PORT CANAVERAL: Cobia may still be a good possibility around the Canaveral waters this month. The run as of mid-March had been lackluster at best, with only a few good days and lots of windy ones. Large jigs and live baits like sardines, pogies, and medium sized mullet are great offerings to cast to these tasty fish. Anglers can find them in a number of places. Look for them “free swimming” on the surface on calm sunny days. Sometime they are following manta rays and turtles as well and can be “sight fished” when following these companions. Other good places to find cobia are around bait pods, weed patches, or any other type of debris found floating on the surface. Tripletail are another species to look for when searching around for the cobia. They are often smaller this month than last, but are generally quite plentiful if weeds are present in our near-shore waters. Live shrmp free lined or rigged under a float are great ways to get them to strike. Another fun fish to target this month are giant jack Crevelle. These bruisers should be hitting the same baits and lures and the cobia, and will be traveling in schools or packs up and down the beaches looking for something to eat. Flounder, black drum, whiting, sheepshead, and pompano are possible for anglers fishing along the surf from Melbourne Beach to Playalinda. Cut or live shrimp, and sand fleas are top baits for these various species. Fish bites can replace these tow live baits if you do not want to mess with them. Anglers can also use goofy style jigs either from the beach or from a boat stationed just outside the surf break and do well on many of these species that can be found in the surf zone this month.
INDIAN & BANANA RIVER LAGOONS: Anglers are hoping that sea grasses return to the flats in these bodies of water. Right now many area are covered with a grass like algae called Calerpa which is better than nothing at all. Last spring we had a minor resurgence of grasses due to the restricted use of lawn fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that destroy it. This should lead to some good spring time fishing for trout and redfish. Baitfish like glass minnows, pinfish, pigfish, and fingerling mullet- plus crustaceans like shrimp and crabs rely on these grasses for their survival, and of course the larger predatory fish eat these smaller species to survive. Find grass beds that baitfish are holding in, and work them with top water plugs like the Rapala Skitterwalk first thing I the morning or during the last two hours or so in the evening. Suspending lures like the 07-centimeter Subwalk by Rapala in the mullet or pinfish pattern will also work well. These suspending lures are very effective during dawn and dusk periods as well, but will usually work farther into the morning than a true topwater plug will. Through the mid-morning and mid-day periods try Houdini, Magic Grass, or Chicken-on-a-chain colored Saltwater Assassin 4-inch sea shad jig tails on a 1/8 to ¼ ounce jig head. These work well on the trout if you swim them over the tops of the grass or Calerpa in the 2 to 5 foot depths. Closer to the shorelines, I recommend soft plastic jerk baits like the Saltwater Assassin 5-inch shad rigged on a weighted worm hook. The VMC “Drop dead” or Storm “Coastal series” of hooks in 3/0 are good for this. Anglers can also use an un-weighted version like the X-Point wide gap heavy in a 4/0 size. All are extremely sharp and work well in the previously mentioned jerk baits. Good color for these include rootbeer/red flake, Houdini, Arkansas Shiner and Native Shiner, but if I had to pick just one it would probably be the Gold Pepper Shiner color. When the fish don’t want to chase lures try feeding them live or cut fingerling mullet or ladyfish rigged on a VMC coastal black circle hook. Some of our biggest fish of the year come on these natural baits.
Capt. Jim Ross
Fineline Fishing Charters