Captain Ron's Fishing Reports (October)
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Banana River October 2005 -Redfish, Trout, Snook, Tarpon- The Fall mullet run continues to produce some great fishing. On three trips this week, we managed to catch a little bit of everything. You name it, redfish, trout, snook, jacks and tarpon. A combination like that is hard to beat. It seemed like everything but the reds were willing to eat on artificials, but the best redfish bite came on live shrimp. BIG live shrimp.

Dale, from Schaumburt, Illinois spent the morning catching an East Coast Slam. This was one of those days where the big ones got away. Dale hooked up on a couple of really nice snook, only to see them pull free in the ensuing battle. He still managed to boat a couple of snook to begin his journey towards the slam. He added a couple of trout to 21 inches to take the next step towards boating three of the East Coasts favorite species. The snook and trout all came on CAL series jig heads with either a split tail or paddle tail plastic pinned on. The color of the day was “electric chicken”.  Later we switched to live shrimp and got a redfish bite going. Most of the reds were pulled from under residential boat docks, later in the day. Congratulations Dale on the slam. By the way, did I mention this was Dales first outing on saltwater fish? He’s hooked!

The next trip I had Rick and another Dale, both Floridians, on board the Pathfinder. Rick and Dale were both very experienced anglers. They shared the front deck by rotating positions from time to time. This was a tough day for artificials, but just shows why it’s not a bad idea to have some live bait on board. After some hard fishing with accurate casts and presentations, we still came up short in the “catching” department. A couple of small trout and jacks were about all we had to show for the early morning bite. Dale had added a nice slot sized red, but only after switching to a live shrimp. Rick’s only previous redfish was a little rat at about 12-14 inches. He was here to get a slot sized fish, Dale added another nice red before Rick hooked up solid with a pole bending strike. We were fishing some docks and he had to muscle the red out from around the pilings and into the open water to make the landing a success. He skillfully turned the big red’s head and led him away from the dock to complete the CPR (Catch, Photo, Release). Dale and Rick both hooked up a couple more reds before we returned to the dock to call it a day.

Finally, and I know I promised last week to give some more tips on Tarpon fishing this week but this report is just getting to long. I will save those tips for another day. I do want to end however with a Tarpon trip. My good friend and fellow guide, Captain Doug Blanton, decided to make a trip to see if the Tarpon were biting. You can check out Doug’s website at www.sightfishing.com It was a bit of a tough day but Doug did managed to boat one Tarpon on light tackle and jump another. The one he boated measured about 40 inches – the perfect size for light tackle. The bite was slow and the presence of Tarpon few, but they were rolling once in awhile.

I jumped a couple and had one other furious strike right at the boat. The Tarpon had followed my sub-surface lure right to the boat and struck with only about 24 inches of line dangling from the rod. Water splashed into the boat and the sound caused Doug to turn around to see what happened.  It would have been a very short fight if he had hooked up, but it was nevertheless exciting. I added a couple of six-pound jacks for some drag screaming pole-bending action. The Tarpon are still around; it’s just a matter of being there when they decide to eat!

Well, I am heading over to Kissimmee today for the Florida Outdoor Writers Convention. Maybe there will be some new products on display. If I see anything exciting, I will mention it in a future report.

Don’t forget the Coastal Angler Magazine, Catch, Photo, Release tournament this weekend. It is headquartered at Chowder’s on Highway 1. The captains’ meeting begins Friday, October 28 about 5:00 pm and you can register for the Saturday only fishing. Say hi if you are there. I will be fishing with my nine year-old grandson. That’s what its all about. Good fishin’.

Banana River October 2005 - A few pictures from October. Seems like the mullet run is producing lots of slot-sized fish. Click on the thumbnail to see larger picture.

Banana River October 2005 Tarpon Time Between the weather which was brutal last week, and attending the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show in Tampa over the weekend, I have not been on the water for a while. I attended the Tampa fishing show as a representative of the Florida Guides Association (FGA). My wife and I and some other Florida Guides worked a booth aimed at attracting a few new members and supporters as well as selling some FGA caps and shirts. All proceeds from memberships and merchandise sales go to promote the FGA mission that reads, “Dedicated to promoting the conservation and wise use of Florida’s fishery resource”.  

