few effective inshore fishing techniques include live bait fishing, jigging, and sight casting.

What is Inshore Saltwater Fishing?

Inshore saltwater fishing is a popular activity along the US Gulf Coast where anglers target species such as redfish, trout, snook, flounder, and tarpon using light tackle, artificial lures or live bait.

The Gulf Coast provides diverse ecosystems and locations for fishing, but safety, regulations, and ethics must be considered. It's a thrilling and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels.

Inshore saltwater fishing can be an exhilarating adventure that offers numerous benefits. It's a thrilling way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, connect with nature, and experience the rush of catching a variety of fish species.

Not only does it promote relaxation, but it also allows you to bond with friends and family while exploring new locations and trying out different techniques.

Inshore Fishing - Big Bull Redfish | Louisiana

Why Inshore Saltwater Fishing is Popular

Inshore saltwater fishing is popular for several reasons.

First, it provides anglers with an opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish species, including redfish, trout, snook, and flounder.

Second, inshore fishing can be done from shore or on a boat, making it accessible to anglers of all experience levels. Additionally, inshore fishing typically requires lighter tackle and gear, which can make it more affordable and easier to transport.

Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Finally, inshore fishing locations, such as mangroves, grass flats, and oyster bars, offer anglers the chance to fish in beautiful, natural environments.

The diverse range of fish species, affordability, and scenic locations make inshore saltwater fishing a popular activity for many anglers.

Popular Saltwater Fish Species

The Gulf Coast is home to a wide variety of fish species that are readily available for inshore fishing.


Redfish, also known as red drum, are one of the most popular species targeted by inshore anglers.

These hard-fighting fish can be caught year-round and can grow to be quite large.


Trout are another popular species that can be caught while inshore fishing. Both speckled trout and spotted seatrout can be found in the shallow waters of the Gulf Coast, and they provide a fun challenge for anglers.

These fish are known for their elusive behavior, and catching them requires a bit of finesse and patience.


Flounder are also commonly targeted while inshore fishing. These flatfish are known for their unique appearance and delicious taste, making them a favorite among anglers and seafood lovers alike.

They can be caught using a variety of techniques, including jigging and live bait fishing.

Inshore fishing is a great way to experience the beauty and diversity of the Gulf Coast waters while catching some of the most sought-after fish species in the area. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a beginner, inshore fishing offers a fun and rewarding experience for everyone.

Common Inshore Saltwater Fish Species

StateCommon Inshore Saltwater Fish
FloridaRedfish, Snook, Trout, Tarpon
AlabamaSpeckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Sheepshead
MississippiSpeckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Sheepshead
LouisianaSpeckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Sheepshead
TexasSpeckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Sheepshead
South CarolinaRedfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Black Drum
MarylandStriped Bass, Bluefish, Red Drum, Croaker
MassachusettsStriped Bass, Bluefish, Tautog, Fluke
New JerseyStriped Bass, Bluefish, Fluke, Weakfish
New YorkStriped Bass, Bluefish, Fluke, Blackfish
Rhode IslandStriped Bass, Bluefish, Tautog, Fluke
MaineStriped Bass, Bluefish, Mackerel, Cod
North CarolinaRedfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Striped Bass
Common Inshore Saltwater Fish Species

Gulf of Mexico:
Inshore Fish Species

Be sure to have all needed tools and gear for a successful day of inshore fishing out on the water

Gear Needed for Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Inshore saltwater fishing requires specialized gear that can withstand the corrosive effects of saltwater while also being sensitive enough to detect subtle strikes.

Saltwater Fishing Tips

A typical gear setup includes a rod and reel, lines and leaders, lures and baits, hooks and weights, and other essential accessories such as pliers, scissors, and a fishing net.

Best Gear for Inshore Fishing:

  • Rod and reel rated for saltwater use
  • Monofilament or Braided Lines and leaders made of fluorocarbon or monofilament
  • Lures and baits such as soft plastic baits, jigs, and topwater lures
  • Hooks that are rust-resistant and strong enough for the fish you are targeting
  • Weights to get your bait or lure to the desired depth
  • Pliers, scissors, and a fishing net for handling fish safely
Fishing Rod and Reel

When choosing an inshore rod and reel setup, look for one that is rated for saltwater use and has a medium power and preferably fast action.

