Monday, May 29, 2023

Bridge Fishing for Snook

 Anglers new to snook fishing should realize that the "linesider" is a tropical species, more often found in the mangrove estuaries of central and northern South America. Over thousands of years, snook have migrated to Florida as their northernmost region, although few snook exist in north Florida compared to the central and southern part of the Sunshine State.  

A snook can be visualized as a saltwater black bass in its proclivity for structure, ambush and huge suction-style strikes. In Florida, snook range in size from fingerlings to monsters weighing over forty pounds.

A snook can be visualized as a saltwater black bass in its proclivity for structure, ambush and huge suction-style strikes. In Florida, snook range in size from fingerlings to monsters weighing over forty pounds.  

The bridge is often the epicenter of go-to hotspots for snook, since this tropical species uses structure as a hiding place to ambush baitfish that are passing through the compressed current that bridges create. Snook are a flexible species regarding habitat; they can easily switch the refuge of jungle mangrove roots for the concrete pilings of bridges.

Snook are also pliable in their ability to tolerate a high influx of fresh water. In fact, snook thrive where there is a mix of inland fresh water, transitional salty bays, passes and cuts that lead to the open sea. The one thing that will kill them is prolonged exposure to very cold water without any refuge to deeper water. The winter of 2010 killed thousands of snook in Florida, but the species seems to be on the rebound in areas that were close to the ocean.

Fishing From the Bridges  

In general, snook can be thought of as best pursued at night when they feed most actively. Therefore, nighttime bridges with lights and shadow lines below create additional hiding places for these crafty predators. In addition, nighttime lights over marine waters can be thought of as not only baitfish attractors, but, therefore, luminous baitfish displays as well. In most cases, the lighting configuration on bridges creates a regular series of lit waters below that snook either habituate on or stop at on their pursuit of bait through the area.

Some snook hold along lightless bridges, but my experience has shown that the lights concentrate snook along the bridge most reliably. I also make a practice of checking on the status of the lights on the bridges I intend to fish a full 24 hours ahead of time. There's a great deal of disappointment showing up to bridge fish for snook one starry night and finding the lights are out.

Standing on bridges to fish for snook from above is far more advantageous than fishing "back" to the bridge from a boat. There are three reasons for this. First, lures can be retrieved along the shadow line from above for long periods of the presentation in a way a boat cannot achieve. Second, snook will sense the presence of a boat much more quickly than a discrete silhouette carefully looking down. Third, it is more advantageous to hook a snook from the bridge above and get its head up and follow the fish around pilings than from the almost static position of a boat. Even a boat powered by an electric trolling motor cannot follow a hooked snook along the bridge the way a pedestrian can. The only exception is if the snook runs under the bridge to the other side, which is something stout tackle and hard fighting technique from the angler can prevent.

Bridges, Tides and the Water Column

 If I had to choose the most optimal conditions for bridge fishing for snook, I'd prefer a strong outgoing tide in the presence of enough wind to scuff the surface of the water. Here's why I like these conditions.  

Although snook hit on bridges during both phases of the tide and all other variables being equal, the outgoing tide pushes bait from upper regions of water towards larger bays, inlets and the ocean. Snook have learned to position themselves under the bridges as shrimp and crabs are pushed into the open waters. This is also dependent on the geographic location of the bridge. That being said, anglers should fish both tidal phases on bridges, but with some observation as to whether the outgoing or incoming tide is better. When it comes to bridges, my experience in South Florida has shown me that the outgoing tide has a slight edge.

Moon phase is intimately tied to strength of the current as well as the heights of each tide. Not surprisingly, snook will be more active when the stronger spring tide currents of the new or full moon pushes bait through bridges with even more "lunar force." Finfish and crustacean baits have far less ability to resist the current and steer away from the bridge shadows during the spring tides. After years of exposure to faster water, the snook that aggregate under urban bridges associate the swifter water with the production of more "helpless food." Neophyte bridge snookers are generally better rewarded on the spring tides. Spring tides also create higher high tides and lower low tides, so bridge anglers can also work the shallow edges of bridges on the high tides and begin to move towards the bridge center on the lowest part of the low tide. Again, that being said, some bridges produce fairly well on the slower neap tides. In addition, some wind behind a weak tide can help to increase its velocity, move more bait, and make the snook more active. Remember the maxim: all bridges produce and behave differently.

