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. Harvest reopens Feb. 1.
- Spotted seatrout: Harvest re-opens Jan. 1 in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin & Palm Beach counties. Harvest closed Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.
- Flounder: Harvest reopened Dec. 1.
- Hogfish: Harvest closed from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2023. Harvest reopens May 1.
- Grouper: Harvest closed from Jan. 1 through April 30. Harvest reopens May 1. 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.
Indian River County
Offshore: Cobia and kingfish have been on the reefs along with a good mangrove snapper bite. Lane snapper, too. Fish with pinfish or grunt, but after cutting off the dorsal fins. Dead sardines also work well.
Inshore: There is a good flounder bite in the inlet right now. The flounder come in from offshore and can be found along the edges of the inlet near the rocky jetty of the wading pool, along the T Dock and south jetty. North jetty is still closed to anglers. A beach nourishment project has begun which could affect water quality for a few months. On south jetty, Spanish mackerel and bluefish can be caught during the incoming tides. Sheepshead are around the pilings of the bridge.
Freshwater: Speck fishing is great at Stick Marsh and Blue Cypress Lake on live minnows with small jigs. Fish around the trees and brush piles.
St. Lucie County
Offshore: The fish that migrate this time of year are running along the edges of the Gulf Stream. Look for dolphin, tuna, mackerel, sailfish and more moving south with this cold air mass. Trolling is a good way to cover ground and find the fish. There has also been decent snapper fishing on the reefs. Anglers are catching lane snapper, vermilion snapper and triggerfish.
Inshore: Fish around the mangrove points north of Fort Pierce to catch redfish and trout.
Surf: The pompano fishing has been hit and miss. The cold air mass will probably move some fish along Hutchinson Island beaches, and the incoming tide will be the better time to fish. Whiting and croaker will be in the trough, too.
Offshore: There has been a good bite for mutton snapper and mangrove snapper offshore in 70 feet of water. Use long leaders and dead sardines to catch them. Occasionally, there is a cobia or kingfish on the reefs, too. Lane snapper fishing is very good, too. No Spanish mackerel are at Peck’s Lake because the water has been stirred up and dirty.
Inshore: Fish for sheepshead, croaker, black drum and snappers around bridge pilings like the Roosevelt Bridge and Evans Crary Bridge, or the Ernie Lyons Bridge and Frank Wacha Bridge. Use fiddler crabs or pieces of shrimp to get bites. Scraping barnacles from bridge pilings can create a chum slick to help the sheepshead bite. Don’t expect snook or tripletail to bite when the water temperature dips to around 50 degrees.
The level of Lake Okeechobee is at 16.45 feet Thursday. That’s a foot higher than a month ago, but with no rainfall, the level should be receding soon. Bass are up in 2-3 feet of water which extends into the Monkey Box and along Observation Shoal. The speck fishing is on fire at the lake right now. Anglers are getting slabs larger than 11 inches and can catch a limit in as little as three hours. Live minnows are helping the catch rate.