Captain Ron's Fishing Reports (September)
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Banana River September 2005 Nothin’ Like Those Fall Redfish! The water remains high in the Banana River around Merrit Island and Cocoa Beach. The morning winds have been light and favorable to fishing on most days. Mullet remain abundant and the Fall fishing continues to be pretty good.

 Recent trips have produced some nice redfish along with a variety of other fish. With the redfish bite on in one of my favorite areas I decided to take my wife with me one day, since she had never caught a redfish. Well, she caught her first redfish. Of course, it was not the one I wanted her to catch but it was her first. The day before we had caught six or seven slot sized fish in this same area, with one going to 24 inches. Today, however, the only fish we caught was her first one and it was a rat red at 17 inches. Just goes to show you the variability of fishing!  

On another day the Hooper clan from way up north came to Florida to vacation in the Disney complex. They took one day out to come and enjoy some Space Coast fishing. Andy, a six-teen year old boy was an avid fisherman while mom, Anna, was just as dedicated and had the patience of Jobe. And, patience paid off today as she out fished the Hooper guys. Dennis, the dad was more interested in Anna and Andy catching fish, but he to was a dedicated angler. Most of the day was spent fishing live shrimp under a DOA Clacker Float. The shrimp were suspended about 14 inches below the surface on a 20-pound leader and pinned to a 3/0 red Circle Hook.  

I really think Anna got the most hook-ups because she was patient and did not set the hook too soon with the circle hooks. You want to remember, in order to do the job they are intended to do, you really just need to let the old redfish go a little and then just start reeling without the big hook set. Because of their design, circle hooks will come completely out of the fish’s mouth if you jerk too hard. In fact, I like to fish redfish with an open bail, count to five once the line starts to spiral off the spool, and then close the bail by hand and just start reeling. Once I feel the rod bend under the pressure of a nice fish I will give a gently hook set to seal the deal.

By the time the day was over we had caught spotted sea trout, redfish, jacks, and mangrove snapper. Anna won the day with three slot-sized reds to 24 inches. It was a CPR day, (catch, photo, release). Two of the reds were caught on live shrimp and a third was taken on cut mullet.

Finally, Robert brought his daughter Carol and friend Matt over for a little fishing on the Banana River. The wind was not kind to us on this particular day. We left the dock at daybreak only to find white caps on what is usually a calm river early in the morning. We took refuge on the East side of the river to attempt and beat the wind. We were successful in getting out of the wind, but the bite was less than adequate. A few small pinfish and snapper convinced us to move on to other grounds. We sucked it up and headed for the open river where redfish had been active earlier in the week. We braved the winds and fish a shallow flat for over an hour with a few bites and no fish.

Then, Carol stood up on the bow with a rod bent double in the windy river. It acted just like a big red, circling the boat and just pulling hard. Carol worked the fish slowly to the boat were we finally saw that she had hood about a 4 pound jack creavalle. It was the most excitement we had experienced so far. Matt and Robert had a few bites and some small fish but nothing worth talking about. Then, about a half-hour after the jack Carol was hooked up again. The rod bent and the drag screamed. I thought we had another Jack. Wrong again. Carol skillfully worked a 26-inch, 7-pound redfish to the boat. Just like earlier days in the week, the big red hit a live shrimp suspended under the DOA Clacker Float. Looked like redfish was on the dinner menu tonight.

We finally decide to move a final time to a wind-protected bay just off a channel that led to a residential canal. Immediately, Carol hooked a rat red. Then Robert hooked up with a similar fish. Then a double with Carol and Robert both hooked up at the same time. The little 14 inch reds were too short, but lots of fun to catch. We caught several before the bite just stopped and it was over. Well, we were running out of bait and time at the same time, so we headed for the dock with the feeling that we had, at least to some extent, beat Mother Nature and the windy day she dished out for us. That’s what its all about. Good Fishin’.

Banana River September 2005 The water level in the Banana River remains much above normal. If you haven’t been to Kelly Park ramp lately, you will find the water only about 6 to 8 inches below the deck of the walkway. You have to step up to get in a boat! The reds continue to feed, especially on cut mullet and a few nice trout show up from time to time. Yesterday the mullet seemed to be fewer than the day before, but that is normal when the run first starts. Soon they will be plentiful everyday. 

