Two big things happen on Sept. 1:
Snook season opens. We’ve been waiting all summer for this, but of course, all we’re going to catch are 40-inch slobs because they are everywhere. Literally. Fish under docks, along shorelines, around mangroves and on the beach for a chance to catch one of the 28-32 inch slot sized fish. Live bait works best such as live pilchards or sardines, or even finger mullet, but plenty of slot-sized snook will be caught on mullet-patterned swim baits and topwater plugs or lipped plugs.
Redfish become strictly catch & release. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced a redfish harvest closure for the entire Indian River Lagoon system, all 156 miles of it, including tributaries that feed into it and inlets that lead out of it. The FWC is concerned about habitat loss (seagrass die-off) that killed so many manatees since 2021 that it has made the regulation to protect redfish stocks.
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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.
- Redfish: Harvest of redfish is banned in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon beginning Sept. 1.
- Alligator: Hunt season open Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
- Snook: Season opens statewide Sept. 1.
- Lobster: Regular season opened Aug. 6.
- Dolphin: New fishing regulations began May 1 for state waters. Bag limit is now 5 fish per day per angler; Vessel limit is now 30 fish per day. Captain & crew may not be included in limit.
- Grouper: Shallow water grouper season is open May 1 through Dec. 31. That includes gag grouper, red grouper, scamp and six other lesser species.
- Hogfish: Harvest of hogfish is open May 1 through Oct. 31, 2022 in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
- Tilefish: A commercial fishing closure is in place beginning July 6 until Dec. 31, 2022.
- 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: There has been excellent fishing for king mackerel on the reefs in 60-90 feet of water and inshore at 20-40 feet where kings, tarpon, jacks and sharks are following around schools of sardines and now mullet.
Inshore: At Sebastian Inlet, with snook season open Sept. 1, expect crowded jetties and fishing areas. Live pilchards and mullet will catch them, but many of the fish will be over the 28-32 inch slow size available for harvest. Redfish and trout have been scarce in Vero Beach around the spoil islands.
Freshwater: Some of the anglers fishing Headwaters Lake in Fellsmere have reported slow fishing with only a few bites. Water levels are fine, but water temperatures have heated up likely slowing the bite. Look for better bass fishing to resume as temperatures cool a little.
St. Lucie County
Offshore: Good fishing for snapper is still underway at Bethel Shoal and the Offshore Bar plus smaller reefs. Mutton snapper to 14 pounds and mangrove snapper to 7 pounds are being caught on dead sardines and cut bait. Kingfish have been in shallower along the beaches in 25 feet of water taking slow-trolled live blue runners.
Inshore: Snook fishing has been fairly productive around inshore structure like docks, bridge pilings and rocky shorelines. Use large live shrimp or live pilchards to get bites. When mullet arrive in numbers, that will be the best bait to use. Tarpon have been in the inlet and Turning Basin.
Surf: Some of the beaches along Hutchinson Island are fairly clear of seaweed allowing some anglers to wet a line. The inlet jetty is still a mess. Some whiting are being caught in the trough along the beaches on Fishbites products and pieces of shrimp.
Offshore: There has been good snapper fishing reported from both partyboats working out of Stuart. Muttons to 12 pounds, mangroves to 6 pounds and big lane snapper are being reeled in by anglers wo are enjoying calm seas. There are fee jumping sailfish being caught on live bait in 90-120 feet of water northeast of the inlet.
Inshore: Snook fishing for trophy fish has been excellent at all the points, shorelines, seawalls and docks from Jensen Beach Causeway to the mangroves of Palm City Bay. Some mullet have been seen up in the shallows of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River and that will energize the fishing action. Tarpon have been in the inlet taking live baits.
The level of the lake is at 12.57 NVGD which means the northern and western areas of the lake are nearing their low points. Whatever measurable rain falls this year will likely come in the next 4-6 weeks creating a little more depth in spots like Tin House Cove and along Observation Shoal. Water temperatures are hot right now, so look for bluegill and shellcracker to bite better than bass.