|Captain Ron's Fishing Reports (August)|
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Banana River August 2005 The summer doldrums are on us. Seems like the fishing usually slows a bit in August as the temperatures rise. Just like in July, the best bite is early in the morning. The winds have been on the calm side, especially early, which makes throwin' a top water bait a good choice. There is just nothing like that top water bite. Both walk the dog type baits and chugger baits have produced fish in the early morning hours. Unfortunately, none of them have been bragging size fish. Small trout have come to the boat on Top Pup white body with a red head. A gray Skitterwalk has also produced trout, jacks, and bluefish. A few ladyfish have been willing to eat the old reliable avocado with red flake CAL split-tail and paddle-tail plastics.
On another really early day a few snook were under the lights near some Banana river docks. All the snook were willing to hit the red and white Top Pup or a smaller Yozuri chug bait with a black back and orange belly. Later in the day undersized trout were willing to hit almost any plastic jig thrown their way. Trout were caught on white, root beer, chartreuse, and red and white curly tail plastics. I even caught a couple on a plain red jig head with no plastic at all. It was one after the other for about an hour after 8:00 before the bite stopped. The fish were laying just on the side of a foot and a half flat that dropped rather quickly to 4 feet. A few lady fish were also present in the same location. This time of the year I just look forward to the start of the fall mullet run and hopefully some better fishing. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River: Week of August 27, 2004 Trout, bluefish, reds and jacks continue to make their presence known on the river. It has been a consistent pattern again since Hurricane Charley left. The water is a little cloudy still and lots of floating grass tends to foul the artificial lures, especially the top waters. Its still hot so your best bet is early mornings and late evenings. Since the river report sounds very familiar, let me tell you about an excursion up the beach this week.
I used the ramp by Grill's Restaurant at Port Canaveral to check out the tarpon on the beach. I ran south along the beach looking for diving birds and bait pods. I found neither. I stopped about a mile south of the Cocoa Beach Pier and put out a couple of rods to do some slow trolling. I was not very encouraged, since I had not spotted any bait, birds, or rolling tarpon. Nevertheless I rigged up two rods a began to slow troll back towards the Port in about 30 feet of water. I had not been trolling more than 10 minutes when the port side rod went down in a powerful surge, the drag squealed and the spool was quickly emptying. The fish had struck a big lipped deep diving plug. The front half was red and the back half was white. This particular plug will troll about 15 feet deep. I picked up the rod and gave a couple of hard hook sets, knowing that if it is a tarpon its mouth is extremely hard and requires sharp hooks and a good jerk to set the hooks.
Just seconds later a large silver king emerged from the water. The fish had moved right to left as I looked out the back of the boat. When the fish came up it had crossed under the other line and lifted it with the line that he was on. I knew I would have to forget about that line and just hope for the best. The big tarpon continued to rip off line. I managed to get the boat turned and follow the big fish before he hit the end of the line. I began to pick up line on the spool only to have him turn 180 degrees and head north. Again the drag screamed and the line quickly exited the reel. I was trying desperately to turn the boat again and follow chase but to no avail. As the boat reach an angle of 45 degrees to the departing tarpon I saw the last bit of line on the spool disappear. I hit the throttle in an attempt to speed up an once again gain line on the pesky fish. It seemed like an eternity as I peered at the empty spool and one lone knot between me and the silver king. Then, it was over. The knot just seemed to evaporate before my eyes and this big fish had whipped my butt! What can I say, it is just plain fun and I can't wait to take the challenge again.. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River: August 20, 2004Variety has been the name of the game this week on the river. Redfish, bluefish, spotted sea trout, jack creavalle and mangrove snapper have all shown at various times during the week. The bluefish have been consistent, biting every day I have been on the river. As usual, since I was not targeting the blues more were being lost then boated. I decided to try something a little different just for fun. First, since they were biting so ferociously it did not seem to matter what color or type of lure was used. So, I dug out a long shanked hook from the tackle box and added a split shot on the shank near the eye. Then I pulled out my bag of "used" plastic baits. Just as an environmental thing, I never throw the plastics overboard, I always dispose of them in a trash container. Some did not have a tail , others were just ate up from various fish striking them. I increased my catch and release percentage considerably with this rig. A better solution is just to rig yourself a short wire leader for the blues, but since I didn't have any wire with me I simply improvised. It worked. See the picture at the right, and if you run into some blues and they are cutting you off, give it a try. The idea is that the long shanked hook will protrude from the mouth and not be cut off. I also normally bend the barb back on the hook to make for an easy release. I actually lost track of how many blues were boated this week.
