Captain Ron's Fishing Reports (March)
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March, 2006

Jacks Galore and Cobia Time

One day last week I had the pleasure of taking Russ and Kora for a demo ride in the Pathfinder. Russ is looking at selling his Maverick and purchasing a Pathfinder 2200V. We took the ride through the locks and into the ocean so he and his wife Kora could experience the versatility of the boat in the ocean as well as the river. As we came back into the river we located a school of cooperative jacks and paused from the demo long enough to catch a few. They were simply tearing up Rip Tide 3 inch mullet in the electric chicken color. We finished the demo in the river and then back to the dock. I think there is going to be another Pathfinder on the water soon. Both Russ and Kora were highly impressed with the versatility of the boat.

The next day, knowing the jacks were there, I took my 9 year old grandson Robert out for a little action. When you locate the jacks like this, it is a perfect time to get a kid or two hooked on fishing. Of course Robert has had many opportunities before, but when you see the look on their face of catching, almost one after another, these feisty jacks it just warms you heart to see that the kids may grow up with the same passion that you have for fishing. The next time you have an opportunity, take a kid fishing.

Well itís March, and in March the cobia show up outside Port Canaveral. The word was that they had been slaying them so a couple of my good friends and fellow Guides, Captain Chris Myers and Captain Tom Van Horn decided to give it a go. It was not the perfect cobia day. Seas were 3 to 4 on about 4 second intervals. A cold front was approaching and the weather man predicted a 20 percent chance of showers, which also means overcast skies. For sight fishing cobia you really want clear skies and a high sun to locate the brown colored fish in the open ocean waters. However, none of this was sufficient to halt our plans. To get the three of us together on any given day is not an easy thing, so we decided to take advantage of our opportunity.

Well the bottom line is 2 for 6 on cobia and a really nice triple tail. With the seas at 3 to 4, we took my Pathfinder since Capt. Chris fishes a Hewes Bayfisher 16 and Capt. Tom fishes a Maverick Master Angler. Taking advice from Tom, we all rigged two rods. One smaller, in the 4000 size and each of us had a larger 20 pound rod. The small rod was intended for triple tail, the larger for the cobia.

I was at the helm, Tom was on the deck spotting and Chris was standing at the ready with a baited rod scanning the rolling seas. He happened to be holding the smaller rod, rigged with a jig head. He had pinned a shrimp on the jig head by breaking off the tail and feeding the hook through the shrimp from the bottom of the tail forward. Chris turned to me and said, ďI should not even be thinking of throwing this rig at a cobia,Ē when Tom yelled ďfishĒ. Chris jumped up on the deck and made a cast to the brown silhouette in the rolling water. The jig head sunk toward the bottom and the fish turned to follow. Chris was right; he never should have thrown that smaller rig at the cobia. The hook was set and the pole bent double. The big fish just fought like a tuna, down and hard. Chris would get him to the boat and he would run deep again. About 35 minutes later Tom put the gaff in the fish and lifted him to the fish box.

One down, and hopefully more to go. Chris took the helm, Tom continued to spot, and I picked up a heavy duty rod rigged with 20 pound Power Pro and a 40 pound leader. I had earlier attached a large jig with a florescent red head and chartreuse skirt on the end of the leader. I then pinned a large shrimp on the jig in the same manner described above. The fish were few and far between, and we were literally working the holes in the clouds to try to keep in the sunshine. Finally a nice cobia showed. Tom yelled and pointed to the fish. I made one cast, too short and he didnít see it. I got one more cast out but he was gone. Missed my chance! We continued in the same pattern working the 40 feet plus depths until Tom yelled again. Fish! I did not pick this fish up until it was right on the boat. He had come in straight at us and ended up no more than 15 feet away when I dropped the jig to the side and in front of him. He turned and went the other way. Chris quickly threw out a few pogies to try and hold him near the boat, but we never saw him again. Both of these fish I missed were 25 pounds plus. Good fish!

By the way, I just have to mention, the pogies came from the charter boat Odyssey out of the Port. They had just pulled in a net full as we were arriving on the scene to net a few ourselves. They came over and handed us a five gallon bucket full of their excess pogies and we were on our way. Thanks to the crew of the Odyssey. My kind of guys!