A spinning reel is usually the best choice for inshore fishing due to its versatility and ease of use.

Inshore Fishing Line & Leader

The line should be strong enough to handle the fish you are targeting, and the leader should be made of fluorocarbon or monofilament to prevent the fish from seeing the line.

Inshore Fishing Tackle & Lures

Lures and baits are essential to attract fish, and the type you choose will depend on the species you are targeting. Soft plastic baits, jigs, and topwater lures are all popular choices for inshore fishing.

Fishing Hooks

Hooks should be strong enough to handle the fish you are targeting and should be rust-resistant.

When it comes to fishing, using the right hook can make all the difference. Circle hooks are increasingly popular due to their strength and effectiveness in hooking fish in the corner of the mouth, reducing harm to the fish and making catch-and-release easier.

Other strong and effective hook types include J-hooks, treble hooks, and bait hooks, each with their own advantages depending on the type of fishing and fish species being targeted. Ultimately, the best hook type is the one that suits the individual angler's needs and preferences.

Weights are used to get your bait or lure to the desired depth and can be either fixed or adjustable.

Fishing weights play an important role in presenting baits as effectively as we can to effectively catch fish. The right weight ensures the bait sinks to the desired depth and maintains the right presentation, making it more attractive to fish.

Using the wrong weight can result in ineffective presentation, fewer bites, and missed opportunities. By selecting the appropriate weight and using proper presentation techniques, anglers can increase their chances of success and ultimately land more fish.

Other essential accessories include pliers, scissors, and a fishing net to handle the fish safely and efficiently.

How-To: Catch More Redfish

Techniques for Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Understanding Tides and Currents

Understanding tides and currents is important for successful inshore saltwater fishing. Tides are the rise and fall of the ocean water level, while currents are the horizontal flow of water caused by tides, wind, and other factors. These two factors affect the behavior of fish and their feeding patterns.

During the incoming tide, fish move closer to shore to feed on small baitfish and crustaceans that are pushed in by the rising water. As the tide starts to go out, fish move back to deeper water to avoid being stranded in shallow areas.

This means that fishing during the incoming tide can be more productive, especially in areas with a lot of structure, such as mangroves or oyster bars.

Currents also affect fish behavior. When the current is moving quickly, fish tend to face into the current and hold in one spot. This can be an advantage for anglers who can position themselves to cast their lures or baits upstream and let them drift towards the fish.

Alternatively, when the current is slower, fish tend to scatter and move around more, making them harder to locate.

Understanding the tides and currents in your fishing area can help you predict where the fish will be and how they will behave. This knowledge can improve your chances of success and lead to a more enjoyable and rewarding inshore saltwater fishing experience.

Casting Techniques

Casting techniques are important for inshore saltwater fishing to achieve accuracy and distance of your bait or lure. Overhead casting is best for longer casts in open water, while sidearm casting is ideal for shorter casts in areas with obstructions.

A cast that travels a relatively short distance, often used when fishing in small or tight spaces.
A cast that travels a great distance, used when fishing in larger bodies of water or when targeting fish that are further away.
A common casting technique in which the rod is raised overhead and the line is propelled forward using a whipping motion.
A casting technique in which the line is propelled forward by rolling it across the surface of the water.
A casting technique typically used in fly fishing, in which the angler makes a series of smooth, fluid motions to propel the line forward.
A casting technique in which the fly or bait is tucked under an overhanging tree or other obstacle to reach a hard-to-reach spot.
A casting technique in which the bait or lure is flipped underhand into the water.
A casting technique similar to the flip cast, but with a slightly more forceful motion to propel the bait or lure further.
A casting technique in which the bait or lure is skipped across the surface of the water, mimicking the movement of a fleeing prey.
A casting technique in which the bait or lure is propelled forward using a circular motion of the rod and a flick of the wrist.
A casting technique in which the rod is held almost vertically and the line is propelled forward using a quick snap of the wrist.
A casting technique in which the angler drops the bait or lure directly into the water from a high vantage point, such as a bridge or pier.
A casting technique in which the rod is held underhand and the line is propelled forward with a smooth, sweeping motion of the arm.