Large Jacks have also been roaming the waters. Sometimes there were upwards towards 100 fish in a school. The jacks have not been as anxious to bite, often following a lure nearly to the boat without taking it. A few did give in to a CAL Jerk bait in my favorite avocado with red flake color. The jacks are always fun to catch and give a great fight on light tackle. Don't forget, you can click on any of the pictures to get a better look at the fish or rigging.
Snook have not been present in any large numbers, but they are around. With the snook season opening September 1, they will become a prime target on the river. Snook especially like to strike about a 5 inch jerk bait rigged weightless and fished slow. The snook pictured at the right hit a Salt-water Assassin rigged on a Diiachi Bleeding Bait hook. I especially like the ones rigged with a hitch-hiker to simply screw the plastic on to. Then, rig the bait weedless by stretching it out and letting the point of the hook bury itself into the top side of the lure as you release the stretch. As you can tell by the early morning darkness in the picture, this snook was an early riser, gettin' up before breakfast. You will always have better possibilities for bigger snook early in the morning and then later in the evening. Actually, this is true for most species of fish found in the river. Night fishing at Port Canaveral will become a prime spot for snook when the season opens.
The trout have continued to be a staple on the river. In the early morning they will hit top-water baits and later in the day you can tempt them with jig heads with plastic tails. The top-water fishing is hampered right now with lots of floating grass on the surface. It tends to foul the bait in most cases. Your best bet for a hook-up is a well placed bait in an area without much grass present, because on the retrieve you are likely to pick up more than your fair share. When this is the case, I prefer to just use the jig heads with plastic bodies. Darker colors like rootbeer and avocado green have produced best this week. The trout in the picture below came the "old fashion way". Live shrimp. In fact, Kim caught several nice trout on the live shrimp.
Redfish are showing up in more numbers as well. On Friday, Kim, Kent, and Jeff all caught a nice redfish. In fact, Jeff caught two that looked like brothers, as they often do coming out of the same school. The slot-sized reds each measured 23 inches. The week ended, just like it began. That is, with variety. Kim was showing off in the morning, catching spotted sea trout at a rate of about two-to-one over Jeff and Kent. All the fish came on live shrimp. Not a single trout ( or any other fish) came to the boat on a lure this day. One bluefish was hooked on an avocado jerk bait but the fight did not last long as the sharp and numerous teeth cut the mono leader. After moving to a new location with deeper water, Jeff caught his first of two 23 inch reds. Kim added a rat red around 17 inches and Kent added another to the count. With everyone hooked up with one a piece, Jeff broke the tie with his second red measuring an identical 23 inches. Add a few snappers to the bag and it was indeed a day and week of variety. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River: Week of August 13, 2004 Fishing this week had its ups and downs. On Monday, Soon Yoon and his son-in-law Will caught numerous trout on the now famous avocado split tail from DOA-CAL. The only problem was, only three were slot-sized fish. The only reds caught were too small so nothing to brag about in that category. Several ladyfish hit our baits also, but none made it all the way to the boat, as they would jump and throw the hook. The bluefish were still active and we caught several blues on the same avocado lure that we had used on the trout. As usual, we also lost several of the blues as they were attacking the lures and getting hooked deep in the mouth allowing the mono leader to protrude and be cut off by their sharp and numerous teeth. Don't forget, as I mentioned in my last report, if you want to target the blues use a small diameter wire leader to improve your catch ratio.
Tuesday was a quiet calm morning. The mullet were plentiful on the flats, but the sea trout who had been there the day before were gone. The bite was slow, even though the conditions were perfect. I saw a fellow guide, Doug Blanton, poling a shallow flat near where I was anchored up. He yelled as he spotted a school of oversized reds moving east along the flat. At one point they were coming directly at me, only to turn and head the other way. Doug's client got a hook-up and I watched him pole after the big red in an attempt to assist his angler in landing the big fish. I saw Doug later and learned the big red hit a top-water lure and tipped the scales at 42 pounds! I never saw the school again this day.
Wednesday was even worse than Tuesday. I wonder if it had anything to do with approaching hurricane Charley. The bite was off. Even the bluefish which I had been finding consistently were not cooperating. I managed to hook two and land one in the same area I had found them earlier in the week. The winds were high today and took some of the fun out of the fishing. It was difficult to sight fish, even though I did return to where the school of reds had shown on Tuesday but they were no where to be seen. Only a couple of small trout were added to the days catch. This was it for this week, Charley took care of the fishing. I am looking forward to the Hurricane moving on so I can get back on the water. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River: August 5, 2004 I fished today with another father son team from Florida. Father Lairn and son Mathew came over the east coast to check out the fishing and have a fun day on the water. Mathew is a student at UCF and is currently between semester. Lairn was treating him to a day on the water before he had to get back an hit the books. We began the day by running across some hard hitting, hard fighting bluefish. We had doubles a couple of times, but only completed one of them as several blues took our lures and returned to their watery homes. If you have ever caught a bluefish before you know that they have a mouth full of teeth that is no match for monofilament leader material. If you want to target them seriously you need to include a small wire leader so they won't cut you off. Lairn and Mathew are pictured top right with the one double we got to the boat. You can see Mathew's fish was a little bigger than dads! The picture almost looks like we were fishing in the fog, but it was just a low overcast sky.
