Near-Shore Madness of June
If you are a local Central Florida resident and an avid saltwater fisherman, than many of you are looking forward to the month of June and the true beginning of our summer months of the year. Growing up in Melbourne along the east coast and some of Florida’s best in-shore and near-shore fishing, I remember the month of June as the start of summer time, just out of school and great fishing. I still have lots of memories of the days I spent fishing in my youth and as a young adult. Notice I said fishing not catching, great memories are about the experience and adventure, catching fish was always a plus.
For those of us who are lucky enough to be a part time or annual resident of Central Florida, the time for catching an in-shore or near-shore trophy or memory is here! As the months of May, June, and July arrives along with more stable weather and fishable breezes, so do the species of game fish that our local near shore fishery is famous for; Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Kingfish, huge Jacks and Sharks, just to name a few. Whether you are on the East Coast, West Coast or in the Florida Keys the month of May starts our summer fishing season! As our coastal waters warm and these game fish migrate closer to the inlets or passes from the rivers, creeks, back-waters or deep water of our oceans, one thing for sure is they will be there. Not only will these hard fighting game fish be in our areas in most cases at some time during the day and with the right tide they are happy to eat several types of live, cut or artificial baits if properly presented.
Reports of a mix bags of Tarpon, kingfish, Sharks, Jacks, Bonita and Snook have been coming in from the East Coast from Ponce Inlet past Port Canaveral and south to Melbourne Beach and Sebastine Inlet.
We start our day heading south out of Port Canaveral after launching at the Port’s launch and ramp near Jetty Park. This newer launch point is just inside the mouth of the Port’s idle zone and within a very short boat ride you are able to jump your boat on plane in lieu of a 10 minute idle from the old ramp next to Grill’s restaurant that has been taken over by cruise ships. Look for bait pods as you head south towards the Cocoa Beach Pier or south toward Patrick Air Force Base in close or just behind the shore break. Last season the water was cooler than normal and keep they bait out and deeper. Once you find a school of poggies by sight or on your graph, one or two throws of the cast net and you will have plenty for days fishing. Look for the birds diving or start near the bait schools for active fish. Hook your live bait through the bottom lip then out through the nose with a 7/0 to 9/0 circle hook with at least 50lb to 80lb. leader and just slow troll them keeping your eyes open for rolling Tarpon or schools of fish feeding in or near the bait pods. Tarpon, Bonita, Kingfish, sharks, large Jacks and other species will all be in the mix as well. Large bull redfish, black drum and Snook will be near the inlets and jetties..
The Tarpon are beginning to showing up by now and the local captains mentioned that the bait has just move in from the deeper water to the shallows and soon the many species that feed on them are soon to follow. Tarpon in the 100 to 140 pound class are the norm with fish up to 200 ponds not uncommon. Captain Jim Ross and a client fought a fish exceeding the 200 pound mark a few seasons’ ago that pulled them up and down the coast last summer for over several hours pulling his 24ft. bay boat over 5 miles. Jim mentioned it wasn’t the largest Tarpon he or a client has hooked but was definitely an epic battle he or the angler will not soon forget. Not only will the tarpon be the target species for most anglers there is a huge school of redfish that curse around near-shore in the summer months outside of Port Canaveral, known as School-X. These fish in the 30 to 40 pound class will eat just about any offering you put in front of them once you can locate them. On several trips over the last few years we were lucky enough to find this massive school ourselves, thousands of huge redfish that covered any area close to 75 yards square and all were willing to eat just about anything you would cast to them. Joining the school were sharks, huge jacks in the 20 plus pound class and several Tarpon. Each time we found this school they were just north of Port Canaveral and within less than 2 miles off-shore or less.
Just having the chance to witness seeing this tremendous school of fish and the sea of cooper color is something I will never forget. Each time we ran into them we caught several each past with many double hook-ups of fish over 35lbs. each, getting a photo and releasing them all to fight another day!
So if you are looking to catch a one of the many species that are roaming our near-shore waters along our Space Coast, the month of June and the beginning of our summer days offer many opportunities for catching a great memory of your own. You can’t catch them unless you go out there and give it a try. As always remember be safe, watch out for the late afternoon storms that approach rapidly and always wear an approved life vest while off-shore with your large outboard motor under power. Take a kid fishing with you over the summer and create a memory for them as well! Good luck and Tight-Lines.