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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
September 11, 2006
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Key Lime Braggin’ Time

Well, it’s been a while since a report and I apologize. But, I been out playin’ and haven’t had time to write. I just got back from the Keys where I attended the Florida Outdoor Writers annual convention. What a great place for a conference. I just don’t get to go there often enough. I ate Key Lime pie every night, Key Lime cookies, Key Lime Budds (a hard candy), and Key Lime saltwater taffy in the daytime. So, instead of a Space Coast fishing report, you get a taste of the Keys in this weeks report. And yes, I will start my diet again this week.

I never caught a permit before. Now I have. I never caught a bonefish before. Now I have. Anglers from all over the world go to the Keys to catch both bonefish and permit. They use fly rods, spinning rods, and bait casters. Both artificial and live baits are used to pursue the much sought after bones and permit. During the meeting a half day was set aside for a fishing tournament of about 20 boats that headed out to catch any game fish available from the clear water of the Florida Keys. About half the boats left from Robbie’s Marina (where you can hand feed eager tarpon) and the other half, including my boat left from Bud and Mary’s Marina. What a hoot to be the “client” and let someone else bait my hook. My fishing buddy, Larry Barker and I were hosted by Capt. Vinnie Biondoletti. The tides were high and the flats were flooded giving the elusive bones a lot of places to be. The primary target was bone fish with a hope of seeing some permit too. Capt. Vinnie chose live shrimp as the bait of the day.

The process is not that much different than sight fishing for Space Coast Reds. Pole the flats – spot the fish – and make your presentation. The Capt. liked to break off the tail at the last joint and place the hook through the exposed flesh end and back out the shell as far as the hook will reach. This method is used by many of the Keys captains. Removing the tail allows more of the shrimp scent to enter the water. In fact, as we moved along the flat I was holding the shrimp in the water at the side of the boat to keep it alive while waiting to spot and cast to a bone fish. It wasn’t long until we had a couple of sharks following along behind, apparently picking up the scent of the trailing shrimp and then following it up to the boat. Larry hooked a couple but they both bit off. I hooked a small bonnet head which we boated and released.

With slow fishing on the flooded flats, Capt. Vinnie decided to move to the Atlantic side of the Keys to resume our fishing. I didn’t mention it before, but we started off on the Gulf side. After a short run through Indian Key cut and by Bud and Mary’s Marina, where Vinnie keeps his boat, we moved into about 2 to 3 feet of water where we immediately spotted some bones. Larry was first to hook up and I got one a little later. We managed to boat 7 of the elusive bones from this area. All were caught on the shrimp rig I described above. In addition to the bones we caught several of what the Capt. called Mahorribles. I think the real name is Striped Mojarra. These little fellows are not considered game fish, but running up to about 14 inches in length, they are fun to catch.

Next comes the braggin’ part. As we concentrated on the bones a couple of permit came swimming along, west to east, a little nearer to the shore than where we were catching the bones. The Capt. yelled, “eleven o’clock, 40 feet”. Interestingly enough I had just lost my shrimp to a bonefish and had picked up a headless shrimp off the deck and pinned it to the hook. I made the cast and jokingly asked, “Do you suppose they like shrimp jerky”? The shrimp had been on the deck awhile and was a little dried out. About that time my right index finger experienced a slight burning sensation as the monofilament line screamed off the reel. The permit had eaten the jerky! Vinnie jumped up on the platform and poled the skiff in the direction the fish was heading to allow me to get back some of my line.

Larry added words of encouragement, knowing that this was my first permit. “Now you’re in for some fun,” he said. “Keep the line tight. Don’t lift too high or too fast.” I could just hear myself saying the same thing when somebody on my boat is hooked up. Then he says, “I guess I don’t have to tell you that,” to which I responded, “Yes you do, I get buck fever just like the next guy.” After all, it was my first permit and I really wanted to get him to the boat so I would take all the advice I could get. Capt. Vinnie didn’t say much, but skillfully kept the skiff in the right place at the right time, allowing me to bring the fish to the side of the boat, after several screaming runs, to the waiting dip net in Larry’s hands. I got the permit’s head up above the water and Larry skillfully placed the net in front of the fish’s path. He lifted it at the precise time the fish passed over to fully encompass a 28 inch Key’s permit. My first, but I certainly hope it won’t be the last.

We did some CPR, (Catch, Photo, and Release). Vinnie resuscitated the permit and returned him to the clear shallow Atlantic waters. By now it was time to return to the Lorelei restaurant for lunch and the awards presentation. We turned in our score sheets, had a great mahi mahi sandwich for lunch, and waited for the tournament judges to tally the mornings catch. When all was said and done, my permit and three bone fish placed second in the overall competition and I was rewarded with a really nice Key Largo Rod. When it came time to announce the “best captain” of the day Larry and I were pleased to hear the name Capt.Vinnie Biondoletti. He also received a Key Largo Rod.

Well, thanks for letting me brag on my first permit, but I also want to brag on the hospitality of the Keys. It didn’t matter where we went or what we did those folks down there simply take care of you. From the captains, to the restaurants, to the hotel personnel, you are given the first class treatment. I just can’t wait to get back down there again and I hope you can visit and fish sometime too. For more great information on the Keys visit the website at http://www.fla-keys.com .

Capt. Vinnie can be reached by email at vbiondoletti@aol.com or simply give him a call at 305-852-3496.

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

Phone 321-454-7285


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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.

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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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