As we moved to another location, Mathew kept the pressure on by hooking up with a nice 22 inch redfish. Mathew was fishing a CAL split tail on a 1/4 oz. CAL jig head. I have been catching fish all month on this lure with the avocado color being exceptionally hot but today it was rootbeer that the fish were hitting. Often when the water is a little discolored, as it is right now in the Banana River, a darker color will catch more fish for you. Mathew guided the big red skillfully into the net, we took the picture shown at the right, and return the fish to be caught another day.
We switched over to live shrimp and caught mangrove snapper, bluefish, trout, and several other small reds. The bite was not hot but it was consistent and we caught fish all during the morning hours. A couple of the snapper reached the 12 inch mark and we threw them in the live well to take home if we got enough. Lairn added the "enough" by latching on to another, almost identical, 22 inch redfish. This fish came from a different location on live shrimp. The shrimp are small now, as they always are during the summer, but the fish do not really care that much. Especially reds, who forage on the bottom looking for small crabs, shrimp, and other crustations. As you can see by the picture, the day cleared, the winds died down a little and it was a nice but hot morning. This red, along with the snapper, would return to Mathew's apartment and the dinner table. At least now, dad had caught up with his son in the size of the redfish if not the numbers. Mathew caught several other reds but dad did not.
It was another day of variety on the Banana River today. The big fish was a nearly 6 pound jack creavalle. Mathew had a blast landing this fish. Add in the trout, the redfish, the snappers, and the bluefish it was a fun day too. Speaking of bluefish, we returned to the area where we caught the blues on the way back to the dock and Lairn immediately hooked up with a nice blue about the size Mathew had caught earlier so it kind of tied them up with blues and reds, at least as far as size was concerned. However, dad never did catch up in the jack creavalle category, so the day, overall, goes to Mathew. Good fishin" Mathew. That's what its all about.
Banana River Report: August 29, 2003 I had the pleasure of fishing today with a "real" captain, Captain Gerald of the US Air Force and his wife Jennifer. And yes, it was Labor Day Weekend and the expectation of hundreds of boats on the river. We departed early to beat the rush without complete success. When we arrived at our first "fishin hole", there was already a boat there and another following us in. A quick decision to try another location took us through a school of jacks and a couple of hook ups to bend the rod. With that activity over we proceeded to another location where we had the river to ourselves for a while. The water is still dingy and my thoughts were on live bait to provide some good action. However, it did not take long for a nice jack to hit a white Saltwater Assassin rigged on Captain Mikes weighted Bleeding Bait hooks. Several more fish followed, including flounder, blue fish, trout, and numerous jacks. On this day, it turned out we did not need the live bait at all. The fish were very willing to hit the plastic jerk baits fished at a moderate to fast speed. The live shrimp added only one variety, mangrove snapper, to the days catch.
