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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Mullet are moving making the predator fish follow them down Florida’s coastline

BusinessMullet are moving making the predator fish follow them down Florida's coastline

It’s one of the great biomass migrations in the world. It lasts about six weeks or through two moon phases.

The finger mullet are on the move and everything that eats them is in pursuit. Snook, tarpon, sharks and more are following along to get into the action and feed aggressively on the mullet. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are close behind them and this weekend’s northwest wind forecast is probably going to be a fish mover. 

Small pompano are also moving and soon, the size will improve on the pomps and surf anglers will have something to shoot for.

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Snook, like this one caught & released with Mandalay Charters' Capt. Jeremy Neff in Stuart Sept. 18, 2022 is pretty typical of the snook action here this week.

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 and snapper have been biting on the reefs in 70 to 90 feet of water. Dead sardines or live slow-trolled live baits are the best way to have action. Tarpon and sharks have been in the mullet schools closer to the beach.

Inshore: The fishing in Vero Beach has been a little slow. Snook are biting around the points of the spoil islands and along the mangrove shorelines. At Sebastian Inlet, the mullet schools are hit and miss. When they are around, the snook and redfish bite can be very good. Snapper are slowing down at the catwalks.

Freshwater: Bass fishing is picking up at Headwaters Lake big time. Fish in the 4-5 pound range are being caught on wild shiners and swim baits. Use lipless crank baits to get bites along the ledges.

St. Lucie County

Offshore: Mutton snapper, mangrove snapper, lane snapper and cobia can be caught on the reefs, but the fishing action has been slower this week. Use dead sardines for the snapper. Take along a descending device to help with release of any red snapper which may be caught and need to be returned to the water.

Inshore: The jetty has been a good place to find snook, tarpon and jacks as they feed on schools of mullet and threadfin herring (greenies). For trout, try fishing with live greenies or shrimp around the points of the mangrove islands north of North Causeway. Tarpon can still be caught in the Turning Basin. 

Surf: Capt. Paul Sperco of Capt. Pal’s Surf Fishing Charters had some good news for surf anglers this week. No slime grass, manageable seaweed and a pompano showing at some beaches. Now, the pompano were mostly undersized, which is typical for the first waves of migrating fish early in the season, but the legal size pomps are on the way. High tide proved to be the best time to go.  

Dolphin have been on the rip, like these caught Sept. 18, 2022 by Capt. Glenn Cameron of Floridian fishing charters in Stuart.

Martin County

Offshore: This is the time of year when the “Sailfish Capital of the World” can set aside its title. With any luck, the sporty spindlebeaks will return after the Thanksgiving leftovers are finished off, but it may be after Christmas, too. For now, the dolphin bite has been pretty good out on the rips in 120-160 feet of water. This weekend may not be fishable because of the weather, but pick spots to get out there and enjoy the fall dolphin migration.

Inshore: Is there a dock or a point or a seawall which doesn’t have a snook sitting near it? Snook fishing is pretty solid until they push back upriver for the winter. Tarpon are in the river, too. Some are being caught at the Crossroads on dead mullet. Fish the channels for othe

Lake Okeechobee

There are plenty of invasive species being caught around the lake and Rim Canal these days. Using a cast net is a good way to find tilapia and armored catfish. The latter may not be worth putting on the table, but tilapia have nice white flaky fillets. Mayan cichlids are hitting on the surface and will fall for a live cricket.

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