Saturday, October 28, 2023
Friday, October 27, 2023
INSHORE- Snook fishing reports remain good inshore. Windy conditions should have the snook fired up through the weekend. Look for the morning topwater bite to pop off back in the river, especially early in the morning. Ambush points, seawalls, and boat docks with some current flowing around them will be the ticket for finding the snook. A few little tarpon around, along with a few jacks. Still a fair scattering of finger mullet around, though not in huge numbers. Finding those small late season pods of finger mullet can lead to some really fast action.
SURF/PIER- Conditions have been pretty terrible along the beach and at the Juno Beach Pier this week; with strong winds, rough seas, and dirty water all but shutting the fishing down. At time of writing it looks like cleaner blue /green water is trying to push back in. As soon as the water cleans back up a bit, look for the fishing to fire back off. Early in the week, before conditions went south, the bluefish bite was absolutely on fire. The blues were chomping topwaters, spoons, and cut bait with reckless abandon along the beach and at the pier. Pompano, mostly small with a few keepers mixed in, bite was decent as well early in the week. Look for them to bite well when water conditions improve. Dirty water has largely pushed the Spanish Mackerel out; but look for them to show back up in good numbers when water conditions improve.
There isn't a very favorable marine weather forecast for the weekend. Easterly winds 15-20 mph. Waves 5-7 feet and occasionally 9 feet. This will probably create pretty rough conditions along the shore break, too, making it difficult to fish along the beaches. It's going to be a good weekend to fish inshore and freshwater spots.
Too bad, too. There has been a good bite from Spanish mackerel and bluefish in the surf and near the inlets. Pompano have been scarce, but they're probably coming soon. Fish the lee of the east shoreline of the lagoons this weekend until winds calm a bit and open up more fishing zones.
Florida fishing regulations and fishing season opening and closing dates:
- Flounder: Harvest closed Oct. 15 to Nov. 30. Size limit: 14 inches. Bag limit: 5 fish per person.
- Gag grouper: Harvest closes for both recreational and commercial sectors on Oct. 23. Re-opens May 1, 2024.
- Spotted seatrout: Harvest closes November and December in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. Harvest reopens Jan. 1.
- Hogfish: Harvest closes from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2024. Season re-opens for harvest May 1, 2024.
- Snook: Harvest opened Sept. 1. One fish bag limit, 28-32 inches, snook stamp required. Harvest closes Dec. 15.
- Blueline tilefish: Harvest closed Sept. 1 in Atlantic state and federal waters. Season re-opens for harvest May 1, 2024.
- Golden tilefish: Harvest closed July 17. Harvest opens Jan. 1, 2024.
- Lobster: Regular season opened Aug. 6-March 31, 2024. No egg bearers, 3-inch minimum carapace length. Lobster stamp required.
- Alligator: Hunt season opened Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
- 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.
Capt. Jon Lulay of 2 Castaway Charters in Titusville has been steering clients to catches of redfish, black drum, speckled trout, jacks and ladyfish along the lagoon shorelines and around the islands. He is using live shrimp freelined or under popping corks, or having customers sight-cast with jerk baits.
Anglers were finding good action from Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks and more during the incoming tides. As the water level rises over the sand bar, fish come over it and will run down the inside of the bars so cast pieces of shrimp, sand fleas or Fishbites there. The weather will force anglers to hold off for a few days, but look for action to resume, maybe with pompano, by Monday or Tuesday.
Jetty anglers have been catching Spanish mackerel and bluefish using spoons or diamond jigs. Boaters drifting live baits during the outgoing tides had shots at snook, redfish, tarpon, big jacks, black drum and sharks. Use caution near the entrance of the inlet the next few days with the wind-driven waves.
Indian River Lagoon
Try casting plugs around Fishermen Point, Mangrove Point, Bagger's Point, Bird Island, or the island west of the Canaveral Barge Canal to get bites from speckled trout. The best action is early in the morning at first light. Schools of redfish have been in the No Motor Zone and can be cast to with small crabs or shrimp.
Some of the best action has been along the edges for bedding bass. The full moon will have fish moving to the beds to spawn. Use lipless crank baits to get reaction bites.
Ed Killer covers fishing for TCPalm. Email him at email@example.com.
Sunday, October 15, 2023
Friday, October 6, 2023
SURF/PIER- Rough surf had the surf action slowed down for most of the week. Still a fair amount of mullet pushing through; but it has slowed way down. This weekend will likely be the last good push of mullet coming through. Still a good number of tarpon in the mullet schools along with some bruiser jacks. Best action will no doubt be first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon. No pompano reports this week; conditions do look good going into the weekend for them to bite. Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel have started top show up in little better numbers.
