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Capt. Mark Wright                                                           Phone: 321-302-3474  email: captmarkwright@earthlink.net

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Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, June 2010

Good fishing on the Banana River near Cocoa Beach 

Water temperatures are above 80 and all species of fish are chewing in the Cocoa Beach area. Recent fishing trips have produced redfish, trout, sheepshead, snook, snapper and more.  

Anglers Cliff and Ed scored on trout, jacks and snappers before chasing rolling tarpon to no avail. The pesky tarpon were feeding on small baits on the surface but refused everything Cliff and Ed offered them.   

The next day Jim and Tommy fished the Banana river and added a golden memory to their fishing chronicles. Each angler had caught quite a few fish during the day, but nothing to brag about. Trout, snapper, pinfish and jacks provides some fishing fun, but the real fun was yet to come.  

As the fishing day neared its end Jim hooked into something big. The drag on his 2500 series reel was screaming and the pole was bending. The big fish was hooked between two Banana River docks giving the fish plenty of opportunities to escape the landing net. Jim worked the fish our from under the first dock only to have it swim under the second. The 10 pound Liquid Braid fishing line was rubbing on the barnacle encrusted pilings and I quickly moved the boat forward to change the angler of attack. Jim fought the fish out from under the second dock and it passed in front of the boat returning to dock number 1 and then out through the end of the dock with pilings on both sides of the line.  

We could see the Liquid Braid rubbing again on the barnacles. Thinking quickly, Jim laid down on the bow of the boat as I moved it closer to the dock. He stuck the rod between the pilings and out the front of the dock to remove the possibility of further abrasion to the line. Using the trolling motor I continued to move the boat along side the dock (in reverse I might add) as Jim laid on the bow facing the back of the boat. When we got close enough I instructed Jim to grab the rod with his left hand in front of the pilings while holding on to the rod with his right hand. Once he had the rod firmly with the left hand he released the right hand and grabbed the rod again, clear of the pilings. What we now knew was a nice redfish, was swimming in open water. Jim lifted his head and guided the big red into the landing net.  

With all this going on we had little time to see Tommy aiding in our struggle. He was pushing the boat off docks, shouting encouragement to Jim and commenting, “That’s a big fish.” All the team work paid off and Jim had a true memory of fishing on the Banana River near Cocoa Beach.  

Personally, I still can’t believe the Liquid Braid held up to all that abuse. It was a combination of good tackle, good fish fighting techniques and maybe a little bit of pure luck but Jim landed the biggest redfish of his life.  

The next day I had the great fortune to take my grandson and his friend out, again on the Banana River. Live shrimp and popping corks was the tackle of the day. My advice about taking kids fishing has always been to just be sure they catch something and popping corks with shrimp are a sure way to do it. They had a blast catching pinfish, snappers, catfish, jacks, sheepshead and trout. It could not have been a better day for hooking some future anglers on the sport.  

Jessie's Sheepshead

Robert and Jessie Double on Trout

Robert says, "It's his!"

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

You can purchase my book, Secrets from Florida’s Master Anglers on the Snook Foundations website with proceeds going to the foundation.  

http://www.snookfoundation.org/support/147-secrets-from-floridas-master-anglers.html  

Up Coming Events:  

On June 12th I will be at Boater’s Exchange in Rockledge for a Boating/Fishing Expo. I will present a seminar and also have copies of my book available. Other Captains at the event include Capt. Chris Myers, Capt. Keith Kalbfleisch and Capt. John Kumiski.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, May 2010

Black Drum Save the Day on Banana River 

The fishing was slow this week despite some great weather. Mike and Kim travelled from Houston to enjoy some inshore fishing and celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. Mike had warned before the trip began that Kim usually out fished him and he turned out to be right.  

Kim was on her game, hooking about every thing that came her way. She started off with a nice rod-bending jack. During the day she added more jacks, a nice spotted sea trout and several mangrove snappers. She ended the day with a nice black drum.  

We fished about six different spots during the half-day trip before finding a small school of black drum around some residential docks. Kim actually hooked several, but as they like to do, they were taking her around the dock pilings and breaking off. She stayed determined though and finally pulled the nice specimen pictured below into open water and then to the boat. The catch-photo release (CPR) method was used and the distinctively striped drum was set free to bite another day.  

The weather was great, the company was better and all in all it was a fun day fishing on the Banana River. The great thing about black drum is that they are available though out Florida. The specimen pictured next was caught a few miles from Kim’s recent catch.  This one ate a Rip Tide plastic crab rigged on a jig head.

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

You can purchase my book, Secrets from Florida’s Master Anglers on the Snook Foundations website with proceeds going to the foundation.  

http://www.snookfoundation.org/support/147-secrets-from-floridas-master-anglers.html  

Up Coming Events:  

I will be at Bass Pro Shops - Orlando this Sunday, May 16th. Come on by and visit if you are in the neighborhood.  

On June 12th I will be a Boater’s Exchange in Rockledge for a Boating/Fishing Expo. I will present a seminar and also have copies of my book available. Other Captains at the event include Capt. Chris Myers, Capt. Keith Kalbfleisch and Capt. John Kumiski.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, April 2010

East coast fishing activity picking up with warmer weather 

Finally, consistent water temperature in the 70’s appears to have activated the fish. I think this is what everyone, including the fish has been waiting for.  

Yesterday still had wind, but at least the clouds cleared and some sunny skies helped add further to the water warming that we have been needing. Several nice trout, bluefish and jacks made for a fairly productive day despite the winds.  

The trout were eating best on DOA holographic shrimp. As always when using artificial shrimp the presentation is soft and the retrieve is slow. Remember, you can’t fish them slow enough.  

The good thing about the bite was that it was vicious. The trout were hitting hard and fighting hard. I also caught fish on my old favorite RipTide 3 inch mullet in glow, silver mullet and electric chicken.  

I was using my new Sharkfin Reel from Castalia Outdoor Products. I am really loving this reel. If you haven’t seen them yet take a look at the accompanying picture then check them out at www.castaliaoutdoors.com.  

The unique design of this reel gives you longer casts, longer line life and fewer birdnests and tangles. This reel gives all these advantages and you don’t have to do anything different, just use it like you would a regular spinning reel and enjoy the benefits.  

Ask any experience angler and they will tell you the bigger fish are normally further from the boat, so anything you can do to lengthen your casts will increase your opportunity to catch them. The Sharkfin is one way to do that.  

Last week I made a nearshore trip looking for cobia with zero results. Yesterday I was fishing inshore and having a blast but should have ventured out to the Atlantic. I have received good reports on the cobes. They seem to have showed up in numbers, so if you get a chance get on out there. There were reports of numerous catches out of Port Canaveral and a reported 95 pounder caught out of Sebastian.  

I am hoping this approaching front will hold them back a bit and give us several more days to target the brown bomber.  

 

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

You can purchase my book, Secrets from Florida’s Master Anglers on the Snook Foundations website with proceeds going to the foundation.

Up Coming Events: 

I will be attending the Snook Foundation Funament Event at River Palm Cottages and Fish Camp (Jensen Beach, FL) the weekend of Apr 17th. There is still time to register if you are interested, just visit their website.  

I will be signing books at the foliage festival in Apopka on April 24 and 25. Come by and visit if you are in the area.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, March 2010

Signs of Snook alive on the flats 

The cold weather and wind continues to hamper fishing but on a recent trip I found some good news to report. It was a cold and windy day with partly cloudy skies. The fish had not cooperated at all.  

Trips up a favorite canal and some favorite flats had produced only on sea trout. It was spotted flushing out of some mangroves. I also saw one gar about 20 inches long swimming along the shoreline.  

Numerous blind casts had produced nothing. Then, a huge black image appeared in the distance and I could tell there were some fish moving towards me. To my surprise it was a school of snook. The fish ranged from an estimated 15 inches to maybe 24 inches. They were swimming slowly, meandering down the shoreline over sandy bottom.  

After that first school passed I saw another coming from the same direction and it was obvious they were going to come my way as well. I made a few casts with plastic baits that were summarily ignored. They just swam on by.  

In another area I saw three or four larger snook, easily going over 30 inches, warming themselves in the afternoon sun.  

Some of the fish looked a little beat up and not so healthy. I wondered what that was all about so I sent an email to Alexis Trotter of FWRI. She studies snook for a living and has been collecting data on the recent cold weather event that took its toll on many snook.  

 

Alexis informed me that “There’s still pretty cold water temps for most of their region, so they probably won’t be feeding too well until it warms up a bit more.  The ones that look a little beat up may have some infections (generally fungal) as a secondary effect of the cold.  Some may succumb to those infections, some will be fine.  Once the water finally warms up though, I think we’ll see snook in their normal routine.” 

It was very encouraging to see a good number of snook roaming around and trying to get back to normal. I think we just need some warm weather and fishing of all types will improve.  

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

You can purchase my book, Secrets from Florida’s Master Anglers on the Snook Foundations website with proceeds going to the foundation.  

http://www.snookfoundation.org/support/147-secrets-from-floridas-master-anglers.html  

Events: 

I will be at Sebastian Inlet Marina on Saturday March 20th. I have a seminar time at 12:30 and will be in a booth the rest of the day. Come on by if you are in the area.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, February 2010

Troll Motor and Battery Choice  

After six weeks of doing with out a boat my new Pathfinder has arrived. It is beautiful cobalt blue, powered by a Yamaha 150 four-stroke. It came with a PowerPole installed.  I have a few basic things to do before it’s like I want it for fishing, but not much. Today I will install a Minn Kota 80 pound thrust remote control troll motor. I have already installed two AGM Optima Deep cycle batteries for the motor and one Optima starting battery for the other electrical systems. All three batteries fit in the console and help balance the boat with weight in the middle instead of the back. It jumps out of the hole with ease.  

I am a believer in Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology. I have had them before and that is why I chose this technology again. OPTIMA® BlueTop® high-performance AGM batteries in your boat gives you more running time for your troll motor and up to 3 times more recharges than what you’d get out of a traditional battery.  

Since all the electrolyte (acid) is contained in the glass mats, the Optima Batteries do not spill, even if broken. We don’t worry about it in Florida, but there is no liquid to freeze and expand, so there is no worry about freezing damage. Optima’s also provide weight savings and outstanding vibration resistance.  

My last Pathfinder had AGM batteries and they were still in the boat when I sold it in 2009. They were working just like they were in 2004 when the boat was new. They are definitely worth the added cost. In fact, I think they are cheaper in the long-run.  

With an on-board charger all I have to do is plug it in when I finish my fishing day and there is no more worry about the batteries. The picture below shows all three batteries under the center consol. Great weight distribution results in a great hole shot. 

I am installing the Minn Kota troll motor with a quick release mount for easy removal when I don’t want it on the bow and for security when on the road. You can easily detach the motor and take in the motel room with you at night.  

With the threadable backing plate that Pathfinder installs in the bow for mounting the troll motor, the installation is simple. You simply drill 4 holes and use a ¼ inch tap to cut threads in the backing plate. Then, fasten the quick release mount by inserting four bolts through the mount and into the tapped holes and tightened from the top. There is no need to reach up under the bow and get your back out of whack trying to hold a bolt on the underside. It’s a snap. The picture below shows the template in place for drilling the 4 holes.  

I choose the Minnkota with remote control and auto pilot because of the type of fishing I do. You can run it from anywhere in the boat using the remote control. When fishing the edge of a flat or a shoreline you can set the auto pilot to guide you in a straight line without having to steer it again. You just spend all your time fishing. This next picture shows the installed Minnkota.  

My next installation will be a Humminbird Side Image Sonar/GPS combo. The new version, which also gives you a picture under the boat, is scheduled to ship in March, so I will have to wait on that. In the meantime I will have to fish the old-fashion way, using personal history and intuition.  

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

Events: 

I will be in Ft. Walton Beach February 20 and 21 so come by and see me. I was in Ft. Myers at the Florida Sportsman Show last weekend and it was great. I hope it is a sign of an up-tick for the fishing industry.  

March 5th, 6th and 7th are the dates for the annual Tampa Tribune Outdoors Expo and Boat Show hosted by Frank Sargeant. I will be there in the FGA booth on Friday and Sunday so come on by if you are in the area.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, January 2010

The Devastating Fish Kill Needs to be Documented 

Being without a boat certainly has its drawbacks, but it is not all bad. I am catching up on honey-do’s and other stuff I had put off. Also the cold weather has not been the greatest time to go fishing, At least it is looking better now. My new Pathfinder goes into production tomorrow and I am excited. I will be fishing from it soon.  

My report is both to give some info on the cold weather fish kill and also to ask for some help in documenting it. If you already have pictures of fish kills, especially snook you can send them in. If you can go out and get some pictures it would be helpful in documenting the kill if you could send them in. (See address below) 

 

The recent cold weather has produced a fish kill that appears to be as bad as any, if not worse, experienced in Florida. Brevard County has reports of fish kills from Mosquito Lagoon to Sebastian Inlet. One report from near the power plants in Titusville on the Indian River logged hundreds of dead fish, including tarpon, snook and catfish. There are similar stories all over the state. (See Video Link Below) 

Another example comes from Charlotte Harbor where FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute estimate was at 30,000 dead snook. This number will rise as the carcasses begin to float up to the top and be more easily counted.  

Rick Roberts of the Snook Foundation is hoping that someone will get some air support to check out the various creeks and other margins of the estuaries. He says, “We need to get the best evidence possible. Word of mouth is great but pictures are what we need. This event is analogous to something like Hurricane Andrew to our fish population by all reports.”  

If you have existing photos, or can get some photos over the weekend, from your area you can help in the documentation process. Send your photos to Rick at rick@snookfoundation.org

The current fish kill makes it ever more important to stop the destruction of fish habitat.

Rick continues, “In order to best protect the remaining nursery and juvenile habitat policy makers need to put enforceable codes in place to stop the destruction. We have evidence that we have lost as much as 50% of what existed 50 years ago and that's not acceptable.”  

This event has the potential to leverage change, just as Hurricane Andrew changed building codes -- then it was the numbers of nails and straps  required to tie down a roof, now it's time to protect the fishery and mandate protection of nursery habitat.

Alexis A. Trotter is a Fisheries Biologist specializing in snook research for FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. She says a more accurate appraisal will come as additional observations are made over the weekend. “I think this weekend will give us a better picture of the extent of this kill.  It’ll be interesting to see the reports that come in as the carcasses start to float.”   

To view a telling video report from Brevard county click here.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, December 2009

The wind continues to blow out fishing trips all across the state. The good news may be in the cold front that’s coming. The cooler water temperatures should motivate redfish, black drum and sheepshead to gather in numbers.  

December and January are traditionally good times for targeting black drum and sheepshead in the Banana River. Both can be caught on live or dead shrimp fished on the bottom. With the water being clear, as it normally is during the winter, you can spot the sheepshead in shallow water scrounging around for something to eat.  

This is a good time to get out the fly rod and try your luck. Small black fly should do the trick. Get it down on the bottom and fish it slow.  

I am without a boat for a while, as I wait for a new Pathfinder to be built. I am hoping to be fishing on it by the end of January.  

For more fishing tips of a great Christmas gift you might consider my new book.  

Entitled Secrets From Florida’s Master Anglers, the book is intended to provide many tips and pro secrets to fishing success. It is based on interviews with 20 of Florida’s top guides on various fishing topics. The book is published by University Press of Florida. Regardless of your level of fishing skill this book will have something for you.  

That’s what it’s all about, good fishin’.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, November 2009

 Cabin fever, needing to fish, but wind does not cooperate

Finally, I have recovered from by crab trap wound enough that the doctor said I could go fishing. It’s been two months off the water and I am ready to go. Only one problem - the weather. The wind has blown and blown and blown. Every scheduled trip has been short-circuited by the constant wind. 

Since I have not been able to fish because of the wind I thought I would share a few tips about fishing in the wind. With the wind blowing like it has been lately I am not likely to head out on a fishing trip. However, sometimes you are already out when the wind begins to blow and then you need to make the most of it.  

Of course the obvious solution is to find cover behind a causeway or other structure large enough to dampen the force of the wind. If that is not available you might be able to find a creek or canal that offers some protection from the wind.  

If no protection is available you just have to use best techniques to make the best of it. Always position the boat so you can cast with the wind. Sometimes that can actually be an advantage by giving you longer casts and the ability to cover more water.  

Maybe the most important thing you can do to improve your fishing in windy conditions occurs before your get on the water. If it’s windy you must avoid high arching casts. If your casting style results in the high arching cast you have to realize that by the time the baits touches the water the wind is blowing all that excess line away from the bait. You loose contact with the bait and if you get a strike you will set the hook on nothing but loose line.  

To prevent this arching condition you must make more of a line drive cast by loading the rod and letting it do the work for you. This is something you can practice when you’re not fishing. Then, when you are on the water and the wind raises its ugly head you are prepared to compete against it. This practice should include loading the rod properly, but also closing the bail before the lure hits the water. This simple technique will result in the momentum of the lure pulling the slack from the line and giving you direct connection with the lure and any fish willing to bite.  

Photo: Practice your casting for better fishing results, wind or no wind!

For More Fishing Tips You Might Consider my New Book  

Announcement: I want to take this opportunity to announce my book is out and available in book stores and the internet. Entitled Secrets From Florida’s Master Anglers it is intended to provide many tips and pro secrets to fishing success. It is based on interviews with 20 of Florida’s top guides on various fishing topics. The book is published by University Press of Florida. Regardless of your level of fishing skill this book will have something for you.  

Here is what some early readers of the book say:  

"Ron's highly privileged interviews with many of Florida's top guides expose lots of secrets that are sure to improve fishing success."--Phil Chapman 

"A great peek into twenty of the finest fishing minds of Florida! No matter your current skill level, this book will improve your confidence on the water."--Brett Fitzgerald 

"Unique in that it includes a variety of approaches to inshore saltwater fishing, provided by a broad selection of some of Florida's finest fishing guides. There is something for almost everyone who fishes the Florida coast."--Richard A. Davidson 

<img src="http://www.inshorefishingadventures.com/presley-master_anglers%20jpeg.jpg"/>

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, September 2009

Marine Villains  - Beware 

My last report dealt with a crab trap cleanup in Mosquito Lagoon. What I did not report at the time was a puncture wound I experienced during the event. As it turns out I have not been on the water for weeks and probably won’t be for a few more. I decided to take this opportunity to warn other of the dangerous bacteria and venom that exists in the water and the need to take any injury very seriously.  

As luck would have it I stepped on a piece of an old crab trap and punctured my heel. There was no blood, no pain and I thought no need to be alarmed. I was so wrong. The event was on Saturday and I had a regular checkup appointment with my doctor on Monday. He viewed the wound and put me on antibiotics and asked if I had my tetanus shot lately (which I had). I went through the regiment of antibiotics and everything seemed to be fine. Then, my foot swelled and got more painful. When I called my doctor back he did not hesitate. “You need to see a specialist,” he said.  

The real problem comes from the many nasty bacteria that reside in our saltwater rivers, bays and lagoons. Any open cut is sufficient to let the critters in and cause severe pain and suffering.  

What started out as nothing tuned into something that was very serious. Minor surgery and intense treating of the wound followed. Before I managed to beat the infection I went through lots of antibiotics and plenty of gauze and bandages. Not to mention weeks without fishing. My experience taught me that these bad guys are plentiful, armed and dangerous. Fisherman and other water related recreationist must be aware and treat these marine villains as the menace they really are.  

It could be as simple as being hooked by your own lure, finned by a catfish, barbed by a stingray or stepping on something like I did. What ever the reason - TAKE IT SERIOUSLY AND SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE. If your injury turns out to be nothing that’s great, but if it does need medical attention, the sooner you get help the better.  

New Book  

Announcement: I want to take this opportunity to announce my upcoming book entitled Secrets From Florida’s Master Anglers. It is a book intended to provide many tips and pro secrets to fishing success. It is based on interviews with 20 of Florida’s top guides on various fishing topics. The book is being published by University Press of Florida.  It will be available in bookstore across the state, on Amazon.com or from the publisher directly, sometime this fall. Regardless of your level of fishing skill this book will have something for you.  

Here is what some early readers of the book say:  

"Ron's highly privileged interviews with many of Florida's top guides expose lots of secrets that are sure to improve fishing success."--Phil Chapman 

"A great peek into twenty of the finest fishing minds of Florida! No matter your current skill level, this book will improve your confidence on the water."--Brett Fitzgerald 

"Unique in that it includes a variety of approaches to inshore saltwater fishing, provided by a broad selection of some of Florida's finest fishing guides. There is something for almost everyone who fishes the Florida coast."--Richard A. Davidson 

If you are interested in the book send me your name and mailing address and I will send you a pre-publication order form that is good until October and you get a 20% discount. Send to Capt. Ron, 516 S. Plumosa St., #19  Merritt Island, FL 32952.  