Some wind is desirable along the bridges, though not essential. I like a bit of wind since the ensuing surface scuff makes the presentation of lures more successful to snook that are a bit less spooky. Windy water muffles the splashes of lures or fly lines and leaders. Windy water also breaks up the refraction of light as well as gives snook less of a chance to "over-examine" an artificial presentation. As discussed previously, any strong windy gusts tend to create more helpless baitfish and hence easier ambush meals for "happier" snook. Not surprisingly, anglers fishing live baits like mullet or ladyfish for big snook may not be as dependent on the forgiveness and advantages of windy weather as fly and lure anglers.

The snook's relationship to the water column is one of the most crucial yet overlooked factors when fishing the bridges. Most anglers simply think that the visible snook along the shadow lines of the uptide side of the bridge are the only snook along that structure. This kind of thinking is fatally flawed, as the truth is that snook can be positioned everywhere along a bridge, meaning from the top of the water column all the way to resting on the bottom, as well as from the uptide side of the bridge and the downtide side of the bridge.

Once again, these considerations are slightly more important for lure and fly fishermen, since the level of their retrieve in the water column is determined by where the snook are holding. Live bait anglers more often "work" their baits all over the bridge and the bait's vibration and scent succeed in bringing the snook toward the offering from wherever in the water column they were holding. The ultimate advice for artificial lure anglers is to work the entire water column from top to bottom until the strikes tip off where the groups of snook or each individual snook are/is holding. Do not forget to work the bottom of the bridge pilings and fenders thoroughly — you are trying to target the snook that you cannot see as well as the snook that cannot see you. Although it's true that more snook rise to the surface of bridge structures during the night, many remain stationed along the bottom as well.  

Fishing Tackle, Lures and Live Bait  

While it is true that a good writer would need at least one hundred pages to cover these three factors, some basic observations will meet the minimal requirements.

Bridge Fishing for Snook

 Bridge fishing for snook at night means using tackle that is realistic and appropriate for combat fishing. For lure anglers, I recommend using strong graphite spinning or casting rods that sport 30-pound braided line topped off with a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader. The diameter of the leader should be adjusted to how calm the water is and how cautious the snook are. The reels should feature strong smooth drags, an infinite anti-reverse, and a high-speed retrieve ratio that takes up line quickly during the battle. Follow the maxim: the bigger the snook, the heavier the tackle.

Popular artificial lures include three types: bucktails with a plastic worm or hackle enhancer, diving crankbaits and soft plastic swimbaits. Soft plastics include the  paddle tails and Mullet from NLBN, DOA or paddletails that have their own built-in action.  

Live bait outfits should reflect the fact that this is the method that catches the monsters. Live bait tackle is generally conventional tackle with big levelwind reels with 50-pound test, stout "pool cue" rods with lots of guides, finished off with 80-pound fluorocarbon leaders and super sharp J-hooks (size determined by the bait being used). The most popular live baits are mullet, pinfish, jumbo live shrimp, grunts, small ladyfish and even small mangrove snapper. It's even been theorized that huge snook will grab almost any live bait they feel able to engulf!

story courtesy of Jan Maizler

Saturday, May 27, 2023

From Todd, Eddy & Jeff @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach


  This is the last weekend of snook season; so if you need one for dinner you better go! Snook fishing has been good again this week as the snook are only a few weeks away from full spawn mode now.  The snook are starting to fill into the inlets, and they are hungry and willing to eat right now.  If your looking for snook during the day around the inlets; live baits fished on the bottom will be the best bet.  At night Flair Hawks and Swimbaits are a great way to go for the snook.  Bridges that are somewhat close to inlets are a great starting spot.  Moving water is critical (with outgoing tide typically being the preferred choice) to get the snook biting.  It’s a small window in the tide that snook feed in, so make sure to keep track of when you are getting bites…That pattern will almost always repeat itself!  Mangrove snapper reports remain good inshore.  Live shrimp fished on a jighead is a good bet for the mangrove snapper; as is small live pilchard on a knocker rig.  

