SECTION A - News & Regulations from COE, FWC and others, including Bridge information

The latest Navigation Report can be found at: which goes to the Jacksonville District.

General Information for the Okeechobee Waterway can be found at South Florida Operations Office web page.

Information from COE

The latest Navigation Report can be found at: which goes to the Jacksonville District.

General Information for the Okeechobee Waterway can be found at South Florida Operations Office web page.



Notes on Fishing Rules and other announcements

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (a/k/a FWC) keeps us up to date on changes that fishermen (cruising-fishermen included) should know, and other items of interest to boating people. As the audience is somewhat varied, we give a quick note on the news and suggest that those interested in specific topics check it all out at the FWC web site.
There's also information on boating, parks, ramps, etc., etc. and we'll hope to include news on anything we think you'll want to know about.

FWC’s website is


The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season has closed to harvest in state and federal waters and will reopen Aug. 6. The two-day recreational sport season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, which is July 30 and 31 this year.

Upcoming Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! events are scheduled for May 16-18 in Stuart and Nov. 14-16 in the Florida Keys.
To learn more, visit, call 954-475-9068 or email

Gone Coastal

April “Gone Coastal” column
By Amanda Nalley
Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site: Go to
Suggested Tweet: Spanish mackerel return to north #Florida. Learn more at
Spring means return of Spanish mackerel to north Florida waters
Across Florida there are signs that spring has sprung, from the fine layer of yellow pollen coating everything in the north to folks returning to the water sans wetsuit in the south. Warmer water also means the return of Spanish mackerel, a feisty fish that migrates south when the water temperature dips below 70 and should be returning to north Florida waters right about now.

Spanish mackerel are easy to catch, making them a great target for kids and those new to the sport, but their aggressive fighting behavior when on the line also makes them exciting for seasoned veterans.

Interested in catching a Spanish mackerel or two? Spring and early summer are a great time to target these fish as they move north along the coast. They frequent nearshore sandy and grassy areas, from bays to beaches and piers, but can also be caught farther offshore. Spanish mackerel typically follow baitfish, so look for areas where fish are jumping.

The main two ways to target Spanish mackerel are trolling for them (running a line behind your boat while it is in motion) and casting.

When it comes to gear, the goal is to replicate baitfish.

If you are trolling for them, many people use what is called a mackerel tree, a series of hooks on a line with pieces of tubing acting as lures near each hook followed by a trolling spoon.

If you plan to fish for Spanish mackerel by casting, then spoons, jigs or any shallow diving lure will work. Spanish mackerel are a fairly fragile fish that need to be handled carefully and quickly when catching and releasing. If your artificial lures have treble hooks on them, consider bending down all the barbs or replacing the treble hooks with single hooks. Treble hooks can cause significant damage to a fish.

Unlike some species, Spanish mackerel will go after a wide variety of artificial lures, but if you are a natural-bait fan, try threadfin herring, cigar minnows or finger-sized mullet.

Mackerel have extremely sharp teeth. So if you don’t want to lose your lure and your line, make sure to use a leader that is at least 30 pound test. Above that, a good light spinning rod with 10- to 15-pound test will be plenty to reel in the fish.
Whether or not you ever hit the daily bag limit of 15 Spanish mackerel per person in state waters, there are plenty of other fish nearby to target, such as bluefish and lady fish, which also follow bait around.

Be sure to keep a measuring device nearby. The minimum size limit for Spanish mackerel is 12 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the lower jaw with the mouth closed to the center of the fork in the tail. Be sure to use a straight line measurement and not a flexible tape, as this can throw off your measurement.

Size limits and bag limits help ensure the Spanish mackerel population remains sustainable for future generations. The first statewide daily bag limit was set in 1986 and was four fish per person. This was increased to five in 1991, to 10 in 1993 and to where it is today, 15, in 2000. The size limit went into effect in 1999.

Find a keeper or two? Spanish mackerel are best eaten fresh, not frozen, within the first three days of being caught. Make sure to ice them down good and keep them cold. They can be grilled, fried, baked or smoked.