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, August 2009

Mosquito Lagoon Crab Trap Cleanup

Instead of a straight fishing report this week I have a report that will help make fishing better.

On August 15, 2009 Mosquito Lagoon was the site of a volunteer effort to remove derelict crab traps from Mosquito Lagoon. With volunteers included U.S. Fish and Wildlife, FWC, Coastal Angler Magazine, CCA Florida, Hells Bay Boats, The Fly Shop in Titusville, the Merritt Island Wildlife Association and Mosquito Coast Outdoors.

There were other volunteers whose names I have forgotten and a great bunch of individual anglers just interested in cleaning out the derelict traps.

Crews were set up on land to accept, record and dispose of the traps as they come in by boat. From flats boats to party barges many vessels were use in the effort. After the event started at about 8:00 the first boat back, a flats boat, brought in 3 traps about 8:45. From then on until noon it was a fairly steady flow of boats loaded with traps.

I particularly remember a Gheenoe coming back with 4 traps on his small vessel. Later I saw him unloading 3 or 4 more.  Boats continued to come in with as few as 1 and as many as eight traps at a time. I haven’t heard the final total but a lot of derelict traps were removed by this volunteer effort.

Some traps appeared to be in workable condition while others were fully encrusted with barnacles and filled with debris. Many of the volunteers site having to cut fish out of the abandoned traps. This is one of the main reasons for getting the old untended traps out of the lagoon.

I heard one captain comment after the event there were still more out there, but I guess those will have to wait until next year.

Following the cleanup, a picnic was held for the volunteers. A tired and dirty, but fulfilled group enjoyed hotdogs, chips, cookies and cold drinks in the shade of a nearby pavilion. Several nice prices were raffled off during the lunch period. Everyone who signed up got a free raffle ticket and then received another for each trap they brought in.

The grand prize, a nice rod and reel combo and a fully stocked tackle box went to a lady who brought in the most crab traps. Her one woman operation brought in 14 traps to add to the gigantic pile.

All in all it was a great turnout with great results. For those who didn’t make it this year, I hope you will consider it next year or anytime a similar program comes to an area near you. Similar efforts are being staged all over the state.

 

 

Announcement: I want to take this opportunity to announce my upcoming book entitled Secrets From Florida’s Master Anglers. It is a book intended to provide many tips and pro secrets to fishing success. It is based on interviews with 20 of Florida’s top guides on various fishing topics. The book is being published by University Press of Florida.  It will be available in bookstore across the state, on Amazon.com or from the publisher directly, sometime this fall. Regardless of your level of fishing skill this book will have something for you.  

Here is what some early readers of the book say:  

"Ron's highly privileged interviews with many of Florida's top guides expose lots of secrets that are sure to improve fishing success."--Phil Chapman 

"A great peek into twenty of the finest fishing minds of Florida! No matter your current skill level, this book will improve your confidence on the water."--Brett Fitzgerald 

"Unique in that it includes a variety of approaches to inshore saltwater fishing, provided by a broad selection of some of Florida's finest fishing guides. There is something for almost everyone who fishes the Florida coast."--Richard A. Davidson 

If you are interested in the book send me your name and mailing address and I will send you a pre-publication order form that is good until October and you get a 20% discount. Send to Capt. Ron, 516 S. Plumosa St., #19  Merritt Island, FL 32952. 

<img src="http://www.inshorefishingadventures.com/presley-master_anglers%20jpeg.jpg"/>

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, July 2009

D.O.A. Lures Sweep CCA Tourney 

The River Palms Cottages in Jensen Beach was the site of the 2009 CCA Inter-Chapter Challenge. A record ninety-one anglers gathered for the catch and release tournament on June 26 and 27. The tournament is a team event where local chapters compete against other chapters from around the state.  

The event is an all-artificial lure tournament with Spin, Cast and Fly casting allowed. Rules require the anglers to place their catch on a measuring stick along with a numbered token assigned to each angler. A digital picture is then taken to turn in to the committee at the end of the tourney. In this catch-photo-release event all fish must be released.  

The team winner is determined by the CCA chapter that catches the most inches of three fish. The categories consist of an East Coast Slam of Snook, Redfish and Trout. Each species has a minimum length for entry into the contest. Snook must be at least 22 inches, trout at least 15 inches and redfish at least 18. There are also winners in the Team Snook, Team Redfish and Team Trout divisions based on the total inches of three fish in each category. In addition to the team event there are individual awards for the largest fish in each category.  

When fishing the Jensen Beach area the redfish is always going to be the toughest to find and catch. This year was no exception. Nevertheless, Capt. Chris Myers tempted the oversize red shown below with a D.O.A. C.A.L. series jerk bait in silver mullet color. It was rigged as a weedless worm to catch the red that won the honor of largest redfish. He also finished his personal slam by catching a snook on the same C.A.L.  

This beautiful 28 1/2 inch specimen of a red was good enough to give Capt. Chris the individual championship in the redfish division. Capt. Chris also caught a huge gator trout on a 5.5 inch D.O.A Big Fish Lure. Measuring in at 28 1/4 inches, the fish was runner up in the largest trout division.  

Jerry McBride, associate editor of Shallow Water Angler Magazine won the individual trout division with a 30 inch gator caught on a D.O.A. shrimp. Jerry has a passion for fishing from a kayak and that is exactly what he was doing when he caught the winning trout. According to Mark Nichols, owner of D.O.A. lures, “Jerry is a master when it comes to using the D.O.A. shrimp.”  

The individual snook award went to an angler from Martin County, the host chapter. Fishing his home waters Jay Honan caught a 33 inch snook on a D.O.A. C.A.L. Series Paddle Tail lure. The snook pictured below is not the winning snook but gives you the idea of how the measuring stick, numbered token and digital camera are used in the catch-photo-release event.

The “home” team from Martin County, last years winners, only managed runner up this year for Grand Champion, but won the Team Snook and Team Trout divisions. Orlando won the Team Redfish division.  

In the Grand Champion competition the Orlando Chapter, led by Capt. Myers’ big red and gator trout, took home the hardware and earned the bragging rights as the best chapter in the state - but it only lasts until next year where they will have to prove themselves again.  

Every person that travels to the tournament and fishes is considered a team member for his local chapter. There is no limit to the number of people that can come and represent a chapter, but everyone that fishes must be a CCA Florida member. So, if you are a member start planning for next year and if you’re not a member sign up so you can take part in this fun filled tournament. Oh, did I mention the food and fellowship is always great too!

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, June 2009

When the Kids Grow Up the Fish Will Too 

Try your best when fishing with kids to have them catch something.  In my book puffers and catfish count too! As long as the fish are biting and the kids are catching, they remain interested. Plan your trip in short time frames to begin with to find out how much your kids will tolerate without getting burned out. If the bite is slow take a break on a nearby island or shoreline area and let them explore a little. You want to make every trip a fun trip if at all possible.  

I know, in the real world the fish don’t bite every time, but if you bring along some shrimp you are likely to catch something. I think that is the key to getting the kids hooked on fishing. It doesn’t take anymore than a nice little pinfish to make a kid happy.  

Keep it simple. Live shrimp or cut bait presented under a bobber is a great way to introduce kids to fishing. There is no doubt about when the fish bites, and there is a certain thrill to seeing that bobber go down. I always use circle hooks and instruct the angler to just start reeling when they see the bobber go under. This also makes release easier as the fish is likely to be hooked in the corner of the mouth.  

Talk to the kids about conservation and catch and release fishing. They normally think they want to take everything they catch home with them so take time to explain why you might put some of the fish back to grow up and fight again. There’s nothing wrong with taking some fish for dinner, but it doesn’t have to be everything. Even the flounder pictured below was willingly released by the happy angler. He realized the real fun was in the catching 

There’s no way of knowing what you might catch next, so the key is keeping the kids interested and sooner or later they will catch some quality fish. The point is, it doesn’t have to be on every trip. Just take them with the idea of having fun and the catching will take care of itself. As the kids grow up the fish will too!  

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

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, May 2009

I’m Still Thinking About An East Coast Slam 

I never should have started reporting on this slam thing. Now it haunts me on every trip. One day this week was good for two varieties of the slam - snook and trout but no redfish. Another day was potentially good for completing the slam as snook, redfish and trout were hooked but two snook managed to throw the hook and swim to freedom. However, the message remains the same. The time is still ripe for completing the east coast slam of redfish, trout and snook. I think chances are as good in May and June as any other month of the year.  

With all the rain we have experienced there has been little opportunity to get out on the water. Also, the Banana River is up more than a foot in water depth and the fish have many new places to go, so keep looking for the bait to find the fish and don’t be afraid to try new places. The mullet are still very numerous in the river and sometimes you find the glass minnows so thick you would wonder why any fish in the river is not full and unwilling to bite. Fortunately, that is not the way it works and some of our best fishing is experienced when the bait are most plentiful!  

On the first day I mentioned above, the snook came on a Top Pup. Fishing this lure with a walk-the-dog presentation is something snook and big trout just can’t seem to pass up. On this morning both trout and snook were willing to chase down the Pink Top Pup I was casting.  I should say early morning, because the bite seemed to be over by 8:00. More trout were caught using my old standby RipTide 3 inch mullet in the silver mullet color. Rigged on a ¼ ounce Pro Jig Head this bait is deadly on hungry trout. It also tempted some ladyfish and jacks to bend the pole.  

On the second day Brian and his Dad, Ted, came over from the Orlando area to enjoy some Banana River fishing. This is the second year Brian treated his dad to a special birthday party on the water. It turns out Ted and I graduated from Wichita High School East in the same year so we have a little in common. Mostly, we agree, we are just great fishermen. We got a good early start leaving the dock about 6:00 am. Ted was the first to hook up with a nice snook. He was pitching a Top Pup parallel to a rocky shoreline looking specifically for snook. Sure enough it didn’t take long and he expertly fought the fish to the boat. Then, as sometimes happens, the hook pulled and the fish was gone. It looked like it was going to be very close to a slot-sized fish.  

A little later a nice sized bluefish attacked Ted’s lure. He had changed over to a RipTide Mullet and was casting to some deeper water when the unexpected bluefish tagged him good and then came jumping out of the water. This was one of the best aerial shows I have ever witnessed from a bluefish. From where it first came out of the water to the last jump was probably 25 feet and it jumped 3 or 4 times in between. Not to unexpectedly the final jump resulted in a cut line and that fish was gone too. As everyone knows, you really need a little wire leader or at least an extra long shank hook to successfully land the blues, but we were not targeting them so the result was a lost lure and fish.  

The next fish was another snook, once again on a Top Pup. It was a different location but similar to the previous one that produced the earlier snook - a rocky shoreline holding lots of mullet. Many casts were made with various retrieves in an attempt to elicit a strike. The bite had been slow all morning and I was instructing Brian on how to fish the “Pup” a little faster when the strike occurred. Unfortunately, like before the fish pulled loose and swam to safety. On days when the bite is slow sometimes you can bring on an anger strike from a fish with a little faster retrieve.  

As the low light conditions of the morning waned we moved again and tried some live shrimp to see what we could summon to our hook. It was not long after anchoring near a shallow ridge that Ted hooked up again. In normal water levels this ridge would be only 6 inches under the water and easily visible - now, with the water up its more like 18 inches deep and a lot harder to locate. It was immediately apparent that this was not an average fish. As it got closer to the boat we all saw a giant gator trout. We took a couple quick pictures and Ted elected to release the oversized trout so she could reproduce and provide some more trout to hopefully grow up like her. 

Brian added a smaller trout and Ted added a sheepshead before we moved on again.  

We fished some docks without success and then moved to the mouth of a residential canal where Brian added the redfish that would have completed the slam if the snook had not gotten away. It was a beauty of a fish with a real dark red hue and an extra spot on each side. The fish measured 20 inches and, as it turned out, was Brian’s first redfish. Now he is hooked and wants some more.  

With the thunder clouds building in the west we called it a day and headed for the dock after a fun day on the water. It was tough fishing, but with two anglers with the right attitude to make the birthday party a success. Their persistence and never say die approach brought fish to the boat on a slow bite day and with a little luck we would have had our slam. We were joined during the outing by dolphin, manatees, osprey, pelicans and other party crashers but they simply added to the enjoyment of a day on the water.  

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

Announcement: I want to take this opportunity to announce my upcoming book entitled Secrets From Florida’s Master Anglers. It is a book intended to provide many tips and pro secrets to fishing success. It is based on interviews with 20 of Florida’s top guides on various fishing topics. The book is being published by University Press of Florida.  It will be available in bookstore across the state, on Amazon.com or from the publisher directly, sometime this fall. Regardless of your level of fishing skill this book will have something for you.  

Here is what some early readers of the book say:  

"Ron's highly privileged interviews with many of Florida's top guides expose lots of secrets that are sure to improve fishing success."--Phil Chapman 

"A great peek into twenty of the finest fishing minds of Florida! No matter your current skill level, this book will improve your confidence on the water."--Brett Fitzgerald 

"Unique in that it includes a variety of approaches to inshore saltwater fishing, provided by a broad selection of some of Florida's finest fishing guides. There is something for almost everyone who fishes the Florida coast."--Richard A. Davidson

Road Trip, Disaster and Rainout  

I took a short road trip to Georgia last week. On the way I stopped at Amelia Island, Florida and took in a days fishing. That evening while in the hotel room, that overlook a marina and boat dock, I heard a loud noise. I looked out the window and black smoke filled the air and drifted out towards the sea. As I searched for the source of the smoke I spotted a 40 foot boat in flames at the far end of the dock.  

Later investigation determined that the owner had earlier loaded and gassed the boat for an early morning departure for the Bahamas. It took some time for the firemen to stretch fire house out the T shaped dock and East along the decking. It was too late. The boat was a total loss. I later overheard a lady on a cell phone to relatives say, “Everything we have is on that boat, including a $1,000 in cash.” What a devastating reminder to always take full precautions when dealing with gasoline. Accidents happen, but always following recommended practices for fueling and starting a boat. Don’t let this happen to you.  

Georgia Sea Trout 

Once I got to Georgia my wife and I checked in to a downtown riverfront hotel. We did the thing on the waterfront and drove by Paul Dean’s Restaurant (If you guys don’t know who that is, just ask your wife, she probably does.) The next day was a drive out to Tybee Island for more sightseeing. What a great little beach town. We headed directly back to Savanna and checked out early - went back to Tybee Island and found a room. Lots of good food (I especially recommend the Breakfast Club for breakfast) and a beautiful beach. We found the public library which was perfect for checking emails and catching up on a little work. I know, should have left it at home but that’s just the world I live in. Some things can’t wait.  

The next morning I got up early and headed for Hogan’s Marina where I would meet up with Capt. Charlie Warren. Capt. Charlie is a tug boat captain where he docks and undocks ships in the Savanna Harbor. He was born and raised in Savannah and knows the area like the back of his hand. We fished oyster bars for speckled trout and did very well. I commented to Charlie that the fish seemed particularly fat and healthy. So much so they almost looked like a different species than we catch at home. They are also plentiful. The legal limit in Georgia is 15 fish with a minimum length of 12 inches.  

We fished live shrimp under popping corks to keep the bait above the oyster bars. An occasional pop of the cork served to draw the feeding fish to the shrimp. After catching several I replaced the live shrimp with a RipTide 3 inch mullet (no surprise to you who read my reports regularly) and quickly hooked up on the silver shad color. After a few hours of catching trout we headed back to the dock to pick up my wife. She wanted a closer look at Paul Dean’s house that wasn’t far away. Capt. Charlie was very accommodating and took her nearly to Paul’s back door. If you every want to do try some Georgia Sea Trout fishing just give Charlie a call at 912-313-6718.  You can visit his website at www.savannahfishingguide.com. If you get there the right time of year he is also a cobia fanatic and will be happy to take you in search of the brown bomber.   

Rainout

After returning home it has been nothing but rain. Some portions of Central Florida have had up to 30 inches. All trips had to be canceled and rescheduled. I am really anxious to get back on the water. The weather is a little better today with no rain yet although afternoon thunder storms will become a part of our normal weather pattern.

Who knows were the fish will be with a water level more than a foot above where it was only a week ago. The first trip out will be a prospecting trip for sure. Don’t be afraid to check out new areas you have not been able to get to because of water depth. The fish are sure to move on up into the newly flooded areas. I will continue to cast my favorite RipTide 3 inch mullet because as a prospecting bait you can cover a lot of territory with it. If the winds are not too great top water baits also make a good search bait. We will all just have to adapt to the new water level. The fish are still there, but probably not where they were before.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

It’s Still A Good Time to Catch a Slam  

I still say it’s a good time to catch a slam. I haven’t accomplished it yet but I have caught all the species need - just not on the same trip. Spring patterns with plenty of bait fish continue to be the norm. If you find the bait you will probably find a predator willing to cooperate. Below is a nice Banana River trout caught by Ed Schneider on a RipTide 3 inch mullet.  

Later Ed added a nice redfish on live shrimp. Add in the ladyfish and jacks and Ed had a great day of fishing. The color choice of the day was the RipTide Silver Mullet - it beat the other colors hands down. Ed was rigging a Pro Jig Head with the 3 inch mullet for most of his catches. The red is pictured below: 

 

Although we did not get the slam on this day I did add a Banana River Snook a couple days later. She wasn't that big, but plenty of fun on light tackle. You can see that RipTide Pro Jig Head in its mouth - the fish just inhaled it. Like I said above, it’s still a good time for a slam. Just get out there and give it a try.  

 

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, April 2009

A Good Time to Catch a Slam  

Spring has sprung, the mullet are running, and it’s a good time to catch a slam of redfish, sea trout and snook. Wind has been more than a little problem lately with March trying to hang on into April. Even April is about over, but the wind has cooperated more lately. With light winds the bait and fish are easier to see on the flats. On my last trip out it was the birds that signaled the presence of bait - and as it turned out fish too.  

I moved in toward an sometimes productive flat. The wind was calm and visibility was great. Mullet were plentiful and an occasional trout would scoot out in front of the boat as I used the trolling motor to approach the diving birds. Stealth is an important strategy on calm days in shallow water. When I got close enough to start casting I chose a RipTide Ultimate Minnow to start the days fishing. After about a dozen casts the first fish came to the boat, a nice 24 inch redfish.  

Having no more hookups on that flat I moved to a channel entrance to a residential canal that is characterized by mangrove trees hanging over the water. I spotted trout, reds, and snook all congregated in the same generally area. They were up tight to the shoreline and back under the mangroves. I tried a variety of baits without success. Those fish just didn’t want to hit anything. I called it a day and headed for the ramp, but I was reminded of the good possibility of catching a slam during this time of the year. In this case, a slam could have come from one short length of shoreline - if only the fish had cooperated. You can’t always make em’ bite, but you won’t get any if you don’t get out and try.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Catching the Redfish’s Cousin  

The day started out as a spot tournament for redfish. Following many days of windy weather the light 5 to 10 mph winds were a welcome relief. I was taking my grandson fishing in the “Fishing for Spots” redfish tournament out of Titusville. This event was organized by the same folks that put on the “Hunt for Reds in October” tournament and they always put on a great show with lots of quality prizes and raffle goodies.  

I think my grandson likes the raffles as much as anything, but wanted to catch a redfish and win the Junior Division. Well, I will just tell you right off, nobody won the Junior Division. No juniors caught and checked in a redfish. The general division was won by a nine spot redfish.  

So, with the fact out of the way that we did not catch a redfish, what did we catch? We caught the same varieties we have been catching all winter. Spotted Seatrout, Ladyfish, Black Drum and Sheepshead all fell prey to our bait on this day. We were pinning medium sized live shrimp on a ¼ ounce Rip Tide jig head to tempt the hungry fish. Robert struck first with a nice seatrout; I caught a ladyfish and then a seatrout. Not finding reds we moved on to other areas. In our third stop near some docks Robert casted up close to a piling and nailed a really nice sheepshead.  

After a quick photo and release of the sheepie he throws back to near the same spot and hooked up again. This time it was pulling hard and it was about all he could do to keep this fish out from under the dock. He was fishing with a light action rod equipped with a 2000 size Shimano. He fought the fish like a pro and boated his first ever black drum.  

