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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
November 15, 2005
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Fishing Continues Slow after Wilma

I have heard from other captains that they have had some success in finding clear water and when they did, they found fish. Personally, I have not found the water to be clearing up much. We should see it slowly begin to clear and bring some better fishing. With the dirty water, my best catches have been on live shrimp or cut bait.

The ladyfish seem to be the only species that does not mind the dirty water. They have been plentiful and eager to bite on artificial lures, from top water to CAL jigs with plastic split tail or paddle tails pinned on. We have been keeping a few of the ladyfish to use as cut bait, hoping to entice some hungry reds to eat.

My Kinda' Guy

One trip included a father, Bob, and his two sons Bobby and Riley. The family had traveled to Cocoa and Lee Wenner Park to enjoy a half-day fishing trip on the Indian River Lagoon. My Pathfinder cruised smoothly eastbound along the bridge, greeted by a beautiful Space Coast sunrise and all the promise of a new day. The water was perfectly smooth although dirtied by the recent Hurricane Wilma. It was one of those days that you sometimes dread as a fishing guide because the previous day’s fishing had been really tough. I should say the previous week’s “catching” had been tough.

The family came to target the tarpon that are normally around this time of year. Evidently, the cold spell that followed Wilma moved the tarpon further south. We didn’t see any at all. We spent a little time catching ladyfish and then moved to a shallow flat on the East side of the Indian River.

I cut up four ladyfish we caught earlier in the day, using the heads and tails and a few of the chunks for chum. Everyone baited up with a piece of ladyfish on a 3/0 circle hook and patiently waited for the reds to show. I always like to use the circle hooks with cut bait because they nearly always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. When you fish redfish with this technique, fish with an open bail and allow the fish to pull off a few coils of line before closing the bail by hand and then just start reeling. Let the circle hook do its job.

Bobby brought the first red to the boat, only to see it quickly change directions and run under the bow where it cut off on the trolling motor. Later, Bob hooked and landed another nice slot sized red. Finally, Bob hooked another nice red and handed the pole to Riley to complete the circle of everyone bringing in a nice redfish. With this one, the circle hook did not do its job and it required a little work for Bob to remove the hook from the redfish’s throat. This meant having the fish out of the water a little longer than usual.

Bob carefully conducted CPR with both boys looking on. Then I heard Bob say, “don’t roll over on me.” I turned around and before you could say jack creavalle, shoes were coming off and socks were lying on the deck. Bob was in the water retrieving the red that had rolled over and lay on the grassy bottom. Once again, he began the necessary work to resuscitate the weakened redfish. The fish soon regained its strength and swam swiftly and strongly from Bob’s gentle grasp.

The Challenge

I want to close this report by noting that Bob challenges all of us by his actions. There was no hesitation as to what he was going to do. “I didn’t come here to kill em”, he said, “just to enjoy catching them. If we don’t take care of them now we can’t catch them again later.” We didn’t catch anymore fish that day but by the end of the day I knew I had met a man who cares for the lagoon and the experience it brings us as much as anyone else I know.

I hope you too are challenged by the example this man gives us by his deeds. Pass the passion on to your children and friends as he does to his.

That’s what its all about. Good fishin’.

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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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