I had a very interesting trip since I reported last. I have an angler who comes over from Central Florida every once in a while, always bringing a friend or acquaintance to introduce or reintroduce to shallow water fishing. In the past, he has brought kids and other friends. This time was no exception. His name is Robert, and this time Robert brought his Pastor, William, who was practicing his sermon for Sunday morning on the rest of us. He was going to talk about joy and happiness and how to distinguish  between them. I can’t remember exactly how it came out, but it related to “fishing” and “catching”. We fishermen all know there is a difference.  Maybe I will check back with William (Everybody called him Billy) and report on that later.

Robert also brought Andrew, a nine-year-old boy, who recently lost his father to cancer. Robert thought a fishing trip would be a nice diversion for Andrew. Andrew is a fine young man and as you will read later, a quick learner, and now an avid fisherman! 

And then, last but not least, Robert brought his friend, Dick, a Sheriff’s Chaplain who, as it turns out is blind. Dick is an unbelievable guy. Patient, with a fabulous sense of humor. I think he turned out to be the best fisherman of all (except maybe for Andrew). There could be some lessons for all of us from Dick’s ability to catch fish.  

So, with the introductions out of the way, lets go fishin’. We left the ramp around 7:00 am motored (with Andrew driving part of the way) to a rocky point where I have often found snook in the early hours of the day. Robert had never caught a snook and I really hoped this would be the day. Well it wasn’t, as another boat sort of moved in on our location and we decided to just let them have it and move on ourselves.

A short move was all it took to find another fishy looking place. The bite was slow, but we managed to put a few fish in the boat. Robert hooked up a jack creavalle and a mangrove snapper on live shrimp. One 3 to 4 pound bluefish bit right through Dick’s monofilament leader and escaped to freedom. In between practicing his sermon on joy and happiness, Billy hooked up and boated a nice 20-inch redfish that immediately went to the livewell. Billy was fishing live shrimp under a DOA Clacker to fool the first redfish of the day. In the meantime, Andrew pulled in a trout and a couple of pinfish to get in on the action. Before we left, Dick hooked up again, this time on a 23-inch redfish that also went into the live well for dinner. It was beginning to look like someone was going to be busy cleaning fish. The bite slowed, time to move on.

We headed south on the river to a small shoal separated by a canal on one side and a shallow water flat on the other. Billy, Andrew, and Robert were fishing cut mullet and Dick was fishing with live shrimp. Of course, he didn’t know what I put on his hook because he couldn’t see it. Wasn’t long though until Dick’s pole was bent over. Just like before, he did not need sight to immediately recognize that he had something pulling on the end of his pole. He calmly replies, “I got one”. From his position on the cooler seat in front of the center consol, Dick skillfully worked that redfish to the boat and into the landing net just as he had at the other location. Without saying a word, Dick was teaching us all the rewards of patience and the skill of “feel” in fishing. Just capitalize the word “PATIENCE” and think about it. We could all improve our own fishing and catching skills by duplicating Dick’s patient deliberate actions. Coupled with his uncanny sense of feel, Dick was demonstrating to us all the need for a new phrase in the vocabulary of fishing. Sight-less fishing for reds! Dick is pictured in the white shirt, Robert in Blue, Andrew in red and Billy in green.

Well, Billy wasn’t just standing around either. He was casting cut mullet rigged on a red circle hook up close to a small island that marked the end of the shoal. And, sure enough, it wasn’t long until he too had another nice red for the dinner table. Robert added another slot sized redfish and a 23 inch sea trout to the count. With four anglers and me on board, we were limited to one redfish each, so we had to release all but five of the feisty reds.  