He went on to catch #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6. He got four of them to the boat, the other two broke off. He caught a couple more sheepshead before we called it a day and headed back for the raffle at the tournament headquarters. Although our tournament hopes had been squashed our day of fishing was outstanding.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, March 2009

Black Drum, Sheepshead, Bluefish and Jacks all Available in Winter  

A Day of Prospecting 

This report covers the past several weeks where I had only a few days on the water. Each day, however, had something to offer in the way of winter fish. On one trip my good friend Capt. Chris Myers joined me for a little prospecting the day before a multi-boat event that included a trout, snook, and redfish tournament. We scouted various areas of the Banana River for fish. In the end we had found redfish, although they were not willing to cooperate with us on this particular day. We found black drum which were more cooperative and we found sheepshead willing to bite on fly.  

Captain Chris is an excellent fly caster and was first to hookup. He cast a small black fly to a school of black drum we found around some docks. He commented that for the black drum he has had good success with this small fly worked along the bottom.  

We also found sheepshead mixed in with the black drum. Having never caught a sheepshead on fly Capt. Chris decided to give it a go. Once again a small black fly was presented successfully to the sheepies and it wasn’t long until he was hooked up. Now he has added yet another species to the many that he has caught on fly. Just a note in passing; sheepshead are know to be very tough to catch on fly so this was more than an average accomplishment.  

Tournament Time 

The next day we fished the above mentioned tournament. We both caught redfish and sheepshead and Chris added black drum. Unfortunately none of our fish were in the money at the tournament but it was a fun day on the water. The organizers raised $75,000 for a foundation called “Give Kids the World.”  

Jacks and bluefish are still active and available to catch. On one day I ran out of jig heads because the bigger jacks were chaffing my 15 pound leader and breaking off. I changed to 30 pound and caught a few more but the bites were greatly decreased with the heavier leader. With no more jig heads I had to improvise. I simple attached a 3/0 circle hook to my leader and pinned a Rip Tide 3” mullet thru the nose, bottom to top. (See picture). I add a split shot to the shank of the circle hook for weight and went on fishing. This rig worked well and lip hooked the fish were their rough mouths were unable to chaff the leader and cause it to weaken.  

 

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley

 

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, January 2009

Blues and Jacks in Summer Pattern  

My fishing has been limited lately for various reasons. However the weather has been nice and fish are biting like it was summer. Most pros will tell you to slow down you retrieve in the winter to increase your opportunity of a hookup. Lately, with Indian Summer settling in water temperatures have warmed nicely as the day goes by and the bite is more like summer time.  

On a recent outing I found both jacks and bluefish willing to take a plastic bait. Usually in the Winter I am using smaller baits like the Rip Tide 3 inch Mullet. On this winter day the fish preferred a larger bait. I started getting hookups when I switched to the 5 inch Rip Tide Flats Chub. The best color seemed to be something on the light side. Both the Gold Apricot and the Gold n’ Glow worked well.  

 

The jacks were the more plentiful and would fight for the right to eat one of the chubs. The 5 inch bait was rigged on a ¼ ounce Rip Tide Pro jig head. Rigged this way allows for long casts that cover a lot of territory. If you got a hit and missed, another jack was right there to take you on. That what I mean by biting like it was summer. They were very aggressive.  

I didn’t catch as many blues that day, but they were just as aggressive. They were biting on the same 5 inch plastics and they wanted them swimming fast. It is always a good idea to vary your presentation until you pattern the fish on any given day. On this day it was larger baits than normal and faster retrieves than normal. It was more like summer fishing, but in the winter.

That's what it's all about, Good Fishing

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, december 2008

Foggy Morning on the Banana River  

With all the holiday activities I had not been on the water for a week and was anxious to see what was cookin’. I took my time getting started because of the heavy fog I saw outside my window. As it began to lift a little I hooked up the Maverick and headed for the dock. I was greeted by a foggy morning as I unloaded a Kiwanis Park on Merritt Island and headed south on Newfound Harbor.  

With the wind light out of the west I decide to return to the docks on the west banks of the Banana River. Before Christmas lots of sheepshead (I’m still trying to catch one on fly), black drum and scattered redfish were present under and between the docks.  

My first stop was an area that includes an oyster bar and usually has sheepies all over it this time of year. Not today though, so I started south scanning the bank for signs of fish. I found an occasional sheepshead, or maybe two at a time. They were all spooky and did not hang around to play.  

In one area has a long distance between docks and is characterized by a very sandy and shallow shoreline. About half-way down this section of shore I spotted a couple really nice spotted sea trout. I made several casts with a black fly but no one was interested. This area, which probably warmed up much quicker than some of the other areas, was populated with at least a dozen nice trout and the only mullet I had seen all morning.  

I continued my search in a southerly direction. Along the way there were a few redfish singles, more trout, more sheepshead, one juvenile tarpon (I bet there were some more around somewhere), and two really nice snook. I set a way point in my head for the dock that held the snook with the idea of coming back at lunch time.  

The rest of the morning was more of the same as I continued fishing with fly rod only. As lunch time approached I headed back to the dock where I saw the monster snook earlier. The wind had switched around to the southeast, so I positioned the boat where I could float a popping cork back under the dock while I ate my lunch. I had brought some frozen shrimp along just for such an occasion.  

I cast out abut a foot under the dock and fed out more line so the float would continued back under the dock. With the bail open I laid the rod down and began to eat my sandwich. I guess I was paying too much attention to eating and not enough to fishing. I heard a loud splash only to look up and see a fish and my bobber airborne on the opposite side of the dock.  

I quickly laid down my sandwich and reached for the rod but it was too late! Not much to do but bait up again the send the bobber back under the dock. This time I ate with one hand and held the rod with the other. Almost as suddenly as before the bobber was gone and I began to reel expecting the circle hook to do its job. The hook did its job, but the leader did not. I have to think it had a nick in it or something, because when the line came tight it snapped under the weight of the fish.

I was zero for two and that was the last chance I had that day. Sometimes you just have to be satisfied with enjoying the beauty of God’s great outdoors.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley

 

Schooling Black Drum and Sheepshead  

Cool overnight temperatures continue to give anglers a good excuse to sleep in and start their fishing trip a little later. Air temperatures in the 40’s and early morning water temperatures in the low 60’s often make for a better afternoon bite. Fishing this week on the Banana River found both sheepshead and black drum schooling around the docks.  

The sheepsheads were receptive to frozen shrimp pinned to a ¼ ounce Rip Tide Pro Jighead. Rigging is easy. Pinch the tail off the shrimp and simply thread the shrimp onto the hook through where the tail was pinched off. Even though the sheepies were schooling between the docks, best results came when the shrimp tipped jighead was thrown in close to the dock pilings. 

Sightfishing the schools was a little different process. They were extremely spooky in the open water between the docks. Almost any presentation would cause them to bolt to deeper water. After switching over to a fly rod for a few casts I got a couple sheepies to follow, but they never would eat the fly.  

The black drums were willing to take frozen shrimp on a circle hook. In this case the shrimp was suspended below a popping cork and fished around the docks in the area where the schools were spotted. The drum were on the move up and down the shoreline. When they came back through the area they couldn’t resist the easy meal of the dangling shrimp. When attaching the popping cork use a leader (mono or fluorocarbon) appropriate to the water depth you are fishing and tie on a 3/0 circle hook with a uni-knot. Add another short piece of mono to your mainline if you are using braided line. Use a double uni-knot to add the leader. Now you can use a regular uni-knot again to attach the leader to the top side of the popping cork. When using braid the extra piece of mono makes a more secure connection on the wire of the cork.  

Using braid is a good idea when fishing around docks and other structure because of its abrasion resistant qualities. The black drum picture here wrapped around two different pilings before coming out into the open water. If the mainline had been mono he could have easily broken off.

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, November  2008

Fishing With Kids

Cold weather and wind have kept fishing trips to a minimum lately. Finally, however, we had a day with overnight lows only in the 50’s instead of the 40’s. I was fortunate to have a family from my hometown, Wichita, Kansas, visiting Disney and they took a day off to come over for some inshore fishing. The Stewart family included Scott and Becky and their two sons Luke, age 6 and Landon, age 12. All were avid freshwater anglers in their home waters back in Kansas.  

Armed with live shrimp and popping corks we started our saltwater adventure. Departing the dock about 8:00 we encountered water temps in the high 50’s, cooler than we wanted, but you take what you get. The early fishing produced only a few pinfish so we decided to move on and try another spot. When we arrived on the west bank of the Banana River the water temps had risen to just above 60 as the warm Florida sun did its job. It wasn’t long until six year old Luke hooked up his first redfish, a nice slot sized red. He diligently fought the feisty red to the boat and then posed for a quick photo.  

Luke soon caught another red, Landon caught a trout, and Becky caught another red. Landon was still looking for his first red, but his accurate casting soon paid dividends as he pulled a nice 21 inch red from under some mangroves. He showed fishing skills beyond his 12 year age, as he pulled the redfish from under the mangrove limbs and into open water. I found out later he had pulled some hefty bass from heavy cover and he new exactly what to do.  

The reds were all caught on live shrimp suspended from popping corks. Success seemed to come when the shrimp were fished patiently giving the smell time to permeate the surrounding water and allow the reds time to find the tasty crustaceans. Everything you do in cold water fishing needs to be slower than normal, so patience is a virtue that will put more fish in the boat during the winter months.  

We lost track of exactly how many reds we caught, because Luke was counting by twos, because he said they were bigger and deserved a better count. By the end of the day, Scott, Becky, Luke and Landon had listed redfish, trout, jacks, pinfish and a couple of really nice sheepshead to their catch-and-release list. We wouldn’t let Scott count his puffer. A couple of dolphin, manatees, osprey, and the annual migration of the white pelicans added to the day’s enjoyment.  

Other families could certainly take note of the way the Stewart family includes enjoyment of our great outdoors as a normal part of growing up for their two sons. When back in Kansas they include duck hunting, deer hunting as well as fishing in their family activities. We can never start too early in teaching the youth the importance of conservation and wise use of our great outdoor resources.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, October  2008

Jacks Can Save the Day  

Rain and wind have been common characteristics on recent fishing trips. Last Sunday was no exception. The rain cleared out early enough, but the day started with heavy NW winds that slowly shifted from the North. The chop on the Banana River made it less than comfortable anytime you were trying to move on the river. Fishing had been slow and I revealed this to my group of three anglers, Cliff, Ed, and Jeremy. Ed responded by saying “you probably always say that.” Actually, with the wind as high as it was and the water stirred up and murky I just didn’t want them to get their expectations to high.  

The redfish were not willing to participate in our outing, but a few trout did. Still, the game saver was the Jack Crevalle. We got into a school of Jacks and immediately had a couple hookups. Ed was first, and then I think it was Jeremy, but his pulled off. Then Cliff’s pole was bent over and he was working his first Jack to the boat.  

Ed is showing off the first Jack in the picture below. You can see how rough the water was, and we were glad to have found some rod bending action.  

We didn’t accomplish a triple hookup, but we did have a couple of doubles to add to the excitement. Cliff is shown with one of his fish in the picture below. If you are like me, and as it turns out, like Cliff, Ed, and Jeremy, if it pulls hard it is a good fish and these Jacks were pulling what seemed to be extra hard on this windy day.  

We were fishing live shrimp under popping corks when we first encountered the Jacks, but switched quickly to plastics to increase the fishing time by not having to re-bait after each fish fight.  Color did not seem to matter. The Jacks were hungry and willing to eat almost anything we threw at them.  

We lost track of how many Jacks we actually caught, but everyone had a chance to pull on several. There were also a few trout thrown into the mix as evidenced by the slot sized trout Jeremy is holding below.  

In my humble opinion, Jacks are one of the most fun-filled fish you can catch. Pound-for-pound they will give you a better fight than many other fish we target. And don’t forget, when summer rolls around again the big ones will be roaming just off the beach waiting to give some lucky angler the fight of his life. Just don’t forget to beef up your tackle if you go in search of the big summer Jacks.

Florida Sportsman Fishing Shows 

There are two more Florida Sportsman Fishing Shows left this Fall. I will be manning the booth for the Florida Guides Association at both the Jacksonville and Orlando shows. The Jacksonville show will be held on November 8th and 9th and the Orlando how will be the following weekend on November 15 and 16.  

Come by the booth and say hi if you are in the area.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Clear Water Redfish  

With all the rain in recent weeks clear water is not always easy to find. The Banana River has been mostly murky and fishing a little on the slow side. On the other hand, there are some clear water pockets in Mosquito Lagoon that are holding schools of redfish. I had the opportunity to fish with my friend and fellow captain Chris Myers in his own stomping grounds and he showed me a bunch of redfish. Parts of the lagoon are murky too, but other areas are clear.  

When the water is clear and you can see a whole school of redfish within casting distance the adrenaline really gets to pumping. On this particular trip the reds were willing to eat CAL Shad Tails, Rip Tide 3 inch Mullet, the new Rip Tide Ultimate Minnow, and Captain Chris even tempted one on fly.  

When sight fishing reds you need to make your cast in front of the cruising and tailing fish for best results. In fact, Captain Chris says, “It’s all about accuracy in casting if you want to hook up a lot of fish.” The lesson here--don’t neglect your practice casting before you get on the water. When those feisty reds show up, you need to place a lure in the right place to guarantee a bite and hookup.  

Once hooked, land the fish as quickly as you can, take a photo if you want one, then get the fish back into the water as soon as possible. Cradle the fish with horizontal support at all times and be sure it is resuscitated before releasing.  

If you would like to get in to some spectacular fishing on Mosquito Lagoon give Captain Chris a call at 321-229-2848, email him at cmyers@floridafishinglessons.com,  or visit his website at www.floridafishinglessons.com.  

Florida Sportsman Fishing Shows 

There are two more Florida Sportsman Fishing Shows left this Fall. I will be manning the booth for the Florida Guides Association at both the Jacksonville and Orlando shows. The Jacksonville show will be held on November 8th and 9th and the Orlando how will be the following weekend on November 15 and 16.  

Come by the booth and say hi if you are in the area.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, SEPTEMBER  2008

Barramundi in Central Florida

The barramundi is a cousin of our beloved snook, and pound for pound I guarantee you the fight is as good or better. Why do I mention this, because last week I got to visit Osceola Outback Adventures near St. Cloud to experience some barramundi fishing on my own. Besides me the anglers were my grandson Robert, Capt. Tom Carver, Capt. Tom Van Horn, Charlie McCullough and Mark Blyth. We had not been out of the car a minute before Capt. Van Horn had hooked the first fish.  

From then on it seemed like somebody had one on all the time. Before the day was over we had landed over 50 fish in the 9 to 12 pound range. If you ever get a chance to try it, don’t miss it! 

Capt. Byron Hennecy, operator of Osceola Outback Adventures explained that these fish will hit about anytime of the day. In fact he says, “When the water temperature heats up, they seemed to get more active.” We didn’t even start our adventure until around 2:00 in the afternoon - no need to get up before breakfast and start out early. When chasing these barramundi you can sleep in and start at your leisure.  

Another unique characteristic about the fish is their willingness to bite on almost anything. We caught them on topwater, jerk baits, paddle tail plastics, and more. Even the color doesn’t seem to matter, although our guide Joey said he has his best success on a yellow squiggly tail plastic rigged on a silver jig head. In my mind it didn’t seem to matter.  

If you would like to try your skills on these hard hitting, hard fighting and high jumping barramundi you can contact Capt. Hennecy at 407-908-3216 or email him at byron@osceolaoutback.com. In the meantime check out his website at www.osceolaoutback.com.  

 

Kids Fishing Clinic 

The next fishing clinic that I will be involved with is in Punta Gorda, Saturday September 13. It will be held at Fisherman’s Village, starting at 1:30. This event is part of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association annual meeting. If you are in the area come on by and say hi. Heck, we might even put you to work. We are expecting 150 to 200 kids - all of which will learn about fishing and conservation before they hit the water to fish with their new rods and reels which they will receive. Rods and Reels are furnished by Fish Florida Foundation. You can support them by buying a Fish Florida specialty license tag.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, August  2008

Mother Nature's Wrath  

Fishing has not been the thing to do in the past few days. I started off several days ago preparing the boat for a little Tropical Storm called Fay. She was supposed to move through on Tuesday and throw her weight around a little. She came, but she didn’t leave - at least not quick enough. It is now Thursday and she’s still spinning and sending rain and wind our way.  

The boat survived the winds just fine and I untied everything and got the Finding Equilibrium ready for her next fishing trip. Now, the weather won’t clear to make it possible and when it does, the whole fishing scene will be different.  

I drove to Kelly Park on Merritt Island, where I normally ramp the boat, only to find the dock completely under water. (See picture of ramp, dock is right in the middle, but underwater.) Water in the Banana River is completely over the seawall and spilling into the park and near the pavilions. The river literally looks like the ocean with huge waves pounding against the land.

What this means for the fishing is still unknown. The fish will definitely have a lot of new hang oust available to them and you will probably need to do some prospecting to find them. You will still look for the usual suspects like bait pods, drop offs, points, etc. The problem is they will all be in different places than before the storm. Just be patient and look for areas similar to where you found fish before and you should locate them again.  

I have seen both good and bad fishing following a storm, so I don’t really know what to predict. You just have to get out there and give it a try. Another thing I would mention is the safety factor. There will be lots of floating debris like logs, dock parts, etc. Keep your eye on the water and avoid such hazards. Some of them will be submerged and in areas you don’t expect so use utmost caution when on the water.  

Kids Fishing Clinic 

Right now I am just hoping everything clears up so we can proceed with a schedule Hook Kids on Fishing event this coming Saturday. We have over 200 kids preregistered for the event. Each participant will receive instruction in 6 different areas of boating and fishing. They include Safety and Rod and Reel Handling, Conservation, Knot Tying, Rigging and Tackle, Casting, and Boating Safety. All kids receive a free rod and reel and the last hour is devoted to hands on fishing. Plenty of volunteers will be watching and helping the kids around the water. If you are free on Saturday August 23, 2008, come on by Kelly Park on Merritt Island. The event runs from 9:00 to 11:00 with registration at 8:30. All this is assuming the water recedes and Kelly Park becomes useable by Saturday.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, July  2008

Snookin’ in Stuart  

I had a great opportunity to take my eleven year old grandson on a fishing getaway this past week. We packed our bags and headed south for the River Palms Cottages and Fish Camp in Jensen Beach. Only a little more than a two hour drive from Merritt Island, this quaint destination is a fisherman’s paradise. There are nearby boat ramps at the causeways and a dock on the Indian River to come home to each day.  

The weather did not cooperate too well, as each morning the winds were blowing at about 10 miles per hour or more, from the southeast. The catching was slow, but the fishing and the experience with by grandson was the best.  

Trying to ignore the winds, we fished a few rolling tarpon, lock-jawed trout and few willing snook. On one day a friend and fellow guide, Captain Duber Winters hopped aboard the “Finding Equilibrium” for a couple of hours of snook fishing. We headed south towards the inlet and a couple of Duber’s favorite fishing holes. He suggested we start early and work the early morning bite. The strategy paid off when I hooked the first snook as day was barely breaking.  

We were rigged with D. O. A. Holographic Shrimp on a 40 pound leader. As we cast up current the shrimp would drift toward the waiting fish. A fast action heavy rod is a good selection for this type of fishing. You definitely need some backbone to keep the fish from running back into the rocks, or the docks that you are fishing.  

It didn’t take too much longer before grandson Robert was pulling on another nice snook that also fell for the D.O.A. Shrimp. If you would like to do some of this snook fishing with Capt. Duber you can contact him at Green Water Charters, 772-631-1023. 

This snook was definitely the fish that made the trip worthwhile. It is the kind of thing that makes kids into anglers. In fact, it is fish like this that keep most of us coming back for more.

On another day Robert and I had the pleasure of fishing with Capt. Mark Nichols, originator of the D.O.A. line of fishing lures. Needless to say, we had a great selection of lures to choose from on this trip. From TerrorEyz and C.A.L.  series shad tail and jerk baits to the ever popular and productive D.O.A. Shrimp.  You can visit the website at http://www.doalures.com/  and view all the different lures they make.  

It was another windy day and the fishing conditions were not that favorable, but Capt. Mark’s unending enthusiasm and persistence resulted in a nice variety of fish. First came a mutton snapper, then a mangrove snapper and several trout. We also spotted some rolling tarpon, but they just didn’t want to play.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, June  2008

Banana River Producing a Variety of Fish  

It’s been nice to have a few mornings without the wind blowing so hard. All spring has been characterized by high winds that tend to make the fishing tough. Well, this week was much better and made for enjoyable days on the water.  

