BANANA RIVER LAGOON: Speckled trout will be prowling the flats during the early morning periods looking for an unsuspecting mullet to feed on. Anglers getting on the water at first light will have the best chance to get one of the larger “gator” trout on a topwater plug. The 8 cm sized Rapala Skitter Walk is a very good choices on most mornings. The smaller sized Skitterwalk plug is deadly on those bigger, more wary fish, because it doesn’t produce as much noise and splash as the larger 11 cm model. Saltwater Assassin 5-inch soft plastic jerk baits, or a 5-icn paddle tail Dai Dapper swim baits rigged on a weedless weighted worm hook are deadly on big trout as well. The Gold pepper shiner, silver mullet, Houdini, and native shiner versions are some colors of these lures that every angler should have in their tackle box. Redfish, baby tarpon, and black drum can be found in this portion of the lagoon system this month. Live pinfish, pogies, shrimp, crab, and mullet rigged on a VMC circle hook can be a great way to get hooked into one of these species. These live offerings should be “free-lined” or fished under a cork in the 3 to 5-foot depths where baitfish are present. Cut baits can also be effective at times on these species, especially in the mid-day periods.
PORT CANAVERAL: There are some really good-sized mangrove snapper holding around the rock jetties and piers throughout Port Canaveral’s turning basins. Capt. Justin Ross and I like ot use live pilchards, shrimp, mud minnows, or fingerling mullet rigged on a 1/8 to ½-ounce jig head. We also like to rig with a VMC 1/0 to 2/0 short shank live bait hook with a split shot or small egg sinker on a piece of Sufix 30-pound test Fluorocarbon. These types of rigs usually result in plenty of strikes from the snapper on most outings. Legal sized flounder, plus jack, snook, and the occasional redfish will round out the species list when targeting the snapper in and around the Port this month. White or chartreuse ½ ounce R&R tackle Upperman style bucktail jigs with Bang or Pro-Cure scent applied to them are another good option. Along the beaches outside of the Port, anglers will still find tarpon, shark, jack, bonito, and king mackerel on most days. The water is hot, and the sun rising in the sky won’t do anything to help this, so get out early and concentrate your efforts around bait pods. Most of these pods will be holding in deeper water than they have been over the last two months, so look for them in the 30 to 40-foot depths. Another good place to concentrate your fishing efforts is along the edges of the shipping channel. The depths vary from 30 to 45-feet of water here and you can find bait along this drop off on most days. The various types of sharks and most of the king mackerel will typically scale from about 10 to 35 pounds. The tarpon will normally run from about 50 to 150-pounds, and the jacks usually run 15 to 25 pounds this time of the year. Live menhaden, greenies, and pilchards rigged on an 7/0 to 9/0 sized VMC 7385 circle hook are your top producer when it comes to the tarpon. The shark and kingfish will generally get caught on a wire stinger rig with the same baits attached. You can also cast large plugs around some of the bait pods found along the coast with good results when the fish are feeding aggressively.
Capt. Jim Ross
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