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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
February 19, 2006
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

March Fishing Forecast

With February slowly giving way to a new month, and given the relatively slow fishing I have experienced during the month I am eagerly awaiting a change in weather that I hope will come with March. On my last fishing trip we were, I am sorry to say, skunked! I donít know how long it has been that I made a trip where no fish whatsoever were caught. It was the coldest day we had this winter with the temperature dropping to the low 30ís overnight. Due to the cold weather we did not start the trip until 10:00, letting the sunshine work to warm the temps up a little. It didnít do any good. The fishing was just terrible Ė but on this morning, for good reason.

So, my thoughts move to the expectation of warmer weather and better fishing. Spring is just around the corner and we should be experiencing a change in fish behavior. I decided to look back at last year and see what March had to offer.

In my notes I find the most consistent theme is warmer water temperatures and a much improving bite. Past records indicate possible water temperatures in the mid to high 60ís and more consistent catching of several species of fish.

March can be the beginning of the spring fishing or a continuation of winter. It is still one of the least predictable months of the year. If we do not get too may cold fronts moving through, the water will warm and the fishing will turn on. If the cold fronts come it can delay the start of the really good spring fishing.

One of the highlights of March can be the cobia run. If conditions are right, meaning warmer water temps and calm seas, even the smaller boats can get out and find some cobia. This is when sight fishing is king. You hope for sunshine and calm waters to be able to spot the brown colored fish tagging along with rays or hanging around floating debris. They will take a variety of live baits including pin fish and mullet. They also like large buck tail jigs. Again, depending on conditions you might also find some triple tail hanging around the buoys or other floating structure.

On the flats it is quite possible that the reds will begin to school up in large numbers and in good size as well. Gold spoons are a favorite bait during this time of the year. You should be looking for schools of mullet and fish near the schools. Use a stealth approach so as not to spook the redfish. You should also be able to catch some gator trout during the month of March. The weather will dictate the beginning of the spring mullet run, but when it begins the fishing should explode. If the weather continues cold the really good fishing may be pushed into April. But after the relatively cold February we have experienced so far, I am hoping for the best and a warm productive March.

As always, you can visit my website at www.inshorefishingadventures.com to view pictures of the fish we catch. Thatís what itís all about. Good fishiní.

A Note on Snook

One really positive experience I had in February was the opportunity to attend Snook V, a meeting on The Status and Management of the Common Snook Fishery in Florida. The two day event was held in St. Petersburg the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) headquarters. The other sponsoring agency was the Marine Finfish Biology, Snook Research Program.

Some of the information coming from that meeting was very interesting. One of the important biological findings from research is that there are two distinct and separate coastal stocks of snook. The West Coast Snook (WCS) and the Atlantic Coast Snook. The WCS stock is about twice as large as the Atlantic stock, sustains more fishing pressure, and is estimated to have more natural and fishing mortality rates.

The Atlantic coast stock, although smaller in number tends to be larger in size. Just makes sense, doesnít it, if they have lower natural and fishing mortality rates, they are going to grow to larger size.

Data collected for 2004 indicated that 94 % of all snook caught on the East Coast are released. The number of snook caught per trip by recreational anglers was less than 1. On the gulf side, 97 percent of all snook caught were released and the average number of snook per trip was just over 1 Ĺ.

I am glad to see so many anglers releasing this popular game fish to be caught again by some lucky angler. With so many anglers already releasing so many snook maybe we should just make it a catch and release game fish. What do you think? Would you favor a catch and release only designation for snook. Email me and let me know. If we get enough response, I will publish the results in a future report.

Coming Soon

On a scheduling note, if you are in the Ft. Walton Beach area Ė the Florida Sportsman Fishing Show will be held there on February 25th and 26th. 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. Also, the Tampa Tribune Outdoor Expo and Boat Show, hosted by Frank Sargeant will be held in Tampa at the fairgrounds on March 3, 4 and 5. Come on by 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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