Wind and current should be considered and adjusted for. Practice and patience are necessary to master casting.

Drift Fishing

Drift fishing is a technique used in inshore saltwater fishing where the boat is allowed to drift naturally with the current, wind or tide while lines are cast out to catch fish.

The technique involves letting the bait or lure drag along the bottom of the water, following the direction of the drift, enticing fish to bite. This method is particularly useful when targeting species that prefer to stay near the bottom of the water, such as flounder or redfish.

To maximize the effectiveness of drift fishing, anglers should consider factors such as water depth, current speed, and the type of bait or lure being used. With the right approach, drift fishing can be a highly successful and enjoyable way to catch fish in inshore saltwater environments.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing is a technique commonly used in inshore saltwater fishing where the bait or lure is cast or dropped to the ocean floor, targeting fish that reside near or on the bottom. This technique requires the use of weights or sinkers to keep the bait or lure in contact with the bottom and attract the attention of species like redfish, flounder, and snapper.

Bottom fishing can be done from a stationary position or while drifting with the tide or current. It is important to use the appropriate gear and bait to successfully catch bottom dwelling species, and to be mindful of regulations and size limits to ensure the sustainability of the fishery.

Sight Fishing

Sight fishing is a technique used in inshore saltwater fishing where anglers visually locate fish in the water and then cast their bait or lure directly in front of them. This method requires clear water and good visibility, as well as a keen eye for spotting fish.

Sight fishing can be particularly effective when targeting species such as redfish and bonefish, which are known to swim in shallow water and can be easily spotted. Successful sight fishing requires patience, stealth, and accuracy in casting, and can provide an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers who master this technique.

Learn More about Sight Fishing

Sight Fishing Redfish

Common Species Targeted in Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Big Bull Redfish, Hopedale, Louisiana
Big Bull Redfish - Louisiana

Gulf Coast Redfish

Redfish, also known as red drum, is a popular game fish found in inshore saltwater fishing. They are usually found in shallow waters and estuaries, making them an ideal target for inshore anglers.

Redfish are known for their hard fight and are often caught using live bait or artificial lures. They can be caught year-round but are most commonly caught in the fall and winter months.

Redfish are regulated by size and bag limits, so it's important to check local regulations before fishing for them. Overall, redfish are a prized catch for inshore saltwater anglers and provide a thrilling and rewarding experience.

Catching Speckled Trout
Big Specks Caught by Captain Randall

Gulf Coast Trout Fishing

Trout is a popular species targeted in inshore saltwater fishing. While they are typically thought of as freshwater fish, some species of trout, such as the spotted seatrout, can be found in brackish and saltwater environments.

Speckled and white trout, are prized for their fighting ability and delicious taste. Anglers targeting trout in saltwater typically use light tackle and a variety of lures and baits, such as jigs, soft plastics, and live shrimp.

Trout are commonly found in grass flats, oyster bars, and other shallow water environments with structure. Regulations on size and bag limits vary by location and should be checked before fishing for trout in saltwater.

Gulf Coast Snook Fishing

Snook is a popular game fish targeted in inshore saltwater fishing. These fish are known for their strong fighting abilities and are found in shallow waters along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Snook are predatory fish that feed on a variety of prey, including shrimp, crabs, and small fish. They can be caught using a variety of techniques, such as live bait fishing, lure fishing, and fly fishing.

Snook have strict regulations and are often catch-and-release only, so it's important for anglers to be aware of size and bag limits and handle them with care.

Inshore Flounder Fishing

Flounder is a flatfish that is popular in inshore saltwater fishing. They can be found in shallow waters with sandy or muddy bottoms and are well-camouflaged predators. Flounder can be caught with both bait and lures by bottom fishing techniques.