Well back to the fishing. Between cloud cover and sunny skies we managed to see a total of 6 cobia. I finally got a well placed shrimp tipped jig in front of one but he turned out to be short at a 30 inches. A legal cobia has to measure 33 at the fork. During the process of targeting the cobia we spotted two free swimming triple tail. I got a couple casts at the unexcited pair, Tom got a cast or two in and finally, Chris, who had baited with a live pogie, got the hookup. And wouldnít you know it Ė he caught the triple tail on the large rod he had brought for the cobia.

Cobia fishing is a real team effort. Capt. Tom did most of the work today and ended up not catching a fish. Both Tom and Chris are that way on their charters also. They work hard so someone else can catch the fish. Itís just a passion that many guides seem to have.

As we began to lose good visibility with the front approaching and clouds building we headed back to the ramp. A great day on the water with great friends. It doesnít get any better than that.

For questions related to fishin Floridaís East Central Coast, contact Captain Chris at

Captain Tom Van Horn may be reached at

As always, you can visit my website at  to view pictures of the fish we catch. Thatís what itís all about. Good fishiní.

On a scheduling note, if you are in the Jacksonville area Ė the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be held there on March 18 and 19. The show will be in Sarasota on March 25 and 26. Mark your calendars and come by the Florida Guides Association Booth and say hi. Let me show you some RipTide lures and how I rig them.



March Fishing Report 2005

Warmer weather and water temperatures have already improved the fishing since my last report. We have been catching several redfish each day and have also caught a few sheepshead when fishing around the docks for reds. Mike from Kentucky put several reds in the boat on a still cool March morning. Live bait continues to be the best producers. We have been using 3/0 circle hooks on a 20 pound leader to catch the reds. Add a small split shot near the eye of the hook to give additional casting distance. The bite is slow and fish still sluggish as water temperatures, although warmer in the afternoons are still cool in the morning and the fish are lethargic.  Donít get too excited about a bite. Give the fish time to eat the bait and by no means give a big bass hook-setting action when using the circle hooks.  

The foursome of Bob, Bobbie, Ed, and Ryan also caught several reds on a similar cool morning trip. The technique was exactly the same as mentioned above. Bob was quick to catch on to the circle hook routine and quickly put his first redfish ever in the boat. He later caught several more. A few sheepshead and a lonely catfish also came to the boat. The best fish of the day came from Bobbie, the youngest angler. Sometimes, kids are just lucky. Bobbie was suspending a live shrimp under a clacker type float when the nice red took it under. Bobbie reeled with all his might, listening to the shouted directions of the rest of us until he finally pulled a nice red up to the boat for a nice catch-photo-release. Nice going Bobbie.  

Remember, the circle hooks are designed to hook the fish as the hook changes angles as it leaves the fishes mouth. This means the hook has to come out slowly. NO BIG HOOKSET! I like to leave the bail open and let a couple of coils of line leave the spool, then close the bail by hand and just start reeling. Once you have pressure on the tip of the rod it is ok to give a slight hook set, just donít jerk hard, itís not necessary.  

The water in the Banana River remains low and is still characterized by the thick green color that has haunted us for weeks. I still donít know exactly what is causing this discoloration. If anyone out there knows, write and let me know. I really would like to see some rain to bring up the water level around the mangroves and maybe dilute the discolored water we are experiencing.  

The spring mullet run is just around the corner and the fishing should pick up significantly in the coming weeks.  

As always, you can visit my website at  to view pictures of the fish we catch. Thatís what itís all about. Good fishiní. 

On a scheduling note, if you are in the Jacksonville area Ė the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be held there on March 18 and 19. The show will be in Sarasota on March 25 and 26. Mark your calendars and come by the Florida Guides Association Booth and say hi. Let me show you some RipTide lures and how I rig them.


Banana River March 2005 Once again I have gone too long without a report, and I apologize. A couple of out-of-town fishing shows and a death in the family have greatly change my expected schedule. The good news is that the reds are starting to show up on the flats in the Banana River. They have not always been willing to eat but at least they are there and will eat sooner or later. The old reliable gold spoon has been a good bait for the reds. The spring break traffic on the water has kept them pretty spooky with boats running all over the place, even on weekdays.

