PORT CANAVERAL: Anglers will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of their favorite springtime fish: the cobia. These fish make great visual targets as they swim along the surface of the ocean basking in the springtime sunshine on calm days. They often look like sharks, but to the trained eye cobia are some of the best-looking brown spots they’ve ever seen. Large brightly colored “cobia” jigs are what most anglers use to target the cobia. These work well when tipped with a plastic or natural bait trailer. l like to use these popular jigs as well, but find that after the fish have seen one or two of them cast in their direction they will get a little selective about what they are willing to eat. I really like the 5-inch Saltwater Assassin Artimis Shad rigged on a ¾ ounce jig head. These come in a variety of colors but I like the natural colors that imitate pilchards and pogies best. Other great lures to cast at these fish include the Storm 5-6 inch swim shad, and Rapala’s X-Rap lipped diving plug in the size 12 or 14 in natural colors as well. Other options that I like to use especially when these fish are shadowing manta rays are the Williamson Surface Pro popper, and the new Rapala X-Plode chugger plug. These generate excellent commotion that can lure the cobia away from the rays where they become much easier to catch. These tasty fish can get fussy once in a while, so I would advise keeping some form of live bait onboard. Live baitfish, shrimp or crab can be the difference maker in some cases. Tripletail are often seen floating near weeds and debris while searching for cobia, so small jigs or medium sized live shrimp can be useful if you encounter one of these fish.
Whiting, pompano, and black drum should be hitting cut shrimp, clam, and fresh sand fleas in the surf zones between Melbourne Beach and the tip of the false cape too. There is no shortage of fish species to chase this month, you just need to get out there with us and catch some.
BANANA RIVER LAGOON: Black drum should be found in schools ranging from 20 to 100 fish each on many of the deeper flats of this lagoon. Look for pushes or tailing activity on slick calm days. On days when there is some texture on the water you can often find these schools by the muds they create. These can be seen when the drum are actively feeding in the 4- to 6-foot depths in the open basins of this body of water. Live shrimp or cut crab cast to these fish on a ¼ ounce Saltwater Assassin Boodah-style jig head. Most of these fish are scaling from 15 to 30 pounds, but a few are pushing the scales into the 40 pound range.
Slot sized redfish, trout and snook will be found near baitfish schools along the mangrove covered shorelines, and on some of the Caulerpa-covered flats around the Thousand Islands and Sykes Creek areas. Top water plugs like the Rapala Skitter Walk or Storm Chug Bug should start to work on these fish as the water temperatures warm into the lower 70’s degree range.
Sheepshead and mangrove snapper are possible for anglers fishing near bridge pilings and docks in residential canals. Small pieces of shrimp or small crabs rigged on a small-but-stout hook are usually the best way to get these tasty fish away from the pilings and into the boat.
Until next time…Catch a Memory!
Capt. Jim Ross
Fineline Fishing Charters