It is important to follow regulations on flounder fishing, including size and bag limits, to ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Landed Tarpon Tampa Florida

Gulf of Mexico Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon is a popular game fish that can be found in inshore saltwater environments. They are known for their size, strength, and acrobatic jumps when hooked. Tarpon can grow up to 8 feet long and can weigh over 200 pounds.

They are typically found in shallow waters, such as mangroves, flats, and channels. In terms of tackle, anglers typically use heavy spinning or baitcasting rods with strong braided line and a fluorocarbon leader. Tarpon can be caught using a variety of lures and baits, including live baitfish, artificial lures, and flies.

Gulf of Mexico:
Tarpon Fishing

Catch-and-release is encouraged for tarpon, as they are a protected species in many areas. Tarpon fishing is a challenging and rewarding experience for inshore saltwater anglers.

Best Locations for Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Fishing Mangroves

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that grow in coastal intertidal zones, forming dense forests along the shorelines of many tropical and subtropical regions.

Mangroves play a vital role in providing habitat and food for a wide range of marine life, including many species of fish that are targeted by inshore saltwater anglers.

The extensive root systems of mangroves create a complex network of channels and tunnels that serve as nurseries and feeding areas for juvenile fish, as well as shelter and hunting grounds for adult fish seeking protection from predators.

Mangroves also help filter and stabilize the water, reduce erosion, and protect coastal communities from storm surges and other natural hazards. As such, preserving and protecting mangrove habitats is crucial for sustaining healthy and diverse populations of fish and other aquatic organisms, and for ensuring the long-term sustainability of inshore saltwater fishing.

Sight Fishing Redfish on Grass Flats
Fishing Grass Flats

Grass flats are shallow areas of a saltwater estuary or bay that are covered with sea grass and other vegetation. These areas are essential habitats for many species of fish and other marine life, making them prime locations for inshore saltwater fishing.

The sea grass provides cover and food for small baitfish, which in turn attract larger predatory fish like redfish, trout, and snook. Grass flats can be found in a variety of depths and sizes, and are often located near channels or deeper water where fish move in and out with the tides.

When fishing grass flats, anglers often use lures or baits that mimic the prey species found in the area, and target drop-offs, sandy holes, and other changes in bottom structure that fish use as ambush points. Fishing grass flats is a popular and productive method for inshore saltwater anglers.

Fishing Grass Flats for Redfish

Fishing Oyster Bars

Oyster bars are areas in inshore saltwater habitats where oysters grow in large colonies on top of rocks, shells, or other hard surfaces. These bars often provide important habitat for a variety of fish species, making them a popular spot for inshore saltwater fishing. Oyster bars offer shelter, food, and a place to spawn for species like redfish, trout, and sheepshead. Additionally, oysters act as natural filters, helping to clean the surrounding water. When fishing around oyster bars, anglers typically use lures and baits that mimic the prey species in the area. However, it's important to be mindful of the oyster reefs and avoid damaging them with fishing gear or boat motors.

Fishing Jetties

Jetties are man-made structures that extend out from the shore into the water, designed to protect harbors and shorelines from erosion caused by wave action. In the context of inshore saltwater fishing, jetties can provide excellent opportunities for anglers to catch a variety of fish species.

Jetties can be a great spot to target inshore saltwater fish.

Jetties create a barrier that can create eddies and currents, which can attract fish looking for food or shelter. As a result, anglers often target jetties for species such as snook, redfish, and sheepshead. Jetties can also provide a structure for baitfish to hide and can serve as a home for crustaceans and mollusks that many fish feed on.

When fishing around jetties, it's important to pay attention to the currents and the structure of the rocks. Casting near the rocks can increase the chances of catching fish, but it can also increase the likelihood of getting snagged. Using heavier lines and weights can help prevent losing tackle.