You can learn more about FGA by visiting their website at www.florida-guides.com. In fact, you can join online and support the cause.  If you ever consider supporting such organizations, this would be a good one to support as they lobby to protect the rights of all recreational anglers. I am happy to add my volunteer support as well as my paid membership to them. The next Florida Sportsman Show will be November 11 and 12 in Orlando, Florida. Put this date on your calendar, and drop by the FGA booth and say hi. 

Well, like the headline above says, its Tarpon Time. Every year about this time (October – November) the tarpon show up to provide us with several weeks of fishing fun. These juvenile tarpon are a blast to catch on light tackle and at one time or another almost any technique will take them.  

My absolute favorite bait to catch the silver king is a top water bait presented and worked to the tarpon’s liking. I say to the tarpon’s liking because they don’t seem to like it the same way every time. Sometimes they will prefer the bait worked in the traditional walk-the-dog fashion and the next time they want it slow. Usually I like to walk-the-dog with a medium, not to fast retrieve and wait for the fish to blow up on it. A bait like the Original HighRoller will give you this walk-the-dog action. This lure has an erratic back and forth action that simulates a wounded and excited baitfish.  

At other times, an almost still top water lure will be the ticket to a nice high jumping tarpon. High Roller also makes a bait to use for this application. What they call a “RipRoller” is a prop bait that you can slash and let set, twitch, slash and let set, twitch, etc. It really gives a rush when that bait is setting there perfectly still, with a few ripples moving outward from the last twitching action and the surface erupts as Mr. Tarpon comes to dinner. My number one color choice on either of these baits is the “Electric Trout” color.  

Remember, regardless of which technique you use, don’t forget to” Bow to the King.” Normally the first thing a tarpon does when it is hooked is come straight up out of the water and shake furiously. When the fish comes up, just lower your rod tip, horizontal to the water and lean into the fish, and give the big guy the respect he deserves. If you don’t, you may have already said goodbye.  

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Or, should I say don’t get stuck in a rut with the same old retrieve and color pattern. Change it up! I have my favorite techniques and colors, and you do to, but when you are not getting strikes, it is time to do something different. That might even include moving the boat! The tarpon can be tight mouth at times and it is frustrating to watch them all around you without taking your bait. I always just say to myself, “They are gonna’ eat sometime. I just hope I’m here when they do.”  

I was out there today - the Tarpon ARE here. Get out there and catch one. These river tarpon are affectionately referred to as juvenile tarpon. In other words, the bigger ones only go 40 or 50 pounds. The average fish may run from 10 to 30 pounds, but occasionally you will see a huge 100 pound plus fish in the mix. Let me tell you, that 10 to 30 pound fish is good enough for me. Especially on light tackle. Watch for my next report where I expect to talk about some other tarpon catching techniques. Good Fishin’. That’s what its all about.

 

Banana River - Indian River: Week of October 29, 2004 The water in both the Indian and Banana River remain murky. Mullet are showing up in good numbers and the bite should be better than I have experienced it. However, some good fishing exists if you are in the right place at the right time. The trout bite remains slow, probably because the water has not cleared up completely. Numerous lady fish have fallen to CAL avocado jerk baits and more to Yozuri Pin minnows in the 3" size. Pompano have continued to show them selves occasionally and the trout bite improves as the water clears. Late afternoons, after the water has warmed some, have produced a nice tarpon bite. The silver king is always a fun fish to catch and when its on top-water, its even better. They have been willing to hit either a red and white Zara Spook, and old stand-by, and also a red and white Top Dog Jr. There is nothing more exciting than a top-water tarpon bite, even if most of them end up throwing it back at you. With not a lot of braggin' size fish this week, it interesting to note that several have simply broken off before even letting us know what they were. There are some big ones out there, just waiting for us to hook up. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River - Indian River: Week of October 22, 2004 Pompano, Redfish, Spotted Sea Trout, Mangrove Snapper, Jacks, and Sheepshead. How's that for variety? The river has continued to clear up this week and fishing has steadily improved. The further south you run, the clearer the water becomes. The high winds are slowing the clearing process, but soon I think our waters will be back to normal.