Catch a really big one? The current state record is 12 pounds, caught off Fort Pierce in 1984, and the world record is 13 pounds caught in North Carolina in 1987. If you think you can beat that, visit the International Game Fish Association website at or, for state records, visit and click on “Saltwater” and “Grand Slam/Fishing Records.”
Learn more about Spanish mackerel at by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Mackerel, Spanish.” Email comments, questions, photos or suggestions to

Don’t forget to record all of your catches on the iAngler phone app or at

“Gone Coastal” is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. We are also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and we would love the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection, call 850-487-0554 or email
Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site: Go to
Sailfish hold a special place in many Florida resident and visitor’s hearts. Whether they’ve admired a replica of the beautiful fish while waiting for a fresh-caught meal at a local restaurant, or felt their blood pump as one leapt into the air on the other end of a fishing line, the fish known for its tall “sail-like” dorsal fin is a Florida icon. Though you can find the highly migratory species in warm offshore waters around the globe, sailfish are so abundant off the coast of Florida and so popular with people it was made the state’s official saltwater fish in 1975.

Between its aesthetic beauty and its penchant for fighting, sailfish are a recreational favorite. Like bonefish or tarpon, two of Florida’s other iconic fishes, the sailfish has a higher value as a recreational catch-and-release species than it does as a commercial food fish. The meat is tough and is rarely eaten unless smoked.
I sat down with coworker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist and sailfish fan Justin Lerner to find out a little more about the appeal of fishing for sailfish.

“It’s very exciting fishing, especially when using a kite,” Lerner said, describing a fishing method where an actual kite is used to dangle bait at the top of the water, enticing the sailfish to take the bait right before your eyes. “It is a very fast, very acrobatic fish with a lot of energy.” Lerner caught his first sailfish in 2000 on an offshore charter trip and was instantly hooked (my apologies for the pun).

While they are typically caught in water 80 to 240 feet deep, sailfish, unlike other billfish, can be found in fairly shallow water and, though not common, have even been caught off piers in south Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico near Panama City.

Look for color changes in the water, Lerner said, and fish along them. When the water goes from an inshore green to a deep blue you are in the right spot.

Sailfish can be caught in every region of Florida, but they are more abundant in south Florida in the colder months, from October through March. “Cold fronts drive bait south, and fish run an interception,” Lerner said. In areas of north Florida and the Panhandle, such as Panama City, they are more abundant during the summer and fall months.
Sailfish have been regulated in state waters at least since 1988, when a possession limit of one billfish per person was implemented, sale was prohibited, and gear was restricted to hook and line. Today, there is a recreational bag limit of one billfish per person. Billfish includes blue marlin, white marlin, roundscale spearfish and sailfish. This means you can catch and keep one only billfish species per person, per day. There is no daily bag limit in federal waters for sailfish.
When fishing in federal waters, a federal Highly Migratory Species angling permit is required. Federal waters are beyond 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic and beyond 9 nautical miles in the Gulf.

While technique varies, one of the most popular ways to catch them is by kite fishing with live bait, usually goggle eyes or blue runners. Other popular techniques are slow trolling with live ballyhoo, or trolling with hookless bait and teasers and casting to fish as they appear in the trolling spread. Other popular live baits are threadfin herring and pilchards.
Hooked a sailfish? Once you get your fish to the boat, use caution. The long and pointed bill can be dangerous when attempting to unhook the fish. Lerner suggests holding the fish in the water by the bill while unhooking. Another option is cutting the line as close to the fish as possible. When release is your intention, leave the fish in the water at all times. Removing large fish from the water can cause internal damage to the fish and decrease its chances of survival. In all federal waters off Florida, a sailfish must remain in the water if you intend to release it.

While the species fights hard, it can tire and may need to be revived if you plan on releasing the fish. Use the appropriate tackle to shorten the amount of time it takes to bring your catch to your vessel. You can revive a sailfish by pointing its head into the current or pulling the fish through the current while the boat is moving slowly. This pushes water over the gills.
While most sailfish are caught and then released, if you plan on keeping yours, the sailfish caught in state or federal waters must be larger than 63 inches when measured from the end of the lower jaw to where the tail splits, also known as the fork.
Sailfish do not have a recreational closed season in state or federal waters. All sailfish and other billfish caught in state and federal waters that are taken to shore or landed must be reported to NOAA Fisheries with 24 hours by calling 800-894-5528 or visiting the HMS permits website at and selecting “landing reports.”