One recent trip with Jay and his dad George from Texas resulted in a slam for Jay. He caught a nice snook, (pictured) a redfish, and several spotted sea trout. We saw tarpon but failed to hook up on the one strike that we had from the juvenile tarpon. Jay caught the snook on a CAL paddle tail in the avocado with red flake. He pulled the snook from a small cut in the shoreline with a deep ridge running perpendicular to the river. The trout came from numerous spots in the river and the red was one of many we saw along the warm west side of the river south of 520. Jay's red ate a DOA glow shrimp pitched in among three redfish swimming together. Sometimes, when there is more than one red in the vicinity the competition between them increases the chances of a hook-up.

We found quite a few small tarpon cruising the docks but they did not show a lot of interest in dining. The one fish that did strike came up on a DOA shrimp right at the boat. George probably did not have over 5 feet of line remaining in the water when the tarpon struck the bait just as it was coming to the surface. It was just like a top-water strike. If we had gotten a hook up there would have been a lot of crashin' and thrashin' with that short amount of line out. This particular day was a little cool in the morning and the fishing was tough. Not until the occasional sunshine warmed the water slightly did we begin to see signs of life. Sometimes, just a warm-up of a few degrees will make a difference between catchin" and fishin'. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River March 2005 Spring Break continues to keep lots of boats on the water, even during the weekdays. A couple of mornings have been very nice, but winds have been rising in the afternoons which make it difficult to fish the flats. Mullet have not been that plentiful but are showing up in spots along the river. Some of the docks I have fished are holding sheepshead, redfish, trout, and tarpon. Yes, that's right tarpon. It is always good to see them show up in the spring. One outing this week started off with an absolutely beautiful morning that did not produce any significant fish. It was not until about 10:00 that a few fish began to cooperate. Trout, reds, sheepshead, and mangrove snappers have all been caught this week.

The color of choice is still the avocado with red flake plastic from CAL. (Made by DOA). These tails and heads are available locally at Wal-Mart and other tackle shops. It doesn't seem to matter whether we used the paddle tail or the split tail, they both worked well. Live shrimp also produced some fish this week. The Jack Creavalle have shown up big time and pound for pound there is not fish any more fun to catch than a Jack. Catching a 4 to six pound Jack on light tackle around any kind of structure can be a real challenge  as a couple of anglers found out this week. Keith and his son Nick from Cincinnati and Grand Dad Bill hooked in to several of the big jacks for a little rod bending action. Nick was only nine years old and a dedicated fisherman. Don't tell anyone, but he won the numbers game by catching more fish than dad or granddad. Nice going Nick.

On yet another day, we got an early start hoping for a trout bite on live shrimp. Tim had come over from England to fish the Banana River and enjoys fishing live bait. Since he just arrived on Tuesday, and not over the jet lag time difference yet, it was no problem for him to get up early, drive from the Orlando area and be at the dock ready to fish at 6:00 am. However, the pattern was similar to the day before. We really did not catch many fish until 10:00 and later. Tim, being an excellent caster was threading the needle with accurate casts into a jack creavalle hangout. We lost track of how many we actually but in the boat, but it was up around 20 and they were as large as just over 5 pounds. Tim had mastered the technique necessary to turn the heads of these powerful jacks and not let them return to the structure they were around. He only lost one fish the entire day to a line cut on concrete abutments. All the jacks were preferring the same avocado paddle tail or split tail form CAL. We change colors a couple of times just to check, but always had to go back to our original color. Color does make a difference. If you are not getting strikes on one color, do not be reluctant to change and try something else. Tim also had three slot sized trout in the boat but was practicing catch and release. All fish were returned to the water to fight another day.

This day with Tim was also filled with wildlife. Ospreys, Manatees, Dolphin, and all the other sea and shore birds made it a great day to be on the water. At one point we had a manatee that just did not want to leave us alone. He followed the boat and nudged it at the back. You kind of wonder what they are thinking when they come so close. You need to be ever watchful before firing up the engine in areas that contain manatees so as not to inadvertently injure one. We also witnessed dolphin swimming the outskirts of our boat just waiting for us to catch and release a fish that they could use for lunch. Especially with game fish, you sometimes have to be very careful how and where you release your catch because the dolphin, given the chance, will come and devour you recently released catch. Sometimes you just can't do anything about it.  Spring is here and the fishing should just continue to get better. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.