I fished with anglers from Long Island New York, Arizona, and California this week and they all caught some fish. The interesting thing about this week is the variety of fish being caught. All the fish listed above were caught at some point during the week. The mullet are plentiful and should continue for a while. Redfish were hitting the old standby gold spoons and trout were hitting both top-water and the CAL paddle tail in avocado with red flake. The jacks would hit about anything you offered. Live shrimp accounted for more trout, sheepshead, jacks, and mangrove snapper. Roger, from California is pictured with a nice sheepshead. Tad, from Arizona picked up his pompano on the CAL paddle tail. And Tony, from Long Island snagged his first redfish. All in all a pretty good week. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River - Indian River: Week of October 15, 2004 The water remains murky in both rivers this week. However, every day it gets a little better. By the end of the week, with the west winds blowing, the west side of the rivers were clearing up pretty well. You could easily see the bottom from in 18 to 24 inch water. The same was not true on the east side.

With the clearer water, the trout bite began to pick up. As usual, they would hit plastic grubs and jerk baits. They are mostly undersized trout, with a few bigger ones showing now and then. The reds have been hard to find. Most of the ones that were willing to bite went for the old stand-by! A gold spoon. The spoon was more effective when the sun would shine through and add some extra flash to the bait. 

Snook were active this week, especially in the Indian River. A couple of trips near Sebastian produce quite a few snook with some slot sized reds mixed into the catch. The gold spoon was still the bait of choice. When fishing spoon, make long casts and adjust your retrieve to sort of bounce the spoon along the bottom, just "dusting" the top of the grass. Any fish in the area is likely to fall for it if they are hungry.

Lots of mullet beginning to show up on the flats as well. Finally, its beginning to look like the fall mullet run is upon us. It seems a little later than usual, probably effected by the hurricanes. At any rate, fishing is looking up. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River: Week of October 4, 2004 The hurricanes have rule everything we do around here lately. Most ramps are open to boating traffic. The main ramps at Port Canaveral still have the floating ramps out on the land, however, they are allowing boats to use the ramps. It is a difficult situation with only the stable concrete stub that the floating docks connect to available to get in and out of your boat. The water remains very murky. The week started off fairly nice with light winds, but by Thursday and Friday the winds were blowing from the NE 15 to 20.

The fishing was still on the slow side all week. With near perfect conditions in the early morning on Monday we launched on the Banana River just before dawn. Lee from Scottsmoor and Marvin from Tennessee we eager to hook-up with some Banana River reds. Both fisherman were skilled and persistent as we presented various artificials to the likely waters. The results were very thin. By the end of the day we had kept 4 fish for them to take home for dinner. Lee scored on the biggest fish, a trout about 18 inches and Marvin added a 16 inch trout later. Lee's best fish came on a white jerk bait rigged on a Diiachi weighed hook, Marvin's best trout came on an avocado colored plastic on a jig red head. We also bait fished during the morning and added some nice Jacks to the catch. We also checked out the North Jetty in the Port, but was able to catch only one Jack for our efforts. We did get boarded by the Coast Guard though and got a "free" safety check.

By Friday the water conditions were no better and the wind was howling out of the NE causing huge white caps on the river. All we could do was try to stay up close to the East side of the river and hide from the wind. My friend Martin hooked up early on a top-water plug he had thrown near a rocky point. I hooked up seconds later on my favorite avocado plastic on a red CAL jig head (made by DOA). Martin landed his fish which turned out to be about a 5 to 6 pound jack. My fish broke off but I suspect it was also a Jack. We fished both artificials and live bait during the morning outing with very limited success. At one point we even moved out into the open water over a grass flat and let the wind blow us over the flat. Martin commented that we were in a manatee zone and was not suppose to making a wake, but what could we do? This technique can sometimes be very productive, but today, in the dirty and rough water it was not. By the end of the day we had caught trout, jack creavalle, mangrove snapper, pig fish, and pin fish. We were not skunked, but it was a tough day. I am really looking forward to some clearer water and lower winds. I am certain the fishing can only get better. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

 

Banana River Report: October 28 and 30, 2003 Waters remain murky and winds remain high. I was prospecting by myself on Tuesday, using nothing but artificials.  The wind was high from early morning on.  I found some refuge in the Thousand Islands Area of Cocoa Beach, but caught only one small trout all morning. The trout hit a white Saltwater Assassin rigged on Capt. Mikes weighted jig head.  I used top water as much as possible, but never got a single strike.  However, the sunrise that morning made the trip worth while. 

