Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral
Capt. Ron Presley
October 17, 2006
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report
I have to apologize for a lapse in my reports. I have been on the road attending various fishing shows all over the state and have not been fishing nearly enough. However, the fishing I have had has been quality fishing time.
I went a day early and stayed a day later after the Miami Florida Sportsman Fishing Show and fished with my good friend Capt. Pat Kelly out of Everglades City. Capt. Pat is president of the Florida Guides Association. This was my first trip to the “glades”, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I towed my Pathfinder to the site and loaded it with the equipment suggested by Pat. The main thing was a sturdy rod with a strong backbone. The target fish was snook and the preferred bait was live mullet.
Given my home fishing grounds in the Indian and Banana Rivers I was not use to paying a lot of attention to the tides but in the Everglades you to have to be very attendant to the tides in terms of when you go out or come back to dock as well as when you fish. Capt. Pat already had that all figured out and we left the dock with plenty of water under the Pathfinder. We cruised on out several miles to a favorite island to net some mullet. The wind was high and the water discolored, making it hard to spot the sought after bait fish. But not to worry, Capt. Pat simply knew where to go and after a few, basically blind, casts we had enough mullet to go fishing.
To my surprise, the mullet we were seeking were in the pound to pound and a half size and I now understood why we need a hefty rod. It was to be able to throw the bait as well as handle any fish large enough to eat the huge mullet. We rigged up with 7/0 bait hooks on about 30 inches of 80 pound mono leader. A slip sinker was added above the hook that would slide up and down between the hook and the double uni knot that fastened the leader to the main line.
Capt. Pat then drove the Pathfinder to the mouth of a river that flows out into the Gulf of Mexico. It was an outgoing tide, Capt. Pat’s favorite tide to fish. We anchored up above a slight bend in the river where the flowing river has cut a deep whole along one side. The big mullet are hooked on the bottom side about 4 or five inches from the tail and heaved out into the outgoing tide. The drags are set extremely tight and Capt. Pat instructed me to hit him hard after you feel the “thump.” The idea is to drive that 7/0 hook through the mullet and into the fish for a solid hook up.
It wasn’t long, until a “thump” was felt through the PowerPro braid and a solid hook set was made. “Hit him again,” yelled Capt. Pat, “don’t give him an inch; he will take you to the rocks.” A few minutes later a nice 15 to 16 pound snook came along side the boat only to break off before we got the Boga Grip on him. I thought we were overdoing it with the 80 pound leader but obviously it was not enough in this case. The big snook wore right through the leader and swam to freedom.
Using the same method on three different days we caught several of the big snook, the largest weighing in at 19 pounds. Capt. Pat said that the fish would normally weight up to 23 or 24 pounds but had just completed the spawn and was “skinny” in its present condition. Skinny or not, the fish gave me a memento of the day by adding a PowerPro burn to my index finger which was touching the line when the big fish made its move to the rocky area at the edge of the whole. The fish was taking drag so fast that Capt. Pat started giving instructions again. “Turn his head, turn his head, you’ve got to put some pressure on him.” It’s like what else can you do? It’s a big sturdy rod and the drag is cranked down tight and this fish is still ripping off line.
But finally the rod and the drag do their job and the big fish turns back into the open water – you think you have him, until he turns again toward the rocks and rips more line from the screaming reel. After three or four of these runs the big fish is finally brought upside the boat were you can see the hook is on the outside of the mouth and there is no danger of chaffing and loosing the fish. The big snook is brought on board for a quick photo then back over the side for resuscitation and release.
My first trip to the Everglades was a huge success and makes me want to go back for more. My only advice if you want to go, line up a guide that knows the area because you can get stranded out there when the water leaves on that outgoing tide an enormous amount of land is uncovered and you have no choice but to wait until the water comes back in. To contact a guide in the area you can use the Florida Guides Association website at www.florida-guides.com and click on “guides”, and then on “Everglades.” The site will list several FGA member guides that can take you on a trip of your lifetime. If you have never been, I hope you get to soon.
Other Notes of Interest
The new Gander Mountain store is opening in Lake Mary at the intersection of I4 and Lake Mary Blvd. It is in the Southeast quadrant of the intersection. This is the newest store in the Gander Mountain chain, but not likely the last in Florida. Stop by and check them out.
Speaking of dates, the fall months are full of fishing shows and I already mentioned some above. Other shows that may be closer to you include:
St. Pete, Sun Coast Expo-October 27-28-29. (FGA Booth)
Orlando, Florida Sportsman Fishing Show-November 11-12. (FGA Booth)
Come by and visit me at one of the shows and let me show you how I fish the Rip Tide lures. You might even be able to pick up a free sample.
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’.
Capt. Ron Presley
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