Time to let 'em go again, boys and girls.
Snook, that is. Twice a year — for three months in the summer and for six weeks in the winter — snook are afforded protection from being invited home (unwillingly) for dinner. The winter closure is necessary because snook are a tropical fish species susceptible to cold weather and low water temperatures. When the water gets too cool, snook get sluggish. When it gets into the 60s, snook will stop feeding altogether. If the water temperature gets into the 50s, it can actually kill snook.
It's been awhile since we saw that, but when we did, it was catastrophic. It was January 2010 and temperatures across Florida remained below 50 degrees for 10 consecutive days. Snook seemingly froze. Suddenly, from Titusville to Flamingo, including the Keys, snook which couldn't escape to deeper, warmer water began floating up dead. It created a moratorium on harvest for the next year and longer in half of Florida. It's been awhile since we had a good old fashioned hard freeze. Sometimes that can be a good thing.
This winter is scheduled to be a La Niña winter. That means warmer and drier than normal. I doubt any snook will freeze to death this year.
Closures in effect: Anglers are reminded about three fishery harvest closures currently underway.
- Snook: The closure begins Dec. 15 and runs through Jan. 31, 2022.
- Spotted seatrout: No harvest of trout is allowed in the waters of eastern central Florida, from Volusia to Palm Beach counties, from Nov. 1 though Dec. 31. Harvest will re-open Jan. 1, 2022.
- Hogfish: No harvest of hogfish is allowed in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida from Nov. 1 through April 30, 2022. Harvest re-opens May 1, 2022.
For complete fishing regulations in Florida go to MyFWC.com.
Indian River County
Inshore: Big redfish are feeding on crabs during the outgoing tides and can be caught on crabs or live croaker. Snook are staged on the reef around the jetty in Sebastian Inlet, and are also being caught around the bridges in Vero Beach and on mangrove points south of town.
Freshwater: Bass fishing is steady at Stick Marsh and Headwaters Lake on lipless crank baits, spinnerbaits and wild shiners. Anglers fishing for specks are finding a slow bite in the canals and near the culvert pipes using minnows and small jigs.
St. Lucie County
Inshore: Trout can be caught around the mangrove points in 2-4 feet of water Snook action has been hit and miss around structure on jigs. Tripletail can be caught around crab trap pots with live shrimp. If you snag the line, remember it's illegal to handle the trap.
Surf: Anglers are doing their due diligence for pompano and whiting. Calm shorebreak early in the week enabled a few to get caught at Hutchinson Island beaches. It may not be great conditions the next few days to surf fish for pomps.
Inshore: Tarpon fishing is steady on live mullet in and around the waters of the St. Lucie Inlet and Crossroads. Snook can be caught around the bridges. Sheepshead and black drum are being caught around the Roosevelt on clams and oysters.