Hurricane Idalia didn't impact the Space Coast and the full moon Wednesday will still be impacting tides through Sunday.
Snook harvest season opens Sept. 1 and it could not come soon enough for avid anglers. Snook are one of those catches that rewards every angler with the combination of what happens after the fish takes the bait or lure and what happens if the fish makes it to the dinner table.
I know many anglers who release all their snook, even when in the slot, and that's great. But for those of us who like to take a couple home each harvest season, they're fantastic fried with cheese grits and green beans, or baked with buttered red potatoes and cauliflower.
In any case, the mullet run is beginning with this week's blue supermoon and by next full moon, Sept. 29, it will certainly be well underway along beaches and in the Indian River Lagoon. Good luck out there.
Florida fishing regulations and fishing season opening and closing dates:
- Snook: Harvest reopens Sept. 1. One fish bag limit, 28-32 inches, snook stamp required.
- Blueline tilefish: Harvest closes Sept. 1 in state and federal waters of the Atlantic. Harvest re-opens May 1, 2024.
- Golden tilefish: Harvest closed July 17. Harvest re-opens Jan. 1.
- Alligator: Hunt season opens Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
- Lobster: Regular season opens Aug. 6-March 31, 2024. Bag limit: 6. Lobster stamp required.
- Flounder: Harvest closes Oct. 15 to Nov. 30. Size limit: 14 inches. Bag limit: 5 fish per person.
- Hogfish: Harvest closes from Nov. 1 to April 30.
- Spotted seatrout: Harvest closes November and December in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. Harvest reopens Jan. 1.
- 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.
- Cobia: New bag and size limits for state waters. Bag limit: Two fish per vessel. Size limit: 36 inches fork length.
- Redfish: Harvest of redfish has been banned in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon since Sept. 1, 2022. FWC will reevaluate in the future.
- Dolphin: Bag limit is 5 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 on May 1, 2022, for state waters.
- Bass: Bass at Headwaters Lake will soon become all catch-and-release.
For complete fishing regulations in Florida go to MyFWC.com.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering new fishing regulations to protect snook from environmental and human factors. The agency has proposed 10 management regions with different regulations instead of the current two. A virtual meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 7 to discuss:
- Making snook catch-and-release only in the Tampa Bay region beginning 2024
- Adding September to the closed season for the Southwest region
- A statewide two-fish vessel limit
Fall is the best time to target fishing this area. Tarpon, snook, speckled trout, redfish, black drum and jacks are all energized by the beginning of the fall mullet run. Fish the flats around the islands and along the east shoreline for action. Use live mullet or mullet-patterned topwater lures.
It's going to be sloppy at area beaches for the next few days. Expect to have to make long casts with a lot of weight to hold bottom for a few whiting. Snook will be in the trough as the shorebreak calms down. Fishing will get better as it calms Monday and beyond.
The snook will probably be feeding aggressively at the end of the jetty and sea conditions will be such that boats won't be able to fish that spot. That leaves it for jetty anglers through Sunday. Use sliding sinker rigs and live croaker and be ready to release overslots as plenty will be caught.
Indian River Lagoon
South winds will be prevalent until Hurricane Idalia moves farther offshore, then the wind will shift. Try to find water that has not been muddied by the winds. That's where fishing will be best for snook and speckled trout. Fish docks and seawalls in protected shorelines with mullet or live shrimp. Shrimp are like candy to fish, even during the mullet run.
Bass fishing should be picking up since winds and shorter days are creating cooler water conditions. Try topwater frogs and spinnerbaits along the edges and near hyacinths and water lettuce.