Rip Tide plastic baits have produce well this week on a variety of fish. Trout, jacks, and bluefish all ate them well. My overall favorite remains the 3 inch Rip Tide Mullet, but the Flats Chub and the Curtailer have also produced fish.

One thing I like about these three lures is the fact that you can rig them all on the same ¼ ounce Rip Tide Pro Jig Head. This allows you to change your bait profile by simply switching tails.

 

Of course, if you don’t want or need the weight you can rig them all on a Daiichi Fat Gap Offset or on a Daiichi Copper Head. Rigged in this manner, these baits will skip under the mangroves or docks very well and also make a great presentation in shallow water.

 

The most productive colors this week were Gold’n Glow in the Rip Tide Flats Chub and Silver Mullet for the 3 inch Rip Tide Mullet. For the Curtailer, both the Black Shad and the Green Back/Silver Belly were good producers.  

Special Note: Summer time always brings the big jacks and tarpon nearshore off Cocoa Beach. The jacks have been crusin’ in big packs and can be taken on both artificial and live baits. The 34 inch jack pictured below hit a 6 inch live pogie on Wednesday this week. One thing for sure, if you go targeting these big ocean jacks you better step up your tackle a notch because they will tear you up if you catch them on too light an outfit.

 That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley

www.inshorefishingadventures.com

captmarkwright@earthlink.net

 

Kids Are More Than Happy With Sharks  

Last week I had a chance for a little family getaway to the Florida Keys. The trip included my grandson Robert and his visiting friend Jessie from Georgia. On these types of outings it is important that the kids catch fish - any fish. They just need to bend their poles to keep their interest high.  

I had to give up some of my own fishing desires in favor of making it a memorable trip for the kids but it was well worth it. Sometimes adults press to hard on their style of fishing at the expense of a good day for the kids. Once in awhile, we need to just focus on the kids and let them have their day. As it turned out on this trip, sharks were the key to our success. If you can keep their rods bent over a lot of the time, they may just become your best fishing buddy as the years go by. However, as I said above, it is very important that they catch something.  

To keep the activity level high we kept them supplied with plenty of shrimp and instructed them on how to use the 2500 Shimanos we brought for them to fish with. It was up to them to bait the hooks and take off what seemed like hundreds of snappers, grunts, and pinfish. In the meantime we set out two larger rods and baited up with frozen mullet.  

When fishing for sharks it is a good practice to add a piece of wire leader to the terminal connection if you want to fight the fish all the way into the boat. Add a 5/0 to 7/0 circle hook, depending on the size of the sharks you expect to catch. Personally, I always use circle hooks when fishing with cut bait to reduce or eliminate gut hooked fish. Either pin on a whole mullet or if they are large you can cut them into chunks to entice the sharks.  

Place the rod in a rod holder, leaving the bail open so the shark can run off with the bait. Once the line starts coming off the spool, count to 10 to let it eat and then start reeling. Remember, no hook set when using circle hooks. If the circle hook does its job the fish will be hooked in the corner of the mouth, making for an easy hook removal with a de-hooker.  

It didn’t take long until the line started leaving the spool. The boys had already determined who would get the first fish on the “big pole” so Robert started the fight. It turned out to be a big nurse shark with plenty of pull. The boys actually traded off fighting the fish. When one got tired the other took over.

 

The boys also enjoyed catching the bonnet head sharks which were smaller but more plentiful. You never know what will bite so you have to be prepared for anything. There is something mysterious and scary about the sharks and most kids will have a blast catching and releasing them.  

Be sure you take along your de-hooker and make every effort to remove the hook without harming the fish. If a fish happens to get gut hooked, scientists tell us that it is probably better to cut the line as close to the hook as possible, instead of trying to remove it. The fish will have a better chance of surviving.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Hot Trout Bite Keeps Anglers Busy  

The trout bite on the Banana River continues to be the game of choice. Bigger trout are available early on topwater baits and the schoolies up to 14 7/8 can be caught in double digit numbers.  

Two excellent anglers from the Orlando area spent one day on the “Finding Equilibrium” with trout catches up to 17 inches. Ted put the biggest trout in the boat in the early morning using a topwater chugger. Later Ted and his son Brian started catching one trout after another. By the time the bite subsided they had caught and released about 80 of the hungry trout.  

The majority of the trout came on Rip Tide 3 Inch Mullet in the Nite Glow color. Rigged on a ¼ ounce Rip Tide Pro jig head, the mullet were cast out far from the boat and retrieved in a lifting and then falling routine. The trout would often take the mullet on the fall. Other colors worked too, but Brian and Ted continued to prefer the Nite Glow. Once you develop confidence in a color it makes sense to stay with it. A couple of ladyfish were mixed in with the trout.  

Later we moved to a mangrove lined shoreline where Ted and Brian peppered the shadows with the same Rip Tide Mullet. Both anglers were excellent casters and it finally paid off. Brian hooked and boated a nice 24 inch, Banana River Snook, to end the day. All in all, it was a day full of action, but still no real bragging rights. The trip was a birthday gift from Brian to his dad.  

Redfish are still a favorite target on the river. They will also jump on a well placed Rip Tide Mullet. The one pictured below measured in at 23 inches. This fish came right off the bottom in front of the mangroves in about 9 feet of water.

Mullet are all over the flats right now and should continue to attract predator fish. It will only get warmer (I should say hotter) from here on out, so start early and take advantage of the early morning temps. The winds also seem to be improving are likely to be calmer early in the day.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, May  2008

Get Out Your Plastics for Spring Trout  

Three days on the water and three windy days. The wind has continued to blow like it was still March; nevertheless there were some trout to be caught.  

All week long the Rip Tide Mullet, Rip Tide Curtailer, and Rip Tide Flats Chub have worked well on Banana River Sea Trout. All were fished on ¼ ounce jig heads. Brothers Greg and Tom are shown in the picture below holding trout caught on the Rip Tide Curtailer. Andy in the background had just lost a trout which would have made a triple catch for the visiting brothers had it not gotten off at the boat.  

The most productive colors were the Fire Tiger for the Curtailer, Electric Chicken and Silver Mullet for the 3 inch mullet, and Gold ’n Glow for the Flats Chub.  

A slow retrieve while lifting the rod tip and then letting it fall was used to tempt the many trout bites of the week. The trout would almost always strike on the fall.  

The mullet have not yet showed up in large numbers, when they do the fishing should get even better.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.
Capt. Ron Presley

Trout Bite Heats Up As Temperature Heats Up 

The wind continues to be an adversary on the water. Most days lately have included high winds that make fishing a little harder. The good news is the water level in the rivers has increased making more places available to everyone.  

Recent trips have included a variety of fish but the most common catch has been Spotted Sea Trout. Rip Tide plastics have led the way in putting fish in the boat. My favorite three inch mullet in glow, electric chicken, and silver mullet have been the most productive.  

Omaha resident Keith and his wife Rita joined me one day on the Banana River with high hopes for some redfish action. Unfortunately that didn’t happen but the trout bite did light up later in the day. The couple was joined by their daughter Audrey and her friend Mike for the days outing.  

Water temperatures in the low 70’s in the morning were replaced by the high 70’s after about 11:00 and it seemed to trigger a much improved bite by the trout. Up to that point we had only a couple of trout but the last two hours of the trip resulted in numerous trout for all the anglers.   

Although the majority of the trout came on the three inch Rip Tide Mullet and some came on the flats chub in golden glow, the larger trout came on the new Rip Tide Curtailer in the glow color. Rigged on a Rip Tide Pro Jig Head the Curtailer, with its ultra kick tail just seemed to get the attention of the larger trout and for some reason was not as susceptible to the puffers. After Keith caught a couple of trout in the 15 inch range everyone else wanted one too.  

Keith and Mike had both indicated they enjoyed live bait fishing but with not much happening they both willingly switched to artificials. Then, for several hours they contently and successfully tossed plastics to bring a good number of fish to the boat. The days catch included numerous trout, lady fish, and the biggest fish of the day, a six pound Gaff Top Sail Cat that Mike caught on a Rip Tide Mullet.  

Don’t forget the ladies. They were doing their share of the catching along the way as well. Both Rita and Audrey put their share of fish in the boat. When the time came to end the trip and head for the ramp Audrey said she had to make one more cast. The result, pictured below, was the largest trout of the day. A Banana River beauty going about 17 inches. The fish came on a Rip Tide 3 inch Silver Mullet. You never know what that last cast will bring. Nice job Audrey, I love those anglers who never really want to quit! 

Just before time to call it a day, Rita reached into the cooler and brought out a banana. I had to explain to her that our fishing would have most likely been more productive if she had left the bananas at home. Always do everything you can to make your day more productive, and that includes leaving the bananas at home. Oh well, in this case it looked to good and I had one too!

Safety Note 

The world we live in today requires we take certain safety precautions to protect our property. This week a boat trailer was stolen a ramp I frequently use. It was a vivid reminder of the need to protect our property. If you don’t have a lock for your trailer, get one - then use it regularly so you do not become a victim of a similar crime. This theft took place in broad daylight after a fellow guide had hit the water with his clients. He came back to the dock to find he had no trailer to tow the boat home. It could be you next, so take the necessary precautions.  

Peacock Bass 

If you want to do something different consider this trip in search of Peacock Bass.  This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Red, White, and Blue Day on Banana River near Cocoa Beach 

Spring has sprung, a few mullet are showing up and the fish are beginning to bite. This past week was a red (redfish), white (snook) and blue (bluefish) day for one angler and the trout are picking up too.  

Dennis, an angler from Canada, and his son Lawrence really did have a red, white, and blue day on the Banana River. I counted the snook in the white category although it could have been trout as well. Dennis actually completed and East Coast Slam by boating Redfish, Snook, and Trout in the same outing.  

All fish were taken on Rip Tide plastics. The majority of the fish came on the Rip Tide 3 inch mullet. Favorite colors of the day were nite glow, silver mullet, and electric chicken. These versatile plastics caught trout, snook, and jacks although the day. The big redfish couldn’t refuse a Rip Tide nite glow Flats Chub rigged on a Pro Jig Head. The space guppy color was also effective during the day for other species.  

Both Dennis and Lawrence were accomplished anglers and willing to toss artificials until their arms wore off. Their commitment paid off with numerous fish coming to the boat. As proven by these two anglers, casting is the most important skill you need in angling. They made good casts and caught lots of fish. If you don’t get to fish every week you can at least take some time to practice casting in the backyard before you go fishing.  The extra time will pay dividends when you do get on the water.  

Safety Note 

The world we live in today requires we take certain safety precautions to protect our property. This week a boat trailer was stolen a ramp I frequently use. It was a vivid reminder of the need to protect our property. If you don’t have a lock for your trailer, get one - then use it regularly so you do not become a victim of a similar crime. This theft took place in broad daylight after a fellow guide had hit the water with his clients. He came back to the dock to find he had no trailer to tow the boat home. It could be you next, so take the necessary precautions.

Peacock Bass 

If you want to do something different consider this trip in search of Peacock Bass.  This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

Kids Fishing Clinic 

Coastal Angler Magazine, supported by the Florida Guides Association and numerous volunteers and supporters offer kids fishing clinics in various areas of the state. The next clinic will be held at the Melbourne Auditorium Saturday, April 19, 2008 from 8:45-11am. The Melbourne Auditorium is located at 625 Hibiscus Blvd. You can find Hibiscus Blvd. by going a 1/2 mile north of Hwy. 192 on Highway U.S. 1. Go west 1/2 mile to reach the auditorium. This event is part of the CAM Fishing and Boating Expo that runs all weekend, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, March 2008

Nearshore Cobia 

It’s that time of year when cobia fever possesses many central east coast anglers. Unfortunately it has been a less than banner year for the brown bombers. High winds and high seas have made it difficult for the small boater to get out much this season. The one day the seas were calm enough for me to get out last week the water was murky and high clouds made the sightfishing very difficult. No cobes were caught or even sighted.   

With each passing day the chances for cobia nearshore diminish. If you still want to target them get out as soon as you can because as water temperatures warm they will be gone. Pictured below is a nice cobia from last year.   

Secondary Target 

The trip was not a complete wipe out as blue fish and Spanish mackerel were plentiful. Both varieties were eager to bite on RipTide 4 inch mullet rigged on a 3/8 oz. Pro Jig Head. Some anglers think plastic baits are not the best for these toothy critters, but I also threw a silver spoon at the same fish and the bite was much stronger on the realistic looking mullet. I am willing to trade off some plastic for more consistent action. These fish can be found by looking for diving birds and bait schools, but if they are not visible simply put out your line and troll as a method of finding the fish. Once you find them, backtrack and drift the area. Long casts and a fast retrieve seemed to be the secret on this day.  

Spring Forecast  

As April approaches these March winds should die down and big trout should be showing themselves on area flats. The mullet are already a little more plentiful but still scarce. If you are lucky enough to find some bait you will likely find some trout.  

The redfish seem to have a mind of their own lately and have not held true to normal patterns. They are right where you expect them one day and gone the next. When you find this kind of pattern they are moving a lot and this means you have to cover more territory too. The real key, as with the trout, is to find some bait fish is you also want to find the reds.  

The jacks have been a day saver more than once lately. Good numbers are cruising the Banana River and it won’t be long until the big boys show up on the beach. In my last report I referred to them as an underrated fish, and I really believe that. If you want a really good fight on light tackle don’t pass up an opportunity to hook up a jack crevalle. Usually if you find one you will find more and it can be non-stop action if you’re lucky. 

Peacock Bass 

If you want to do something different consider this trip in search of Peacock Bass.  This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

Kids Fishing Clinic

Coastal Angler Magazine, supported by the Florida Guides Association and numerous volunteers and supporters offer kids fishing clinics in various areas of the state. The next clinic will be in Palm Bay. The Palm Bay Hook Kids on Fishing program will be held at the Marine Resources Council’s Lagoon House, Saturday, March 29, 2008 from 8:45-11am. The MRC Lagoon House is located about 1.5 miles south of US 192 off Highway U.S. 1. Go to University Ave. take a left and first right on Riverview, 3275 Dixie Hwy. NE / Highway U.S. 1. The first 100 kids receive a free rod and reel. Safety, Conservation, Rigging and Tackle, Knot Tying, and Casting will all be covered and the last hour will be spent fishing.  

Following this event the Melbourne Hook Kids on Fishing program will be held at the Melbourne Auditorium Saturday, April 19 , 2008 from 8:45-11am. The Melbourne Auditorium is located at 625 Hibiscus Blvd. You can find Hibiscus Blvd. by going a 1/2 mile north of Hwy. 192 on Highway U.S. 1. Go west 1/2 mile to reach the auditorium. This event is part of the CAM Fishing and Boating Expo that runs all weekend, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley

www.inshorefishingadventures.ocm

captmarkwright@earthlink.net

 

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, February 2008

An Underrated Fish 

This wind is beginning to bother me. The last two outings have been plagued by 15 to 20 mph winds and difficult fishing conditions. Each of these two days was made bearable by what most consider to be an unworthy target. The jack crevalle is considered by many to just be a junk fish, but pound for pound they are one of the toughest fighters around.  

Both of my last two fishing trips included kids, and they don’t care so much about what kind of fish they catch as they do about how hard they pull. Just look at Robert in the picture below. Does he look like he’s having fun - sure he does, and that’s a jack on the other end of the line.  

He caught 10 or 12 that day and made what could have been a horrible wind blow day turn in to an exciting day for this young fisherman. Better yet, the jacks give an excellent opportunity to coach kids in how to land a fish on light tackle. The practice alone made it all worthwhile.  

My next trip was also greeted by high winds, starting early and getting worse as the day went on. The first hour was unproductive as we tried some various spots that were hidden from the wind. My anglers were from New York. Tom was the dad and his two sons were Nick and Will. They were 11 and 12 years old. Then, we found some jacks again, just like the day before. We proceeded to catch a few and then move on to look for some more glamorous fish.  

After a couple more hours of not finding a redfish or even a trout, the boys were ask if they wanted to go back where we caught the jacks. It was a unanimous YES! We did return to the previous location and the boys caught many more fish, doubling up on several occasions. On both days the jacks were eager to hit either a Rip Tide Mullet or a Rip Tide Flats Chub (see picture) rigged on a red Pro Jig Head. The favorite colors included glow and gold apricot.  

Just having fun fishing was a lot more important for these kids and catching a lowly jack did not detract from their excitement and enjoyment of the fishing trip. As a matter of fact, it didn’t detract from mine either.  I had a blast watching those kids pull on those hard fighting jacks.  

Peacock Bass 

Talking about this cold weather may make you dream of a tropical climate like Brazil to do some fishing.  This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

If you have kids and live in the Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island area you can take them out for a great day of fun and fishing this coming Saturday, Feb. 23 at Kiwanis Park on Merritt Island. The event is part of the Brevard Parks and Recreation’s Sykes Creek Adventures. Coastal Angler Magazine, supported by the Florida Guides Association and numerous volunteers and supporters, are offering a kids fishing clinic.  Hook Kids on Fishing will be held from 10:30 to 1:00 with the first 100 kids receiving a free rod and reel. Safety, Conservation, Rigging and Tackle, Knot Tying, and Casting will all be covered and the last hour will be spent fishing.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, January 2008

Another Cold Front is Approaching Florida

Here we go again, after a week or so of decent weather another cold front is likely to slow down the fishing. With low temperatures predicted in the low 40’s the water temp is going to fall too. With that in mind, this report is going to touch on some cold water fishing tactics you can use.

First of all, think s-l-o-w. Fish are cold blooded animals and their body temperature takes on the water temperature around them. When the water temperatures are falling the fish are seeking areas where they can be comfortable. For this reason cold weather often moves the fish to deep water holes, canals, or to areas characterized by warm water discharges such as occur at power plants. 

You will have to take a big dose of patience with you when the water temps fall. The fish become very lethargic and limit their movement considerably. They are not likely to chase a bait at hot-rod speeds through the water column. If you do catch a fish in an area work it thoroughly because they do tend to concentrate in areas that provide them comfort.  

I have two favorite lures for working deep water during cold weather periods. The first is my old standby the Rip Tide Mullet. Rigged on a ¼ ounce jig head the mullet can be worked slowly along the bottom using a reeling retrieve. In other words, just cast the jig out and reel very slowly to drag the lure across the bottom stirring it up as it goes. I like to use a contrasting body and tail such as the chartreuse with red tail.  

What I am talking about here is water temperatures that have fallen into the 50’s with a passing cold front. You must make presentations that will be easy for them to eat. You almost can’t go to slow, but you have to make lots of casts and cover lots of territory.  

Remember, the fish’s metabolism has slowed and they eat very little anyway so you have to get the bait in front of their nose. Deep water canals or dredge holes where the bottom is soft and mucky are good places to start your fishing day. Fish like to settle down in the mucky bottoms for warmth. Later in the day after the sun has warmed the water you can change your tactics and visit other areas starting on east facing shorelines which are first to catch the sun’s warming rays.  

My second favorite bait for this type of fishing is the Rip Tide Mud Minnow. This versatile bait closely imitates a live mud minnow in shape and color.  I like the darker colored green or Killifish versions. Work them the same way as described above with a presentation that stirs up the bottom. Don’t forget to keep it slow. If the reeling retrieve does not produce, try imparting a little jump to the presentation by lifting the rod tip gently. Just a couple of inches are usually enough. Visualize the mud minnow coming up off the bottom and landing right in front of a lethargic fish. This just might be the action required to trigger the strike.  

Peacock Bass 

Talking about this cold weather may make you dream of a tropical climate like Brazil to do some fishing.  This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, DECEMBER  2007

Lookdown and See the Reds 

Put your thinking caps on to make the connection between the title and the report. I had the pleasure of fishing this past week with my grandson Robert and also with Chris Kwek, a soldier on leave from a 15 month tour in Iraq.  It was indeed an honor to take Chris and his dad Dean out for a little fishing.  

The first trip I to report on was with my grandson Robert on the Banana River. It was a nice but windy day with the water temp at about 72. We were fishing Rip Tide 3 inch mullet and did some prospecting around docks and flats that had been successful in past winters. The only takers at first were small trout. The morning low was in the 50’s so we didn’t go too early but still the action was slow. Finally, after we had taken a lunch break we got into some jacks and got to bend the rods for a while until they finally disappeared or quit biting.  Jacks are a great fish to catch. Pound for pound they give about as much fight as anything in the river.  

