Catch Table-Fare From The Indian River Lagoon

Fishing my favorites from the Indian River Lagoon.

By Richard Matteson

Here are some of my favorite fish to eat in the lagoon along with some tips on how to catch them. It’s okay to eat fish from the lagoon, but do it in moderation.

1) Pompano:

This silver-blue slab has some of the best white meat. It’s a cold-water fish and is usually caught between December and April on a variety of lures and live bait. Fish small jigs and pompano jigs around shallow drop-offs in 3 to 5 feet of water. Also look for them around bridges and deeper cuts. For live bait, use shrimp or sand fleas.

2) Snook:

You can only keep one snook between 28 and 32 inches and only in certain months of the year. Closed season for snook is Dec. 15-Jan. 31 and June 1-Aug. 31. Snook have excellent flaky white meat. Snook can be caught on a variety of lures including topwaters, jigs and live bait. They prefer structure (piers, bridges, mangroves) and feed more actively at night.

3) Flounder:

Often overlooked or targeted as table-fare, this species of fish has two eyes on one side of its heads and lies on the bottom waiting for bait to come by. I’ve caught flounder in the lagoon up to 5 pounds and sometimes three or four on an outing. Flounder love jigs and live bait, especially shrimp (live or dead). Fish for them on flats around bridges and on shallow flats in 3 to 4 feet of water.

4) Black drum and red drum (redfish):

Black drum love any sort of crustacean, from shrimp to blue crabs and can also be caught on cut bait (ladyfish). Fish for them with bait around bridge pilings or under piers. Redfish will eat bait, and they’ll also take lures. Try a 4-inch jig with a paddle tail or a jig tipped with shrimp.

5) Snapper:

I’ve fished for mangrove snapper (10” min) and lane snapper (8” min), and they can be caught easily on small jigs, jigs tipped with shrimp and shrimp. Fish around piers and structure and deeper areas on the flats.

6) Sheepshead and tripletail:

Sheepshead are members of porgy family and eat crustaceans and barnacles. Shrimp, fiddler crabs and crabs are favorite baits. Fish for them on the bottom around piers and bridges. Tripletail will hit jigs, but fishing shrimp around buoys and floating markers is your best bet.

7) Mackerel and bluefish.

Both species are fast and will hit any lure or live bait. I prefer mackerel to bluefish. They are cold-water fish and move into the lagoon during the winter months. They can be caught around structure, especially bridges with moving water.

Richard Matteson is the staff writer for the Stuart Rod and Reel Club. Visit Richard can be reached at 336-414-3440.

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