SURF/PIER- I know I keep writing that pompano season is over…but they continue to pick away at a few fish each week.  The weather forecast actually looks good for a few more pomps to be around this weekend.  Depending on how the swell builds in over the weekend, jigging for them from the pier maybe the best bet.  Spanish Mackerel action slowed at the pier this week, with only a small scattering around.  Free-lining small pilchards or a white crappie jig are the best bet for the Macs.  The snook bite remains good at the Juno Beach Pier.  A building swell this week may change things up a bit on that; though sometimes the swell and dirty water will get the snook extra fired up.    Kingfish have still been making a showing at the end of the pier a lot of afternoons.  A Rapala X-Rap or similar swimming plug is the best bet to entice a bite out of the kings.  

Sebastian Inlet Report

 Hit-or-Miss snook action at the north and south jetties

Fishing in and around the inlet last week was decent in the beginning while the water was cleaner. Then, sargassum seaweed arrived and (what others and I call) ‘snot weed’ started coming from the Indian River Lagoon on the outgoing tide all week from Thursday on. There were schools of small pilchards around the north jetty just outside of the surf line along with small greenies around the jetty pilings until the water dirtied up, then they left. Mullet continue to come down the beach in small schools and go into the inlet. Mojarras are starting to become a bit more plentiful with the warmer water. Here’s the meat: 

North jetty: The snook bite has been hit-or-miss. Most of the action is during the late afternoon/evening high tide. Mojarras have been the key bait, but snook have been caught on  small croakers. Some have been caught on the outgoing tide at the tip, but most have been too big, or the goliath groupers have been eating them mid-fight, and groupers will always win.

Wednesday, when I was down looking around at all the sargassum on the north side, I saw a large school of big redfish around the weed line — probably about 50 to 100 fish in the 15 to 20-pound range, probably seeking small crabs found riding in the weed, but they never came into the inlet, and nobody hooked any either. They weren't there for very long. Also, I saw quite a few nice tarpon coming around the tip and heading up the beach — it is that time of the year for them to do that.  They looked to be in the 30 to 40-pound range. I also saw small Spanish mackerel caught on small white crappie jigs and live greenies. Those fishing cut bait/shrimp caught a few nice whiting and pompano — early in the week before the water dirtied. I did hear of anglers catching small mangrove snapper, but they were too small to keep. However, that's a good sign they are showing up. I saw a friend on Tuesday catch a small mutton snapper, but it was too small to keep. They have to be 19 inches. Along the seawall, between the jetty and catwalk, it has been slow because a sandbar is keeping the water shallow on the outgoing tide. On the incoming tide, when there is more water, anglers have been catching undersized snook on live mojarras. 

South Jetty: Over here, same: hit-or-miss on the snook. Clean water is the key. If you have snook on the outgoing tide, they have been biting on the tip of the jetty, ocean side. Small croakers have been the ticket. Incoming tide, again, cleaner water is better, all along the rock wall, but they are still biting with it being a little dirty. Live croakers and mojarras are both getting fish. A lot of smaller fish over here, but quite a few keepers in the mix. Those fishing cut bait, shrimp, are catching black margates, spot tail pins, blue runners and jack crevalles on the outgoing tide at the tip. When the water was pretty clean at the beginning of last week, there were a few pompano and whiting caught from the beach side area.

South Catwalk: This area has been slow due to dirty water and weeds. During the incoming tide around the pilings, use cut shrimp for black margates and spot tail pins. No mangrove snappers yet. 

T-Dock: Also hit-or-miss here. Snook are biting live mojarras on the incoming tide and the beginning of the outgoing tide. Several slot sized fish have been caught, along with quite a few that are oversized. Jack crevalles are also present as they run in and out the inlet chasing mullet. Look for small undersized mangrove snappers, and a mutton snapper or two around the dock pilings, but everything is too small to keep. The bigger fish should start showing next month, maybe. For those fishing the small white crappie jigs, there have been small Spanish mackerel being caught, along with blue runners and jack crevalles. Either tide will work. 

Surf area, both sides: It has been mostly dirty and weedy, but like always, if you find clean water you might find pompano and whiting or possibly a black drum or two. Live sand fleas for the pomps preferably; cut shrimp for the whiting and drum, but they will eat fleas, too. Some snook have been cruising the beach troughs and also tarpon when the water is cleaner. Live croakers and mullet will entice a bite from them. This action goes for both side of the inlet. 