A little later we saw some fish busting bait and went over to check it out. It turns out a bunch of glass minnows had been trapped up against a sea wall. Robert tossed in a Rip Tide Mullet in the dark Shad Flash color. His pole quickly bent over and a short fight ensued before he brought a lookdown to the boat. We don’t catch a lot of these unusual critters around here. They are said to get their name from the way they appear to look down their nose as they swim.  They are a member of the Jack family and give a similar fight except they don’t have the same bulk as a Jack Crevalle. If you have never seen one you will be surprised at how thin they actually are.  

God Bless Our Troops 

The next trip was with Sergeant Kwek and his dad. Mother Nature stepped up to the plate and served us a cold front that almost shut the fishing down. The lows had been in the 40’s for two days in a row and the water temp was 59 when we started out at about 10:00 am.  Wind conditions were forecast at 10 to 15 and it felt like it had already been achieved.  

Both Chris and Dean were excellent anglers and made cast after cast without much success. Dean was the first to score with a small trout. That one trout was the only fish that came to the boat during the first couple of hours. Dean caught the trout on a Rip Tide 3 inch mullet in the chartreuse with red tail color. Chris added another trout later on the same bait in new penny.  

Later in the day the water temp warmed up to about 62, the wind continued to blow. It was one of those tough fishing days. We moved to a different part of the river and changed over to live shrimp on a popping cork. We rigged the corks by first tying about 12 inches of 20 pound mono on the 10 pound braid. I like to tie the mono directly to the popping cork instead of the braid.  Tie on a 15 to 20 inch mono or fluorocarbon leader, depending on the water depth, and add a circle hook.  Don’t forget, with the circle hook you don’t need to set the hook, just start reeling.  

Well, it wasn’t long until Chris did just that but missed the first strike. Baited up again and sure enough hooked the first redfish of the day. The circle hook had done its job and hooked the red directly in the corner of the mouth. We released it and baited up again. The next thing we knew we had a double. Chris and Dean were each hooked up to a red fish. Dean’s was the largest fish of the day, a nice 22 inch red. Just when we thought it was really going to happen it slowed down again. Chris added 2 more reds and Dean added a Jack and that was to be it for the day. Chris is in the foreground of the photo of the double hookup.  

Chris told me a little of what it was like to patrol the streets in Iraq, “looking for the bad guys,” as he described it. Chris's  is  an E-7 which is a Sergeant First Class . He is currently stationed at Ft Bragg, NC in the 82nd Airborne Div. in an Airborne Infantry unit.  He was lucky enough to be on a Christmas leave from a 15 month Iraq deployment.

He says he is proud to help the people of Iraq but will be glad to be home for good. He plans to put in 20 years serving our country and he has eight years left. It was certainly my pleasure to be a small part of this family's Christmas celebration.  

Peacock Bass 

Don’t get excited, I am not going to talk about catching any peacock bass while I was in the Banana River but I do know where you can catch some. This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Gags, Black Drum and Peacock Bass 

Well, I am still laid up with what the doctors call Plantar Fasciitis. It is like a toothache in your heel. Although the ailment has kept me from piloting my own boat, a couple of friends have made it possible to get a couple of fishing trips in. One was to Homosassa with Captain Rick Burns and another was to Mosquito Lagoon with Captain Chris Myers. They both dutifully put up with my handicap and put me on some fish. I might just have to keep the boot (cast) on and play sick. That way I can just ride around and fish.  

With respect to the gag grouper, Capt. Rick ( www.reelburns.com ) ask me over to Homosassa to do some shallow water grouper fishing with him and his friend Captain Bill Lotz ( 352-860-2310 ). We took Bill’s boat which is rigged with a tower for easy spotting of the rock piles we would fish. Rick manned the tower and ran the trolling motor with a remote from high above the water. Another friend of Rick’s came along to help in the catching. Jeff and I were doing the fishing while Captain Rick and Captain Bill treated us like royalty, catering to our every need.    

The strategy was for Rick to use the visibility provided by the tower to move Jeff and I along the rock piles just within casting distance. We use 5500 reels loaded with 50 pound braid and finished off with diving crank baits on a 60 pound leader. These heavy rigs are needed in case you hook up with the big guys. We didn’t that day, but we did get 14 gags, a couple of trout and several real nice Spanish mackerel.  

This is an interesting fishery where you can cast plugs in 6 to 7 feet of water toward underwater rock piles and catch these hard hitting grouper. If you have never done it you need to give it a try.  

Mosquito Lagoon  

My second trip was with Captain Chris Myers ( www.floridafishinglessons.com ). Captain Chris specializes in poling the flats of legendary Mosquito Lagoon. On our way out Captain Chris told me of some black drum, redfish, and redfish he had been seeing in the “goon” so hopes were high.  

Not long after approaching our first location we started spotting redfish but they were a little spooky and showed no interest in our offerings. We poled through one area that held a bunch of large trout but they too were showing no interest in being caught. As we continued along the same flat we started seeing wider ranging ripples that turned out to be 100’s of black drum.  

I managed a hook-up on a Rip Tide Realistic Crab, sprayed with Rip Tide Blast Shrimp Scent. I had pinned the crab on a ¼ inch jig head by hooking it sideways across the bottom of the lure and then rotating the jig head 180 degrees to make the crab settle upright on the bottom with the hook up. I sprayed on a little scent and pulled the crab very slowly through the huge school of black drum.  One finally showed some interest and I caught my only fish of the day.  

We continued to work the school and Captain Chris pulled 3 more out of the bunch before we called it a day.

Captain Chris is a master on the flats using artificial baits. He likes to say that if you are not comfortable and confident in using plastic baits you need to go out with no natural bait so your only opportunity at catching a fish will be on the artificials. This will force you to use them and your confidence will rise. Another point about sightfishing that became abundantly clear to me was the need for accurate casting. I feel like I would have caught more fish if I had made better casts. Don’t wait until you are fishing to cast, practice in your backyard on days you are not fishing. It will pay dividends when you get on the water.  

Peacock Bass 

Don’t get excited, I am not going to talk about catching any peacock bass while I was in Mosquito Lagoon but I do know where you can catch some. This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at captmarkwright@earthlink.net. The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.  

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.
 

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, November 2007

High Winds, Cool Temps, and Big Smiles   

High winds cool temperatures and 2 fishing shows have kept my fishing to a minimum. The cool front that came through made fishing tough and the high north and northeast winds only compounded the issue. On three different days I fished the Indian river with limited success. We found plenty of lady fish willing to bite on Rip Tide 3 inch mullet and on one day found plenty of small seat trout willing to do the same.   

The best day out of the three turned out to be the one when my eleven year old grandson accompanied me on the river. I really believe God just smiles down on kids when they are fishing. Robert warmed up on lady fish and then later hooked into a 30 inch redfish while fishing just south of Titusville.  

He was using a small red and white curly tail jig and I was using my usual Rip Tide Mullet. I had tried several colors that morning without a lot of success. At this particular time I had pinned a silver mullet on a ¼ ounce Rip Tide Pro jig head. Robert turned to me and said he wanted to trade rigs. Being a dutiful grandpa I agreed and he took my rig while I took his.  

You guessed it, first cast and the rod bent down. It was obvious he had on a good fish so I went into the front hatch to pull out the dip net while he skillfully fought the oversized red. He has caught plenty of redfish, but this was to be his biggest. After a few minutes he brought it alongside the boat and guided it into the landing net. A quick high five with lots of smiles, a speedy photo session and the big red was back in the water swimming off to fight again some day.  

 We kept fishing a while before the wind drove us to the ramp. He added a huge gaff top sail cat to the days catch before we left. It was big smiles and high fives all the way back to the dock.  

This week the wind has subsided a lot and fishing conditions are much better. Problem is I am laid up with what the doctors call Plantar Fasciitis. To me it just feels like I have the mother of all tooth aches in my heel. At any rate it is keeping me off the water and I am getting cabin fever big time.

 I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley   www.inshorefishingadventures.com   captmarkwright@earthlink.net

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, October 2007

On the Road Again,  

Yes, on the road again. This road trip ended up in the Everglades for a little snook fishing. With the Miami Florida Sportsman Fishing show on October 13 and 14 I decided to join a couple of friends for some everglades fishing. Snook was the targeted fish but sharks, reds and big sharks were also on the menu. The plan on this trip was to live bait fish for snook. One of the first things you have to do is catch bait and both my pals were up to the task. This is hard work, but work that pays off in the end. My friend Pat is pictured  throwing to a gulf marker to pick up some threadfins.  Other parts of the day were aimed at getting big 12 inch mullet.

The next step in the strategy is to find some moving water and get the baits back into the cover where the fish are likely to be. Time on the water is the teacher and lots of time on the water gives you the knowledge you need to be at the right place at the right time. Deep holes with overhanging mangroves and small creek mounts are prime locations. The “glades” are so huge it takes lots of running to fish the various locations at the proper time in the tides. In three days of fishing we put 285 miles on Kevin’s 18 ft. Egret.

One particular spot was so small we fished it one angler at a time. The strategy was to hookup while standing on the back deck, get the snook away from the brush and cover and work him around the back of the boat and up the opposite side so another angler could step up and fish. That angler tried to repeat the process. There were 4 or five bites in a row from that tiny area. We managed to get a couple of the snook to the boat while others were missed or broke off on the cover. This is intense fishing!

We caught sharks every day and jumped several tarpon in areas where we saw them crashing mullet. On the last day I had the surprise of catching my first goliath grouper. These things pull like a freight train. The two I got to the boat weighed only 19 and 30 pounds, small in relation to how big they get, but I was amazed at the fight they put on. I simply wasn’t ready for the first one that hit. He whipped my butt and broke me off almost before I knew what happened. I was ready after that though and brought a couple to  the boat. Everyone boated at least one Goliath out of an area no bigger than 10 by 10.  

If you ever get the chance, fish the Everglades. But, don’t try to do it alone the first few times you do it. Get a guide, it will pay big dividends. This place is huge, and when you get in the back country it all starts looking alike.  

The next Florida Sportsman Fishing Show is in Orlando on November 10 and 11 at the Fair Grounds. Stop by the Florida Guides Association Booth and say hi if you get a chance.

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, SEPTEMBER 2007

Road Trip II 

This is the second report on a recent road trip to Homosassa for the Florida Outdoor Writers Annual Convention. It was a great chance to get away from home and experience some great fishing in another part of the state. Homosassa provides the perfect spot to fish, sightsee, and just relax. The meeting was based out of the Riverside Resort which sets right on the Homosassa River. The resort offers great rooms, some with a river view and a great restaurant and bar area.

One morning of the conference is always devoted to a “just for fun” fishing tournament. This year the Homosassa Guides Association put together about 20 boats for the 40 anglers that would participate in the tournament. Everyone was assigned a fishing partner the night before and told to meet at the boat ramp at 6:30 am. The rules were simple; the winner would be determined by the total length of all fish, measured in inches, rounded off to the nearest half inch. Score cards were provided and it was the duty of the captain to measure and record the catches.   

There were a few other rules to be observed. Rule number 5 stated, Kindly refrain from loudly exclaiming, “Purty Fish” or “It don’t get any better than this.” At the end of the days fishing everyone would meet at Tarpon Key Lodge by 11:15 am for a shore lunch provided by CCA Florida and awarding of the prizes. At the awards presentation all participants agreed to shout in unison to the winner, “You are the greatest angler of all time.”  

So, with the rules in place let the competition begin. My guide for the day was Captain Dan Clymer (Racin’ Mullet Charters -353-418-2160). Recognizing that the tides were not in our favor for redfish around the mangrove islands he chose to head on out into the Gulf of Mexico to target trout and grouper. It turned out to be a great decision as both trout and grouper were plentiful. It was really great being on the other end of the stick, so to speak. I let Captain Dan take care of everything and he was great at doing it all. I highly recommend him if you want to fish the Homosassa area.  

It was about six or seven miles out where we stopped in 6 foot water over grassy flats with numerous rock piles to attract the fish. A gentle wind provided the propulsion to quietly drift over the flats and work plastic baits over the bottom. It was one of those days when the fish hit a variety of baits. I was fishing Rip Tide Flats Chub jerk baits, 3 inch mullet, 3 inch shrimp and 4” mud minnows. 

All these baits were rigged and fished the same way. Power Pro mainline, 20 pound Triple Fish Fluorocarbon leader, and a 1/4 ounce Rip Tide Pro Jig head. All the various plastic baits were pinned to the jig head and fished slowly along and just above the bottom. Making long casts and slow retrieves produced spotted sea trout, grouper, sea bass, snapper, and ladyfish. The key to the bite seemed to be the slow retrieve. I would lift the rod tip and let the lure fall back to the bottom. The strike often occurred on the drop.  

The grouper seem to especially like the Rip Tide mud minnow and I use every one that I had brought along that day. The colors I always keep in my tackle box include the Rootbeer, Golden Glow and the Killifish. The sea trout were also hitting the mud minnow.  

I also used up all my Nite Glow 3 inch mullet while the Silver Mullet produced well too. After drifting the 6 foot water for awhile Capt. Dan decided to move to an area that was about 4 feet deep with beautiful sandy pot holes. The same tactics that worked in the 6 foot water worked here as well. We continued to catch numerous fish until it was time to make the run for the Tarpon Key Lodge and a shore lunch hosted by CCA Florida.

As I sat under a shade tree at the lodge, accessible only by boat, I heard my name called as they began the awards ceremony. Captain Dan had dutifully measured and recorded the mornings catch and turned it in to the score table. I never even knew the total but after the tally it was the highest total inches and I had won the tournament. It turned out to be over 300 inches of fish. The largest fish in the total was probably no longer than 22 inches - there was just a lot of them. Of course the next question is what about the prize. If you know what a Heddon Tiny Torpedo looks like then you can blow it up to be three feet long and that was my trophy for the win. I plan on giving it to my 11 year old grandson – hopefully he will hang it from his ceiling and go to sleep each night thinking about fishing.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Road Trip 

You can probably tell from the title, this report is not about fishing Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island but about a recent road trip to Homosassa for the Florida Outdoor Writers Annual Convention. If you are like me you like to get away from home once in a while and fish some other areas. Homosassa provides the perfect spot to do so.  

It is a beautiful area for fishing and sightseeing as well. Homosassa is home to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, a wonder in itself. A 1.1 mile trail of paving and boardwalks puts you in touch with Hippo’s, Alligators, Bobcats, Cougar, Manatees, and more. The underwater observatory gives you excellent views of snook, redfish, sheepshead, snappers, and other fishes in their natural environment. With all the educational programs they offer you could spend a day in the park learning about nature and wildlife. You can even dine at the Wildlife Café located in the park.

There are plenty of other things to do in the area but we better get to the fishing. I went a day before the conference so I could do a little extra fishing. I hooked up with Capt. Don Chancey for some redfish action. Don operates Grouper Hunter/ Flats Chance Charters and specializes in Grouper, Trout, Redfish, and Cobia. You can reach him at 352-303-9399. I called him and ask about a morning charter. He said fine, lets start about noon. You guessed it, the tides are all important in that area and since we were going after redfish he wanted to fish the incoming tide and a 12:00 noon departure would give us the needed conditions.  

We ran out towards the Gulf of Mexico in the little Homosassa River. Capt. Don mentioned what many others had told me in the past. When running these waters be very careful to stay in the marked channels. There are lots of rocks and many lower units have been damaged by unsuspecting boaters. It wasn’t long until the characteristics of the river faded and the environment turned into rocky mangrove islands all of which looked fishy to me.  

Capt. Don explained that as the tide comes up over the rocks and fills the voids under the mangroves the redfish follow the rising water to feed. We fished rocky points and edges of mangroves using shrimp and cut mullet. Light tackle spinning rods were rigged with about 18 inches of leader and a 3/0 circle hook. A small split shot was added just above the hook for added casting distance.  

By the end of the day we had wrestled about 8 feisty redfish to the boat, the largest measured in at 26.5 inches. The color of the redfish were something to behold. The last red I caught in the Banana River was nearly silver but these Homosassa reds were a bright beautiful bronze, as if they had been working on their tan all summer.  

Well, I gotta’ go for now but my next report will be about the fishing tournament held at the writers conference. The tournament was scheduled in the morning and the tides would not be the ones the guides wanted. Tune in next time to read about the results.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

The Fall Mullet Run 

It looks to me like the fall mullet run has been underway for about a week now. When the finger mullet show up in the surf and in the rivers you can be sure the fishing action is about to improve. In my last report I described the fishing like a roller coaster, up one day and down the next. With the mullet showing up we should be up most of the time for a while now. It’s the time of the year anglers wait for because the predators will be following closely behind and the fishing should get great.  

The Port and the Nearshore Ocean should produce some good redfish and snook action along with all the other predators that will be following the mullet. Some reports of tarpon to the north, suggests that these bruisers will be down our way soon. Use your cast net to fill the well with mullet and you are on your way. Rig up with a Diiachi Bleeding Bait circle hook and free line those mullet in the surf along the beach and also around the jetties. Beef up that rod to at least a 20 pound class and use a 40 pound leader. If you get into the tarpon take that leader on up to at least 60 pounds and bigger than that if the fish go over 100. With the 20 pound rods and the appropriate leader you will be able to shorten the fight and improve the chances of a strong live release.  

On my last two trips on the Banana River we were greeted with high winds from the get go. The first trip resulted in only one fish after a lot of looking and casting. The one red we picked up came on a 5 inch Rip Tide Flats Grub in the glow color. The grub was rigged on a 1/4 oz. Pro Jig head from Rip Tide. The nice 23 inch red was lying up close to the mangroves on a small spoil island. Anytime you can find this situation with some deeper water nearby chances are good there are some fish around.  

The next trip was also a windy day. I was joined by John from Chicago for the days fishing. John started the morning casting topwater lures hoping for a snook. After fishing a couple different points without success we changed over to a small subsurface lure in a white color. It wasn’t long until a small juvenile tarpon took the bait. Unfortunately, one jump and he was gone. At least it got us pumped a little because we had fished an hour without success. Soon we had a pole bending jack for a little more action.  

The bite was slow on artificial so we decide to try some live shrimp. The shrimp produced more jacks, some nice mangrove snapper, and several small reds. The largest red was 21 inches. The wind continued to blow hard and by the time we called it a day we ran though large waves and a couple of rain showers getting back to the ramp.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, August  2007

Roller Coaster Fishing! 

I am beginning to feel like I’m on a roller coaster with the fishing. Good one day not the next. The ups and downs are most closely related to finding bait and the weather. The nearshore scene has gone from gobs of tarpon to none and from gobs of Kingfish to none. That’s the way it seems to be going.  

The river bite has also been up and down but almost always with a few fish including one slam of a snook, redfish, and a spotted sea trout.  

About a week ago my good friend Capt. Chris Myers gave me a clinic on tarpon. He jumped 8 and got one to the boat for a photo op. I jumped on but got him to the boat so the only thing I could really brag on was my percentage of 100 %. The bait of the day was the DOA Baitbuster. The photo below is 1 second after I pulled my tarpon from the water for a quick picture and he decide to give one more wiggle and jumped free from my hands.  

<img src="http://inshorefishingadventures.com/Canaveral%20Bight%2011rs.jpg" />

 The kingfish depended on the bait. Those who found pogies found kings and many anglers where limiting out. On the day I took my grandson looking for his first kingfish the pogies were not to be found. The previous day they were as easy as pie. With no live bait we trolled frozen Spanish sardines and still managed to catch him his first king. When you are trolling dead bait you can pick up the speed a little and they can be productive too.  

<img src="http://inshorefishingadventures.com/Robert's%20first%20King%203%20fixrs.jpg"/>

 One trip in the river produced a slam of snook, redfish, and sea trout. Carol and Lloyd were visiting the Space Coast from Kansas and took a little time out for a fishing excursion. As sometimes happens with the lucky ladies, Carol caught the slam while Lloyd was left only with a mangrove snapper. The slam came on live shrimp suspended below a popping cork.  

Another trip to the Banana River found Ann and her seventeen year old son Matt on Pathfinder. Matt is an avid fisherman and was already talking about doing some surf fishing as soon as our trip was over. Ann was actually the first to hook up with a jumping ladyfish and then a slot-sized trout. Matt wasn’t too far behind with a 20 inch trout and later he caught the biggest fish of the day in a 5 pound sail cat. By the end of the day the Ann and Matt from New Jersey had boated over 30 fish that include seven different species.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

The Beach is Hot – For Fishing that is! 

