Last month, the fishing was pretty mediocre, overall. Nearshore fishing was decent, with the snook bite being awesome; everything else inshore was just alright. Same goes for offshore — it was okay, but not great, with the dolphin situation being almost non-existent, and the bottom fishing not blowing our doors off. That being said, the sea conditions were decent most days and the fishing overall was good enough because we managed to find enough action just about every trip to keep the smiles big. The abundance of sea weed made for some frustrating days, also contributing to our lack of dolphin production.
Nearshore is almost completely ripe for phenomenal fishing. We have 2 of the 3 ingredients. The water clarity is good and the temperature is right. All we need now is the bait. The bait is not completely absent but by now we should really have more than what we do. The end of May has proved the king fish, bonito, jack crevalle, tarpon, sharks & cobia are all available within a few 100 feet of land up and down Cocoa Beach and North along the Cape. Live bait trolling will be a blast but the hardest part of the day just might be capturing the live bait. Don’t forget that snook are out of season but they are still a absolute blast to catch and with less pressure on them they will bite even better. Expect to still find a good handful of black drum, flounder and sheepshead fishing live shrimp along the jetties, sloping drop offs & surf.
I love it! 5-10 knt, 1-2ft seas in the forecast for as far as the eye can see. The very best thing about the summer is the calm seas. It doesn’t matter if the days catch is good or bad because a relaxing day on the ocean in calm seas always makes for a great day. If you are not live bait trolling right now then you are missing out on everything great about summertime fishing. It is time to relax, enjoy time with family and friends and keep it easy. Throw the cast net once or sabiki up a few live baits off the buoys, ride no further than 80ft and put 3 lines out. Then just wait for the day to unfold. King mackerel will be dominant but the occasional mahi, cobia, and sailfish will be right their also. This is the style of fishing to take the family to do! The action is great, the fights are super fun and at the end of the day you always have something for the grill.
The rest of this report is for everyone else that insists on making fishing hard on themselves and only target bottom species or only want mahi and wahoo. GO AWAY…! Just kidding (kind of), but here is what you need to know to make this type of day a success. It does not matter if you are reading this and taking your own boat or if you are planning a charter. Summertime bottom fishing will at some point get almost impossible, especially when the thermo cline conditions occur. Until then, you have to understand that you are fishing for just a couple of chances at grouper. If you do not bottom fish on a regular basis or have a angler with you that is a absolute killer on the bottom then you have almost no chance at a grouper out of Canaveral. I really hate to be negative but summertime bottom fishing is tough and the results are usually disappointing if you don’t go in with the right expectations.
GAME PLANNING FOR BOTTOM FISHING
To increase your odds at success, you need a game plan. If you have four people fishing, you should have two people working a chicken rig at all times. The chicken rigs will be what makes you feel good about your decision to bottom fish because this is what will put keepers in the boat. Trigger fish, sea bass and porgies are the very best thing you can put on a dinner table. I personally would trade a 20lb grouper for a 14″ trigger fish every day of the week. You need to dedicate one angler to a big bottom bait. Big croakers, pin fish, grunts and vermillion snappers are all good bait for this. Another person should be working a float line for that mahi or cobia that swims by the boat because that random encounter is just as likely as someone getting a grouper bite and actually being able to catch it… Be prepared to deal with a lot of red snapper and don’t let it take the wind out of your sail every time you real one up. They are fun fights and make for killer photos. Bottom fishing is a blast as long as your EXPECTATIONS are in the right place.
Summertime trolling for mahi can be fun but again you have to have your EXPECTATIONS in the right place. If the sea grass is anything like it has been for the last five months, then don’t even bother. It is showing signs of clearing out, so there is hope. In the spirit of keeping summertime fishing fun this is what I suggest for those that love to pull the ballyhoo and increase their chances at mahi. Use wire and a double hook ballyhoo rig or strip bait. Set your spread out, put the lever in strike position with the clicker on. Don’t bother looking for current, flyers or weed lines. Troll structure, reefs, wrecks, and cones. Look forward with your favorite beverage in your cuda cup holder and have great conversation with your friends and family and wait however long it takes to hear the drag start to scream.
In fact, I only suggest looking back every 15 minutes or so to make sure no grass is on your baits. Keep it fun by keeping it easy and at the end of the day, be happy with one or two mahi in the cooler, or perhaps a random wahoo.
Flat and calm ocean, family, friends, sunshine and a fish or two — how can summer get any better? Don’t hesitate to call the day early and be in around 3pm to be sure to beat the daily late afternoon storms. We look forward to a great summer of fun in the sun and calm seas.