Now it was Andrew’s time for glory! You remember Andrew. Andrew is the nine-year-old boy who has fished every inch of the boat from bow to stern in an effort to catch the “big one”. Picture this. Andrew is setting on the deck in the very front of the Pathfinder. He is baited with a piece of cut mullet suspended under a DOA Clacker float. He is displaying the same kind of patience that Dick exhibited all day long, when we heard something like “oh” or “wow” or some other phrase to indicate Andrew’s surprise at a fishing rod bent double over the front of the boat. I hollered at Andrew. “Stand up and lift your rod tip high”. He did and the fight was on. Everyone else reeled in their lines as the big red fish began to circle the boat about 25 yards away. Andrew followed the fish around the boat and carefully pumped and reeled, pumped and reeled, until he finally brought the 30-inch redfish to the side of the boat and into the landing net. Some high fives, a few pictures, a resuscitation of the fish and off he swam to fight another day. Andrew, I said, “some people fish all their lives to catch a nice redfish like that and you make your first red a trophy! Congratulations.” 

There is nothing like heading back to the ramp with a boatload of satisfied anglers. I am still not sure if it is joy or happiness, but I plan to meditate on that some more.  That’s what its all about. Good fishin’.

Banana River September 2005 The fall mullet run has started and the redfish are showing up! On the beach or in the rivers, the mullet are present in very large numbers. For those of us who have been waiting along the Space Coast for this annual event it is like manna from heaven. Once the mullet show up the fishing normally improves substantially as the wily predators begin to gorge themselves on the abundant baitfish.

The past week started off slow with a few reds willing to eat but by weeks end the action was fast and furious. Most of the fish have been caught on cut-bait or live shrimp, but the old reliable gold spoon is an excellent choice for those who prefer artificials. I would also suggest trying 5 to 7 inch jerk baits, rigged weedless to fish the shallow water flats.  

The early morning trout bite has been on and off.  My good friend Gary was using accurate casts and a chugger type top water to fool several nice trout. Later we switched over to free lining some live shrimp around the mangroves and picked up several reds, a couple of jacks, and a few more trout. We also had a bluefish on live shrimp. Not a bad day, but the slowest of the week.  Gary,  Webmaster for a great fishing site is shown with a nice redfish from an area canal.  Be sure to check out his site, Central Florida East Coast Fishing at

The next day two anglers from Orlando came in search of redfish. Antonio and Les drove through the early morning fog to arrive at the Kelly Park dock in hopes of hooking up with some Banana River reds. We fished hard all morning with limited success. The bite was slow most of the morning as we fished several different areas which produced only small fish. In one set of residential canals we were checking out we met a herd of marauding jack creavalle in the 3 to 4 pound class. We were headed east and they were coming at us. They pushed a wake of water ahead of them and by the time they reached the boat the canal was solid jacks from side to side. Both Antonio and Les hooked up as the jacks went by, but they just kept going and we never saw them again. They were definitely on a mission, heading somewhere. We hooked up one other lone jack in the canal along with some small sea trout and decided to head for another spot.  

We moved to a shallow shoal with a canal on one side and a huge flat on the other. We put the Power Pole down in the soft bottom of the lagoon and set up to use some cut mullet on circle hooks to try and entice some reds. (Actually Antonio had caught a large mullet earlier on a top water plug. It was hooked in the mouth, looking like it actually tried to eat it?) At any rate, we chunked him up and Les used the mullet as Antonio continued to prospect with a CAL jig head, rigged with an electric chicken paddle tail. Les scored first with a nice 22 inch redfish on the cut mullet and Antonio soon added a nice 23-inch sea trout on the electric chicken. Antonio added another 22 inch red and Antonio added a 24-inch red to the days take.  With three reds and a nice trout in the live well, Antonio decided to put the large trout back. He thought they had plenty of fish to eat and wanted to see the spotted trout live to fight another day. I applaud Antonio and Les for that gesture and encourage all anglers to the same.  

We headed for the dock around 11:30 and Antonio and Les were talking about taking one of the reds out to the Port where Grills Seafood Restaurant will add all the side dishes to a fish dinner when you bring in your fresh catch. With the mullet run beginning, the fishing should just get better in the weeks to come.  That’s what its all about. Good fishin’.