Indian River: March 15, 2004  Monday was another really nice day on the water. Linn, Wanda, and I were greeted by a cool and beautiful morning to be on the river. A light NW wind keep it cool, and comfortable. Linn and Wanda are mostly fresh water anglers, but came over to the coast to experience some saltwater action. Linn is a very accomplished angler and often uses artificials on bass. Wanda prefers to fish with bait, in our case this morning we had live shrimp. Linn caught the first fish, a small trout on a root beer colored DOA Terroreyz. The earlier morning water temperatures were low and the fish were not that active. By 11:00 we had caught a couple more small trout and a couple redfish. The bite had been pretty slow with catches coming few and far between. Then, about 12:30 it just seemed to pick up for about 30 minutes when we caught another trout, 2 reds and several black drum. Then, just as quickly as it began it ended and the bite was over. We called it a day with a nice mixed bag of trout, redfish and black drum. So both Linn and Wanda caught their first red, trout, and black drum on the same day. Linn caught the largest fish, being a black drum that would measure about 24 inches. All in all, a great day on the water. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Indian River: March 9, 2004  After calling off the trip on Monday due to extremely high winds we rescheduled for Tuesday and it could not have been a nicer day. The water temp was hovering around 65 degrees with light winds out of the NW. We scored quickly in the first spot we tried with Ed catching a nice 16 inch trout. I was fishing with Ed and his son Mathew from Ohio and Ed's dad Skip who now lives in New Smyrna. With three generations on board, we were looking forward to a fun day on the water. We continued to fish the first area with only one other small trout. When we moved to a new location we began to see numerous mullet working the flats and canals and after another hour or two of fishing Skip (the grand dad) had caught his first redfish, Ed had caught several more trout, a redfish and one really nice hard fighting black drum. Ed caught his second red at the same time Ed caught the nice black drum, they are pictured on the right. Fishing and catchin' on this day was a combination of artificial lures in the form of DOA Terroeyz and live shrimp. All in all it was a fun day on the water, just like we had hoped for. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Port Canaveral Basin: March 5, 2004  It was two rough to fish the north jetty, and it was worse in the open seas where cobia have recently been spotted. However, some of the docks inside the Port held some pompano, sheepshead, and bluefish. Two guests, Mike from Pennsylvania and his friend Chaz fished hard all afternoon and were rewarded for their efforts. They had a little contest going on the number of fish, and I think Mike ended up winning. I lost track when the score was somewhere around 26 to 21. We never started until 12:30, and it was dead low tide. We picked up a few fish all afternoon, but it wasn't until the last hour that the bite really turned on. That was between 4:30 and 5:30. We used every shrimp in the boat before returning to the ramp. Mike was driving on to Sarasota where he will fish again in the morning. He is a college professor on Spring Break and he has 5 charters lined up for the week. Since this was his first day I told him he better pace himself. At any rate, the fish totaled somewhere over 50 and Mike got off to a good start for his week long adventure. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Indian River: March 1, 2004  Finally, we caught some fish. The water is still cool, best I saw today was 62, but after the sun came up for a while, the fish were fairly active. It was a DOA, CAL kind of day. The first fish, a trout came on a CAL series jerk bait in the root beer color. After that, several more trout and some small reds also came to the boat. We tried a lot of different colors, and you always should till you find what they like. Today it was root beer. In fact, as I think about it, all the fish came on root beer colored lures, either a CAL jerk bait on a red head or the root beer terroreyz, with the exception of two reds that took live finger mullet. All in all it was a great day. Zac and Matt, my anglers for the day, were aggressive talented fishermen making well place casts and being rewarded for it. They were visiting from North Carolina on Spring Break and would head on towards the Keys for some more Florida Fun! I think they had a good time and will be back to fish the Indian River Lagoon. Good fishin'. That's what its all about.



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