You have heard it before, find the bait and you find the fish. The pogies have returned to the beach from where ever they went and the fishing has heated up. Mike and Max joined me this week for a little nearshore action and we got more than a little action. We boated south along the beach until we found some pogies and filled the well with one well placed cast. We turned east toward the sunrise and the adventure was on. Max hooked up first with a nice king.  

We were using a standard stinger rig with Daiichi Octopus Hooks. We used a Bleeding Bait 4/0 for the nose hook and a 6/0 as the trailer. About 12 to 14 inches of 40 lb braided wire made up the stinger and it was fastened to about 5 feet of 60 pound Triple Fish Saltwater Leader using an Albright knot. We had Power Pro 40 lb as the mainline. This set up worked every time but once when we pulled back a stub. The leader had been severed completely by a toothy critter.  

We were in double figures for the day on kings so most of them were given their freedom. Dad, Mike and son Max, put three nice kings on ice for a family fish fry they planned for the evening of their trip. With three in the bag we still had plenty more action Max was tussling with a near twenty pound king when Mike yells, “What’s that?” I replied quickly with, “Cobia, drop a bait in the water.” The big cobe had moseyed up to see what was going on with the kingfish at the side of the boat so Mike made an offering while Max left the king in the water to keep the cobia’s attention. The whole scheme worked perfectly and the fish ate the pogie. Mike gave him an open bail for a while to let him eat it and then set the hook. This big guy just kind of swam around the boat as if nothing had happened.   

I told Mike he was going to have to wear him down a little before we hauled him in. The last thing anyone wants in the boat is a green cobia. Mike started to pressure him and let him know he was hooked up and the big guy finally began to realize everything was not normal. Anyway, a few minutes later after some hard pullin’ and a lot of sweatin’ we pulled a 30 pound cobia aboard and the evening menu had changed. Mike’s guests were going to enjoy some fresh cobia instead of kings.  

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

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, July  2007

Summer Time Fishing 

The hot summer weather has dictated and early start for summer sea trout. They are still hitting both live baits and artificials but the bite is over early. Recent trips on the Banana and Indian River have produced spotted sea trout up to about 22 inches. They have hit live shrimp and Rip Tide 3 inch Mullet. Fishing the live shrimp under a popping cork like the DOA Clacker is always a great tactic to keep your bait above the sea grass beds. With the warmer weather you can find the trout in deeper water, up to five feet in areas with good grass and sandy pot holes.   

<img src="http://inshorefishingadventures.com/Sea%20Trout%20Lana%202rs.jpg" />

With a lot of cloudy days I have had some good success with the Rip Tide Mullet in the Shad Flash color. It is dark enough to give a good silhouette even with cloudy skies. A family of four, Dana, Lana, Troy, and Cara caught a variety of fish on the Banana River. Lana, the mom, won the day with a really nice 22 inch sea trout along with other smaller ones. Everyone caught fish, including sea trout and lady fish. Troy caught the surprise of the day with a nice sheepshead. With an eye to the sky with the summer thunderstorms building we got in our half-day trip without any problem, However, on the way home the clouds opened up and the rain came as it has almost everyday this week. Be careful on these hot summer days and try to be back at the dock before the thunderstorms hit.  

<img src="http://inshorefishingadventures.com/Sheepshead,%20Troy%20rs.jpg" />

The Indian River has also produced some fish this week. A family from California came over for a day of relaxation after hitting the Disney parks earlier in the week. Mom and Dad and the two young boys were ready to relax. The morning started off pretty quick with the boys Zach and Nick both picking up a couple of trout in our first fishing hole. Karen added two really nice trout on live shrimp on a popping cork. Mark added a few trout of his own and a lady fish that would go about 4 pounds. It was one of those lady fish that usually tangle someone else’s line with their speedy runs. Our next spot produced numerous lady fish and Mark scored with the Rip Tide Mullet again. He tossed out a 3 inch Rip Tide Mullet in the Shad Flash color and brought back a nice 28 inch snook. This family was all catch and release so all the fish went back to be caught another day.  

The pogies are still hit and miss on the beach and the king fishing has slowed down. On a recent two boat trip no pogies were found so we had to rely on artificials. The grand total was only 3 fish for both boats – a disappointing day. Hopefully this will change once this stationary weather front moves on off of us.

Kings Love Pogies 

<img src="http://inshorefishingadventures.com/Jim's%20King%201rs.jpg" /> 

Yes, there is no doubt about it. Kingfish love pogies. And Tarpon do too. On a recent trip out of Port Canaveral we made a stop near some other boats cast netting for pogies (Atlantic Menhaden) near the Cocoa Beach Pier. As we pulled in for a cast I saw a fellow angler named Fred drop his net over the side. He motioned to cast in his direction. I made the cast but the net came up empty. By this time Fred pulled his net to the boat loaded with pogies. It was if he had caught every bait in the pod before we got to cast. . He motioned to come on over and he handed us a bucket of pogies and we never had to make another cast.  

We thanked Fred and headed south to do some slow trolling for kingfish. We had three rigs ready with wire stinger rigs. We would run one long, one medium, and one short in the prop wash. By the end of the day we had caught fish at all three distances.  

The first knockdown came on the medium rig and turned out to be a huge tarpon. The fish would easily be over 100 pounds. We were not really surprised because the last two trips to this area had also produced tarpon. The first angler up was Tracie so she strapped on a fighting belt as Jim held the tarpon at bay. Tracie took the rod and placed it in the belt to begin her adventure with the tarpon. After about 15 minutes she actually had the huge fish within about 25 feet of the boat and I praised her for her effort. Then the big tarpon decided that was a little to close and began taking line again. During the fight which lasted about 20 to 25 minutes the fish jumped 5 times to add to the excitement. However, as is often the case the big fish pulled loose and the game was over. Tracie took off the belt and returned to her reading on the front deck. Jim mentioned how hard it was to hand that fish over to Tracie – he wanted one for himself.  

We continued our slow trolling through the next few hours experiencing several knockdowns and landing four nice kings. We release one alive and threw three in the fish bag. As we headed for port the afternoon thunder storms were building and we made it back just before they hit. This time of year you need to keep an eye on the sky, because those storms come up quick and it’s a lot better to have the boat on the trailer when they hit.  

<img src="http://inshorefishingadventures.com/Kingfish,%2021%20lbs%20rs.jpg" /> 

No Pogies, No Fish 

Well, just as things were looking good in the nearshore waters the next trip out was a disappointment. There were no pogies to be found. We trolled frozen mullet and had two knock downs without a hookup. We also tried some artificials without success. One cuda followed the short line for a while but never struck. As we headed for port, one of my guests said, “Well it was a nice day for a boat ride.” Doesn’t that just about say it all?

 

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, June  2007

Tarpon Time Continues 

Summer is here and the Tarpon are too. We headed out of Cape Canaveral last Saturday with a crew of three young men ranging in age from 10 to 13. A quick stop along the beach for some pogies and then out to 40 feet where the kingfish had been biting. The hope was to get each of the boys on a nice King. Their fishing is usually in the river for smaller prey.  

After 30 to 40 minutes of nothing hitting you could see the boys were bored with the routine of trolling. I don’t blame them; it is boring when the fish are not biting.  Enough of this I thought and we headed further south toward Patrick Air Force Base. It turned out to be a really good move.  

We set up our lines with one long, one medium and one short bait only about 40 feet back and started the slow troll again. Another 20 minutes went by and the boys were beginning to lose enthusiasm again. They were not so sure about this kind of fishing. Then, the first knock down brought them all to life, only to be disappointed. The fish was not hooked.  We had asked the boys ahead of time to determine who got the first fish. It was Robert up first, so Micah was next and he put the fighting belt on to be ready.  

It wasn’t long until the next knock down and the sweet sound of a drag screaming bite. Micah picked up the rod and for only a few seconds felt the pull of a hefty fish. Well, we were 0 for 2 as Caleb fastened on a fighting belt for his chance at a fish. These two bites had brought the boys around and their attention was turned to the rods more than before.  

Bam! A huge hit, a spiraling fish and the fight was on. Caleb hung on tight and used every ounce of his weight and the strength of his arms to hold on to a huge Tarpon. I reminded him that when he got tired he could hand off to a buddy and let him fight the fish for a while. “I’m ok,” he said. A few minutes later he said “ok Robert, you take it for a while.” We had two fighting belts on board so we had Robert already suited up and ready to go. He took over for a while before passing it on to Micah. Micah fought for a while and handed it back to his brother Caleb. And on it went … 

<img src="http://cyberangler.com/photos/med/2867.jpg" />  

The boys traded the rod a total of 13 times each before landing the big fish about two hours later. All of a sudden this kind of fishing was not so bad. We got everything shipshape and headed for the ramp with a bunch of boys who got a lesson in fishing as well as a lesson in teamwork. Man, that’s what it’s all about! 

The kingfish bite has been hot outside the Port. Head out the Port and take a right down the beach looking for diving birds. They will show you were to stop and pick up a few pogies. Prepare each rod, starting with a bimini twist to make a double line. Tie the doubled line to a 60 pound mono leader about 4 to 5 feet long and add a stinger rig.  

<img src="http://cyberangler.com/photos/med/2868.jpg" /> 

Capt. Keith Kalbflesich showed me his method for rigging a 4/0 and a 6/0 octopus hook on a short piece of wire cable of about 40 pound test. He uses a wire snell knot to secure the hooks. Visit his website at www.capt-keith.com and look on his articles page to see how it is done.  

The distance between the hooks is determined by the size of the bait you use. I like to make them up ahead of time in several sizes. Pin a pogie through the nose with the forward most hook and pin him in the back with the other. Leave enough slack between the hooks to allow the pogie to swim freely. Lately the bite has been in about 30 to 40 feet of water, so head on out, put down some baits and catch a kingfish.

Back to the Gym! 

Finally, a chance to get on the beach. Low winds, light seas and plenty of bait was the recipe for some beach side action this week. This is the time of the year we expect to see some big tarpon come by for a visit. The rough seas and mighty winds of late have kept the small boats in the river or in the driveway so it was a welcome adventure to go check out the beach.  

Good friends John and Scott joined me on the “Finding Equilibrium” to see what we might hook up. In the back of everyone’s mind was the silver king. We were fortunate to spot some pogies before we left the confines of the Port. John took out his castnet and after a few throws we had plenty of bait for the day.  

As we traveled south we saw bait pods from time to time and stopped to check out one area where the pelicans were diving repeatedly. The water in this area was a little discolored and was a likely spot to find some predators. With no action from this spot we motored a little further south.  

John spotted some fish busting bait on the surface and we moved into the vicinity and Scott started casting a metal lure, the kind often used on Spanish Mackerel. It wasn’t long until he was hooked up with a hard pulling fish. As Scott brought the fish to the boat we could see it was a nice fat bonito. John had cast out a live pogie in the same general area and he too was soon hooked up with another hard fighting bonito. The bite slowed and we moved, again, further south.  

We final found an area where we spotted some rolling tarpon. We set a couple of rigs in the pole holders with live pogies pinned to a stinger rig and slowly trolled through the area. At the same time we had tarpon rigs baited with live pogies in case a rolling tarpon was close enough to cast to.  

We continued to see tarpon but always at a distance, too far to cast to. The slow trolling produced a couple of sharks and a couple of break offs that we did not identify. Then a silver king struck my trolling rig, made a lazy roll and went deep. The drag was screaming and the line was ripping off the spool as the big fish headed for the eastern horizon. It was quickly obvious we would have to chase him to retrieve some line so Scott fired up the engine and started the pursuit. When I had gained enough line to feel comfortable I yelled “ok” and Scott slipped the Yamaha into neutral and we settled into a game of tug-of-war. We repeated this process a couple of times as the drag screamed and the spool emptied.  

John grabbed his camera and climbed up in the tower in hope of some photos. Forty minutes later and the big fish had never made the characteristic jump that we all expected. John reminded me that when they jump it helps wear them down but this big guy just never did jump and never seemed to wear down. Finally, in what looked like a half-hearted attempt to become air born the fish stuck his head out of the water, made more of spiraling motion and went back down. I thought at the time the line seemed to wrap around the fish when it made the spinning move. It disappeared beneath the surface and seconds later the hook pulled loose. It was over, no breakage, just something in the roll must have changed the angle of the hook and out it came.  

After that we hooked up a couple more sharks but no more silver kings. We headed back to port with the knowledge that summer, the tarpon, the bait, the calm summer seas, were finally here. By the way, that’s why I have got to get back to the gym. You need to be in shape when you hook in to a big silver king!

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, May  2007

Spring Trout Fishing Should Only Get Better 

What does a fishing guide do when he has a day or two off? You guessed it, more times than not he goes fishing. Recently, having a few days off allowed me to travel out of my area to do a little fishing. I always enjoy fishing other areas and seeing what they have to offer. I journeyed south to fish the areas near Ft. Pierce and Stuart. I had the great privilege of fishing one day with Mark Nichols, owner operator of D.O.A. Lures. We fished, philosophized, and generally just had fun.  

What a great trip, Mark acted as the guide and I actually got to fish all day with only myself to take care of. Needless to say, I picked up a few pointers on how to fish the various lures Mark is famous for. The main lures we threw during the day were the D.O.A. Shrimp, The D.O.A. C.A.L. series jerk bait (with and without the Chug Head), and the TerrorEyz.  

We headed out around 6:30 for a spot Mark often visits for tarpon. We made a few casts and observed the area before deciding the tarpon were not there on this occasion. We moved to another likely tarpon spot and were greeted by rolling juvenile tarpon. We cast to the rolling fish with several different lures and color combinations, only to be rejected by the silver kings. Mark responded to the situation with one word. “Next!”  

Another short boat ride placed us on a beautiful grass flat full of gorgeous pot holes. This area had produced good trout and snook fishing for Mark in the past. I fished a C.A.L. jerk bait in the rainbow trout color. I had several strikes and a couple of near hookups but missed them all. Mark was fishing a glow shrimp suspended under a Clacker float in the oval style. You can actually buy these already rigged in what they call the Deadly Combo or you can buy the Clackers separately and rig them yourself. Several quick strikes and a slot sized trout had me thinking about changing to the same rig. It was about this time Mark says, “I probably have another Clacker somewhere.”  

That was the only invitation I needed. I accepted the offer and he dug out a cigar shaped Clacker. I rigged up with about 18 inches of 30 pound fluorocarbon between a glow shrimp and the float. If you were just trout fishing 20 pound would be fine but in Mark’s area you have to be ready just in case a snook shows up. If you are spooled with braided line you might want to include a short piece of leader material between the braid and the Clacker before attaching the main leader.  

I began working the new rig as Mark instructed. A quick jerk or two and then let it rest for up to 30 seconds before jerking again. He says you can vary the number of jerks between rests. When you jerk the Clacker makes a noise and a commotion in the water that attracts the fish. The glow shrimp will rise towards the surface on the jerk and then float lazily back to the depth controlled by the length of the leader. I was in the process of a quick deliberate jerk to “work” the rig when a flash comes from right to left as the glow shrimp rose near the waters surface following the jerk. The big trout’s back came out of the water before the fish and the glow shrimp disappeared below the wind rippled surface of the water. A few minutes later we were viewing a seven pound spotted sea trout along side the boat. A quick photo was taken and the big trout was returned to the river to grow some more.  

We fished several more hours on one of the best weather days of the spring season. By days end we each caught more trout on the Deadly Combo. Mark fished the same rainbow trout jerk bait I mentioned earlier, only rigged with the Chug Head, to catch several more trout up to four pounds. I caught a few more trout on the jerk bait rigged on a 1/8 ounce white C.A.L. jighead.  

Nothing beats being on the water with a friend, sharing stories, and catching a few fish as a bonus.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, April  2007

Fishing Improves With Warmer Weather and Less Wind 

March certainly lived up to its reputation of being windy and unfortunately it is carrying over into April. Just when the weather warmed and winds seem to be subsiding another cold front entered Florida. After a decent week of fishing last week I am writing this report as the wind howls outside at 15 to 20 and the temperature dropped overnight to 46.  

The good thing about the temp is that it won’t stay there long. It actually warmed into the 80’s on most days last week and if you could hide a little from the wind there were some fish to be caught. I will focus my report on a family from Georgia who fished both Tuesday and Thursday. Their goal was simple enough. “Let’s just catch some fish.” Cyndi and David, the mom and dad, were anxious for the “kids” to have some fun in the Florida Sunshine. Ji Won, an exchange student from Seoul S. Korea was along on the trip with the kids, Ben and Jillian. 

With four fishing rods going at all times, we fished exclusively with live and frozen shrimp. And, as you would expect, we caught several varieties of salt-water fish. Ben hooked up first with a nice Jack Crevalle which got everyone else excited about catching one. David soon hooked up with a jumping ladyfish that threw the hook. Then Ji Won hooked a ladyfish and successfully bought it to the boat. By the time the day was over everyone had caught fish and seemed to have a pretty good time.  

Spotted Sea Trout, Lady Fish, Jack Crevalle, Puffers and Catfish had all been lured by the families’ offerings of shrimp in the Banana River. The most unusual catch of the day was made by David who reeled in a 15 inch Sea Robin. It is pretty unusual to catch one of these Sea Robin’s in the river, but interestingly enough, this is the second one this spring. David’s specimen was about as big as they get. In fact, very few grow to be greater than 12 inches.  

On Thursday we decided to try the Indian River. We were greeted with higher winds and a little cooler temperature as a cold front approached from the North. The plan was basically the same, use live shrimp to entice as many fish to the boat as possible. As we moved from fishing hole to fishing hole we continued to put the same variety of fish in the boat. We did not catch another Sea Robin, but Cyndi did add a black drum to the variety and she also caught several Whiting. In fact, Cyndi seemed to be the lucky one on bigger fish. She hooked but lost two really nice fish before we got them to the boat. Numerous Ladyfish cooperated to keep Ji Won and Ben busy hookin’ and fightin’. Jillian had taken the position of first mate and kept everyone supplied with shrimp, drinks, or what ever else they needed. Not to be outdone, David added mangrove snapper to the list of fish caught – he just seemed to have the knack for hooking them.  

In the last fishing hole of the day Ji Won quickly added a nice 15 inch Sea Trout to the days catch. Then Ben caught a couple of nice Sea Trout as well. As our fishing time ran out and our bait ran low Ben finished the day in style by using the very last shrimp (by the way, it was a frozen one because we had long since use all the live ones) to hook and land a beautiful 20 inch Spotted Sea Trout. We conducted a quick CPR (Catch-Photo-Release) and ended on a high note. In two days of fishing we had caught nine varieties of fish from the Banana and Indian River, and used up several megabits of memory on the family’s digital camera.  

Other Notes of Interest  

If you happen to be looking for a new boat, check this one out. It belongs to a friend of mine who recently got a new one and is placing this one up for sale. He always gets everything on his boats. It is a  2006 Custom 21 Hewes Redfisher with a Yamaha VZ250 on an Aluminum Trailer. And look at these extras. Power pole with remote, 3x Minnkota Trolling Motor, Lowrance GPS with color  mapping and fishfinder, 3 bank charging system. The boat is a one of a kind black custom hull with release wells, pop up cleats, forward and aft seat mounts, jack plate, and a S/S prop. This is a fully equipped, very fast and awesome boat. All other options available are on this boat. Asking $43,500 Or best offer this boat has less than 40 hours and is in perfect condition. Call Tom at 321-453-0205 or 321-453-0590 or email him at towboatz@aol.com with questions.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, March 2007

Spring Fishing is Just Around the Corner 

March has certainly lived up to its reputation of being windy. It seems like everyday lately has seen winds of 15 to 20 and seas at 5 to 7. The seas and winds have kept me off the ocean because my rule of thumb is 2 to 3 foot seas – otherwise I just don’t go out to get beat up.  There are some reports of cobia moving in on the beach. Problem is the little boats are not being able to get out there. Early in the month the cobes were being spotted around the big rays however, recently good catches of cobia have come from the bait pods if you can find them along the beach.  

Baits for the cobia include everything from live pinfish to eels. Typically I use a 3/8 to ½ oz. jig head in chartreuse. The ones with the plastic worm attached work well, or you can tip the jig with shrimp to add the sense of smell. Then cruise the ocean waters looking for rays or pods of bait fish. When you spot a cobia cast a head of the fish where it can see the presentation sinking toward the bottom. If the cobia sees your presentation he will usually follow and eat. When the strike occurs, get ready for the fight of your life. These fish pull down and dirty and give you a battle you will remember.  