Banana River September 2005 Got a nice early start again this morning. I was still thinking about those huge redfish that were hanging around yesterday. I motored over to the same area and set up shop hoping the big guys would show again. I brought frozen mullet to begin with, hoping to catch a fresh ladyfish to go along with them. The first fish caught were trout, all less than legal. They were biting furiously in the early morning darkness. They were taking both electric chicken and avocado paddle tails rigged on a CAL jig head. About day break a small ladyfish took an electric chicken paddle tail and made a quick jump. I was already imagining chunking it up for redfish bait when it made another jump and was gone. The electric chicken also fooled a nice 3 pound bluefish, and probably another which I did not land. I had a hard hit and began to work a nice fish to the boat but the line went limp. I say it was most likely a bluefish because the leader was shredded when I brought in the empty line. Add one snook on the same electric chicken and I was on my way to an East Coast Slam.

I continued to work the area where I saw the big reds yesterday. They never did show, but I did hook up one nice slot-sized redfish to complete the slam. The redfish came on cut mullet rigged on a 5/0 red circle hook. I always like to use the circle hooks when using cut bait because they almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. Just as I boated the red, a marine patrol officer approach me for a license, registration, and safety check. I ask him if he could do camera duty and he eagerly said "yes". I threw the red in the live well while we tied the two boats together and prepared the camera. Later I realized I did not even get his name. Anyway, I thank him for assisting me with the picture. We practiced CPR (catch-photo-release) and put the lively red back into the river.

Shortly after that a rod I had baited with cut mullet bent over and I picked it up, only to bring in a fish I had never caught in the river before. It was a remora. Remora (family Echeinidae) are small fish that live on and around sharks. They eat stray bits of food left by the shark and tiny shrimp-like parasites that live on the shark's skin. I took a quick picture and threw him back. The picture is not that good, I needed the marine patrol officer back to help out. The fish is upside down, but you can see the brilliant contrasting stripes and possibly the suction cup under his mouth that looks like the heel of a shoe. Click on the thumbnail and take a closer look. The fish uses that suction cup to attach himself to the shark. It was approaching 8:30 and I had been on the water since 6:00. The bite appeared to be over and I headed for the ramp. Those short 2 1/2 hours had provided another interesting day on the Banana River. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River September 2005 The new month brought a little bit better fishing. The first fish to the boat was a small ladyfish that came on a top water chugger type bait. I threw the lady in the livewell for possible later use. Then, a nice slot sized red, about 20 inches hit a CAL series split-tail in avocado with red flake. With very few strikes on artificials I decided chunk up the ladyfish and immediately added another nice slot sized red. It looked like a brother to the first one. Then another under-slot red bit a chunk of ladyfish. The ladyfish was placed on a 3/0 circle hook and fished weightless on the bottom.

As the ladyfish was being fished on the bottom, I began to see some swirls and splashes behind the boat in deeper water. It turned out to be a few really big redfish. I threw various lures without success. Then I started casting the ladyfish in that direction. After several unsuccessful casts, a big red finally chomped down on the chunk of ladyfish. Unfortunately, I must have had  nick in my Power Pro because it snapped almost immediately. I never got another bite after that. You can bet I be in that same area tomorrow, same place, same time. All the action was early, the boat was on the trailer and heading home by 9:00. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.


Banana River: Week of September 19, 2004 Well, the hurricanes seem to be over for awhile and we finally got back on the river after a couple of weeks of runnin' and hidin' from the weather. The first time I tried to go out after the storm Kelly Park was closed. I showed up there at 6:00 in the morning only to find the ramp closed. I found out later that the dock had sustained major damage. Thanks a lot to Ritchie, of Brevard Parks and Recreation, for repairing the dock and making it possible to get back on the river. As of this writing, there are still no cleats on the dock so it is best to have someone with you to hold the boat. The dock is decked and stabilized and may be in better physical shape than before the storm. Thanks again Ritchie.

Now, lets get to the fishing. The water level is up about a foot so some areas are open to boats that were not accessible before. The reds are showing up in fairly large numbers as they normally do during the fall. I really did not see to many mullet schools and am still uncertain as to the effect of the storms on the fall mullet run. We will just have to wait and see as we get more time on the water. One pattern that did emerge was the lack of catchin" on artificials. We were doing lots of fishing but not much catching. One big bluefish and several jacks were the only thing to succumb to the artificials. They were caught on a white jerk bait rigged on a weighted hook, or on a white paddle tail plastic on a CAL jig head.