Bridge Fishing

Bridges are man-made structures that span over bodies of water, and they can be excellent locations for inshore saltwater fishing. Bridges provide structure and cover for various species of fish, making them natural feeding grounds. Additionally, bridges attract baitfish, which in turn attract larger gamefish. When fishing around bridges, anglers can use a variety of techniques, such as bottom fishing, jigging, and casting with live bait or lures. However, it's important to exercise caution and be aware of boat traffic when fishing around bridges. Additionally, anglers should be mindful of regulations and size limits, as certain species may be protected or have specific catch limits around bridges.

Oil Rig Fishing for Cobia

Safety Tips for Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Wearing Protective Gear

It's important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays by wearing long-sleeved shirts, hats, and polarized sunglasses to reduce glare. Non-slip shoes or boots with good traction are necessary to prevent slipping on wet surfaces, and gloves can protect your hands from cuts and scrapes while handling fish.

Checking Weather Conditions

To have a successful inshore saltwater fishing trip, it's important to check the weather beforehand. Calm, overcast days are typically best for fishing, while sudden changes in weather can make it more challenging and even hazardous. Paying attention to wind direction, speed, and precipitation can help determine the best time and location for fishing.

Being Aware of Surroundings

Being aware of surroundings is an essential safety practice in inshore saltwater fishing. Before casting, anglers should survey their surroundings to ensure there are no obstructions, such as rocks or docks, that could cause injury or damage to gear. It is also important to be mindful of other anglers and boats in the area to avoid collisions or tangled lines. Additionally, paying attention to weather conditions, such as sudden changes in wind or waves, can help anglers make informed decisions about when to fish and when to return to shore. Being aware of surroundings can help ensure a safe and enjoyable fishing experience for everyone involved.

Handling Fish Safely

Handling fish safely is crucial for both the fish and the angler in inshore saltwater fishing. When handling fish, it's important to wet your hands to avoid removing the protective slime coat that covers the fish's skin. It's also important to handle the fish gently and avoid squeezing it too hard, as this can cause internal injuries that can be fatal to the fish. If the fish is going to be released, it's best to remove the hook with pliers and release the fish as quickly as possible. If the fish is going to be kept, it should be placed on ice as soon as possible to prevent spoilage. Following these guidelines will help ensure a successful and sustainable fishing trip.

Regulations and Ethics of Inshore Saltwater Fishing

Fishing License Requirements

Fishing license requirements are an important aspect of inshore saltwater fishing. Most states require anglers to obtain a fishing license before they can fish in saltwater or freshwater bodies.

The license fees usually go towards conservation and management efforts to ensure that fish populations are sustained for future generations. In addition to a fishing license, some states may also require additional permits for certain species or fishing methods.

It is important to check with the state's fishing and wildlife agency for specific license requirements and regulations before embarking on an inshore saltwater fishing trip.

Inshore Fish Species Size and Bag Limits

Size and bag limits are important regulations for inshore saltwater fishing that help ensure the sustainability of fish populations.

Size limits specify the minimum and maximum size of fish that can be kept, while bag limits set the maximum number of fish that can be harvested per angler per day.

These limits vary by species and location, and it is important for anglers to be aware of them and comply with the regulations to prevent overfishing and preserve the fishery for future generations. Violations of size and bag limits can result in fines and penalties.

Protected Inshore Fish Species

These species are protected by law to ensure their preservation and to maintain a balanced ecosystem. It is important to be knowledgeable about which species are protected, their habitats, and the regulations in place for their protection.

In some cases, certain species may be off-limits entirely, while in others, there may be specific guidelines regarding their catch and release. Anglers must take care to comply with these regulations to ensure the long-term sustainability of these species and the environment.

Leave No Trace Ethics

Leave No Trace Ethics are important to follow in inshore saltwater fishing to protect the environment and the species that inhabit it. This includes packing out all trash and litter, avoiding damaging plants and wildlife habitats, and leaving the area in the same or better condition than it was found.

Anglers should also avoid using live bait that could become invasive or disrupt the ecosystem, and should properly dispose of any unused bait.

Anglers should follow size and bag limits, as well as other fishing regulations, to ensure the sustainability of the fish populations. By following these ethics, anglers can help preserve the environment and continue to enjoy inshore saltwater fishing for years to come.