Space Coast fishing: Dolphin days on their way; Snook fishing excellent
Spring has sprung.
The week began with mild temperatures as what may be the last cold front of the season made its way along the peninsula. South winds have replaced the north breeze meaning the migrations have begun again.
On the beaches, pompano have shown up and their larger cousins as just offshore on structure. Dolphin are moving along the Gulf Stream with wahoo and blackfin tuna so take your ballyhoo and get trolling, or have some pitch rods ready for a little run-and-gun action in the bluewater.
Inshore, the snook fishing has been great at many of their back country hangouts. Live bait, live crabs and large jigs will get bites from the aggressive predators.
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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.
Lobster: Regular season ends March 31. Two day sport season (mini-season) open July 26-27, 2023. Regular season opens Aug. 6.
Cobia: New bag and size limits for state waters. Bag limit: Two fish per vessel. Size limit: 36 inches fork lenght.
Snook: Harvest opened Feb. 1. One fish bag limit, 28-32 inches, snook stamp required..
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.
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.
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.
Sea grass is coming back in some parts of the lagoon. That's good for anglers who are chasing after speckled trout. Start the morning with topwater plugs like Bomber Badonkadonks or Rapala Skitterwalks where the trout will be looking to ambush baitfish on the surface. Switch to jerk baits or shrimp by 9 a.m. since the fish will look lower in the water column for food.
On days where the weather allows, there has been productive fishing on the other side for yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna and dolphin. Early runs timing arrival on the east side of the Gulf Stream with sunrise and use of radar to find the birds following the feeding fish are necessary. Snapper fishing on the reefs in 70-100 feet of water is steady. Triggerfish, kingfish and cobia are additional possible catches.
Pompano are on their way back north along the beaches. The incoming tide is the best time to catch them using Fishbites on casts of 100 to 150 yards. Whiting, jacks, blue runners and bluefish are also being caught. Melbourne Beach, Jetty Park and Canaveral Seashore are all places to cast for the pompano.
Snook fishing cooled a little with the chilly weather, but expect it to heat back up as temperatures warm. Live mullet, live croaker, live shrimp and live pinfish will all be good to get bites. They are biting better on the outgoing tide. During the incoming tide, Spanish mackerel can be caught from the jetties using Gotcha plugs or chrome jigs. Redfish and black drum can be caught in the inlet on live small blue crabs during the outgoing tide.
Indian River Lagoon
Small tarpon are starting to arrive around the Thousand Islands area of Cocoa Beach. Jerk baits and suspending lures will get bites. Snook, redfish and black drum can be caught around the Eau Gallie River by fishing around the docks. Black drum have also been found in schools in the northern lagoon north of the Max Brewer Causeway. Jig for pompano around the spoil islands between Wabasso and Grant.
Bass fishing has been very good in area lakes. Use stick worms and chatter baits to catch fish along the edges. There has been a good bite in Headwaters Lake, Lake Poinsett and the Little Econ. Bluegill and shellcracker will take live crickets on cane poles.
Ed Killer is an outdoors writer for the USA Today Florida Network. Email him your Space Coast fishing reports and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Space Coast fishing: Dolphin days are here; Snook fishing is excellent