Home News Space Coast anglers: Grouper closes, trout opens Jan. 1

Space Coast anglers: Grouper closes, trout opens Jan. 1

Space Coast anglers: Grouper closes, trout opens Jan. 1

  • fishing
  • grouper
  • speckled trout

New Year’s Day. A famous song once claimed that “nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” Obviously, they weren’t anglers in Florida.

For us, there are two significant changes on New Year’s Day along Florida’s Atlantic Coast. First, the shallow water grouper complex is off limits to harvest for the next four months due to a spawning season closure in federal and state waters along the east coast of Florida. That means anglers cannot keep the following: Gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, red hind or rock hind.

On the other side of the scale, harvest reopens in east Florida inshore waters for spotted seatrout (called speckled trout in some places) in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. Anglers can keep two spotted seatrout larger than 15 inches and less than 19 inches. Harvesters are allowed one fish larger than 19 inches.

So as we mark this time of renewal and commit to improving ourselves — even if only for a month or so — there are several adjustments to our fishing patterns we must make. Don’t forget to dig in to those black-eyed peas and collard greens for money and good luck in the new year. And thank you for reading the fishing report each week.

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Space Coast anglers can look forward to sheepshead and flounder when cool weather is around.

Closures & regulations changes in effect: Anglers are reminded about these fishery harvest closures currently underway and ones about to begin and end.

  • Grouper: Harvest closes from Jan. 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023. Includes gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, coney, graysby, red hind & rock hind. Harvest reopens May 1, 2023.
  • Spotted seatrout:  Harvest reopens Jan. 1 in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin & Palm Beach counties. Harvest closed November and December 2023.
  • Snook: Harvest closed from Dec. 15 through Jan. 31, 2023. Harvest reopens Feb. 1, 2023.
  • Flounder: Harvest reopened Dec. 1.
  • Hogfish: Harvest closed from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2023. Harvest reopens May 1, 2023.
  • 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.

Mosquito Lagoon

Capt. Jon Lulay of 2 Castaway Charters in Titusville has been guiding charters to catches of redfish and black drum. Use live shrimp for the best bites, either freelined or under a popping cork. Jerk baits on a 1/8-ounce jig also work well. As the waters warm, speckled trout and snook, jacks and ladyfish are also common catches.


Since grouper harvest is closed down, and red snapper are off limits, the best fishing is going to be on the troll. Find the edges of the Gulf Stream to get bites from dolphin, blackfin tuna and sailfish. Fish the shallower reefs in 60-70 feet of water to find bites from lane snapper, triggerfish, kingfish and occasional cobia.


Beach anglers can catch whiting and croaker in the trough. Sometimes, during the incoming tide, pompano have been coming over the sand bar. Jacks, blue runners, bluefish and bonnethead sharks are also in the mix. A nourishment project on the north side of Sebastian Inlet State Park has that area off limits to surf fishers.

Sebastian Inlet

Speaking of Sebastian Inlet State Park. there has been a decent bite from flounder and sheepshead along the southern shoreline and under the bridge on the south side. North jetty and the catwalk under the north side are closed at this time with no time table for them to reopen. Spanish mackerel, bluefish and snook can also be caught from the south jetty.

Indian River Lagoon

As the waters of the lagoons warm up, fish will become more active. Speckled trout will be caught on the flats in shallow water. Snook, which are all release until Feb. 1, will be there as well, plus around any structure like docks, seawalls and bridges. Redfish and black drum can be found in schools near Thousand Islands, south of the railroad bridge and near the causeways. Flounder can be caught in sandy spots with good current. Use a naked jig head with a live mud minnow or live shrimp.


Speckled perch, specks or crappie, the same fish with three different names, can be caught in area lakes and ponds with live minnows or with small jigs of 1/16 ounce or 1/32 ounce. Fish over brush piles or submerged structure, ledges or rock piles.


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