Snook harvest seasonal closure in Atlantic starts Dec. 15

Capt. Kyle Busby ( had a charter out last Thursday. Daytona Beach Shores' Campbell Buchanan shows off his 28-inch snook from Spruce Creek caught free-lining live jumbo shrimp. Other catches that day included reds, trout and mangrove snapper with some smaller pesky jacks mixed in.

Capt. Kyle Busby ( had a charter out last Thursday. Daytona Beach Shores’ Campbell Buchanan shows off his 28-inch snook from Spruce Creek caught free-lining live jumbo shrimp. Other catches that day included reds, trout and mangrove snapper with some smaller pesky jacks mixed in.

The recreational harvest season for snook closes Dec. 15 in Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, and will remain closed through Jan. 31, 2017, reopening to harvest Feb. 1. Anglers may continue to catch and release snook during the closed season.

Gulf state and federal waters, including Monroe County and Everglades National Park, closed Dec. 1 and will reopen to harvest March 1, 2017.

This and other regular season closures are designed to help protect the species during vulnerable times such as cold weather.

For more information on snook, visit and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”

Check out this week’s local fishing report!

Gator Trout

Fishing Report: Fat pompano appearing up and down the coast


Fishing is up in all areas, from offshore to the St. Johns River, anglers are enjoying a hearty catch.

SURF, PIERS: There was a lilt in Tom Farnham’s voice when he reported on surf fishing over the last week. “Fishing has improved,” he declared from his post at Your Rod & Reel in Daytona Beach Shores. “We had a guy catch seven pompano down around the inlet, and another got some in Ormond Beach. It’s a little earlier than I expected, but they’re starting to come in. They are big, fat pompano.” The pompano are gobbling up cut clam. Farnham suggested prepping clams in salt that contains no iodine. “You kind of marinate them overnight in salt,” he said. “It toughens the clam meat up.” Jeff Burkhead at Fishin’ Cove Bait & Tackle in New Smyrna Beach offered a similar report in the southern side of Volusia County. “It’s been real productive with pompano,” he said. “Everybody is happy and catching lots of fish.” Daytona Beach Pier anglers are getting plenty of action off the planks. Gene Lytwyn at The Fishin’ Hole said veterans and novices alike are landing keeper-sized, upper-slot redfish. “We’ve seen some reds that are around 26 inches, and round like a football,” Lytwyn said. “They are also getting some nice pompano and some big sheepshead.” The Flagler Beach Pier report catches of black drum, whiting, bluefish and trout.” The Sunglow Pier has had a run of whiting in the last week.

OFFSHORE: Burkhead said offshore fishing has been quite productive in the last week. “We’re seeing some very good fishing,” he said. “We’ve had several boats get out and they’re all doing good.” The offshore catch includes cobia, dolphin, wahoo, jacks, sea bass and various types of snapper. “Trolling, bottom fishing, it’s all good,” he said.

PONCE INLET, HALIFAX RIVER: Capt. Kyle Busby of has been fishing the Port Orange area with a lot of success. “The trout bite continues to be the best thing going inshore,” Busby said. “We are focusing fishing around islands (in the river). Top water in the morning is always a good option and the incoming tide has been best. We’re also catching a bunch of small reds, black drum, sheepshead, bluefish, jacks and ladyfish.” Busby said he has hooked into some snook in Spruce Creek. “The bite is average and the water is pretty dirty,” he said. Around the metro bridges, Lytwyn said fishermen are catching trout “really early in the morning.” He said half the trout are keeper-sized. “We got a few guys catching snook, but they have all been shorts,” Lytwyn said. Burkhead said the primary inlet catch has been sheepshead.

TOMOKA BASIN, RIVER: Capt. Barry Englehardt of said he has been fishing the incoming tide around the islands separating the Intracoastal and basin. “We’ve been very productive on reds and trout,” he said. “The sun late in the morning and afternoon has sparked a snook bite in the river.” Just north of Tomoka, Lytwyn said one of his regulars “caught a mess of trout” around Highbridge. Norm Echelberry, who is an avid angler from Ormond Beach, said there’s a school of juvenile tarpon in a Tomoka Estates lake near the river. “They’re not biting on anything,” he said in an email report. “I have tried lures, live shrimp and mullet. Nothing is working.”

MOSQ. LAGOON, INDIAN RIVER: Al Huffman at Lagoon Bait & Tackle in Edgewater said the bite has been generous. “Black drum and redfish around Tiger Shoals, plus decent trout around Eldora and Slippery Creek, and we’re seeing snook just about everywhere.” Anglers are catching all sorts of bruisers in Haulover Canal, according to Huffman, who said he’s seen photos of a 50-inch redfish and a 42-inch black drum that have come from those fertile waters. The river around New Smyrna Beach has slowed up, but Burkhead said anglers are pulling up mangrove snapper and sheepshead around docks, plus black drum in the south bridge area.

MATANZAS INLET, RIVER: Karen Miles at Devil’s Elbow Fish Camp north of the inlet said redfish are thick on the flats, plus there are big schools of trout “all over the place.” And she added there were “bluefish galore.”

ST. JOHNS RIVER: Capt. Bryn Rawlins from Highland Park Fish Camp in DeLand said speck fishing has steadily picked up. “With a little more consistent cooler weather, we are seeing more catches and bigger fish come in,” she said in an email report. “Open water in Lake Woodruff has been the best for catching them. Right around the new moon on Feb. 7 should be a good time to go after them. Bass fishing is also doing pretty fair. Decent catches coming in ranging up to 8-pound fish.”

There’s a new boat ramp in town!

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Local residents and visitors of Volusia county will be flocking to their favorite spots on the waterways of the intracoastal for fun in the sun.  Whether you’re out for a day with the kids or tracking down the big one in your favorite fishing hole, everyone has to launch their boat or jet ski somewhere.

There’s a new boat ramp in the area and it’s a nice one!  Located on Boat Ramp Rd. in New Smyrna (approximately 1/2 mile north of the airport), the Swoope Park Boat Ramp is a welcomed site to the community.  Dedicated March 2014, the park will hopefully take some of the heavy traffic away from the ramps along the south causeway.  If you’ve been on the water in recent weekends down there, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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Swoope Park features 28 oversized trailer slots, regular parking spots, 2 floating aluminum ramps with handicap access, 2 oversized stalls, his and hers bath rooms, 2 rinse off showers, and an area to launch smaller craft like paddle boards, kayaks, or canoes.

The ramp is convenient if you’re heading to Disappearing Island, Spruce Creek, New, Smyrna Creek, or heading offshore.  It’s located in the idle speed zone, so make sure you’re aware of your speed.  That area is patrolled a lot by law enforcement.

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The only thing I would caution boaters on is that the ramp is fairly steep.  Anyone hauling a boat with a heavier load will want to take it slow as they drop their rig.  I’ve seen guys completely launch $100,000 boats onto the concrete at Dunlawton before, so it’s certainly possible here.

I hope to see you on the water…signing off…Capt KB