Now is a good time to hit the reefs for catches aplenty for Treasure Coast fishermen. There could be a cold water upwelling on the way, as there is most Julys. That could be pushing snapper up on the reefs since many when they are caught are not showing roe.
The reefs are yielding mixed bag of catches. Kingfish and cobia are joining snapper and triggerfish in 60 to 90 feet of water. Plus, with all the sargassum seaweed up on the shore, beach fishing as been a no go.
Closures & regulations changes in effect: Anglers are reminded about these fishery harvest closures currently underway and ones about to begin and end.
- 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.
- Lobster: Mini-season is July 27-28. Regular season reopens Aug. 6.
- Red snapper: No harvest allowed. There is two-day fishing season which is July 7-8.
- 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: The weather forecast suggests its time to go find snapper. The two day red snapper season is July 8-9 for anglers fishing Atlantic waters, but before the rodeo kicks off, fishing for mangrove snapper, mutton snapper and lane snapper will be excellent. Use long leaders and dead sardines or grunt plugs — cut off the fins, first — to find these fish. Red snapper should be staging in slightly deeper water, 90 and beyond, but the law says anglers must have a descending device rigged and ready to use so be prepared. The shallower reefs are also giving up kingfish, cobia, triggerfish and more, according to Big Easy charters Capt. Terry Wildey in Sebastian.
Inshore: There is a good mangrove snapper bite at night at Sebastian Inlet on shrimp or cut bait, and cubera snapper up to 10 pounds will bite on larger baits. Slot redfish can be caught during the outgoing tide along the north jetty, and plenty of oversized snook, but they are strictly catch and release until Sept. 1. Large redfish can be caught and released during the outgoing tides by drifting small live crabs during the tide.
Freshwater: There is a toxic algae warning posted for Blue Cypress Lake. Headwaters Lake is still fishing pretty steady for bass, but the fish are in deeper water for much of the day. Use 9-inch worms or lipped crank baits to find them.
St. Lucie County
Offshore: The full moon last week really energized the snapper bite. Mutton snapper and mangrove snapper were caught with long leaders and cut bait or dead sardines. Dolphin can be caught in 120 to 200 feet of water on current rips or around floating objects like sargassum seaweed mats or Cuban rafts.
Inshore: Snook and tarpon are seemingly everywhere because both fish are strictly catch and release. For fish to take home, try fishing the bridges for snapper using cut bait or live shrimp, if they can be found at bait shops.
Surf: The main obstacle here is seaweed washing in. Patrol the beaches to find beaches free of seaweed. There, you will find some whiting and croaker biting, but little else. And most beaches are smothered with seaweed right now.
Offshore: There are still numerous free-jumping sailfish in 50 to 90 feet of water northeast of the inlet. Snapper fishing is still very good in 60 feet of water. Use long leaders up to 24 feet long to catch mutton snapper. Gag grouper and amberjacks can be caught on the deep wrecks in 180 feet of water. Use a Sharkbanz to repel sharks if fishing deep water.
Inshore: Most of the action in this zone has been on catch and release fishing for snook and tarpon. Snook are being caught along the south shore of the inlet, around docks at Rocky Point, Sewall’s Point and Hell’s Gate. Tarpon are at The Crossroads or upriver in the North Fork near Harbour Ridge. Tripletail can also be caught around inshore structure like channel markers and bridge pilings.
With recent rainfall near the great lake, the level of it has come up to 12.96 feet. This means bass have more room to work in the northern and western sides of the lake, which is also where an algae bloom has set up, according to satellite imagery. Flip and pitch to mats of vegetation where smaller fish are congregating and where bass are trying to pick off those fish feeding on grass shrimp and more.
Ed Killer is TCPalm’s outdoors writer. Sign up for his and other weekly newsletters at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage. Friend Ed on Facebook at Ed Killer, follow him on Twitter @tcpalmekiller or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.