On Thursday I fished with Dave and his 11 year old son Mike, from Nebraska.  The winds were high out of the northeast, so we hid out on the east side of the river and fished with shrimp and cut mullet.  Dave caught a nice 24 inch redfish and a 26 inch gafftopsail catfish which weighed just over 6 pounds.  Mike caught a nice jack to end the day.  Between the two of them, Dave and Mike caught eight species of saltwater fish totaling somewhere around 30 to 40 fish.  That includes three ladyfish that we didn't actually get to the boat, but we got the fun of seeing them jump.  All in all, I think our visitors from Nebraska had a pretty fair day despite the winds.  That's what its all about.  Good Fishin'.

 

Banana River-Port Canaveral Report: October 20 thru 26, 2003 This has been a week of variety on the river.  On Monday alone, Lairn and Hal caught 11 different species of fish, including red fish, jack creavalle, catfish, pin fish, mangrove snapper, whiting, speckled sea trout, silver trout, puffer, gafftopsail cat, and even a robin fish, pictured above. Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday saw anglers Herb, Jan, Ash, and Abraham added more of the same, plus a couple of snook and several bluefish.  Artificial baits have still been slow, with most fish coming on live mullet, live shrimp, cut ladyfish.  One exception that produced several fish during the week was a new jerk bait from Saltwater Assassin called the Electric Buzzard.  This bait is a variation on the popular shad assassin but it does not have the split in the belly.  The river is still dingy in color but the floating grass is not as abundant as it has been.  Most of the week was windy, and required seeking refuge along the east side of the river.  I have still not witnessed huge schools of mullet in the river but they should be showing up anytime to improve the already good fishing.  That's what its all about.  Good fishin'.
Banana River Report: October 17, 2003 Fishing is still slow compared to previous years.  The mullet run is still ahead of us and good fishing will return.  I spent the morning fishing top water lures without success.  I did not have a guest today so I was fishing alone, prospecting for future trips.  I saw several other fisherman, and none of them were catching any fish.  The water level is considerably higher than a month ago, and it is clearer.  There is still quite a bit of grass floating around with the manatees eating happily.  Finally, around 9:00 I caught a nice 19 inch trout, pictured below.  I had to switch from top-water to a  white plastic jerk bait to get the bite.  Still feeling the need for a bent pole I dug out the frozen mullet I kept from last week.  Rigged up a circle hook on a 20 pound leader and baited up with a chunk of mullet.  It was not too long until I boated, photographed and released a 26 in Red Fish. The bite was slow, but I added a 19 and a 24 inch red to the mornings catch before calling it a day around 11:30. You have to realize, fishing by myself today meant I was taking photos of myself too, and they did not turn out all that great, but I think you get the "picture".  There are always fish to be caught, you just need a little luck and a lot of patience.  That's what its all about.  Good fishin'.

Banana River-Port Canaveral Report: October 7 thru 11  It has been a tough fishing week.  I am blaming the poor fishing on the full moon.  As you have heard before, the fish often feed at night and make the day time bite less than it would normally be. However, there are always a few good fish to be found if you are persistent.  We have targeted both the Port and the River this week.  Every one is waiting for the Fall mullet run to get started and fire up the bite. There are many more mullet in the Port, but I have not seen tremendously increased numbers in the river.  Fishing in the Port this past week, with 5 different anglers produced only a couple of bluefish and a couple of jacks.  The river on the other hand was slow but at least provided one angler with her first red fish, a nice 28 inch specimen.  Another angler caught a really nice mangrove. Almost everyone caught jacks to give some pole bending action.  On Saturday, one angler, Jim,  seemed to be lucky enough to catch the jacks, while his friend Bill was catching a variety of fish.  Bill caught a rat red, a couple of small trout, and a mangrove.  He thought we should name a new "slam" for his combination.  When you think of it, that is not a bad idea. 

The river is still murky, and live shrimp, finger mullet, or cut-bait is outperforming artificials. Free lining the shrimp and mullet seemed to work best.  Cut bait like mullet or ladyfish are always a good choice for red fish when nothing else will work.  As always, use circle hooks to prevent gut hooked fish; this will increase the possibilities for a live release.  With the peak of the Fall mullet run ahead of us I really expect fishing to pick up this week.  One thing for sure, if you're not out there you won't catch em'. That's what its all about.  Good fishin'.

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