Captain Ron's Fishing Reports (November)
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Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island, November 2005 I have heard from other captains that they have had some success in finding clear water and when they did, they found fish. Personally, I have not found the water to be clearing up much. We should see it slowly begin to clear and bring some better fishing. With the dirty water, my best catches have been on live shrimp or cut bait.

The ladyfish seem to be the only species that does not mind the dirty water. They have been plentiful and eager to bite on artificial lures, from top water to CAL jigs with plastic split tail or paddle tails pinned on. We have been keeping a few of the ladyfish to use as cut bait, hoping to entice some hungry reds to eat.

One trip included a father, Bob, and his two sons Bobby and Riley. The family had traveled to Cocoa and Lee Wenner Park to enjoy a half-day fishing trip on the Indian River Lagoon. My Pathfinder cruised smoothly eastbound along the bridge, greeted by a beautiful Space Coast sunrise and all the promise of a new day. The water was perfectly smooth although dirtied by the recent Hurricane Wilma. It was one of those days that you sometimes dread as a fishing guide because the previous day’s fishing had been really tough. I should say the previous week’s “catching” had been tough. 

The family came to target the tarpon that are normally around this time of year. Evidently, the cold spell that followed Wilma moved the tarpon further south. We didn’t see any at all. We spent a little time catching ladyfish and then moved to a shallow flat on the East side of the Indian River.

I cut up four ladyfish we caught earlier in the day, using the heads and tails and a few of the chunks for chum. Everyone baited up with a piece of ladyfish on a 3/0 circle hook and patiently waited for the reds to show. I always like to use the circle hooks with cut bait because they nearly always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. When you fish redfish with this technique, fish with an open bail and allow the fish to pull off a few coils of line before closing the bail by hand and then just start reeling. Let the circle hook do its job.

Bobby brought the first red to the boat, only to see it quickly change directions and run under the bow where it cut off on the trolling motor. Later, Bob hooked and landed another nice slot sized red. Finally, Bob hooked another nice red and handed the pole to Riley to complete the circle of everyone bringing in a nice redfish. With this one, the circle hook did not do its job and it required a little work for Bob to remove the hook from the redfish’s throat. This meant having the fish out of the water a little longer than usual.

Bob carefully conducted CPR with both boys looking on. Then I heard Bob say, “don’t roll over on me.” I turned around and before you could say jack creavalle, shoes were coming off and socks were lying on the deck.   Bob was in the water retrieving the red that had rolled over and lay on the grassy bottom. Once again, he began the necessary work to resuscitate the weakened redfish. The fish soon regained its strength and swam swiftly and strongly from Bob’s gentle grasp.  

I want to close this report by noting that Bob challenges all of us by his actions. There was no hesitation as to what he was going to do. “I didn’t come here to kill em”, he said, “just to enjoy catching them. If we don’t take care of them now we can’t catch them again later.”  We didn’t catch anymore fish that day but by the end of the day I knew I had met a man who cares for the lagoon and the experience it brings us as much as anyone else I know.

I hope you too are challenged by the example this man gives us by his deeds. Pass the passion on to your children and friends as he does to his.

That’s what its all about. Good fishin’. 

Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island, November 2005 At least for my parties and me Hurricane Wilma slowed down the fishing in the Indian River Lagoon. The water was dirty and the continuing winds have made for some tough fishing conditions. Worse yet, the catching has not been that good. I hope we see some water clearing soon. The Tarpon only showed up once in the past week and they did not seem interested in eating.  

First Timers On one trip with Brandon and his wife, Terri, the ladyfish gave us something to bend our pole on for most of the morning. Since Brandon and Terri had never fished for salt-water varieties before it was a great experience to see the aerial acrobatics of the energy filled ladyfish. They were hitting both top water and subsurface varieties of baits. As always, we lost about as many as we boated but that is not all bad to see them release themselves after a little fun is had in the fight.  

As the day continued, we moved to a mangrove-lined shore to cast some live shrimp. It wasn’t long before Terri had hooked up with a nice 26-inch redfish. She fought the fish for quite a while before bringing it to the net. We took a couple of quick pictures and return the beefy red to the water. Needless to say, Terri was thrilled with her catch. She indicated that up to now she usually just caught blue gill. Not a bad upgrade Terri – I know you will want to do it again now.  

Unfortunately that was the only decent fish we caught in that location. Terri did catch a small trout to add to her list but the bite was slow. We moved on and went back to casting artificials. Not to be outdone, Brandon threw a Yozuri Crystal Minnow along the bank when his rod bent over hard. The fight was on and it turned out to be another nice redfish, just one inch longer than Terri’s. Brandon saved face for the guy’s today by edging out his wife for the biggest fish of the day. Once again, this was the only fish willing to bite in this location and we did not catch any more. At least Terri and Brandon got to experience what so many anglers come to our area for. The much sought after redfish. Even if it’s only one each, its still more than some anglers can claim.  

