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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
November 20, 2006
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

Time to go Drumminí

Every year when mid November rolls around my thoughts on fishing always get around to Black Drum under the bridges. This time of year the big boys begin to congregate around bridges and other heavy structure. The Black Drum is a member of the croaker family with a close relationship to the redfish. The fish has a deeper body and more of an arched back than a redfish. Like other croakerís, the fish make repeated contractions of their swim bladder creating the loud drumming sound.

I like to beef up to a least a 20 pound rod, normally loaded with 40 pound Power Pro. I normally rig a sliding sinker with a split shot placed about 12 to 14 inches above the hook. I use a 7/0 circle hook at the end of a 50 pound mono or fluorocarbon leader. Cast the rig up tight to the bridge pilings and get ready. Clams, jumbo shrimp, and crabs (usually cut in half) will all entice a drum to eat. These big guys seem to have the routing down pat. Once hooked they immediately head for the pilings to cut you off. This is why you need a rod with some backbone and a drag set pretty tight. Your first chore is to get them away from the pilings.

One method for getting the beefy drum out from under the bridge is the same method use to get triple tail away from a buoy. Crank the engine and pull the boat away from the bridge. This gives the angler a little help in getting the fish to open water. Needless to say, with the pressure you have to put on these fish you want your line in good condition and your knots properly tied.

On a recent trip with Dennis and his brother Jeff we tangled with a couple of these brutes using the method described above. Dennis lives here in Florida and his brother Jeff was visiting from Virginia. Jeff would be experiencing his first saltwater fishing trip and Dennis was looking for a photo op with a sheepshead for an article he was writing. We rig up and pitched some jumbo shrimp out around a bridge. Dennis, wanting to catch that sheepshead for a picture fished some lighter tackle up around the pilings. As luck would have it (or bad luck maybe) Dennis hooked up a huge fish on the light tackle. There was no way to get the big fish out of the structure and it soon cut off. There is obviously no way of knowing for sure it was a drum, but my experience would certainly make me think so. Dennis repeated the scenario two more times hooking really big fish that were simply uncontrollable on the light tackle. In the meantime our big rods and jumbo shrimp remained quite without being disturbed. Later in the day Jeff also hooked a big fish on light tackle and once again it pulled and swan to safety.

The day ended without either a black drum or a sheepshead but the evidence was clear. Itís definitely time to do some drumminí.

For you fly fisherman the black drum can also be found on the flats. I am not in to the fly fishing yet although my good friend Capt. Chris Myers encourages me to try it. Because of their feeding habits, the black drum are not an easy take on fly but it is this challenge that makes it interesting. Since they do like crabs and shrimp they can be tempted with fur and feathers. Capt. Chris reported sightings last week, so if you target them you will get some shots, and the rest is up to you and the willingness of the drum to eat. If you want to give the shallow water drum a try you can contact Capt. Chris at info@floridafishinglessons.com or call him at 321-229-2848.

Other Notes of Interest

Donít forget that snook seasons closes again in less than a month. The winter closure is December 15 Ė January 31.

Spotted Sea Trout are closed now and wonít reopen until January 1, 2007.

The new Gander Mountain store is now open 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.

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.

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.

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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