[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ummer brings several things that improve the fishing in the central lagoon area, some of which include stable weather, light winds and increased variety and numbers of baitfish. The light winds open new territory to small boat anglers (i.e. the ocean). This allows anglers a chance to pursue species that are out of their reach the rest of the year, as well as having better conditions to fish the inshore waters. The grass beds of the Indian River Lagoon have been showing signs of recovery this spring. It seems to me that there is about 30% recovery in historic grass areas. Soft bottom areas have good coverage, but some of the larger open water flats are still only sparsely covered. With the intense sunlight and warm temperatures of summer these grasses should become denser and expand into slightly deeper adjacent waters. Although there will be some initial benefits to the return of the sea grass beds it will take some time for the game fish to find their way back to the area. There is plenty of fishing available in the Sebastian area if you know what to look for. Here is what I intend to do this summer.
Near Shore Atlantic – I personally look forward to getting outside in the summer. The techniques are simple and the fish average larger than the biggest inshore specimens I catch the rest of the year. The summer time near-shore fishery is our best chance of the year to catch fish weighing out in the double and sometime triple digits. Large migrating tarpon, smoker kings, hard fighting little tunny, toothy barracuda, brawling cobia, colorful dolphin, and even sailfish are possible within small boat range of the inlet. The methods I most often imply include: slow trolling live greenies and mullet, trolling large plugs, casting baits and lures to breaking and cruising fish and bottom fishing the shallow reefs. The near shore fishing is a great option for family groups and can be productive regardless of an angler’s skill level.
Sebastian River – The top of the list in the Sebastian River in early summer is tarpon. There are tarpon throughout the Sebastian River, but the larger fish seem to frequent the entire north fork and the lower south fork. Flies, MirrOlure Catch 2000 junior plugs, D.O.A. shrimp, TerrorEyz and AirHeads are all good artificial for both snook and tarpon. Small to medium sized mullet are the best choice for live bait. There has been an increase in the snook population over the last year as large snook find their way back to the productive waters of the Sebastian area after the killer freezes of 2010. Most of these snook are slot size or larger so they are tough to get to bite and even tougher to wrestle to the boat. Catch and release snook fishing may be the best option for die hard inshore anglers.
Sebastian Inlet – This is the time to take advantage of the inlet. The tips of the jetties have always been the best spots this time of year, the north jetty on the outgoing tide, and the south on the incoming. Live bait is the only way to go during the day; croakers, pigfish, and shrimp are the best choices. Get them down using anything from a split-shot to a two-ounce egg sinker and you have as good a chance at catching a picture worthy snook or redfish as any place in the world. I expect to see 20- to 40-pound redfish move into the inlet this summer to feast on juvenile crabs floating out with the tide.
Indian River Lagoon – Early morning provides the best chance at trout and reds on the many flats of the central lagoon. Top-water plugs are the best bet, with D.O.A. jerkbaits, live mullet and pigfish being good choices as well. Look for rolling tarpon and bull sharks in some of the open basins of the lagoon this month. Try floating a live ladyfish on stout gear with wire leader for the bull sharks and cast MirrOlures, flies, D.O.A Bait-Busters and live mullet at rolling tarpon. Typically, snook of all sizes will be laid up tight to cover getting out of the sun during the day. Twenty pound Fins WindTamer Braid combined with D.O.A. shrimp or AirHead will do the trick on stubborn snook.