Snook, trout, redfish, tarpon, black drum and jacks have all been on the catch list in this zone. Use live mullet, live shrimp or jerk baits to get bites either freelined or under a popping cork. Fish
the shorelines of the lagoon or of the islands to have shots a sight fishing opportunities. Fiddler crabs fished around Haulover Canal can catch sheepshead.
On days where the shorebreak allows people to fish, there have been whiting, jacks and snook, tarpon and sharks in the mullet schools. Look for incoming tides in the coming days to bring pompano and better fishing for whiting inside the sand bars at many beaches.
Mullet have been pushing south along the beach and cross the mouth of the inlet. As a result, action has been good at the jetties of Sebastian Inlet for tarpon, snook, redfish and black drum with live mullet or croaker on the bottom. Sharks, Spanish mackerel and bluefish can be caught inside the inlet and around the T Dock. The mullet run will be winding down soon, but bluefish, mackerel and pompano will replace them in the coming weeks.
Indian River Lagoon
Water levels have been higher than normal in the lagoon due to king tides. The fish will be pushed up into area where they typically never get to feed, so make casts into mangroves, along shorelines and near the foot of docks. Speckled trout can be caught on topwater lures during low light. Use mullet-patterned lures for best results. Small tarpon, snook, redfish and black drum can be caught around some of the spoil islands.
The St. Johns River system and all of its connecting lakes and water management areas are swollen with September rainfall. Alligator hunting has been difficult because the gators have more room to roam and are ranging far and wide. Bass fishing is best along the edges on topwater frogs and other offerings that look like they got washed in by rains.
Snook regulations changes: What did FWC decide to do with Florida's most popular fish?
Proposals included stopping harvest in Tampa Bay and reducing harvest limits statewide
Snook regulations changed slightly for some Florida waters, however changes to bag limits including harvest closures for some regions of the state will hold off at least until next summer, according to the state fishery management officials Wednesday.
Four changes to snook management in Florida were proposed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff. Of those, two changes were adopted:
- State was divided into nine snook management regions
- September added to closed harvest season for Charlotte Harbor and Southwest Florida which includes Collier, Monroe and part of Miami-Dade counties
Snook fishery managers now are able to be more flexible in decision-making when red tides, fish kills or other factors impact local fisheries, the FWC said. The seven member board of commissioners voted on the proposals Wednesday in Jensen Beach, the first of two days of scheduled meetings.
The board decided to table until a future meeting:
- A proposed 2-snook vessel harvest limit statewide
- A harvest closure for the Tampa Bay region that was to begin in 2024
The proposals were developed with concerns for declining water quality, loss of habitat and increased fishing pressure by residents and visitors, FWC marine fisheries manager Erika Burgess said. A yearlong process of 12 public in-person workshops, two virtual workshops, the distribution of an angler satisfaction survey combined with fishery dependent and fishery independent research methods provided the data FWC staff used to craft the proposals.
The board's decision followed impassioned pleas from several of the 20 speakers. Some supported staff recommendations to enact the harvest closures. With the 2-snook vessel limit, seven spoke against it and three spoke in favor of it. Four spoke out against closing snook harvest in Tampa Bay.
Snook regulations could become a topic discussed every year at FWC meetings, Burgess told commissioners. Chairman Rodney Barreto said that will allow them to change regulations quickly if needed.
"Our fishery is great here. I don't see any need to make any further regulations at this time. If a problem crops up that we aren't having now, it can be dealt with. Hold back on the 2-fish limit right now," Capt. Mike Maher of Vero Beach asked of the commissioners before they voted.
"Snook fishing is in decline in Stuart. In Sebastian and Fort Pierce, there is more habitat and deep water for snook. We have no seagrass meadows in Stuart anymore and an increase in fishing effort. I support a 2-snook vessel limit," said Capt. Mike Holliday of Stuart.
"I was surprised the commissioners decided to drop the 2-fish vessel limit, Now, I'd like to see them increase the harvest slot limit from 28-32 inches to 28-34 inches," said Greg Simmons, a Fort Pierce angler.
Commissioners also directed FWC staff to look at the possibility of creating a 10th snook management region by splitting the 156-mile Indian River Lagoon into two different regions.
Of the 1.4 million saltwater fishing licenses sold in Florida this year, more than 540,000 of them have purchased the $10 annual snook stamp including more than 93,000 lifetime fishing licenses.
The snook regulation changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Go to FWC meeting in Jensen Beach for more information.
Ed Killer covers fishing for TCPalm. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.