Learn more about billfish, including sailfish, by visiting and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Highly Migratory Species.”

Have questions, comments or suggestions for this column? Email them to

Gone Coastal is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. We are also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and we would love the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection call 850-487-0554 or email

Get your FREE subscription to Florida Wildlife Magazine. Visit the Subscriber Preferences Page and look for the Florida Wildlife Magazine box under the FWC heading.
Update your subscriptions, modify your password or email address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your Subscriber Preferences Page. You will need to use your email address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact
This service is provided to you at no charge by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.


News from USCG

We attempt to include here only notices regarding serious bridge operating schedules. We have discontinued listing temporary changes that draw attention to semi-serious delays such as (most) painting projects, marathons, charity runs,  single-leaf operations, etc.
An exception to the above may be made because of seasonal traffic and items previously included may be kept w/updates.






Due to repairs to the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 and from 12:01 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a two week period. This work will be completed after Easter and before July 4th, 2015. Comments on this bridge closure should be directed Mr. Michael Lieberum at The times may be changed based on comments received; however there is a need for the two 4 hour closures to allow these repairs to be completed within the two week time period. Vessels that can pass under the bridge without an opening may do so at any time.
The roadway will be closed to the vehicle traffic completely for 19 days in additional to the above two weeks two four hours closure periods. The Florida Department of Transportation will be issuing a separate press release on this restriction.




The Fort Denaud Swing Bridge, Ft. Denaud, Hendry County, Florida has an equipment failure and is operating manually. Starting 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 13, 2014 through May 15, 2014, the bridge will open once an hour on the top of the hour from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. From 8:01 p.m. to 7:59 a.m. the bridge will open if at least three hours advance notice if given to 863-673-2974.



The Coast Guard has approved a temporary change to the operating schedule of the Main Street Bridge across the St Johns River, Jacksonville, Florida, due to bridge repairs. From January 24 through December 30, 2014, the Main Street Bridge will open with a two hour advance notice between 6:00 a.m. and 6:59 p.m. to the bridge tender either via VHF-FM channel 9 or by calling 904-891-2191.

Between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. a four hour advance notice to the bridge tender will be required to receive an opening.

During the painting operation the contractor will be placing scaffolding under the bridge which will reduce the vertical clearance of the bridge up to 10 feet.
Chart: 11491


Seminole Equipment is working on the I-95 Bridge across the South Fork of the New River, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Due to painting operations the vertical clearance will be reduced by 5 feet from January 7, 2014 through April 2014. The containment system can be retracted by two feet if 24 hours notice is provided to the contractor.
Ref: LNM 52-13 through 04-14 Chart: 11467

FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – NEW RIVER (SOUTH FORK) – CSX RAILROAD BRIDGE: New Bridge Construction/Temporary Regulation Change/Horizontal Clearance Reduction.

The contractor working on the CSX Railroad Bridge replacement across the South Fork of the New River mile 2.8, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida has requested to temporarily change the regulation governing the existing CSX Railroad Bridge. This temporary regulation change has been approved and has placed this bridge to an on demand schedule whereas the bridge will be placed in the closed to navigation position during certain portions of the construction operations with an open on demand schedule. Mariners are requested to contact the bridge tender on VHF-FM channel 9 for opening and passing information.

The pile driving operation was scheduled to begin on February 14, 2014 on the north side of the channel with completion scheduled for June 3, 2014. The pile driving operation on the south side is scheduled to begin in August 2014.
The horizontal clearance of the CSX Railroad Bascule Bridge across the New River (South Fork) mile 2.8, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida has been temporarily reduced to 56 feet.
Ref: LNM 16-08 through 04-14 CG File: 2500FLORIDA


The contractor constructing the Indian Street Bridge has completed placing the new beams across the south fork of the St. Lucie Canal, Stuart, Florida. This work is expected to be completed by April 2014

With the new beams in place the vertical clearance is 55 feet at mean high water.
Mariners are reminded to remain vigilant when passing thought this area as several pieces of floating equipment will be in the vicinity of the main navigational channel until this project is completed.


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May 2014 Section A

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