Tarpon on the beach
by Capt. Tom Van Horn
The heat is on, as fishing opportunities kick in along the Indian River Lagoon Coast of Florida. So far, the summer squalls have stayed away, and as long as they do, fishing along the beaches and in the inlets will remain equally as hot.
Along the beach, look for the silver kings (tarpon), smoker kings, blacktip sharks, jumbo jack crevalle, and redfish to be shadowing pods of Atlantic menhaden (pogies), threadfin herring (greenies), Spanish sardines, and bay anchovy (glass minnows) in close to the beach. Also look for snook fishing in the surf to improve, as we get closer to the commencement of the fall bait run.
Remember snook are out of season until September 1st , so if you target them, please handle and release them with care. In and around the inlets, look for Spanish mackerel, tarpon, jack cervalle, and bonita to be working schools of glass minnows on the outside, and snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, and flounder in the area of jetties and other structure. If snook are of interest, Sebastian Inlet is the place to be.
The Labrador current (cold water upwelling) as it's known is still holding off this year, but when it arrives it will cool down bottom temperatures and the bottom fishing in some areas along Florida's east coast. With average bottom water temperatures in the mid-sixties, finding warmer water is the key to locating fish. Studies have shown the phenomena is actually the effect of a prevailing south wind combined with the Coriolis effect pushing the warm surface water offshore and the cold bottom water moving up to replace displaced water, but either way it equates to some tough fishing at times.
Look for the blue water bite to improve along the inshore reefs and wrecks of Chris Benson, 8A Reef, and Pelican Flats, with kingfish, dolphin, black fin tuna, and cobia serving as the primary species, along with an occasional wahoo or sailfish. This is also the time of year when cooler waters sometimes push the giant manta rays in close to the shoals off the Cape, bringing cobia with them. Further off shore, the Gulf Stream typically moves in closer making tuna a possibility for smaller boats, and as long as the summer squalls stay away, running to the other side of the stream isn't out of the question.
Angling on the in-shore lagoons will continue to show improvement, with fishing in the predawn and late evening hours being most productive. Look for schools of redfish in the skinny water holding in the vicinity of bait concentration, and target them utilizing smaller top-water plugs. Once the sun starts to grow hot, the top-water bite slows down, and bait becomes your better option.
For larger trout, fish live pigfish in close to docks and other structure adjacent to deeper water. In deeper water, look for large schools of ladyfish, small trout, and tarpon pushing schools of glass minnows near the surface. These schools are easy to locate by watching for concentrations of birds, terns and cormorants joining in on the frenzy, and they are perfect for fly anglers who are interested in the continuous fast and furious action provided by these speedsters.
Last but not least, look for pompano schools holding in the shadows of the causeway bridges. Fish jigs tipped with shrimp or sand fleas (mole crabs) along the deeper edges and drop-offs. Lagoon water levels are extremely low, so please use caution when accessing skinny water.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you who enjoy angling on Florida's east central coast for your courteous and respectful treatment of the resource, other anglers, and the sport, and as always, if you need information or have questions, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn
407-416-1187 on the water
Book a charter at http://www.irl-fishing.com/reservations and let's go fishing.