It's Father's Day weekend and the snapper bite could not be better. If you can, take dad snapper fishing for chances to catch the big three of Space Coast snapper fishing — mutton snapper, mangrove snapper and lane snapper.
Muttons are running 10 to 16 pounds along Space Coast reefs. They are biting on dead baits like sardines, pinfish and grunts. Fish them on long leaders, up to 24 feet or longer fluorocarbon, using 4/0 circle hooks and enough weight to hold bottom in the current.
Mangrove snappers have been on the large side up to 8 and 9 pounds, especially off Sebastian and Port Canaveral. They have been caught better in 65 to 75 feet of water. Red grouper are being caught in the same zone.
Finally, don't turn your nose up at the lane snapper fishing. Squid, strips of grunts or even live shrimp on 2/0 J hooks will work good and pick up some triggerfish bites, too. Enjoy that Father's Day fish fry!
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.
Fishing in the shallow water estuary has been productive recently. An increase in seagrass growth is helping. Look for speckled trout, redfish, black drum and snook to be taking live shrimp fished around the islands or along the east shorelines. Still some larger fish are hitting in Haulover Canal on split blue crabs.
Indian River County
Inshore: Catch-and-release snook fishing has been pretty good and fishing from the jetties at Sebastian Inlet has been much better since the sargassum seemingly went away in the same fashion as it arrived. Good spotted seatrout and redfish action can be had around the mangrove shorelines south of Vero Beach.
Freshwater: Bass fishing has been off since the water temperatures have been on the rise.
St. Lucie County
Inshore: Catch-and-release fishing for tarpon, snook and goliath grouper has been the main action in and around the Fort Pierce Inlet and the Turning Basin. Fish the channel edges and bridge and dock pilings with shrimp-tipped jigs for mangrove snapper.
Surf: Rick Kohs of Port St. Lucie said he was determined to fish the surf last Saturday. He found clean water as the sargassum-geddon has started to wane a little. After a slow bite, as he was ready to move from Middle Cove Beach, he got a bite from an 18-pound permit. Kohs was using clam-flavored Fishbites. Lesson here: Always make one last cast.
Microrcystis algae is spread across 50% of the lake, but mostly in the center and southern ends. The northern and western areas offer some algae-free fishing. Hot water temperatures have slowed any bass bite and the fish are staying lower in the water column. Bluegill and shellcracker are being caught on live crickets.