The weekly cold fronts are right on time the last few weeks. As the weekends near, the fronts, bringing winds and cool air, sweeping down across the peninsula.
The good news is we’ll be able to enjoy two to three days of cool conditions, possibly into the 40s. The bad news is, a couple of those days will end up being pretty windy probably causing bluewater anglers to either remain inshore or fish for sailfish, dolphin and tuna while hanging onto the T-top or tower with one hand.
Where beaches are fishable, expect a few pompano to be passing through, probably closer to the sand bar. Spanish mackerel and bluefish may help make those long casts more rewarding, too.
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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.
- Grouper: Harvest closed from Jan. 1, 2023, through April 30, 2023. Includes gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth, coney, graysby, red hind & rock hind. Harvest reopens May 1, 2023.
- Spotted seatrout: Harvest open as of Jan. 1 in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin & Palm Beach counties. Harvest closes 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, 2022 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. FWC will re-evaluate later in the year.
- Alligator: Hunt season open Aug. 15-Nov. 1. Permits required.
- Lobster: 48-hour sport season (mini-season) open July 26-27, 2023. Regular season opens Aug. 6.
- Dolphin: New fishing regulations began May 1, 2022 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: Harvest is open as of Jan. 1.
- Bass: Bass at Headwaters Lake will soon become all catch-and-release.
For complete fishing regulations in Florida go to MyFWC.com.
Fishing during the high pressure systems after the full moon, like last week, can be on the tough side. Fish don’t seem very motivated to bite. However, conditions are changing. Ahead of the cold front coming, there should be a little action from redfish, black drum and speckled trout, jacks and ladyfish, too. Use live shrimp. Freeline them or rig them under a popping cork.
Winds from 20 to 25 mph and seas up to 6 feet, occasionally 9 feet, will befall offshore anglers this weekend. Sailfish, dolphin, blackfin tuna are all on the move south. If fishing on a large sportfish, it may be worth the risk to enjoy some decent trolling action. However, center consoles should avoid Sebastian Inlet for sure, and would be better off making plans to go on an lagoon cruise. When the winds lie down, cobia, kingfish and snapper fishing should be pretty good on the shallower reefs.
Pompano will be migrating down the beaches. Use Fishbites in the EZ Flea or yellow crab flavors. Sand bars are about 100 to 150 yards from shore. Anglers may need to use heavier pyramid or sputnik sinkers to hold bottom depending on how heavy the waves are. Whiting, jacks, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and croaker are other catches surf anglers can expect.
North jetty is still closed to land-based anglers. Boaters fishing near north jetty are getting catch & release snook, catch & release redfish, black drum and sheepshead. South jetty and the catwalks are producing catches of snook, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and snapper during the latter half of the incoming tides. Flounder fishing has been on the slow side, but with the cooler weather coming this weekend, expect that to pick up.
Indian River Lagoon
With the cooler weather, remember to do two things to improve catches: Slow down one’s presentation and fish holes, drop-offs, channel edges and around docks where boats are parked. Fish are cold-blooded and with cooler air coming, the top of the water column will cool down quickly. Fish tend to seek deeper water spots where the water temperature changes more slowly. Expect to catch croaker, black drum, sheepshead, flounder and snapper using this method and try fishing with shrimp-tipped jigs to get a wide variety of bites.
Fishing for speckled perch (also known as specks, crappie or black crappie) has been excellent and should get better with cool weather on the way. Use live minnows, available at many bait shops, or speck jigs which are tiny — 1/16 or 1/32 ounce in size. Fish over submerged structure like brush piles, sunken tree trunks, cypress knees, etc. for the best bites.