Ed Killer / tcpalm South Fla. Report


Florida fishing: Mutton snapper biting; Snook season harvest ends June 1

Florida fishing regulations and fishing season opening and closing dates:

  • Snook: Harvest closes June 1. Reopens Sept. 1. One fish bag limit, 28-32 inches, snook stamp required.
  • Red snapper: July 14-July 15. One fish per angler per day. No minimum or maximum size limits.
  • Lobster: Season closed April 1. Two-day sport season (mini-season) opens July 26-27. Regular season opens Aug. 6.
  • Grouper: Harvest opened May 1. Includes gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth, coney, graysby, red hind and rock hind. Harvest closes Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Hogfish: Harvest opened May 1. Harvest closes from Nov. 1, 2023, to April 30, 2024.
  • Cobia: New bag and size limits for state waters. Bag limit: Two fish per vessel. Size limit: 36 inches fork length.
  • Spotted seatrout:  Harvest opened Jan. 1 in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. Harvest closes November and 
  • December 2023.
  • Redfish: Harvest of redfish is banned in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon beginning Sept. 1. FWC will re-evaluate later in the year.
  • Alligator: Hunt season opens Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
  • Dolphin: Bag limit is five fish per day per angler. Vessel limit is 30 fish per day. Captain and crew may not be included in limit. These fishing regulations began May 1, 2022, for state waters.
  • Tilefish: Harvest opened Jan. 1.
  • Bass: Bass at Headwaters Lake will soon become all catch-and-release.
  • Indian River County

  • Inshore: Spotted seatrout, snook, tarpon and jacks can be caught between the mangrove shorelines and the spoil islands on both sides of the lagoon. Use topwater plugs or suspending lures to get bites in 2-4 feet of water.

    Freshwater: Rising water temperature is slowing the action in the western lakes. Expect bass to be a little more difficult to get a bite out of. Bluegill and shellcracker will bite a little better. Use live crickets.

  • St. Lucie County

    Inshore: Snook continue to be the top catch in the Indian River Lagoon. Wade fishing the end of the docks along Indian River Dr. with topwater plugs has been productive for customers fishing with Jayson Arman of That's R Man land-based fishing charters. Trout, tarpon and jacks can bite, too.

  • Surf: Grass has been hit and miss. If heading to the beach, watch the lightning. On days or beaches with little or no seaweed, croaker, whiting and pompano can be caught. On other days, the grass is simply too much.

    Martin County

    Inshore: Snook fishing is dominating this region. Live bait has been the key for successful anglers, but lures and flies are working in the right places. Try fishing the bridge pilings of the Ernie Lyons Bridge for sheepshead, drum and croaker.

  • Lake Okeechobee

    Three things important to know here: First, the lake is at about 13 feet 8 inches. Ok, but could be better meaning it could be lower. Second, the algae bloom is being tracked by satellite imagery it's so big. Can you still fish despite the algae? Yes. Should you eat the fish? That's your call. I say probably not. Bass will hit spinnerbaits, 10-inch worms and stick worms. Bluegill and shellcracker will take live crickets. DOH Martin County issued an algae alert for Port Mayaca advising not to come in contact with the water, so there's that.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Sebastian Inlet Report


Unseasonably cool water and high winds, but you may see pompano, jacks, sea trout

Our fishing guide, "Snookman" Wayne Landry gives us the scoop:

“Good morning, all you beach and fishing fanatics. The weather was nice except for the relentless winds onshore that kept things a mess at our fishing hole, Sebastian Inlet. Not much has changed from last week’s report. The water last week calmed down a lot, but it never cleaned up much before the brisky ESE winds picked up and kept it dirty and sandy.

On Sunday, the inlet resembled the Mississippi river! Last week, when I was down and talked to the regulars, the fishing was slow, including this past weekend. The water temperature has cooled down again along the coast — 76 degrees When it should be in the 80s and clean — but it's not nearly what we need. At least there are fish being caught, but not in any numbers, and not in anywhere in particular. Also, there are still quite a few finger mullet coming down the beach and into the inlet, so there is some action there. The glass minnows are starting to show up a little around the rocky shoreline and the jetty pilings and t-dock, and the mojarras are starting to become easier to find. To that end, here’s the breakdown.