Big Winner On the weekend, I fished the Costal Angler Magazine Catch Photo Release (CPR) tournament with my 9-year-old grandson. This is a really fun tournament you should consider fishing some time. It starts out at Chowders Seafood Restaurant on Hyw 1 with a captain’s party. You receive a bag full of various fishing goodies, including a legal stick to measure your fish and a camera to take the picture. You record the time and length of fish on your scorecard to turn in at the end of the tourney and release the fish to be caught another day. 

My grandson Robert and me fished hard all morning without a fish to record on our scorecard. We returned to the Cocoa area where we had ramped. Before stopping for the day, we decided to make one last effort by traveling along the 520 bridge almost to the East shore of the Indian River. The winds had been high all day out of the north and northeast and this was a protected area. I caught a little rat red fairly soon after we started fishing. At one point, I turned around from my position on the front of the boat to see Robert pumping hard on some kind of fish.  

His pole was bent pretty good so I got out the net not wanting to take a chance on lifting what might be the only fish of the day to note on Robert’s scorecard. Sure enough, when he got it to the boat it was a nice redfish measuring 22 inches. We boated the fish, laid the legal stick on the deck with the fish along side and took the picture to record the catch before releasing it. It had been another really tough day of fishing but at the weigh in later that day, Robert’s name went up on the leader board as the 1st place redfish in the junior division. He was thrilled and so was I.  

Just a reminder, the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be held November 12th and 13th  at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, 4603 W. Colonial Dr., 4 miles west of I-4 on Hwy 50. I will be working at the Florida Guides Association Booth. Stop by and say hi if you attend the show.  

I have just returned from a trip with a dad and two sons. I will include in next weeks report. Don’t miss it. It has a message I want all of you to read. That’s what its all about. Good fishin’.

 

Banana River - Indian River: Week of November 26, 2004 Fishing continued to be slow this week. The same big reds that had been present on the flats last week were there again this week. They were still spooky and no hooks were made. The week produced numerous small trout, both on artificials and live shrimp. They seemed to prefer the live shrimp though. Other catches included ladyfish, mangrove snappers, jacks and small redfish. I found very few bait on the flats this week. That almost always makes for a weak bite. On the good side, the weather has cooperated with mild days and not too much wind. The cold  front that came through slowed things down but with time will improve fishing for the trout as they begin to congregate in greater numbers in deeper water. This time of year the bluefish bite will improve in the mouth of the port, with Spanish mackerel also expected to be plentiful. Robert, pictured above caught a nice 20 inch trout in the Indian River and Scott, below, caught a 16 inch trout in the Banana River. That's what its all about. Good fishin.

Banana River - Indian River: Week of November 19, 2004 Sorry for the delay in my weekly report. This one covers the last two weeks and includes fishing on both the Banana River and the Indian River. Most of last week was spent on the Indian River side of Merritt Island including the flats, bridges and the power plants. The fishing was slow, but there were a few fish to be found. The catch ran the range from pompano to trout, to redfish and tarpon. This is the time of year to expect a few more pompano on the river around the bridges so it was not that unusual to catch one. The trout and the redfish are always around, but that does not mean they will bite. The power plants are now closed to fishing up close to outlets. During the last two weeks, if you could catch a time when the plants were generating and creating a nice flow the tarpon were usually there. They were the only fish that seemed to hit artificials consistently. Most of the other fish have come on shrimp or mullet. The Black Drum bite seemed to slow but I do not think it is over. Keep checking the pilings around the bridges.

This week started off slow with nothing wanting to hit lures. A couple of really big schools of reds in the 20 to 30 pound range were located but not a single one was hooked up. They were extremely finicky and spooky. Quite a few boats in the area were keeping them moving.

Late this week a pair of anglers came to Orlando to a convention and came over for a half day trip. Rick was an extremely accomplished angler and Jack was fishing for his first time. I really mean it, his first time. He hooked up a lady fish early in the day but as is so often the case, the lady jumped and threw the hook. He went on to catch a couple of small trout. So, his first fish every was a Banana River Sea Trout. He and Rick were counting fish to see who caught the most. Rick stayed in the lead, but Jack was never too far behind.

We were targeting redfish on a flat in about 2 to 3 feet of water. There was plenty of bait around and a couple of times we saw the schools of reds. Between us and about 4 or 5 other boats nobody hooked up. We moved to another location without so many boats, but also without success. Finally in a third location in very shallow water, about a foot, Jack hooked a nice slot sized red. So now, on his first ever fishing trip he has caught spotted sea trout and redfish. Only one problem, we counted the red to quickly. Jack fought him all the way to the boat only to see him pull the hook and retreat into the still murky water.