Having minimal luck with the artificials convinced us to change over to some cut mullet and try some areas known to hold redfish in the past. It did not take long to hook-up and boat a nice 22 inch red on the cut mullet. Don't forget to use your circle hooks when chunking up mullet for redfish. That circle hook will do its job almost every time by hooking the fish right in the corner of the mouth. Click on the thumbnail at the right to see how the circle hook embedded in the redfish's mouth. Yep, right in the corner.

To rig up for this type of fishing, tie on about 18 inches of 20 or 30 pound mono as a leader and then add your circle hook. I use no weight at all unless it is necessary because of wind or I need to cast further. Usually the weight of the cut mullet will be sufficient to cast the bait to the waiting prey. Fish with an open bail and when the redfish picks up the bait let it run for a count of about 5. Then, simply start reeling. As the circle hooks pulls up from the fishes mouth and the angle of the line changes under pressure. When the hook makes its exit the hook turns around and hooks the fish in the corner of the mouth. When you feel the pressure on the tip of the rod so that you know you have a fish, you can set the hook a couple of times to insure the hook set. Now, just enjoy the fight. We boated 5 slot size reds using this method. You can see the cut mullet in the picture. Personally, I like to cut the mullet into a chunk about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, depending on the sized of the mullet. Don't forget the head either, it makes a great bait too. That's what its all about. Good Fishin'.


Banana River Report: September 26  This Friday was another windy and cloudy day.  On board with me was Jim, an angler from Merritt Island. The water is still very cloudy and dingy in most of the river.  The water level has come up considerably making some previously exposed shoals and bars under water again. The heavy cloud cover made for a dark early morning ride on the river for Jim and I.  Our strategy for the morning was to fish some top water baits early and shift later to cut mullet for red fish.  The first hook-up was on a Capt. Mike Lil' Pup.  This fish struck the slowly retrieved bait 5 or 6 times before being hooked.  Once hooked, it was down and dirty.  The drag was singing and the pole was bending.  On this day the fish won the battle when it changed directions quickly leaving the line pulling directly away from a pole that was pointing right at the fish.  It sounded like a rifle shot when the line snapped.  So, an early morning reminder to all on board, keep your fish at approximate right angles to the pole so it can function correctly. As anglers we need to take advantage of the stretch in the line and bend in the pole to keep large fish from breaking off when using light tackle.

After more prospecting with the top waters and a few jerk baits we settled in for some lazy fishing with cut bait.  We began using a 4/0 circle hook tied to a 20 pound leader.  It was soon apparent that the wind direction and velocity would prevent us from delivering the bait where we wanted it, so we added some small split shot for weight.  I like to add them very close to the hook, in fact, I usually put them just above the knot that secures the hook to the leader.  It does not seem to interfere with the bite in any way.

The bite was slow but good enough to boat 4 slot sized reds over the next couple of hours.  We would bait up with a chunk of mullet and make as long a cast as possible.  Take out the  slack and open the bail.  When the fish picks up the bait we just let them run with it for a while.  Then, close the bail by hand, begin reeling until you feel pressure on the rod and it begins to bend.  At this point set the hook once or twice to insure the hook-up.  When using the circle hooks, this method will almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth and make for a live release.  Jim and I released all four of the reds after reviving them completely.  Don't get in a hurry and let the fish go to quickly, work with them until you get them fully revived.  I always just hold them around the tail until they aggressively pull away from me. It was a fun day on the river catching 4 reds from 22 to 26 inches.  Throw in a couple of hard fighting jacks and that's what its all about. Good Fishin'.

Banana River Report: September 22  With an early start on a windy day we headed out with Ken, Mark, and Fred.  Ken lives here locally and his friends and long time fishing buddies Mark and Fred came south to visit and do a little fishing.  The plan was to find some red fish willing to take a lure or bait.  As we headed for our first location another boat overtook us in a manatee zone and motored right into the spot we were headed for.  This experience just has to make me say to anyone who may read this report, "have some courtesy when on the water, obey the rules, and respect fellow fishermen.  This inconsiderate pair ruined our chances of fishing the area and their own too, because after they motored all the way into the area anything within miles would have been gone anyway.  At any rate, our strategy change because of the incident and we changed directions and headed for another spot.  It wasn't long until we had a hook-up on a large fish.  Ken had thrown a white Saltwater Assassin jerk bait, rigged on one of Capt. Mikes weighted Daiichi Bleeding Bait Hooks. Unfortunately the line parted and in the early morning light we never really identified the fish.  A few minutes later, Mark, on a similar rig hooked and landed a really nice Jack. Like most Jacks, he gave a good fight before being boated. 

