Hooking into a Tarpon is an experience you will never forget. When hooked these oversized members of the Herring family often explode into an ariel display that few fish can match. They can be caught on fly or spin tackle, plugs, spoons, jigs, and live bait such as shrimp and mullet. They often can be seen rolling on the surface, and inhabit the flats as well as side creeks and tributaries. A heavy mono or fluorocarbon shock leader is advisable as their mouths are very abrasive. Essentially a catch and release fishery as Tarpon are not noted for their food value, a Tarpon tag must be purchased for each Tarpon you intend to keep. All Tarpon should be released unharmed to fight another day! Florida state record is 243 lbs.
Snook like to feed near the mouth of creeks and around mangroves and occasionally out on the open flats. They can be caught on fly or spin tackle, take live shrimp and mullet, plus a wide variety of lures. They sometime travel into fresh water tributaries. When fishing for snook use heavy mono or fluorocarbon leader as these fish have very sharp gill plates. The legal limit is one per day with a minimum size of 28 inches and a maximum of 32 inches total length. Closed seasons are December 15th thru January 31st and the months of June, July, and August. During these periods all Snook must be released. Florida state record is 44 lbs. 3 oz.
The Big Four
Trout Redfish Snook Tarpon
The Spotted Sea Trout is another extremely popular fish here in the Indian River Lagoon. Often found on the flats with Redfish and will hit much of the same bait and lures. In the winter they congregate in deeper canals. Not partial to dead bait, can reach up to 10 lbs. Legal limit is 4 per day with a minimum size of not less than 15 inches or more than 20 inches except one fish over 20 inches per person is permitted. Florida state record is 17lbs. 7 oz.
The Redfish or Red for short is one of the two most sought after fish in the area, hits live shrimp, cut and live mullet, surface and subsurface lures and flies. Usually caught in shallow water over grass flats. Grows to 50+ lbs.
This fish is a tough fighter for sure and there is nothing more heart pounding than to see a school of tailing reds on the flats. Legal limit is one per day, and must be between 18 and 27 inches in length to keep. Florida state record is 52 lbs. 5 oz.