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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
March 15, 2006
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Jacks Galore and Cobia Time

One day last week I had the pleasure of taking Russ and Kora for a demo ride in the Pathfinder. Russ is looking at selling his Maverick and purchasing a Pathfinder 2200V. We took the ride through the locks and into the ocean so he and his wife Kora could experience the versatility of the boat in the ocean as well as the river. As we came back into the river we located a school of cooperative jacks and paused from the demo long enough to catch a few. They were simply tearing up Rip Tide 3 inch mullet in the electric chicken color. We finished the demo in the river and then back to the dock. I think there is going to be another Pathfinder on the water soon. Both Russ and Kora were highly impressed with the versatility of the boat.

Jacks and Fishing with Kids

The next day, knowing the jacks were there, I took my 9 year old grandson Robert out for a little action. When you locate the jacks like this, it is a perfect time to get a kid or two hooked on fishing. Of course Robert has had many opportunities before, but when you see the look on their face of catching, almost one after another of these feisty jacks it just warms you heart to see that the kids may grow up with the same passion that you have for fishing. The next time you have an opportunity, take a kid fishing.

March Madness - The Cobia Are Here!

Well it’s March, and in March the cobia show up outside Port Canaveral. The word was that they had been slaying them so a couple of my good friends and fellow Guides, Captain Chris Myers and Captain Tom Van Horn decided to give it a go. It was not the perfect cobia day. Seas were 3 to 4 on about 4 second intervals. A cold front was approaching and the weather man predicted a 20 percent chance of showers, which also means overcast skies. For sight fishing cobia you really want clear skies and a high sun to locate the brown colored fish in the open ocean waters. However, none of this was sufficient to halt our plans. To get the three of us together on any given day is not an easy thing, so we decided to take advantage of our opportunity.

Well the bottom line is 2 for 6 on cobia and a really nice triple tail. With the seas at 3 to 4, we took my Pathfinder since Capt. Chris fishes a Hewes Bayfisher 16 and Capt. Tom fishes a Maverick Master Angler. Taking advice from Tom, we all rigged two rods. One smaller, in the 4000 size and each of us had a larger 20 pound rod. The small rod was intended for triple tail, the larger for the cobia.

I was at the helm, Tom was on the deck spotting and Chris was standing at the ready with a baited rod scanning the rolling seas. He happened to be holding the smaller rod, rigged with a jig head. He had pinned a shrimp on the jig head by breaking off the tail and feeding the hook through the shrimp from the bottom of the tail forward. Chris turned to me and said, “I should not even be thinking of throwing this rig at a cobia,” when Tom yelled “fish”. Chris jumped up on the deck and made a cast to the brown silhouette in the rolling water. The jig head sunk toward the bottom and the fish turned to follow. Chris was right; he never should have thrown that smaller rig at the cobia. The hook was set and the pole bent double. The big fish just fought like a tuna, down and hard. Chris would get him to the boat and he would run deep again. About 35 minutes later Tom put the gaff in the fish and lifted him to the fish box.

One down, and hopefully more to go. Chris took the helm, Tom continued to spot, and I picked up a heavy duty rod rigged with 20 pound Power Pro and a 40 pound leader. I had earlier attached a large jig with a florescent red head and chartreuse skirt on the end of the leader. I then pinned a large shrimp on the jig in the same manner described above. The fish were few and far between, and we were literally working the holes in the clouds to try to keep in the sunshine. Finally a nice cobia showed. Tom yelled and pointed to the fish. I made one cast, too short and he didn’t see it. I got one more cast out but he was gone. Missed my chance! We continued in the same pattern working the 40 feet plus depths until Tom yelled again. Fish! I did not pick this fish up until it was right on the boat. He had come in straight at us and ended up no more than 15 feet away when I dropped the jig to the side and in front of him. He turned and went the other way. Chris quickly threw out a few pogies to try and hold him near the boat, but we never saw him again. Both of these fish I missed were 25 pounds plus. Good fish!

By the way, I just have to mention, the pogies came from the charter boat Odyssey out of the Port. They had just pulled in a net full as we were arriving on the scene to net a few ourselves. They came over and handed us a five gallon bucket full of their excess pogies and we were on our way. Thanks to the crew of the Odyssey. My kind of guys!

Well back to the fishing. Between cloud cover and sunny skies we managed to see a total of 6 cobia. I finally got a well placed shrimp tipped jig in front of one but he turned out to be short at a 30 inches. A legal cobia has to measure 33 at the fork. During the process of targeting the cobia we spotted two free swimming triple tail. I got a couple casts at the unexcited pair, Tom got a cast or two in and finally, Chris, who had baited with a live pogie, got the hookup. And wouldn’t you know it – he caught the triple tail on the large rod he had brought for the cobia.

Cobia fishing is a real team effort. Capt. Tom did most of the work today and ended up not catching a fish. Both Tom and Chris are that way on their charters also. They work hard so someone else can catch the fish. It’s just a passion that many guides seem to have.

As we began to lose good visibility with the front approaching and clouds building we headed back to the ramp. A great day on the water with great friends. It doesn’t get any better than that.

For questions related to fishin Florida’s East Central Coast, contact Captain Chris at info@floridafishinglessons.com

Captain Tom Van Horn may be reached at mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com

Other Information

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com to view pictures of the fish we catch. That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.

On a scheduling note, if you are in the Jacksonville area – the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be held there on March 18 and 19. The show will be in Sarasota on March 25 and 26. Mark your calendars and come by the Florida Guides Association Booth and say hi. Let me show you some RipTide lures and how I rig them.

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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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