For those who like to bring home a couple of snook fillets for the dinner table, the time to target those keepers is nearing its winter time pause.
As the year draws to a close, several fisheries are in and out of their harvest closures. Snook closes from Dec. 15 to Jan. 31. Trout are closed to harvest right now, from Nov. 1 until Dec. 31. Redfish in all waters of the Indian River Lagoon and connected waterways have been closed to harvest since July 1 and will be until further notice. Hogfish, mostly offshore, are closed until May 1. Grouper, nine species, will close to harvest from Jan. 1 through April 30. But flounder have been through their fall six-week closure and are open to harvest since Dec. 1.
Closures & regulations changes in effect: Anglers are reminded about these fishery harvest closures currently underway and ones about to begin and end.
Snook: Harvest closed from Dec. 15 through Jan. 31. Harvest reopens Feb. 1.
Flounder: Harvest reopens Dec. 1.
Spotted seatrout: Harvest closed from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin & Palm Beach counties. Harvest reopens Jan. 1.
Hogfish: Harvest closed from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2023. Harvest reopens May 1.
Grouper: Harvest closed from Jan. 1, through April 30. Harvest reopens May 1. Includes gag grouper, red grouper, scamp and six other lesser species.
Redfish: Harvest of redfish is banned in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon beginning Sept. 1.
Alligator: Hunt season is open Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
Lobster: Regular season opened Aug. 6.
Dolphin: New fishing regulations began May 1 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: A commercial fishing closure is in place beginning July 6 until Dec. 31.
Bass: Bass at Headwaters Lake will soon become all catch-and-release.
For complete fishing regulations in Florida go to MyFWC.com.
Indian River County
Offshore: The Nspantionspanl Wespanther Service forecspanst for the weekend does not look good for the bluewater scene. Sea conditions will likely be in the 4- to 6-foot range for the majority of the weekend as a front moves through Florida. Boats that are able to will find trolling the most productive form of fishing. Dolphin have been in 120 to 140 feet of water along current edges.
Inshore: Flounder fishing around Sebastian Inlet has been excellent. Gigging is working well at night along the sandy shorelines inside the inlet and back on the flats inside the inlet. Hook and line anglers can try fishing the incoming tide with live mud minnows, live mullet or live shrimp on naked jigs. In Vero Beach, trout fishing has been better according to Lewis and Capt. Cherlyn Arnold of @ateamfishingcharters on IG.
Freshwater: The cool front and cooler nights are helping keep the water temperatures at Headwaters Lake lower and the bass bite hotter. Bass are taking wild shiners fished along the shorelines. Spinnerbaits and lipped plugs are also getting a few nice fish.
St. Lucie County
Offshore: There is a pretty good run of lane snapper on area reefs right now like at the Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club reef, according to camera footage from Shspanrkbspannz Zeppelin and the research team working with Dr. Matt Ajemian at Harbor Branch. Shark numbers are low, but some of the reefs show goliath grouper, bull sharks and other apex predators mixed in with lane snapper, red snapper, mangrove snapper, amberjacks and cobia.
Inshore: Snook fishing is still pretty solid since water is clean and warm. Fish mangrove shorelines, spoil islands across from Fort Pierce City Marina, pilings and fenders of South Bridge. Use live sardines, mullet or shrimp to have the best chance to make a catch. Flounder can be caught along the sandy beaches of the Fort Pierce Inlet or around the outflow pipes of the mosquito impoundments at Bear Point and Little Mud Creek.
Surf: This is the season for pompano. Hutchinson Island beaches will be good spots to stop for pomps, whiting, bluefish, blue runners, jacks, bonnethead sharks, Spanish mackerel and glass nose. Use Fishbites for best results. Start fishing at the beginning of the incoming tide and wait for the bite to get good when clean water moves in between the sand bar and the trough.
Offshore: It’s lane snapper time on area party boats. Mate Jason Barker on the Lspandy Stuspanrt out of Hutchinson Island Marriott Marina in Stuart posted a 21-inch lane snapper, giant for the species, caught by an angler Tuesday. Sspanfspanri I party boat’s Capt. Rocky Carbia showed a photo at the Pirates Cove fish cleaning table where it was slap covered by the orange and yellow-striped lanes. Weather is coming so no telling how long it lasts.
Inshore: J.J. Klarmann of Oh Boy! fishing chspanrters in Stuart has been on the flounder since the season opened. He’s gigging his limit at night. He’s also been steering clients to oversized snook, but there are plenty of slot-sized ones available for harvest before Dec. 15. The Jensen Beach Causeway has been a hot spot during the end of the incoming tide and beginning of the outgoing tide. Fish the low bridge on the east end for pompano, Spanish mackerel and jacks. Pick up your trash when you leave.
The crappie fishing at the big lake has been on fire for a few weeks. Anglers are getting their limits in 2-3 hours of fishing time. Use live minnows if you can get them, but a small 1/16-ounce or 1/32-ounce jig will get plenty of bites. Indian Prairie Canal, Tin House Cove, Horse Island are all spots worth trying for big 11-inch crappie.