North jetty: Last week when we had at least one good day of somewhat clean water, there were a few nice pompano caught on the beachside of the jetty on live sandfleas if you could find some; if not, fresh cut shrimp works. Also mixed in were a couple nice whiting, too. The snook bite was largely absent on the jetty: a few were hooked on the tip on the outgoing tide on live mullet, but were too big and broke off. Boaters were catching a few, but they looked too big to keep, and they were far out. Some jack crevalles and small bluefish made up the remainder of the species being caught over here. Fishing was also slow along the rock seawall between the jetty and catwalk due to the massive sandbar that formed inside, making the water very shallow. 

South jetty: Over here, same thing. Slow, but if you catch the incoming tide with a bit of clean water you might find some snook. Most are undersized, but slots are being caught — you have to put in some time and be at the right place at the right time. Large live shrimp and live mojarras are the best bait. I also saw spotted seatrout being caught. See the photo at the top of my report of my friend Erica the ‘Snook Queen’ with a nice 19 to 20-inch fish she got Monday morning on live shrimp. The outgoing tide at the tip is producing all the common fish, spot tail pins, black margates and blue runners, just not in the numbers as usual due to the dirty water. 

South catwalk: This area has also been pretty slow due to the dirty water. They are catching some black margates and spot tail pins, just not in any numbers like usual. 

T-Dock area The fishing has been just a tad better as the water hasn't been so dirty. Some nice snook are being caught on the incoming and very first of the outgoing tide on live mojarras. Also in the mix: catch-and-release redfish to keep it interesting. Small baitfish are all around the dock pilings and have attracted some small mangrove snappers, but they are too small to keep. Spanish mackerel might be a possibility on small jigs on both tides due to the minnows being around. 

 Surf Area, both sides: Last week, while the winds were offshore, seas were down and you could find clean water, there were reports of pompano and whiting caught. Sand fleas and cut shrimp were the baits of choice. Then the winds changed and went ESE and blew it all out. 

This week, expect sunny skies but more wind. Grab your fishing gear and hope for clean water and fish it hard! You never know when you will find some fish! 

Ed Killer / tcpalm South Fla. Report

Indian River County

Inshore: The inlet is still the best spot to expect to catch a snook, although catching slot sizes is another thing. Many of the snook starting to gather at the inlet are females over the slot so be prepared to handle them with care. Snook can also be caught along the mangrove shorelines through Vero Beach south to the county line.

Freshwater: Bass fishing has been steady at Headwaters Lake on wild shiners, crank baits and spinnerbaits.

St. Lucie County

Inshore: Good snook fishing can be had in several spots: St. Lucie Village around the docks; Taylor Creek; Turning Basin; Spoil islands across from the city marina; North fork of the St. Lucie River between Prima Vista and Crosstown Parkway. Tarpon and permit will take live sardines around the mouth of the inlet.

Surf: A few anglers caught pompano, believe it or not, in the early part of the week when the winds let up and the grass subsided a little. But by mid-week, the grass was in again. It will be an interesting zone to watch in the coming weeks.

Martin County

Inshore: Snook fishing is steady for anglers tossing mullet or mullet patterned lures. Try fishing the Evans Crary Bridge or Ernie Lyons Bridge for action during the beginning of the outgoing tides.

Lake Okeechobee

Bream and bluegill fishing has been steady and will be in the next few weeks. Fish spots like Dyess Ditch, First Point, Fourth Point and Tin House Cove. Use live crickets or red worms, both work well. Bass fishing is best in Sportsman's Channel Harney Pond Canal and along Observation Shoal. Use wild shiners or swim baits to get bites.

From Todd, Eddy & Jeff @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach


INSHORE-  Snook fishing remains the best bet inshore right now.  The snook are hungry and ready to eat as they start to move towards the inlets.  Look for the snook to be most active at night, especially on outgoing tide.  Cleaner ocean water on the incoming tide makes them harder to trick; but a little color to it on outgoing tide is often all it takes.  Only a few more weeks to inviter a slot home for dinner...time to get after them while you can! A flair hawk jig or NLBN Swimbait remain solid lure choices, especially when your trying to get a bigger bite.  Mangrove snapper reports remain pretty good inshore, and should only improve with warming weather.  Small live pilchards or live shrimp are the best bet for the mangrove snapper.  