The other good thing I like about Spring is the increased number of Snook that tend to show up. Personally I like to throw a Rip Tide Flats Chub at the hungry Snook. There are several rigging options with this jerk bait, depending on where you fish it. If you need casting distance you can simply rig it on a Rip Tide Pro Jig Head, the same kind you use on the Rip Tide Mullet. If you want to skip it back under the docks, rig it Texas Style on a wide gap hook and you can put it back in the back of the docks or for that matter under the mangroves. Everyone seems to have their favorite color, but mine is Nite Glow when I am targeting snook. I have also had good luck on the Electric Chicken. In stained or darker water the Redfish color is a good bet.  

Finally, the spring trout bite should heat up anytime now. If the trout are not receptive to the same Flats Chub I talked about above, I switch to my old reliable Rip Tide 3 inch Mullet. This bait continues to produce more trout than any other bait in my arsenal. My favorite colors are the same I listed for the chub, except that I add the silver mullet color when I am trout fishing. With its vibrating action caused by the paddle tail construction, this bait is super easy to use and extremely effective. Even the kids have good luck with this artificial mullet.  

Well, Spring is near so plan a fishing trip soon and take a kid fishing.  

Other Notes of Interest  

Keep in mind that it’s a new year and a Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be coming to a location near you. I will be in Jacksonville March 24 and 25 at the Florida Guides Association Booth. Come by and say hi if you are in the area.   

If you happen to be looking for a new boat, check this one out. It belongs to a friend of mine who recently got a new one and is placing this one up for sale. He always gets everything on his boats. It is a  2006 Custom 21 Hewes Redfisher with a Yamaha VZ250 on an Aluminum Trailer. And look at these extras. Power pole with remote, 3x Minnkota Trolling Motor, Lowrance GPS with color  mapping and fishfinder, 3 bank charging system. The boat is a one of a kind black custom hull with release wells, pop up cleats, forward and aft seat mounts, jack plate, and a S/S prop. This is a fully equipped, very fast and awesome boat. All other options available are on this boat. Asking $43,500 Or best offer this boat has less than 40 hours and is in perfect condition. Call Tom at 321-453-0205 or 321-453-0590 or email him at towboatz@aol.com with questions.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, February 2007

Winter Time Tackle

 I am not sure the fish know what season it is. The mercury is on a roller coaster ride and the winds want to persist in blowing to hard, at least too hard to have comfortable fishing. This is the time of year when we start thinking Spring is just around the corner, but in reality we are likely to have some more colder winter weather. I know if you are reading this in Minnesota and I call 40’s and 50’s cold winter weather you just laugh and say I’m crazy. But here in Florida when those air temperatures persist the water temperature follows and the fish definitely respond by seeking different habitats.

 With the likelihood of more of those “winter” temperatures ahead, I want to tell you a little bit about the plastic baits in my tackle box and how I use them in the cooler weather. Two good plastic baits to use in these conditions are the Rip Tide Realistic Shrimp and the Rip Tide 2 inch crab.

 The Realistic Shrimp comes in 15 different color combinations so you should be able to find your own favorite color. My first choice is the Rootbeer color with a Chartreuse colored tail. I always start with my favorite but if it does not produce I will swap out colors until I find what they want.

 These shrimp have a wide body and little legs that stabilize its slow steady fall. The weighted hook that comes in the three-pack is perfect to make the lure fall in a horizontal position, imitating the look of a natural shrimp when swimming. If you are fishing deeper water and want a fast decent to the bottom you can rig them on a jig head and reach the deeper debts much faster.

 In either case, you need to work you baits very slowly in the cooler water temperatures. Let the Realistic Shrimp fall to the bottom and set for a moment. Then, don’t retrieve with your reel, but simply lift the tip of your rod enough to get the shrimp up out of the grass a few inches and them let it fall back. Now take up the slack with the reel and let it set. Simply repeat this process – SLOWELY – until you have covered your intended water. I really prefer the three-pack Realistic Shrimp because Rip Tide has gone out of their way to match up the perfect weighted hook with the floating response of the lure. The result is the steady slow and true fall that I mentioned before.

 When it comes to imitation crabs, I don’t know of any that beat the Rip Tide Realistic Crab. This bait comes in 5 different colors to suit your fishing habitat. There are numerous ways to rig this bait but I have two that I use consistently. One, if you do not need weight to add to your casting distance, simply take about a 5/0 circle hook (I use a red one) and pin the Realistic Crap from the bottom side and through the top. Work the pot hole in the grass for the ambushing predators. Crabs simply do not move very fast, so remember this is not a cast and retrieve bait like the Rip Tide Mullet. In fact you can work the Realistic Crab in the same manner as the Realistic Shrimp described above. Remember to keep it slow all the time and even slower in the winter when the water temperatures cause the fish and the bait to slow down naturally.

 The other rig I use on the Realistic Crab is to pin it on a jig head. I usually use the Rip Tide Heavy Duty Pro Jighead. These heads have a really sharp heavy duty hook and the head includes halo eyes for a little extra flash. Simple take a 1/8 or ¼ ounce jig head, depending on your application, and turn the crab upside down. Insert the hook on one side of the crab about 1/8 inch in from the side. Penetrate the plastic across the body of the crab and come out about 1/8 of and inch from the other side. Now the crab is on it back and the hook is pointing away from the body. Simply rotate the jig so the hook is now facing away from the top of the crab. When you cast this rig out the crab lands upright with the hook pointing upward and the jig head is mostly hidden by the crab’s body. Once again, you have to fish it slowly but your casting distance will be much improve with the added weight of the jig head.

 I hope these tips help you catch a few more fish in the colder winter months. I plan to use them this week with the colder weather we are having. Hopefully the recent rains will bring the water levels up in the local rivers. Both the Banana and the Indian River have been very low. When you encounter these conditions, just remember the fish will adjust to find the temperature where they feel good, so as water levels drop just move your search out a little further and you should find those same fish that had occupied the area before.

Other Notes of Interest

 The Tampa Tribune Outdoor Expo hosted by Frank Sargeant will be held on March 2, 3, and 4. I will be there manning the Florida Guides Association booth so come by and say hi. I will have some Rip Tide samples available with some tips on how to use them.

 Keep in mind that it’s a new year and a Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be coming to a location near you. You might want to write down some dates for the shows. Ft. Walton Beach, February 24 and 25; Sarasota, March 17 and 18: Jacksonville, March 24 and 25.

 Spotted Sea Trout have opened again as of January 1, 2007.

 Snook season has opened and will remain open until June. Our East Coast closure is June, July, and August. Then it will reopen again until it closes from December 15th to January 31st. Our limit is still at 2 per day on the Atlantic side but must be in a slot from 27 inches to 34 inches.

 As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, January 2007

Spring Like Weather

 In between cold fronts we have had some spring like weather. On two different days last week the mercury climbed to near 80 and the winds calmed to make very enjoyable fishing trips. One was just that, a fishing trip. The other one had a little more activity.

 On Monday we had had four anglers on a two boat charter on the Banana River. The morning started of a little cool but calm. This was the first really calm morning in days. The excitement was high but the fish did not cooperate much that day. Two excellent anglers, Jeff and Michael were aboard the “Finding Equilibrium” in search of redfish. And, that’s exactly what we did for part of the morning. We searched for redfish. We found no redfish. So, looking for a bend in our pole we changed areas and began blind casting Rip Tide Mullet imitations and began hooking a jack here and there. This in itself was a little unusual since we don’t normally catch many jacks this time of the year.

 We used the Rip Tide 3 inch mullet, mostly in new penny and electric chicken to catch and release several jacks up to about 3 pounds. As we were moving from one spot to another we spotted some diving pelicans and decided to check it out. The result was several silver trout on the Rip Tides plastics. These were small fish and we decide to continue on to do some dock fishing. The docks and inlets to some residential canals produced a couple of spotted sea trout to round out the day with three species. Especially with the trout, both kinds, the retrieve was slow and deliberate which is normal for this time of year. With the jacks, a faster retrieve worked better.

 On the following day Jeff and Bev from Ohio joined me for what began as another beautiful East Central Florida morning. We once again started the day in search of redfish but with no success. We went were the jacks were the day before and found even more of them willing to bend our rods. Between the two of them, Jeff and Bev must have caught and released about 25 of the ornery jacks, up to 4 pounds. There were many more jacks on this day, and they tended to be larger. They were caught on various colors of the 3 inch Rip Tide mullet but Jeff probably one the numbers game on his glow colored Rip Tide. Bev added plenty of jacks on new penny, rootbeer, and electric chicken. The jacks like the plastic fished much faster today and with hard close together twitches that give the mullet imitation a frightened darting action. During the process of chasing the jacks Bev and Jeff both added bluefish to the variety.

 The warm weather and calm wind was a welcome relief to the fishing conditions we have been experiencing lately – but don’t get to excited about it, another front is on the way.

 Other Notes of Interest

 Keep in mind that its a new year and a Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be coming to a location near you. The first one is in Ft. Myers. If you are in the Ft. Myers area, come on by the Florida Guides Association booth and pick up a free sample of Rip Tide lures. I hope I see you there on February 3rd or 4th.

 Don’t forget that snook season is closed. The winter closure is December 15 – January 31.

 Spotted Sea Trout have opened again as of January 1, 2007.

 As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

Cold Fronts Continue

 Cold fronts continue to be a dominant factor in our fishing. Water temperatures have fluctuated up and down until I don’t think the fish know which season it is. My last trip on the river saw water temperatures above normal for this time of year. You would expect 73 to 74 degree water to provide us with some fairly active fishing but it has not been the case.

 In a three boat trip two got skunked and the other caught only a few small sea trout. No fish were caught on artificials – the small trout all came on live shrimp. Under these conditions you have to think something else is affecting the fishing. In this particular case, I think it was the falling barometric pressure. I am sure you have heard it before; fish just seem to feed better on a rising barometer, especially if it doesn’t get too high.

 Well, when they aren’t biting you have to look for excuses and barometric pressure is one. Another is the wind. I just hate the wind worse than anything when it comes to fishing. Especially in the Banana or Indian River when we get the pure north or south winds. Either of these lagoons can really get to rolling in high winds and there are not too many places to hide. I really think the wind discourages the angler more than the fish. They still have to eat. For the angler, the boat is hard to control, the waves increase the noise of hull slap, and it can just be plain uncomfortable to the angler. During windy days I like to try some of the residential canals that provide some shelter from the wind.

 The prospects for the coming week include another cold front. In fact as I write this piece, I see the temperature is dropping into the 30’s and low 40’s for much of the area I fish. To me this means a later start in the day, a slower presentation with the artificials, and a reminder to be sure and have some live shrimp on board. The water in the Banana River is as clear as I have seen it in recent years. I like to use a chartreuse colored lure such as the Rip Tide 3 inch mullet in clear water. My other favorite color is what they call the silver mullet. You get a nice flash off of the glitter in this bait when the sun is shining. Work them slowly and deliberately as the water temperatures are sure to drop with this next cold front and the fish simply seem to slow down under these conditions.

 Don’t let the colder weather keep you from getting out; just plan your trip so you make the best of your time on the water. In the winter time that usually means a later start and a slower presentation.

 Other Notes of Interest

Don’t forget that snook season is closed. The winter closure is December 15 – January 31.

 Spotted Sea Trout have opened again as of January 1, 2007.

 As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, December 2006

High Winds, Cold Fronts, and Fire Trucks 

High winds and cold fronts have slowed the fishing in my area lately. One trip was cancelled and others probably should have been. Tomorrow, however, is another day and it seems like no one is more optimistic than an angler so we just keep going anyway.  

This week I have had anglers from Tennessee, Ohio, and Illinois. They just kind of look at me funny when I talk about it being cold. They know what cold really is! The wind however they do recognize as a factor in angling. On our north-south rivers, when that wind comes from the north there is not many places to hide.  

Speaking of hiding, I think the fish were too. We never got skunked on any of the trips but the bite was slow and regardless of how hard we tried it was tough to catch a fish.  

Andy from Tennessee was an excellent angler. The kind of guy you like to fish with. He could make the needed casts with accuracy and worked the lures with skill. Yet, with the cold front moving in the day before we hooked up only two fish before calling it a day. We caught one jack and one trout.  

The next day brought Pat and his 9 year old son Brenden from Ohio. Fishing was slow again, but at least Brenden got to catch his first redfish and his first spotted sea trout. Both came on live shrimp and Brenden handled them like a pro. His dad has had him fishing for a while in the fresh water back in Ohio so he new how to handle the rod and reel. Pat added a redfish to the days catch, also coming on a live shrimp.  

The next trip we cancelled because of 30 mile per hour winds and rescheduled for the following Monday. Monday came and the winds had subsided to 15 so we rocked and rolled our way to a bridge where Brian and Scott from Chicago had hooked into some big black drum last year about this time. We had hooked six big guys on that day, got two of them out of the pilings and one to the boat. Those big bruisers were just tearing us up. Brian landed one of about 40 pounds and Scott lost a similar fish right at the boat. This year was different. Scott and Brian also brought their friend Mike along this year hoping to hook him up with one of the big drum. It just wasn’t to be on this day.  

We found no drum in the usual place so we ventured on to a couple other places. We caught ladyfish, snook, and trout all on Riptide 3” mullet. None of the fish were photo opts, but at least they bent our poles a little. The first ladyfish came on a Riptide electric chicken color. We put the same color on everyone’s jig head and all ended up hooking ladyfish. We moved up a canal where we hooked the snook and a couple trout still using the Riptide 3 inch mullet. One more stop and we added several more trout on the same lure. This time however we also caught some on the Riptide watermelon with red tail, chartreuse, and the electric chicken colors. We tried the bridge one last time with no further success.  

Now come the part about the fire truck. Just when you think you’ve seen it all! In between Pat and Brenden from Ohio and Scott, Brian, and Mike from Chicago were Robert, Dan, and 10 year old Parker from good old Florida. Robert is Parker’s uncle and Dan is Parker’s Dad. They were bringing him over as a birthday present for his 10th birthday, hoping it would be a day to remember. As I waited at the ramp and the scheduled departure time passed, I begin to worry. It wasn’t the greatest of days again, a little cool and windy. I had already talked to one guide whose clients had cancelled because of the wind. Then two anglers came up waiting on another guide. They told me who they were waiting for and I new him so I gave him a call. I found out that he had called and left a message that he was cancelling the trip due to the weather. The clients did not get the message, so had to leave without fishing.  

As I was talking to them a sheriff patrolman drove up asking for Capt. Presley. I identified myself and he informed me that my guys had car trouble just up on Hwy 528 and ask if I could pick them up. I said sure, I would be pulling an empty trailer but could do it. He ask how many there were, I replied three, and he said he would get them.  

I go to the boat to continue my preparations for the trip. I glance up at the entrance to Kelly Park hoping to see the Sheriff’s car pull in. What I see is a fire truck. I said to myself, this is going to be them. I grabbed my camera and waited for the fire truck to approach the dock. Sure enough, out come Robert, Parker, and Dan. It turns out their car had caught on fire and the firemen had more room in the truck then the patrolman so they brought them to the ramp.  

I ask them what they wanted to do and they replied in unison. “Go Fishing.” And we did. It wasn’t the greatest of days but we did bring in a couple of fish, one being a black drum that would weigh in at about 7 plus pounds. Parker was thrilled at pulling in his “birthday drum.” What a day for this 10 year old out to celebrate his birthday. His uncle’s car catches on fire, the firemen bring him to the dock in the fire truck, God blesses him with a big black drum, and he gets to ride home in a snazzy little rental car.  

I just don’t know if I would have made that fishing trip if it would have been my car that had caught on fire. What can I say, life is certainly an adventure. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin.’ 

Winter Fishing Tip 

The colder weather is the time to slow down your presentation. When you cast those Riptide mullet or Realistic Shrimp out, let them settle to the bottom and work them very slowly. Change colors often until you find the most productive color. By trying different retrieves and color combinations you should be able to find the one the fish are looking for.  

Other Notes of Interest - Don’t forget that snook seasons closes soon. The winter closure is December 15 – January 31. Spotted Sea Trout are closed now and won’t reopen until January 1, 2007.

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, November 2006

Time to go Drummin’ 

Every year when mid November rolls around my thoughts on fishing always get around to Black Drum under the bridges. This time of year the big boys begin to congregate around bridges and other heavy structure. The Black Drum is a member of the croaker family with a close relationship to the redfish. The fish has a deeper body and more of an arched back than a redfish. Like other croaker’s, the fish make repeated contractions of their swim bladder creating the loud drumming sound.  

I like to beef up to a least a 20 pound rod, normally loaded with 40 pound Power Pro. I normally rig a sliding sinker with a split shot placed about 12 to 14 inches above the hook. I use a 7/0 circle hook at the end of a 50 pound mono or fluorocarbon leader. Cast the rig up tight to the bridge pilings and get ready. Clams, jumbo shrimp, and crabs (usually cut in half) will all entice a drum to eat. These big guys seem to have the routine down pat. Once hooked they immediately head for the pilings to cut you off. This is why you need a rod with some backbone and a drag set pretty tight. Your first chore is to get them away from the pilings.  

One method for getting the beefy drum out from under the bridge is the same method use to get triple tail away from a buoy. Crank the engine and pull the boat away from the bridge. This gives the angler a little help in getting the fish to open water. Needless to say, with the pressure you have to put on these fish you want your line in good condition and your knots properly tied.  

On a recent trip with Dennis and his brother Jeff we tangled with a couple of these brutes using the method described above. Dennis lives here in Florida and his brother Jeff was visiting from Virginia. Jeff would be experiencing his first saltwater fishing trip and Dennis was looking for a photo op with a sheepshead for an article he was writing. We rig up and pitched some jumbo shrimp out around a bridge. Dennis, wanting to catch that sheepshead for a picture fished some lighter tackle up around the pilings. As luck would have it (or bad luck maybe) Dennis hooked up a huge fish on the light tackle. There was no way to get the big fish out of the structure and it soon cut off. There is obviously no way of knowing for sure it was a drum, but my experience would certainly make me think so. Dennis repeated the scenario two more times hooking really big fish that were simply uncontrollable on the light tackle. In the meantime our big rods and jumbo shrimp remained quite without being disturbed. Later in the day Jeff also hooked a big fish on light tackle and once again it pulled and swan to safety.  

The day ended without either a black drum or a sheepshead but the evidence was clear. It’s definitely time to do some drummin’.  

For you fly fisherman the black drum can also be found on the flats. I am not in to the fly fishing yet although my good friend Capt. Chris Myers encourages me to try it. Because of their feeding habits, the black drum are not an easy take on fly but it is this challenge that makes it interesting. Since they do like crabs and shrimp they can be tempted with fur and feathers. Capt. Chris reported sightings last week, so if you target them you will get some shots, and the rest is up to you and the willingness of the drum to eat. If you want to give the shallow water drum a try you can contact Capt. Chris at info@floridafishinglessons.com or call him at 321-229-2848.

Other Notes of Interest 

Don’t forget that snook seasons closes again in less than a month. The winter closure is December 15 – January 31.  

Spotted Sea Trout are closed now and won’t reopen until January 1, 2007. 

The new Gander Mountain store is now open in Lake Mary at the intersection of I4 and Lake Mary Blvd. It is in the Southeast quadrant of the intersection. This is the newest store in the Gander Mountain chain, but not likely the last in Florida. Stop by and check them out.  

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’. 

More Excuses 

I hate to say it, but I have been too busy to do much fishing lately. Between fishing shows and a death in the family which resulted in a whirl wind trip to Kansas, there has not been much time for fishing. The past couple of days have been very windy and only relatively productive. On a trip with Bill and Carol, the ladyfish saved the day. Between the two of them they must have hooked a hundred or so. Interestingly, the ladies preferred a white jig head and Rip Tide Super Ayu color (it’s #Z56 in their catalog) Although other combinations worked too it was this one that scored the most fish.  

The next day we fished a 4 boat charter on the Banana River. The wind was still blowing and the water temperatures had cooled to below 70 (65-66). On mornings like this, it might be a good idea to just sleep in a couple of hours before hitting the water. Especially on the flats the action does not pick up until the temperature picks up too. Once you see the mullet and other bait fish rising to the top, the predators will also begin to get active.  