After the morning bite ended we took the tour through the Port and all the way out to the north jetty. The tide was right, but with no bait fish present the results were not unexpected. During the complete tour of duty through the port only one small mangrove was caught. The number of boats increased steadily as the day went on. We returned to the dock after a successful morning of fishing and was able to get the boat out of the water among many others just ready to launch. There was no doubt it was a holiday weekend. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River Report: August 25, 2003 I made a quick scouting trip to the river this morning in preparation for a charter tomorrow. The weekend has left the river in about the same condition as when I was on it last week. The water continues to be very low, even after all the rains. The water clarity is poor and the floating grass is present over much of the flats between 520 and 528. Use the wind to your advantage to find clear areas if you want to use top-waters. As is usually the case under these conditions more fish seem to come to the boat on live bait as opposed to artificials. However, since today was going to be a short scouting trip I did not take any live bait, I just wanted to prospect a little using top-water and plastics. The top-water produced a couple of small trout in the early hours. A little later I was able to reach a school of reds with a 5 inch, white Salt-water Assassin rigged on a Daiichi Copperhead Bleeding Bait Hook. Interestingly enough, the fish were still acting very timid. They would roll at the bait, even follow a faster retrieve near the surface without really taking it. This was the same pattern I had experienced last week. When I slowed the retrieve to super slow, I got a hook-up. A nice red, pictured above, was brought to the boat. All in all the fishing still seems to be a little slow, but if you are persistent you will pick up your share of the fish. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River, Nearshore Canaveral Report: August 22, 2003 Today was a tough fishing day. The weather was partly cloudy, a light easterly wind most of the day. The barometric pressure was falling and we have the tropical depression building in the Atlantic. I fished with Rolland, a highly experienced angler from Orlando. We got on the water early, hoping for a snook bite before daybreak. I had been watching a school of snook for about a week on a point where bait fish often congregate. I reported earlier in the week how the snook had been reluctant to bite. It was no different today. We got only one really good strike on a Lil' Dog, but didn't hook up. Other lethargic hits proved to be the pattern for the day. The fish would just make a pass at the lure without taking hold, just nudging it. This same pattern continued all day long, the fish were just not aggressive toward the baits. Switching over to shrimp produced a nice bluefish. The blues are showing up in increasing numbers in the river. Another bait switch to finger mullet produced a really hard bite and hook up. The fish turned, came directly at the boat and cut off on a piling on the exact opposite side of the boat from where it was hooked. We will never know what that fish was, but on a slow day it gave some encouragement.
With the bite so slow in the river we decided to make the long trip through the locks and fish tripletail on some of the Canaveral buoys. As we set tied up waiting for the lockmaster to release us to the other side, we watched numerous large snook just setting there in the shade of the lock structure. You see those big guys in there but there is nothing you can do about it. Their behavior was indicative of the experience we had so far today. The fish were just laying around, not in a feeding mood. The result in the ocean waters was the same, the fish did not cooperated. Back inside the port, we came across some workers on a dock who reported huge barracuda, snook and red fish. We had also spotted several barracuda around the buoys. Rolland spotted one of the reds rolling and then disappearing. We fished various lures, shrimp, and finger mullet without success in the port. We started back toward the dock, with the normal cloud build up in the west and the promise of thunderstorms. These thunder storms can come up really fast and you should always be on the look out and anticipate them if you can. You definitely want to be off the water before the lightning begins. The rest of the day produce a couple of jacks, in the three pound range, which are always fun to catch, but all in all it was a tough day of fishing. Anyway, that's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River Report: August 20, 2003 The continuing rain fall has left the river very murky. The dingy water makes it difficult to see fish under the surface. You really have to keep your eyes peeled for water movement, bait fish, or birds if you want to locate the fish before casting to them. Under these conditions it is often necessary to do a lot of prospecting. Use a variety of lure types and colors until you find something attractive to the fish. This particular morning the wind was light out of the north creating a small ripple on the surface. The first fish in the boat was a lady fish. This fish was about 28 inches and jumped at least 10 times before giving in to the angler. The first one came on a top water (Capt. Mike's Lil Dog, with green back). This fish and other ladyfish came well before daylight. Moving to another location, in about 3 feet of water two nice 18 inch sea trout were brought to the boat and released to be caught another day. The trout hit white curly tailed grubs on a red jig head. The bait was fished slowly along the side of a drop off where the water changed from 10 to 12 inches to about 3 feet. These fish were also in the boat early, about 6:45 am. They came on two consecutive casts and then the trout bite was over, not even small ones showed today. The morning was rounded out on a school of jacks for some great pole bending fun. The jacks were hitting clear salt and pepper glitter Salt Water Assassin jerk baits. That's what its all about! Good fishin'.
Banana River Report: August 15, 2003 Well, I can't believe I have not been on the water for two weeks. I've been on a trip to Kansas where I had to settle for blue gill on poppers in a lake behind a relative's house and small bass in the ponds on a golf course. It is great to be back! After a couple of windy and stormy days the river was a welcome site this morning. The sunrise was beautified by the lingering clouds and the winds were light. The snook were present in fairly large numbers, but not a one would bite. It was a severe case of lock-jaw! The first fish of the day was a six pound jack that hit a Capt. Mike's top water in the green color. Next came a bluefish, about 4 pounds on the same top water lure. After several more smaller jacks and a couple of ladyfish the bite seemed to end. I changed colors, lures, you name it. Nothing seemed to help. Then, I spotted a huge school of jacks, just below the surface in 5 feet of water, heading toward the east side of the river. It did not take long to hook-up on a jig head dressed with a white curly tailed grub. These jacks were all around the six pound mark according to the Boga Grip. Got two more to the boat and broke off three before they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. As I said before, its great to be back. Big jacks, light tackle, bent pole. That's what its all about! Good fishin'.