SURF/PIER- Fishing slowed down just a bit this week along the beach and on the pier; but overall remains pretty good.  Pompano season has almost come to an end; but still a few fish around for those putting the time in.  The best pompano bite has been very early morning and the last half hour or so of daylight: Calm clear conditions will limit the bite to those short couple of windows.  Stronger east winds in the forecast for the weekend could fire up a little late season flurry on the pomps.  The Juno Beach Pier has had a good Spanish Mackerel bite this week.  White crappie jigs remain the go to lure of choice for the macs.  With sloppier conditions in play for the weekend; a small diamond jig or Gotcha may play a little better.  Still a few kingfish around the pier late in the afternoon.  A Rapala X-Rap, Yo-Zuri LC Minnow, or similar style swimming plug is the way to go for the kingfish.  Still a little day to day on the snook, but they do continue to hold in better numbers at the pier.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Beach Fishing With Paul Sperco Palm Beach/Martin County Area

This weekend proved that if you wanted to put some pompano in the cooler you had to work for them . The south end of Hutchinson Island had a few beaches that had some pompano but some others held nothing . My son Paul Jr was in town and we ended up fishing 4 different beaches and we were lucky enough to put a bunch of nice pompano in the cooler. The beaches up towards Fort Pierce were definitely holding some fish but the sharks were making it difficult to get them to the beach . EZFlea Fishbites were once again the hot bait but we did catch some on Yellow Crab Fishbites also . The trend of being 50 to 60 yards off of the beach did not hold true for us as most of our fish were from 80 to 100 yards off . Mark Burford’s Over the Bar Rods once again proved to be the difference maker as reaching these fish was the difference between catching them or getting no bites . I have said repeatedly the Penn 6500 or 7500 Spinfisher Longcast combined with the 13 foot Over The Bar rod puts you in the game . The full moon phase was creating some current issue on a couple of beaches that we fished but the Sinker Guys 4 oz Sputniks held our baits on the bottom. The wind is forecast to back off tonight so hopefully we can get back up there tomorrow and find some pompano. 

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Snook-Nook Fishing Report

Inshore Fishing Report 

 Our inshore fishing is starting to heat up! We are beginning to get into the best time of the year for Snook fishing as they prepare for the summer spawn. Not only do we have a chance to catch a good number of fish, this is the time of year where you tend to see a lot of the bigger breeder Snook caught. When you are targeting these fish, please remember to treat them with care when caught as they will be providing us with our future Snook population. Using circle hooks and reducing their time out of the water are helpful to ensure a strong release of the fish. Snook season remains open until June 1st if you are still looking to harvest a slot. A lot of Snook are starting to move around and are starting to stack up around the bridges as they inch their way closer to the inlet. As we get into May, you should start finding them in better numbers in the inlet and areas around the inlet such as Hole in the Wall. You will still be able to find them throughout the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers as we approach the spawn and throughout the summer, but a good majority of them will work their way to the inlets at some point. Anglers will find a lot of success live baiting for them this time of year with either Pilchards, Mullet, Croakers or Mojarra. If you are looking for Pilchards, Bryan with Stuart Live Bait has been on the boat in Manatee Pocket about every morning with them, give him a call at 772-985-0425 to reserve your baits. There have been some Pilchards scattered throughout the river as well if you are looking to net your own baits. The Croakers have been a bit elusive for our bait guys so far this year, but rest assured as soon as they are able to find them, we will have them in stock. They typically show up in better numbers in May so they should be coming soon! With the temperatures heating up, if you are planning on fishing in the afternoon or later in the morning, try to fish in areas with either deeper water, flowing current or shaded areas as the Snook will head to these areas as the water heats up. If you are looking to fish artificials, mornings, evenings and at night will be your best bet. The water has been pretty clear inshore as of late and a lot of anglers have been finding success on white paddle tails. There has been a steady flow of shrimp underneath the Jensen Causeway on the outgoing tide so artificial shrimp such as the Thumper Shrimp and Vudu Shrimp have been very popular options. Dock light fishing has been productive as well, along with Snook we have been seeing some Trout that have been caught in the lights. 

