November and December are great months for fall fishing in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River. The water begins to cool, and with air temperature highs in the low to mid 80s, it’s very comfortable. The mullet run is finishing up, and species that prefer cooler water start to return. Pompano and mackerel start showing up in the ocean and lagoon. Bluefish appear in numbers during the mullet run, although there are always some resident bluefish year-round.
Snook fishing continues to be excellent on both live bait and artificials. Fishing was good around the St. Lucie inlet and the river last month, with numbers of over-slot snook caught. Local guides and some anglers have been using pigfish (grunts), pinfish, mullet, greenies and other baitfish with great success. The water in the river has cleared up some, and deeper docks with lights, the inlets and bridges continue to be the best spots. Snook will hit a variety of lures. My favorites are D.O.A. 4-inch paddletails on 1/8-ounce jigs. In stronger current, I like Shimano shallow-diving plugs in silver or white. Look for bait and birds. If there’s lots of bait, look for feeding fish, sometimes in schools.
Fall Fishing Trout
Big numbers of small trout are in the Harbor Branch and Vero area. I had several active days with 50 to 70 trout in the Vero area. Most of the trout in that area are small, between 12-16 inches. They are around patches of grass in 2 to 3 feet of water. Larger trout have been showing up in the Bear Point area, sometimes mixed with small trout. Gator trout have been caught from the power lines in Fort Pierce down to the St. Lucie Inlet by guides using live bait. My favorite trout lures are D.O.A. 4-inch pearl/white paddletail on a 1/8-ounce jig and mid-sized gold Zara Spook.
I’ve been catching the occasional redfish on the flats around baitfish. I’ve noticed more blue crabs in the lagoon recently, which is a favorite redfish bait. Piers and mangroves are the haunts for redfish, which pull out deeper at low tide. Favorite lures include small gold spoons and gold paddletails on chartreuse jigs. I fish slower for redfish—sometimes dead-sticking a jig and popping it off the bottom.
As the water cools, schools of mackerel and pompano will make their way up the lagoon from the inlets. Mackerel have very sharp teeth, so use a wire leader or a heavier fluorocarbon leader. Mackerel like shiny fast-moving lures, as do bluefish. Pompano will hit standard jigs, but I use pompano jigs, too. Many anglers fish off or around the south Stuart Lagoon bridges on the moving tides. Pompano also like shallow flats, and can be found by driving your boat on flats. They jump out of the water when startled by the engine. Sometimes they will jump in your boat!
By Richard L. Matteson Jr.
Richard Matteson is staff writer for the Stuart Rod and Reel Club. For information, call 336-414-3440.