As we continued moving north, we encountered some lady fish.  They were hitting the same white jerk bait, but very timidly.  Ken was the only one to hook up and he caught two which we saved to use later for cut bait.  One of the ladies made a spectacular jump and Ken noted how these fish were referred to as poor mans tarpon.  When it comes to exciting fishing, these ladyfish can fill the bill. 

When this action was over we went to another spot to try some cut bait on red fish.  As always, we were using circle hooks on about 18 inches of 20 pound leader.  This particular day the pin fish drove us crazy.  We hung in for about two hours before deciding to move on without hooking a decent fish.  We switched back to jerk baits so we could do a little prospecting while we were on the move.  The process yielded two rat reds and a really nice sea trout. After prospecting and covering a lot of water for the next hour we settled on an area where there is a  deeper channel running between an island sandbar and the shoreline.  We anchored up and switched again to cut ladyfish.  It was not long until Mark had hooked a nice 26 inch red which he landed with skill.  With four people in the boat you can imagine the routine.  Under and over each other, laughing, and circling the boat a couple of times provided some great fishing excitement.  A few minutes later, Fred scored with a 24 inch red and we did the red fish shuffle again before successfully boating the determined red fish. 

It was a tough, hard fishing day, but persistence paid off and Ken's friends from the north had a great start to their Florida fishing trip.  I hope you noticed, like a good host should, Ken caught the ladyfish which caught the reds for his fishing buddies who came to visit.  That's what its all about.  Good fishin'.


Banana River Report: September 19, 2003 WOW! Double Digit Reds -- It was one of those really good days on the river.  Caught 10 red fish, 2 rats, 6 slot size, and 2 over the slot.  It actually started off kind-of slow, with nothing but a couple of lady fish on white plastic jerk baits.  Then, as I looked straight ahead of the boat a discernable wake was headed right for the boat.  As it got closer it was very clearly red fish.  As they continued, it was one of those here they come, there they go experiences.  The school was in the 30 inches plus range but with no intention of eating as they passed on each side of the boat.  It looked like they were just moving off the flats. 

After more prospecting with artificials and no luck, it was time to try the lady fish which were caught earlier.  It did not take long until a slot sized red was caught and released.  The bite was not a feeding frenzy, but it was steady. The very first hook-up was rigged with a circle hook on about 18 inches of 20 pound leader and a small split shot.  Add a chunk of ladyfish and get ready for action.  For some reason, the line broke, it may have been nicked or have some abrasive damage.  Just a reminder to always check you line and leader for damage. I mention this first experience only because about an hour later I boated and released an oversized red which had my original hook, split shot, and about 15 feet of 10 pound test line hanging from his mouth.  Two points. First, the same fish bit again, even after dragging that rig around for an hour, and secondly the line broke 15 feet from the leader.  Those nicks and abrasions can be anywhere, and that is a good reason to change line often. Mix in a couple of jacks and blues, and it was a very productive morning.