The Pompano fishing at the Jensen Causeway has been really good throughout the month of April. There have been a few days where the fish haven’t been there and other days where anglers are getting their limits in under an hour. A lot of the Pompano have been caught directly at your feet up to 10ft away from the bridge so be sure to work your jig through that zone. Overall April provided us with our best inshore Pompano fishing of the year. We saw the same trend last year and that action last year did continue into May for us so we can hope that these Pompano will stick around with us for a little bit longer. We are still hearing reports of Pompano caught south of us and those schools will have to pass by us on their way north. Popular jig colors have consisted of chartreuse with a pink teaser, pink with a chartreuse teaser, chartreuse/orange jigs and chartreuse/pink jigs with a pink or chartreuse teaser. You will want to have an assortment of different weights with you depending on the wind and current to ensure you are offering them the best presentation you can. Along with the Pompano, bycatch has consisted of Spanish Mackerel, Croaker, Jacks and lady fish on the Pompano jigs. A few anglers have gotten into some Pompano wading on the flats as well, they have been catching them on artificial shrimp and paddle tails.

For those looking to target Tarpon, we have started seeing more of them showing up here inshore. There have been some smaller fish in the 30-40lb class around some of the docks in the St. Lucie, some in the same range and larger in the North Fork and some around the inlet and causeways. Fishing live crabs or mullet will be your best options if you are targeting them and the outgoing tide has been more productive. We still haven’t reached our best Tarpon time but we should see more showing up here in May.

Surf Fishing Report 

We’ve still had some Pompano action happening on our beaches. As mentioned in the inshore section, there have still been reports of schools of fish caught south of us as well that will need to head our way. We’ve been getting solid reports from our southern beaches such as Hobe Sound producing limits of Pompano and scattered reports from some of our more local beaches. The fish being caught have varied from 60-100yds off the beach so if you are fishing multiple rods, it would be wise to vary your casting distances. The hot baits have been FishBites EZ Flea, Powerline Crab and Electric Chicken Crab. This is the time of year where we start seeing weeds on the beaches more frequently so it is also wise to check the beach before you set up all your equipment. Luckily we have plenty of public beach accesses so you are able to check out different beaches to see the conditions. 

The Whiting and Croaker should start showing up in the first trough soon, we typically see better numbers of them by the second to third week of May. It is crucial to not overcast when targeting them as they are typically right off the beach. Pieces of shrimp, shrimp FishBites or bloodworm FishBites are going to be your best bait options.

Along with the Whiting and Croaker, we should start seeing more Snook and Tarpon on the beaches by the end of the month. Anglers have begun to see some Tarpon rolling off the beaches already and some Snook have been caught as well. You will see a lot of anglers will have a spare rod rigged up with a sabiki rig in case any pilchards push through, they will free line the pilchards for the Snook. If you catch a smaller Whiting or Croaker, you can use that as bait and big Snook have a tough time passing them up! 

From Todd, Eddy & Jeff @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach


INSHORE-  Snook fishing remains the best bet inshore right now.  The snook are starting to move towards the inlets and they are ready to eat along the way.  During the day it's going to be livebaits under boat docks and along seawalls with some current.  Lowlight conditions will trigger the snook to bite a topwater fished in the same areas.  At night the bridge bite has started to get going.  Bigger baits (Flairhawks and bigger swimbaits) are the way to go right now.  Look for the top of outgoing tide to produce the most action in most spots..of course keep in mind that certain spots will/can work better on different parts of the tide.  Having some moving water though is key; slack tide rarely provides any action.  Mangrove snapper reports continue to improve on a weekly basis.  

SURF/PIER-  Still getting a pretty fair amount of pompano reports coming in.  With calmer conditions and cleaner water for the most part over the past week; the bite has moved to very early and very late in the day.  High sun and clear water is not the ideal combo for a hot pomp bite.  Get out before the sun comes up or the last hour or two before it goes down for best results.  A little change in the wind will likely help the pompano fishing as we move into the weekend.  The fishing on the Juno Beach Pier remains strong.  A pretty wide assortment of species around over the past week.  An early run of baitfish (primarily pilchards with a few threadfins in the mix) has brought on a nice number of Spanish Mackerel and decent number of snook.  The snook will no doubt increase in numbers as we click further into May.  Out on the end of the pier still a good number of big jacks cruising through, along with quite a few kingfish.  The kingfish will be the most active early in the morning and then again late in the afternoon.  A swimming plug (Rapala X-Rap or Yo-Zuri LC minnow) is a good choice for both the kingfish and jacks.  Also seeing an early push of bonita come through the pier as well.  It's a little early but a handful of mangrove snapper showing up at the pier as well.  