Not to worry! Jack went on to fight two more reds to the boat and Rick added another one. Once again, the artificials were not working. We caught all the reds on live shrimp. I didn't have pictures on my camera, but Rick and Jack got several and will send them to me. I will update this report when I get them. With three slot sized reds in the live well, we headed for the ramp after a successful half day of fishing, Rick probably one the numbers count but Jack added the quality. Not bad for a first time angler. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River - Indian River: Week of November 5, 2004 This report starts out in October, the 30, but ends in November. Saturday the 30th was started early in the morning on the Indian River near Titusville. Robert, Steve, and 11 year old Conner came over from central Florida to check out the fishin'. All three were great anglers and great companions to have on a fishing trip. Conner scored first with a lady fish which we kept to use later for bait. Another lady fish and then a pompano which broke off right at the boat by Conner was leaving Robert and Steve empty handed.

As we kept a running tally of the morning catch, Conner was usually in the lead with Robert close behind. Steve was still trailing in the tally when he hooked a huge lady fish which circled the boat in all of about 10 second. Steve's fish tangle lines with Robert and then with Conner as it made its 360 degree run about the boat. As we attempted to get out of this mess, the big lady wrapped around the motor and broke off.  That darn fish left the whole crew out of commission for about 5 minutes while we untangled line and tied on new leaders. The group decide to let Steve count that one since we all kind of got in the way of landing it. It was one of those slow days were there never was a really serious bite. We continued to catch fish along the way but it was due only to the diligence of three serious anglers.

As the day wore on and the tally had tied up between Robert and Conner we decided to move to a bridge where the black drum had been reported in recent days. Conner broke the tie in the last minutes of our trip by hooking up an 18 pound black drum on a jumbo shrimp. With the fish hooked up, we quickly lifted the anchor and used the trolling motor to pull the big drum away from the bridge pilings. Conner worked him to the boat only to see him turn and run. Several time we got him close and he would see the net and make another run towards the bridge. Conner would turn his head and bring him back for another shot with the net. We finally got him in the net and weighed him on the Boga Grip. The 18 pound fish measured out at 31 inches and Conner had landed him on 10 pound test line with a 20 pound leader. Nice going Conner that was some kind of fishing. We headed for the dock with Conner smiling all the way. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

On the 31st Michelle and Chad came over from the West Coast to fish the Indian River. It was a day similar to the previous one described above. We caught a few small trout, several ladyfish, and some jacks. A flat on the east side of the river near Titusville which had been holding reds did not produce a single redfish. The largest trout was a slot sized fish which Michelle caught on a avocado colored jerk bait. After trying several fishing holes with limited success, we headed for a bridge, just like the day before. We scrapped some barnacles, chummed with some cut up shrimp and then baited with large fresh shrimp from Cast'nCatch bait shop. We then settle back to watch and hope for the big one. Forty or fifty minutes into the wait, a couple of catfish and a whiting later, Michelle's line tightened and she hooked a huge fish (just had to be a big black drum). I told her to hold on tight, keep the rod tip high and we were going to pull the big fish away from the pilings. The anchor was pulled, the trolling motor started, and Chad was busy bringing in all the other lines. Michelle did everything exactly right, but the big fish had a mind of its own. Instead of following us out, even with the thrust of the trolling motor, the fish was determined to pull sideways against the towing boat and there was nothing Michelle could do to stop it. We almost had it out, one piling to go, but the fish was still taking out line and moving East while the boat was heading North. And then, the pole went limp, then we all went limp, and the retrieved line showed how the barnacles on the last piling cut the huge fish free. We did not see the fish, but there is not a doubt in my mind that Michelle had latched on to one of those huge black drum that have been feeding around the Indian River bridges. Unlike the day before when the fish was caught on a 10 pound rig, today's fish was hooked on a 20 pound rig with 40 pound leader. The medium heavy rod was still not a match to turn the head of this fish. Sorry Michelle, we will get him next time. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

November 1st found me fishing near Sebastian with good friend and snook fisherman extraordinaire, Terry Lamielle. Terry had invited me down to do some snook fishing and I took advantage of it. We met early in the morning, around 6:00 to head out on the river. As we approached a flat between two islands we were met by a huge school of big jacks. Terry immediately hooked up on about a 10 pound jack. I had caught a small jack before having another eat my red and white Zara Spook and head East. Terry's fish was heading West, mine East and it was looking like something would have to give. Terry, spooled with Power Pro, muscled his ten-pounder to the boat and manned the trolling motor to chase mine. He was still taking line and showed no intention of stopping. I told Terry, "I can't turn his head, he's still taking line." Terry soon had the boat in hot pursuit and I was able to regain some line. When we finally saw the large Jack he had been foul hooked in the side. No wonder I couldn't turn his head, I was pulling directly at his middle. I have had this happed before when numerous jacks are fighting for the lure. We estimated the big jack at around 18 to 20 pounds. It was a hoot! We caught several more jacks during the day, but never saw the large school again.

