They’re on the move and the predators couldn’t be happier. One of Florida’s greatest seasons — ranked behind football season, and ahead of hurricane season and mosquito season — is the fall mullet run.
September and October each year the giant migration along Florida’s coast begins. From north to south, from the estuaries, the great biomass of baitfish begin to make their move to southern locations as part of their annual translocation.
They’ll be seen paddling their tails into breaking waves along the beach and battling tides in the powerful inlets. The moons will dictate their movement as full and new moon alike will trigger their instinctual behavior. Along the way, the predators will celebrate feasting on the traveling hordes of mullet and striking panic into the small fish as anglers take their shots at catching snook, tarpon, redfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, sharks and more.
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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: Kingfish action has been steady in 40 feet to the reefs in 70 feet of water. Occasionally a cobia can be caught in the same area. Use live sardines or pogies if available. Snapper fishing has not been as good.
Inshore: Oversized redfish and above the slot snook are being caught during the outgoing tide at Sebastian Inlet, says Capt. Glyn Austin of Going Coastal charters. Incoming tides are bringing the mullet down the beaches. The schools are small for now, but look for bigger schools to be on the way where the predators will be feasting on them.
Freshwater: Headwaters Lake seemed to turn on this week. Was it because the fal-like weather? Fish in the 3 pound range have been common on wild shiners and swim baits which mimic shiners.
St. Lucie County
Offshore: Snapper fishing slowed this week as a ground swell from Tropical Storm Earl well out to sea generated pretty good surfing at North Jetty. It has yet to bounce back suggesting that bottom current has had an affect on the fishing. Kingfish can be caught in 40-60 feet of water on slow-trolled drifted live baits.
Inshore: Snook seem to be around dock pilings, bridges and seawalls right now. Use live finger mullet for the best chance to catch one, but a topwater plug resembling a mullet is also a good bet. Tarpon have been in the Turning Basin and inlet hitting live mullet, too.
Surf: Snook are in the trough following the mullet and also looking to eat whiting. Some croaker and jacks can also be caught in this zone. Seaweed seems to have let up after the swell.
Offshore: Sailfish are still being caught northeast of the inlet in 80-120 feet of water. A few dolphin have been around. Some small snappers can be caught on the Six Mile Reef and some of the artificial reefs offshore.
Inshore: Snook fishing is at its apex right now. From the inlet to Rocky Point, Sewall’s Point and Hell’s Gate and upriver into the South Fork of the St. Lucie River, snook fishing is excellent right now. Tarpon are being caught daily on the incoming tides around the inlet, at the Crossroads and in the channel of the ICW.
Lake level is at 12.59 feet above sea level so that means there is enough water in the northern and western marsh to fish. Bass fishing has been a little better since the days ae beginning to grow shorter and nights have been cooler. Fish in the 2-3 pound range are common and can be caught around clumps of bulrush and spike rush where lily pads also sit. Use wild shiners.