The first couple of hours was slow but a few fish were put in the boats later. This experience reminds me of how different levels of success can be achieved by different boats on the same day and in similar waters. Two flats boats managed to see lots of reds but only put one in the boat. Their area included a nice school of about 50 slot sized reds. On the “Finding Equilibrium” we managed to catch a variety of fish, including jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, sail cat, and spotted sea trout. The trout were happy to hit on the Rip Tide three inch Mullet with the most productive color being the silver mullet. We also caught a couple of trout on the Rip Tide Watermellon/red flake/red tail. All this “catchin’” was spotty and over a large range of water. By noon we had found some water temperatures just above 70. 

When rigging these 3 inch mullet, I like to use the ¼ oz. Rip Tide jig head. After years of fishing plastic baits I strongly prefer the red head over any other. Pay attention to your rigging and make sure the plastic ends up straight. If you pull the hook out too soon, or to late the bait will bend and will not swim correctly. You want it to be nice and straight. These Rip Tide mullet have a great paddle tail that makes the bait “swim” nicely with a steady retrieve. I like to add a flick with my wrist to make it dart from side to side a little. And that’s about all you have to do with these great little baits. If I have a couple of anglers on the boat I usually start out with a light color such as the silver mullet and a dark color such as the watermelon/red flake. If one out performs the other we stick with it for a while.  

The 4th boat, a tower boat, had the best day with around a dozen reds and a couple of nice trout. All these came on live mullet or greenies in a little deeper water. Speaking of the tower, my boat goes in next week to have a tower installed. I will try to keep you up to date on the progress and the change it will make in my fishing. My tower will be a telescoping tower that allows you to set and drive at one level or stand and drive when the tower is elevated. I am really looking forward to this new “perspective” from the top of the tower. It will make seeing the fish much easier. If you want to take a look at a demo, visit www.terraceiatowers.com where they have some videos that give you an idea of what the telescoping towers are like.  

Other Notes of Interest 

The new Gander Mountain store is now open in Lake Mary at the intersection of I4 and Lake Mary Blvd. It is in the Southeast quadrant of the intersection. This is the newest store in the Gander Mountain chain, but not likely the last in Florida. Stop by and check them out.  

The last fishing show of 2006 will be this weekend in Orlando. Show hours are between 10 and 6 on Saturday, or 10 and 5 on Sunday at the Central Florida Fair Grounds. 

Come by and visit me at Florida Guides Association Booth and let me show you how I rig the Rip Tide lures. You might even be able to pick up a free sample. 

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’. 

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, October 2006

Everglades Excursion

I have to apologize for a lapse in my reports. I have been on the road attending various fishing shows all over the state and have not been fishing nearly enough. However, the fishing I have had has been quality fishing time.

I went a day early and stayed a day later after the Miami Florida Sportsman Fishing Show and fished with my good friend Capt. Pat Kelly out of Everglades City. Capt. Pat is president of the Florida Guides Association. This was my first trip to the “glades”, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I towed my Pathfinder to the site and loaded it with the equipment suggested by Pat. The main thing was a sturdy rod with a strong backbone. The target fish was snook and the preferred bait was live mullet.  

Given my home fishing grounds in the Indian and Banana Rivers I was not use to paying a lot of attention to the tides but in the Everglades you to have to be very attendant to the tides in terms of when you go out or come back to dock as well as when you fish. Capt. Pat already had that all figured out and we left the dock with plenty of water under the Pathfinder. We cruised on out several miles to a favorite island to net some mullet. The wind was high and the water discolored, making it hard to spot the sought after bait fish. But not to worry, Capt. Pat simply knew where to go and after a few, basically blind, casts we had enough mullet to go fishing.  

To my surprise, the mullet we were seeking were in the pound to pound and a half size and I now understood why we need a hefty rod. It was to be able to throw the bait as well as handle any fish large enough to eat the huge mullet. We rigged up with 7/0 bait hooks on about 30 inches of 80 pound mono leader. A slip sinker was added above the hook that would slide up and down between the hook and the double uni knot that fastened the leader to the main line.  

Capt. Pat then drove the Pathfinder to the mouth of a river that flows out into the Gulf of Mexico. It was an outgoing tide, Capt. Pat’s favorite tide to fish. We anchored up above a slight bend in the river where the flowing river has cut a deep whole along one side. The big mullet are hooked on the bottom side about 4 or five inches from the tail and heaved out into the outgoing tide. The drags are set extremely tight and Capt. Pat instructed me to hit him hard after you feel the “thump.” The idea is to drive that 7/0 hook through the mullet and into the fish for a solid hook up.  

It wasn’t long, until a “thump” was felt through the PowerPro braid and a solid hook set was made. “Hit him again,” yelled Capt. Pat, “don’t give him an inch; he will take you to the rocks.” A few minutes later a nice 15 to 16 pound snook came along side the boat only to break off before we got the Boga Grip on him. I thought we were overdoing it with the 80 pound leader but obviously it was not enough in this case. The big snook wore right through the leader and swam to freedom.  

Using the same method on three different days we caught several of the big snook, the largest weighing in at 19 pounds. Capt. Pat said that the fish would normally weight up to 23 or 24 pounds but had just completed the spawn and was “skinny” in its present condition. Skinny or not, the fish gave me a memento of the day by adding a PowerPro burn to my index finger which was touching the line when the big fish made its move to the rocky area at the edge of the whole. The fish was taking drag so fast that Capt. Pat started giving instructions again. “Turn his head, turn his head, you’ve got to put some pressure on him.” It’s like what else can you do? It’s a big sturdy rod and the drag is cranked down tight and this fish is still ripping off line.  

But finally the rod and the drag do their job and the big fish turns back into the open water – you think you have him, until he turns again toward the rocks and rips more line from the screaming reel. After three or four of these runs the big fish is finally brought upside the boat were you can see the hook is on the outside of the mouth and there is no danger of chaffing and loosing the fish. The big snook is brought on board for a quick photo then back over the side for resuscitation and release.  

My first trip to the Everglades was a huge success and makes me want to go back for more. My only advice if you want to go, line up a guide that knows the area because you can get stranded out there when the water leaves on that outgoing tide an enormous amount of land is uncovered and you have no choice but to wait until the water comes back in. To contact a guide in the area you can use the Florida Guides Association website at www.florida-guides.com and click on “guides”, and then on “Everglades.” The site will list several FGA member guides that can take you on a trip of your lifetime. If you have never been, I hope you get to soon.  

Other Notes of Interest 

The new Gander Mountain store is opening in Lake Mary at the intersection of I4 and Lake Mary Blvd. It is in the Southeast quadrant of the intersection. This is the newest store in the Gander Mountain chain, but not likely the last in Florida. Stop by and check them out.  

Speaking of dates, the fall months are full of fishing shows and I already mentioned some above. Other shows that may be closer to you include: 

St. Pete, Sun Coast Expo-October 27-28-29. (FGA Booth)

Orlando, Florida Sportsman Fishing Show-November 11-12. (FGA Booth) 

Come by and visit me at one of the shows and let me show you how I fish the Rip Tide lures. You might even be able to pick up a free sample. 

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com  to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’. 

Capt. Ron Presley

Phone 321-302-3474

captmarkwright@earthlink.net

 

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, September 2006

The Mullet Are Here

The mullet run is on and the fishing should only get better. I spent a couple of hours on the river this week and came up with two nice slot sized redfish. The mullet are everywhere, so they don’t always have fish associated with them. However, if you find some fish you should be able to catch a few. On my morning excursion I started off with top water lures but after having no action on top water I switched to a 3 inch Rip Tide Mullet in the glow color. It wasn’t long until I hooked up with a nice slot red. You can see the red headed jig and the Rip Tide glow mullet in the photo. Red and white has always been a favorite combination of mine. I sprayed the mullet with the Blast Attractant to add a little flavor to the bait.

When rigging a plastic bait, take time to rig it right so it swims and looks like a natural bait. In the case of Rip Tide mullet, the job is made easier for you by the little fin they place on the body. That little fin gives you a target for where to bring the hook out of the plastic for a natural look and swimming affect. Just lay the jig head on the body and note where the hook comes out in relation to the fin. Then, place the point of the hook just above center and feed the plastic down the hook bringing it out in the position you noted before. On a Rip Tide ¼ inch jig head the hook will come out right in the fin and the bait will run true and straight. The vibrations and wiggle of the paddle tail are just too much for the fish to resist. Don’t forget, add some scent if you like – that’s what I did today, and even on a slow day I caught a couple of nice reds.

I fished about another hour and picked up another slot sized red on the same Rip Tide mullet. It was only 9:00 but I had to head in, to take care of some honey doos. It had been a while since I was on the water and was glad to get out, even if was only a couple of hours. I will be in Tampa this weekend (September 30, October 1) for the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show. Come by the Florida Guides Association booth and see some of the new Rip Tide products available for the fall fishing.

Another visit I made this week was to the new Gander Mountain Store in Lake Mary. It isn’t open yet but manager Dan Engen invited me over for a tour. For those of you in the area, you are going to love Gander Mountain. There slogan is, “We Love Outdoors,” and boy does it show. This store has everything for the outdoor enthusiast. Gander Mountain is a leading specialty retailer with a focus on hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor recreation. From camping and hiking, boating, outdoor clothing, an onsite gunsmith, if it’s for outdoor recreation, they probably have it.

Of course my favorite department was the fishing department. You don’t have to be there long to see the multitude of fishing products available. I looked for and found a great assortment of the Rip Tide lures you hear me talk about so often. And, can you believe a bait shop! That’s right, a bait shop will open every morning at 6:00 to provide you with bait for you day’s trip. And, if you found the battery dead on your trolling motor that morning, or seemed to have lost the paddle for your canoe - no problem. The attendant at the bait shop can simply call back into the store and a battery or paddle will be delivered, pronto! This is a great concept, where the bait store is located with an easy access entrance for your convenience and even though the main store is not open, you will have access though the attendant at the shop. Neat idea.

They have a great grand opening celebration planned for October 6th so get on over there if you can and take a look at all they have to offer in this fully-stocked 80,000 sq. ft. facility. Another neat idea is the seminar room they have included in the store. It is called Gander Lodge and is fully equipped to handle hunting, boating, and fishing seminars of any type. I plan to be over there soon with my PowerPoint presentations with tips for saltwater fishing. Stay tuned, I will let you know the dates.

The new Gander Mountain store is located at the intersection of I4 and Lake Mary Blvd. It is in the Southeast quadrant of the intersection. This is the newest store in the Gander Mountain chain, but not likely the last in Florida. Stop by and check them out.

Speaking of dates, the fall months are full of fishing shows and I already mentioned Tampa above. Other shows that may be closer to you include:

Miami, Florida Sportsman Fishing Show-October 7-8. (FGA Booth)

Orlando, Central Florida Boat Show – October 13-14-15 (Boaters Exchange Booth)

St. Pete, Sun Coast Expo-October 27-28-29. (FGA Booth)

Orlando, Florida Sportsman Fishing Show-November 11-12. (FGA Booth)

Come by and visit me at one of the shows and let me show you how I fish the Rip Tide lures.

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

 Key Lime Braggin’ Time

 Well, it’s been a while since a report and I apologize. But, I been out playin’ and haven’t had time to write. I just got back from the Keys where I attended the Florida Outdoor Writers annual convention. What a great place for a conference. I just don’t get to go there often enough. I ate Key Lime pie every night, Key Lime cookies,  Key Lime Budds (a hard candy), and Key Lime saltwater taffy in the daytime. So, instead of a Space Coast fishing report, you get a taste of the Keys in this weeks report. And yes, I will start my diet again this week.

 I never caught a permit before. Now I have. I never caught a bonefish before. Now I have. Anglers from all over the world go to the Keys to catch both bonefish and permit. They use fly rods, spinning rods, and bait casters. Both artificial and live baits are used to pursue the much sought after bones and permit. During the meeting a half day was set aside for a fishing tournament of about 20 boats that headed out to catch any game fish available from the clear water of the Florida Keys.  About half the boats left from Robbie’s Marina (where you can hand feed eager tarpon) and the other half, including my boat left from Bud and Mary’s Marina. What a hoot to be the “client” and let someone else bait my hook. My fishing buddy, Larry Barker and I were hosted by Capt. Vinnie Biondoletti. The tides were high and the flats were flooded giving the elusive bones a lot of places to be. The primary target was bone fish with a hope of seeing some permit too. Capt. Vinnie chose live shrimp as the bait of the day.

The process is not that much different than sight fishing for Space Coast Reds. Pole the flats – spot the fish – and make your presentation. The Capt. liked to break off the tail at the last joint and place the hook through the exposed flesh end and back out the shell as far as the hook will reach. This method is used by many of the Keys captains. Removing the tail allows more of the shrimp scent to enter the water. In fact, as we moved along the flat I was holding the shrimp in the water at the side of the boat to keep it alive while waiting to spot and cast to a bone fish. It wasn’t long until we had a couple of sharks following along behind, apparently picking up the scent of the trailing shrimp and then following it up to the boat. Larry hooked a couple but they both bit off. I hooked a small bonnet head which we boated and released.

With slow fishing on the flooded flats, Capt. Vinnie decided to move to the Atlantic side of the Keys to resume our fishing. I didn’t mention it before, but we started off on the Gulf side. After a short run through Indian Key cut and by Bud and Mary’s Marina, where Vinnie keeps his boat, we moved into about 2 to 3 feet of water where we immediately spotted some bones. Larry was first to hook up and I got one a little later. We managed to boat 7 of the elusive bones from this area. All were caught on the shrimp rig I described above. In addition to the bones we caught several of what the Capt. called Mahorribles. I think the real name is Striped Mojarra. These little fellows are not considered game fish, but running up to about 14 inches in length, they are fun to catch.

Next comes the braggin’ part. As we concentrated on the bones a couple of permit came swimming along, west to east, a little nearer to the shore than where we were catching the bones. The Capt. yelled, “eleven o’clock, 40 feet”.  Interestingly enough I had just lost my shrimp to a bonefish and had picked up a headless shrimp off the deck and pinned it to the hook. I made the cast and jokingly asked, “Do you suppose they like shrimp jerky”? The shrimp had been on the deck awhile and was a little dried out. About that time my right index finger experienced a slight burning sensation as the monofilament line screamed off the reel. The permit had eaten the jerky! Vinnie jumped up on the platform and poled the skiff in the direction the fish was heading to allow me to get back some of my line.

Larry added words of encouragement, knowing that this was my first permit. “Now you’re in for some fun,” he said. “Keep the line tight. Don’t lift too high or too fast.” I could just hear myself saying the same thing when somebody on my boat is hooked up. Then he says, “I guess I don’t have to tell you that,” to which I responded, “Yes you do, I get buck fever just like the next guy.” After all, it was my first permit and I really wanted to get him to the boat so I would take all the advice I could get. Capt. Vinnie didn’t say much, but skillfully kept the skiff in the right place at the right time, allowing me to bring the fish to the side of the boat, after several screaming runs, to the waiting dip net in Larry’s hands.  I got the permit’s head up above the water and Larry skillfully placed the net in front of the fish’s path. He lifted it at the precise time the fish passed over to fully encompass a 28 inch Key’s permit.  My first, but I certainly hope it won’t be the last.

We did some CPR, (Catch, Photo, and Release). Vinnie resuscitated the permit and returned him to the clear shallow Atlantic waters. By now it was time to return to the Lorelei restaurant for lunch and the awards presentation. We turned in our score sheets, had a great mahi mahi sandwich for lunch, and waited for the tournament judges to tally the mornings catch. When all was said and done, my permit and three bone fish placed second in the overall competition and I was rewarded with a really nice Key Largo Rod. When it came time to announce the “best captain” of the day Larry and I were pleased to hear the name Capt.Vinnie Biondoletti. He also received a Key Largo Rod.

Capt. Vinnie can be reached by email at vbiondoletti@aol.com or simply give him a call at 305-852-3496.

Well, thanks for letting me brag on my first permit, but I also want to brag on the hospitality of the Keys. It didn’t matter where we went or what we did those folks down there simply take care of you. From the captains, to the restaurants, to the hotel personnel, you are given the first class treatment. I just can’t wait to get back down there again and I hope you can visit and fish sometime too. For more great information on the Keys visit the website at http://www.fla-keys.com/ .

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

Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island Fishing Report, August 2006

Big Win for the Little Guy

I always get excited this time of year about the nearshore fishing available along the beach out of Canaveral. Even the smaller boats can enjoy a nearshore adventure this time of year. Usually all you have to do is motor south out of the inlet until you find some pogies. Put a few in the live well and begin to slow troll for the possibility of big jacks, tarpon, and kingfish. It all got started right this year, but for some reason slowed but should be picking up soon. The last couple of trips nearshore produced a nice 16 pound kingfish and a couple of similar sized barracuda. That has been about it. A cold water upwelling chilled the pogies and kept them deep and hard to cast net. It also chilled the bite on the predators. Some good kingfish numbers came from further offshore, but the nearshore bite was off.  

Like I say though, the bite should pick up soon, and when it does look out. To rig for the slow troll, use at least 20 pound rods and add a 5 to 6 foot mono or fluorocarbon leader of 50 to 60 pound test. Start with a bimini twist on your main line and add the leader material with a double uni or Yucatan knot. To the leader, you want to use an Albright knot to add a small length of 30 to 40 pound wire in a stinger rig. I have been using the 7-strand copper colored cable. I normally use a #5 on the top hook and a #6 on the bottom. You can use either an octopus style hook or a circle hook. This rig works for the average baits, but if baits are running smaller or larger you might want to adjust your hook size as well.  

Start your slow trolling routing by tilting the motor up and follow a zig zagging route while trolling one long-line way back, a medium distance line, and one right in the prop wash. Depending on the bite, you may only want to use two lines out at a time. This method has successfully hooked bluefish, barracuda, big jacks, kingfish, sharks, and tarpon this season off the beach. It has been slow lately, but I just know it has to improve soon. Give this method a try, you might just hook up.  

On another trip this week I had clients from Boston come down in hopes of a nearshore trip. Given the cold water and the possibility of a brush from Tropical Storm Chris we decided fish the Indian River South of Melbourne. This too turned out to be a relatively slow day even though we counted numerous tarpon rolling we never were able to hook up. Other boats in the area were having the same problem. The anglers were Mike and his 12 year old son Max and a friend, Paul. All were avid determined anglers who never gave up all day. We managed to hook small trout, ladyfish, jacks, and one, believe it or not, alligator gar. I guess there are plenty around, I just never had one come to the boat before. In fact, as I looked at this 18-20 pound monster of the deep I wondered if I really wanted to grab him. They are a prehistoric looking critter.  

Max did a good job bringing him to the boat, and even with the mono leader getting whacked by his teeth, the big gar was boated for a quick photo session and then released unharmed. We all wanted it to be one of the many tarpon we were seeing in the area but it gave Max a good fight anyway. Good job Max, just keep fishing and sooner or later it will be one of those silver kings on the end of your line.

Kids Clinic 

For those of you in the Merritt Island area, the next Costal Angler Magazine’s Hook Kids on Fishing clinic will be held on August 26th at Kelly Park on the Banana River. The fun begins at 9:00 and last until 11:00. Co-sponsored by the Florida Guides Association, Bass Pro Shops, Brevard Parks and Recreation, and Fish Florida it promises to be a great event for kids 6 to 16. Call Parks and Recreation at 321-633-1874 to register.  

Fish Florida has provided a grant of 50 rods and reels to be given to the kids at the clinic. If you are not familiar with Fish Florida you should visit their website at http://www.ffra.org/ .  What you will find is that they receive the funds from the sale of Fish Florida License Plates, the one with the sailfish on it. Then, those funds are use to provide grants such as the one we received for out next clinic. So, if you have not already purchased a specialty license plate you might give this one some thought, all the proceeds go to educate kids about angling and conservation. Read the quote below from their website.

Fish Florida has been helping kids fish since 1998. You can help, too!  For every license plate sold, Fish Florida receives $22.00. These funds are used to buy fishing rods and reels for kids and provide family-oriented fishing activities.  Anglers and others purchased 14,486 Fish Florida license plates in 2005.  Out of Florida's 100 specialty license plates, we finished in 30th place!  It's a great start for a plate that has only been on sale since March 2004.  THANK YOU!  

Don’t Forget the Rule Change on Measurement of Fish 

Well, July 1st has come and gone and you now have to use the pinched tail method of measuring fish. Your fish will have to be measured with the mouth closed and the tail pinched together. The measurement is then from the snout to the end of the pinched tail. You also have to have your tape flat on a surface; you can’t follow the contour of the fish. Fish and Wildlife refer to this a “total length” measurement. For more information, you can visit www.myfwc.com

 

  Contact Capt. Mark   321-302-3474  captmarkwright@earthlink.net

 

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