Ed Killer / tcpalm South Fla. Report

 Now, down to business. May 1 (May day, for what it's worth) opened grouper season in state and federal waters of the Atlantic. That means one of our favorites can come home to the dinner table until the end of the year. Gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, scamp and lesser caught species like yellowmouth, graysby, rock hind, etc., can be brought back to the dock and filleted up for grouper fingers. Check regulations before you go because they all have different size requirements. Good luck out there.

Closures & regulations changes in effect: Anglers are reminded about these fishery harvest closures currently underway and ones about to begin and end.

  • Grouper: Harvest opened May 1, 2023. Includes gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth, coney, graysby, red hind & rock hind. Harvest closes Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Hogfish: Harvest opened May 1, 2023. Harvest closed from Nov. 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024.
  • Snook: Harvest closes June 1. One fish bag limit, 28-32 inches, snook stamp required..
  • Lobster: Season closed April 1. Two day sport season (mini-season) opens July 26-27, 2023. Regular season opens Aug. 6.
  • Cobia: New bag and size limits for state waters. Bag limit: Two fish per vessel. Size limit: 36 inches fork length.
  • Spotted seatrout:  Harvest open as of Jan. 1 in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin & Palm Beach counties. Harvest closes November and December 2023.
  • Redfish: Harvest of redfish is banned in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon beginning Sept. 1. FWC will re-evaluate later in the year.
  • Alligator: Hunt season open Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
  • Dolphin: New fishing regulations began May 1, 2022 for state waters. Bag limit is now five fish per day per angler; Vessel limit is now 30 fish per day. Captain and crew may not be included in limit.
  • Tilefish: Harvest is open as of Jan. 1.
  • Bass: Bass at Headwaters Lake will soon become all catch-and-release.

For complete fishing regulations in Florida go to

Mosquito Lagoon

Black drum, redfish, snook, trout and jacks can be caught in the shallow waters of the lagoon. Use live shrimp on popping corks and cast to the shorelines of islands. Drum will be feeding in shallow waters early in the morning. Later in the day, try using split blue crabs.


Playalinda Beach has been productive during the falling tide for a limit of pompano on Fishbites. The bite stops at low tide. Fish are migrating north at this time. Whiting can also be caught in the same zone. A 100 to 150 yard cast is necessary so bring the long rods.

Sebastian Inlet

Snook is still the primary attraction at the inlet. Use live croaker, mullet or shrimp to get bites. Harvest season closes June 1 for three months so now is the time to get yours. Pompano can be caught from the beaches. Redfish can be caught by boaters drifting the middle of the inlet with live crabs.

Indian River Lagoon

Snook and small tarpon can be caught around Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach with topwater plugs or jerk baits on a 1/8-ounce jig head. Sheepshead, black drum and snapper can be caught around dock pilings, bridge pilings at the causeways, and seawalls using live shrimp. Large black drum have been schooling in Titusville north of the Max Brewer Causeway.


There has been a good bass bite in area lakes and ponds. Use topwater frogs around the edges or crank baits in deeper water to get to bass off the edges. Headwaters Lake and Lake Washington have been good areas to try.

Sebastian Inlet Report


Had another good week inshore with the winds blowing the beach was pretty rough. Theres a lot of mullet in the lagoon for our spring run and the activity is pretty good. Plenty of snook and some bigger trout and a few reds mixed in. Jacks are thick in the mullet schools as well. DOA Jerk baits and Rapala skitterwalks were are our best baits the last week. That early morning topwater bite was pretty good. Time to start focusing on the beach fishing and hopefully the fronts and winds will subside. Sharks, Kingfish, big jacks, bonito and tarpon will all be on the beaches lookin for the bait pods. Live bait and artificial will be very productive in the coming weeks.