- Indian River Lagoon
It’s going to be cold or already is cold. No way we can avoid it.
As this is being written, the National Weather Service is calling for 30 degree temperatures in Titusville. It won’t be much warmer in Grant.
So the take home message to anglers here is bundle up. If you do decide to go fishing, you won’t need an ice auger, but it will feel like you will. The fish aren’t going to like the cool down either, so expect the fishing patterns to change, in some cases, quite a bit.
In short, a couple things to remember:
- Slow down your presentation, especially if using artificial lures.
- Fish dips, holes, cuts and channels where the bottom of the water column will have a less severe change i temperature.
- Fish near seawalls, jetties, pilings where sunlight can warm up concrete and transfer the heat to the water nearby and fish will figure it out.
- Some fish may not decide to eat like snook and tripletail, so don’t be surprised if they’re just too cold to take a bait.
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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, 2023. Harvest reopens Feb. 1, 2023.
- Flounder: Harvest re-opens 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, 2023.
- Hogfish: Harvest closed from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2023. Harvest reopens May 1, 2023.
- Grouper: Harvest closed from Jan. 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023. Harvest reopens May 1, 2023. 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.
The shallow lagoon is going to be cold for the next few days. Even after it starts warming up Sunday or Monday, the mornings will still be cold and the water temperatures will dip probably into the 50s. Black rum and redfish may still feed. Trout may, too. Snook and tarpon will not. Remember, snook season is closed to harvest, so even if cold-stunned fish are found, they cannot be harvested. Haulover Canal may be a good place to try for fish since many will seek the deeper water to wait out the cold.
The cold air will move migratory fish like dolphin, tuna, mackerel and sailfish. Look for these fish to be running south along the edges of the Gulf Stream. Troll ballyhoo to find the bites. When seas calm, expect the snapper fishing to continue to be strong. Triggerfish, sharpnose sharks and black sea bass can be caught in 100 feet of water on the reefs.
There may be a run of pompano with the cold air mass. Whiting and croaker can be caught in the trough, too. Use Fishbites or Fish Gum or pieces of dead shrimp to get bites. Melbourne Beach beaches and the Canaveral National Seashore are two spots to try. Longer casts past the sand bar may get action from Spanish mackerel, bluefish and jacks.
It’s all about flounder this week at the inlet. Snook, redfish and even trout are all off limits for harvest anyway, but the flounder have been coming in from offshore to feed. They can be caught with live shrimp on jigs or live mud minnows on jigs, or by gigging after dark when they often will be seen lying in sandy spots waiting in ambush for bait fish. North jetty is still closed to anglers and a beach nourishment project has begun fouling up the water quality a little bit. Still, from south jetty Spanish mackerel and bluefish can be caught.
Indian River Lagoon
When it gets this cold, it’s always a good time to start thinking about sheepshead and croaker. The two species will bite during the cold weather. Fish for them with shrimp-tipped jigs around dock pilings, bridges, jetties and seawalls. Scraping barnacles with a shovel can get the sheepshead into a feeding frenzy, too. They will also take fiddler crabs. Spotted seatrout can be caught in areas with holes, cuts, depressions all where the water temperature will remain more stable when cold weather moves in.
Speck fishing has been very good in all area waters. Some anglers call them crappie or black crappie, but whatever people call them, the fishing for them has been excellent. Use live minnows or small jigs, 1/16 or 1/32 ounce, to catch them.