PORT CANAVERAL: The fishing in January is always hard to predict in and around the Port Canaveral area. This is due to the weather and water temperatures fluctuating from year to year. If we have a cold weather pattern with daytime air temperatures averaging in the 40’s and 50’s we usually get corresponding water temperatures in the upper 50 to lower 60-degree range. If this type of pattern holds, anglers should focus on weakfish and bluefish because these will be the most prevalent species in and around the port this month. These fish usually hold near docks and other structures inside the port, and they will eat live shrimp on a sliding sinker or knocker style rig. Sometimes they will suspend slightly above the bottom; if this is the case, try a shrimp or small baitfish on a 1/4- to ½-ounce jig head in the same depths that you are marking the fish on your sounder. If we have a warm weather pattern with daytime air temps in the 60’s or 70’s, and water temps in the mid to upper 60-degree range, we can usually expect pompano, tripletail, redfish and whiting to be the most likely catches. These fish will hit the same baits and rigs mentioned, but will usually only hit on the bottom. The exception is the tripletail; these fish will suspend in the water column near dock structures and buoys.
Lastly, we come to sheepshead. These fish are usually a good option for anglers all month long. I like using sand fleas, small crabs and small- to medium-sized shrimp near docks and rocky areas for these tasty fish.
BANANA RIVER LAGOON: Speckled trout, black drum, sheepshead and redfish will be searching for deep water areas to protect them from the cold nights we have in January. Places like residential canals in Satellite Beach, Cocoa Beach and Sykes Creek, or dredge holes near causeways are the best places to search for them during the passage of cold fronts this month. Live shrimp fished near structures like mangroves or docks in these canal systems should get them to strike. Saltwater Assassin 4-inch sea shad jigs can be very effective on these fish as well. Fish these lures and live baits slowly on colder days and pick your retrieve speed up a little on warmer days between weather fronts.
Sheepshead and drum will also hit sand fleas near area bridges this month and can be quite aggressive on some days. If cold fronts are few and far between, look for these fish to move into the shallows to sun themselves, and search for small crustaceans and baitfish that may be roaming the flats. Small, dark-colored flies or bucktail jigs are often a good choice when this type of weather pattern occurs.
Capt. Jim Ross
Fineline Fishing Charters