Friday, May 31, 2024

Ed Killer / tcpalm South Fla. Report

Tarpon time for Treasure Coast when June comes along on the calendar

 Memorial Day is behind us which means we're entering the prime time of the year for tarpon fishing along our beaches. The fish will be moving mostly south to north following schools of bait like greenies, pogies, sardines and pilchards.

Look for schools of 15-100 fish moving in 20 feet of water. Instead of tarpon, you might see jack crevalles in schools of 30-75 fish tightly grouped in spawning aggregations or daisy chaining in circles.

For either, anglers can toss flies, live bait or even artificial shrimp to get hooked up. Be courteous to other anglers and boats. If you see a boat casting to a school, move up the shoreline another half mile. There will probably be another school there.

Moving a little deeper should put anglers in the zone for bonito, kingfish and sharks and maybe even an occasional cobia. Snapper fishing will continue to be steady. Snook closes for harvest June 1, don't forget. And gag grouper season is short this year — June 15 is the harvest closing date. Red snapper? No dates for Atlantic have been announced yet.

Florida fishing regulations and fishing season opening and closing dates:

  • Gag grouper: Recreational harvest in Atlantic waters will be open May 1 through June 15, 2024. Harvest will then close for gag grouper from June 16 through May 1, 2025.
  • Other grouper: Harvest opens May 1 in Atlantic waters. Includes red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth, coney, graysby, red hind and rock hind. Harvest closes Jan. 1, 2025.
  • Snook: Harvest open through May 31 on Atlantic coast. Harvest closed June 1-August 31.
  • Spotted seatrout: Harvest opened Jan. 1. Harvest closed Nov. 1-Dec. 31.
  • Cobia: Bag limit: Two fish per vessel. Size limit: 36 inches fork length. No closed season.
  • 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.
  • Flounder: Harvest opened Dec. 1, 2023. Harvest closed Oct. 15-Nov. 30.
  • Indian River County

    Inshore: Snook fishing is very good from the bridges in Vero Beach, along the mangrove shorelines, around the spoil islands in Grant and Wabasso and near the inlet at Sebastian Inlet. Use live sardines or croaker, or swim baits to get bites.

  • Freshwater: The best bass fishing has been at Headwaters Lake. It's been slow at Blue Cypress Lake and Garcia. Jigs and spinnerbaits work well, or wild shiners, circle hooks are mandatory. Reminder that the boat ramp at Headwaters Lake will be closed to all boaters from June 10 to June 20 for minor repairs, according to the St. Johns River Water Management District.

  • St. Lucie County

  • Inshore: Tarpon are starting to show around the Boils down the beach, around the mouth of the Fort Pierce Inlet and inshore as far as the Turning Basin chasing bait. In about a month, look for those tarpon in Big Mud Creek near the power plant. Snook season harvest ends June 1 and which is Saturday and will remain closed until Sept. 1.

    Surf: Capt. Paul Sperco of Capt. Paul's Surf Rigs in Port St. Lucie said the croaker bite was excellent over the holiday weekend with plenty of whiting mixed in. The key was westerly winds which helped blow the sargassum seaweed out. Cast to 30-40 yards with Fishbites bloodworm flavor in the green tipped with shrimp he said.

    Martin County

  • Inshore: There has been good snook fishing throughout the lagoon and river system. Some snapper, drum and sheepshead, too. No discharges are helping the river recover, but there is always a cumulative degradation, don't forget.

    Lake Okeechobee

    Good bass fishing along Observation Shoal, around Harney Pond Canal, Sportsman's and in the Monkey Box. Try live crickets or red worms along Horse Island and Pearce Canal to get bites from bluegill and shellcracker.

    Ed Killer writes about fishing for TCPalm. Email him at

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