When using cut bait like ladyfish or mullet remember to use a circle hook. This method increases the chance of hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth and improves the chance of a live release.  If the fish does swallow the bait and gets hook deep, most anglers agree the best option is to cut the line as close to the hook as possible and let the saltwater and mother nature do the job of removable.  Finally, do your duty with respect to revival.  Often, the larger fish are the ones that need the most attention.  When you catch a big red fish on light tackle, you wear him down pretty  good before getting him to the boat.  I often find myself spending much more time reviving the larger fish. In today's catch, I spent as much as 10 minutes on one of the oversized red fish before he was ready to go.  Don't get in a hurry. The fish will let you know when they are ready.  Just hang on to that tail until the fish swims out of your grasp! That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River Report: September 13, 2003 Everyone was still watching the hurricane this weekend, but it was a really great day on the water.  I was fishing the 1st Annual Smyrna Redfish Classic tournament. This tournament allowed fishermen to fish anywhere within a 110 mile radius of New Smyrna so I was just fishing my regular haunts along the Banana River hoping to catch a red with numerous spots.  The wind was light out of the NW, water still murky in the river, but a mild 69 degree temp to start the day.  The bite was slow but steady throughout the morning.  The first fish came on a live shrimp free lined over a sharp drop-off.  It was a ladyfish which I tossed in the cooler for use later in the day.  I hooked several other ladies' before bringing in a nice bluefish.  The blues were hitting cut mullet, a bait that the red fish normally like.  When I use cut bait I always use a circle hook which usually results in a hook up right in the corner of the mouth.  On this day I was using 10 pound test mono with a 20 pound leader.  I landed several other blues and lost just as many when they cut through the mono.  Then I decided to use the ladyfish.  I cut the bait into chunks and fished it on the same 10/20 rig I mentioned before.  Caught a couple more blues before finally catching a nice six-spot red.  Tournament rules provide for a two point bonus on a live release, which would give this fish an 8 point count.  I decided that would be worth the trip to the check-in at North Causeway Marina in New Smyrna so I fully revived the red and started for the dock.  After pulling the boat to storage, with the max-air pump running all the way, I transferred the red to a cooler with an air pump installed to produce air bubbles which oxygenates the water.  I then threw in a couple of frozen "blue ice" packs to cool down the water.  The fish made the hour and one-half drive in great shape.  The picture above was taken just before check-in at the marina and my fish was released alive and well to be caught again by some lucky fisherman. After all spots were counted in the tournament, a 29 spot fish took top prize. My six-spot red didn't win any prizes, but if awards had been given on beauty I am sure I would have won.  It was a great fishing day with the tournament adding a little more interest and challenge.  That's what its all about. Good Fishin'.

Banana River Report: September 5, 2003 With a hurricane in the Atlantic, a huge surf for the surf boarders, and a tropical storm coming in from the west, I was hoping for a couple of hours of early morning fishing before the weather deteriorated.  There were lingering clouds, but not enough to discourage taking on the river.  In fact, the sunrise was beautiful due to the presence of clouds and moisture. I get a wonderful feeling of freedom and contentment running up the river on a morning like this with no other boats in sight.  There was not even another boater at the ramp, most expecting a dousing by mother nature according to all the reports.  The clouds actually continued to break up as the morning continued and the fish cooperated relatively well to make it another great day on the water.  A nice snook hit a Capt. Mike's top water just before sunrise.  The snook crashed the bait and made a beeline towards a rocky point.  As I tried to put the breaks on the fish and operate the trolling motor to turn the boat toward open water the fish came loose.  After a couple of other less impressive strikes with no further hook-ups, the sun came up and the snook bite stopped so I moved on.  As I traveled north, I picked up a couple of small jacks and two ladyfish.  I kept one lady fish for possible use later. 

The water seemed a little clearer than the previous week.  I have been looking forward to clearer water and the appearance of more mullet in the river.  The mullet, however, are still spotty and not as plentiful as they soon will be.  After about an hour of prospecting with various lures, and the wind beginning to increase, I decided to chunk up the ladyfish and see if that would change my luck.  It did, immediately! On my first cast, the chunk of ladyfish rigged on a 2/0 circle hook and a small split shot for weigh was picked up within 30 seconds of hitting the bottom.  It was a good bite, but I missed the hook-up.  I loaded up again and the same thing happened, only this time it was a nice 16 inch mangrove snapper.  I continued to fish the bottom until I had used the entire ladyfish, wishing I had kept another to use for bait. By the time the lady chunks were all used up I had boated 2 snappers, 2 bluefish, one catfish, a couple more jacks and was broken off twice.  All the fish were released to be caught another day. The biggest fish of the day was a six pound jack which was caught on the way back to the dock.  Actually, I ran across a school and took time to land three of the feisty jacks on white plastic jerk baits before continuing to the ramp.  On a morning where the weather was expected to be relatively bad, there were at least enough fish not paying attention to the forecast to make it another great morning on the river.  That's what its all about. Good fishin'.



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