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 MyFWC.com.
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.
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.