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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
January 16, 2006
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Never Know What You Might Catch

If I have said it once I said it a thousand times. “I love saltwater fishing because you never know what you are going to catch.” So, the first picture I am going to post for 2006 is a seven pound sheepshead caught while fishing some docks for redfish. It was a cold, cold morning. Temperatures dropped down in the thirties all along East Central Florida and I told my party there was no need to even leave the dock until 10:00 am. This was the second trip in a row that I called for the late departure due to cold temperatures.

The bite has been slow, but my anglers had been consistently catching a few spotted sea trout and redfish. Most of the activity has been on live bait with a few fish coming on plastics. Given this recent history I decided to take today’s anglers, Robert and Jim, on this coldest morning yet, to fish some docks that happen to be in deeper water. Robert is from Central Florida and he was hosting his friend Jim who came down from Virginia. As was the case in other recent trips the bite was very slow to begin with but began to pick up as the sun rose high above us.

It still wasn’t great but we would catch a little red once in a while and we boated a couple of sea trout as well. As we moved from dock to dock, simply putting the Power Pole down and fishing each one for a while, we collected 8 or 10 fish. Then as we moved to a new dock and set the Power Pole one angler snag his rig on the dock and we had to break it off. Since we were free lining some nice sized live shrimp up under the docks, I would re-rig with a 20 pound mono leader (I’m still using mono, the water is still a little stained and the mono is working fine. As the water clears, I will switch back to fluorocarbon.). I have been tying the mono leader to the Power Pro braid with a double-uni knot and adding a 3/0 circle hook on the end. With live shrimp I still like to use a loop-knot to attach the hook, giving the shrimp a little more ease of movement.

Well, before I started re-rigging I picked up another rod for Jim that had a clacker type float with about 14 inches of mono below the float, and the usual 3/0 red circle hook. I put a live shrimp on and the rig was cast toward a dock and landed right next to a piling. Before I could begin my chore or re-rigging the float was gone. Instantaneous strike! I yelled to my angler, Jim, to start reeling. I had already cautioned him on a big hook set while using the circle hooks. Jim reeled and the pole bent. It was obvious we had a nice fish. A few minutes later after turning him from one side to the other between two docks that were not over 25 feet apart we had the big red close to the boat. A time or two it looked like he would take us to the pilings but luck was with us and we got him out. He was hooked on a 7 ft. medium action rod and a Shimano 2500 for the reel. It was the only rig on the boat that had mono instead of braid.

The landing net was still in the compartment under the deck of my Pathfinder so I instructed Jim to just hold on a minute and keep the redfish near the boat while I retrieved the net. When I picked up the net it also drug out a small soft-sided cooler that had a little snap hook on it on the end of a tether. The luck we had earlier getting the big red out from between the docks was quickly departing. The hook had caught on the net and as nets can be, it just wouldn’t come loose. About that time I heard the cracking sound of stretching monofilament line breaking and I new the fish was gone. Jim’s only words, “too late”. We all three just let out a big sigh.

The red looked to be 28 to 30 inches and too big to keep, but it would have been a real nice photo opportunity. We continued to catch a few smaller reds and one seven pound sheepshead before we decided to call it a day. The big sheepie came from a dock just north of the one the big red had been lying under. The sheepshead had found a nice little spot where 3 pilings, very close together formed a nice little triangular area for him to hide and feed around. The sheepie bit several times, stealing the bait each time before we hooked him and aggressively pulled him out from under the dock. Robert decided the sheepshead would make a nice dinner and we placed him in the live well.

Well, it was time to leave for the dock and we had done much better than I had expected. I love saltwater fishing! It was a fun day with lots of excitement. We lost the big one but that happens in fishing. Part of the fun is in the hunt. The run up the river, even at 10:00 am was a little cold, but once we stopped and fished the west bank to protect us from the west wind it was pleasant. So, don’t let the temperatures get you down, just start a little later and let that warm Florida sunshine do its thing. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

As always, you can visit my website to view pictures of the fish we catch.

In The Future

On a scheduling note, if you are in the Ft. Myers area – the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be held there on February 4th and 5th. Mark your calendars and come by the Florida Guides Association Booth and say hi.

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Capt. Ron Presley is an outdoor writer and fishing guide. He serves on the board of directors of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, is Secretary Treasurer of the Florida Guides Association and editor of their newsletter. Capt. Ron operates Inshore Fishing Adventures in the Cocoa Beach area.

Contact Info:

Inshore Fishing Adventures
516 S. Plumosa St., #19
Merritt Island, FL 32952
Phone: 321-454-7285
Alt. Phone: 321-749-1787
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