As the day wore on Terry caught a slam, boating a nice 28 inch red fish, an 18 inch trout, and a snook that would go about 22 inches. I caught 8 to 10 snook, I honestly lost track because I lost quite a few also. Unfortunately I lost the big ones today. One would have been in the 5 to 6 pound range and another pushing 10 pounds. Terry had just received a phone call from one of his sponsors, Owner Hooks, when I hooked the big snook. I heard Terry say, " I will call you back later, CLICK! So some guy, I don't know where, was setting there with a dial tone in his ear. Terry came back with the net to help me land the fish when the pole went straight. My heart stopped beating for a moment, my body was as limp as my monofilament line. Terry, as I mentioned above, was spooled with 20-6 PowerPro and I was spooled with a good quality 10 pound line. There is a lesson there if you can figure it out. Ok Terry, I get it, I get it! (This was not the first time he tried to teach me this lesson.) The lure of the day was an old reliable gold spoon. I was throwing one made by Cajun Thunder Terry was fishing the Johnson spoon. Terry also caught several fish on a Yozuri suspending twitch bait. It was simply a great day of fishing. If you want to try the Sebastian area some time, give Terry a call at 321-725-7255 (mobile) or 321-537-5346 (home). He will put you on some fish. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River, Cape Canaveral Report: November 24, 2003  Fished with Lairn today from central Florida. The idea was to hit the north jetty at Canaveral Harbor around high tide and hook up with some of the predators that have been prowling the area lately.  Seas were 3 to 4 and the rolling waves kept us and about 4 other boats, with similar expectations, bobbing  along in the nearshore waters.  Unfortunately, after about an hour and a half, no bait was ever present in the area and no bite developed.  Several boats moved in and out without any hookups.  Much of the rest of the port was not fishable because of the many ships moored at the various docks which sometimes provide some good fishing.  We decided to take the long trip back through the locks and into the Banana River.  It was around 9:00 when we got into the river which produced pin fish, snapper, bluefish, jacks, and the catch of the day, a 30 inch, 10 pound red.  Lairn skillfully fought the big red to the boat and directed him into the net.  We measured and photographed the fish and returned him to the water as quickly as we could. It was a beautiful specimen, fat and healthy, as he swam away aggressively into the deeper water to provide the same thrill to another angler in the future. The water remains murky in the river and all our catches were on live or cut bait.  Mullet were not found in any abundance. Many boats were inspecting the normal spots, with net in hand, trying to find the elusive mullet without success.  Unless you want to spend good fishing time looking for bait, you might just want to purchase your bait before leaving the dock. The big red took a live shrimp. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.

Banana River Report: November 5 and 6, 2003 Fished with Jimmy from Colorado and his seven year old nephew Robert from Merritt Island on the 5th.. It was a cloudy morning and the forecast called for rain.  We left the dock about 6:30 with clouds all around but no thunder or lightning, hoping to get in a couple hours of fishing before the rain and predicted storms. We proceeded to catch bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and a really nice, nearly 6 pound sheepshead. The ladyfish we cut up for bait and caught the bluefish. Robert caught a 6 pound jack on shrimp, using his ultra light, it was a fight to the finish.  Jimmy caught the nice sheepshead. All this occurred in about two hours before the storms came and we high-tailed it for the dock. Actually we barely made it before a large thunder shower had us holed up in the SUV waiting for it to slacken so we could load the boat.

Thursday the 6th was a completely different day.  Dave and Karla came over from Winter Haven for their first taste of east coast fishing. They usually fish the west coast. It was actually calm for a change and we had a beautiful morning catching bluefish, trout, red fish, mangrove snapper, and jack creavalle. If you counted the pin fish and the puffers that you always have to put up with, that is 7 different species of fish. Well guys, I have to report that the last few weeks have been ladies weeks on the red fish.  Once again, the largest fish of the day was a 26 inch red and Karla skillfully hooked and landed this beauty. Dave will have to wait till next time to get his first east coast red. All in all it was a pretty good day on the water ( of course any day is a good day on the water). Remember the calm morning I started this report with. It ended later in the morning and mother nature and high winds signaled it was time to head for the dock. That's what its all about.  Good Fishin'.

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