Paddle Power in July 2020

Summer is here and the fishing is hot! Seasons don’t really change much here on the Space Coast. It kind of just goes from warm in the fall, winter, and spring to superhot in the summer! The air gets increasingly heavy with tropical moisture and afternoon showers become an everyday occurrence. Hurricane season brings the threat of nasty weather and big surf, but also the potential for some outstanding “outflow/culvert” fishing. The beauty of our Space Coast fishery is easy to see this time of year. One of the things that make our lagoons so fishy; is our geographic location! Nestled on the convergence of tropical and sub-tropical climate zones with ocean influence, and over 100 miles of lagoon for fish to travel this watery wonderland; we get many visitors. Our year-round resident fish have many summer friends to share the flats, mangroves, beaches, and Inlets with. Some never leave, but only move to different locations in the winter. Only to come from their hiding spots and join their brethren who “migrate” up when the days get long.

Let’s talk tips – and tactics for one of my favorite summer targets. Summer marks the spawning time for snook, so they protect them with a closed season as they invade the inlets. Port Canaveral does not see the spawn activity of the inlets south of us. Though a fair share still calls Port Canaveral home until the fall mullet run. Snook are an angry and structure orientated fish. Built for currents they love some churned-up surf. A true gamefish if there ever was one. Sizzling runs with Jedi like precision at finding places to cut you off. A gill plate that is easily sharper than a razor blade. Yep, the snook is one bad animal. Larger fish in the 8 to 20-pound class will be most prevalent in Port Canaveral, the beaches, and the inlets south. While smaller fish in the 1-10lb. class can be found predominately in the Lagoon backwaters, mangrove areas, and dock lines. For the Port fish look to use med-heavy tackle with 20-40 lb. braided mainline. Attach your live bait hook or lure with 40 lb. leader to prevent the snooks rough lips from causing leader failure. Hot spots during the day are both Jetty’s and the draw bridge area. The day bite seems to be much more consistent on live baits like mullet, spots, pinfish, and pogies fished close to the bottom. At night utilize Slayer Inc.’s SSTXL’s and lipped plugs like Bombers or Yozuri to actively fish shadow lines created from lights on the wharfs. The smaller “lagoon” snook will be found around areas of structure and many times deep in the structure. Mangroves and docks can be effectively fished by skipping your baits far under the overhangs. Just because these are of the smaller variety than their port bound cousins, doesn’t mean they will not spank you on some cutoffs. Even the small version of this fish is a powerful opponent. I like to use the Slayer Inc SSTXL on a weedless hook setup. The weedless hook allows you to pitch way back in cover and trees without fear of snagging as often.