Happy Monday SpaceFish Family,
We started back to school (pre-planning)l this week as teachers so getting back into the routine I was more limited in my fishing, since I was limited I decided to stick close to home and fish the Eau Gallie River, since I live 3 miles from Ballard Park. I consider the Eau Gallie River to be my “home waters” since it’s the closest bigger body of water to my house, which we moved into in January. Before that we rented an apartment when we moved here in February of 2020 while we looked for a home to buy – the apartments were the ones on the river and even had a private launch spot about 2/3 of the way down the river from Ballard Park. So I have fished this river a ton, and have done it in all seasons and in a variety of ways.
I think that the Eau Gallie is an under-appreciated river, I think many people assume that it is dirty water – which is actually not true you can read more about that here…https://www.sjrwmd.com/2019/05/celebrate-a-cleaner-eau-gallie-river/
I can’t speak to what the river was like before since I moved here in the winter of 2020, but in my experience it is a scenic place to paddle, observe wildlife – a variety of birds, lots of manatees and dolphins and if you are on a paddle-board or stand up in a kayak don’t be surprised to look down and see Bull Sharks cruising by. There’s a variety of ways to fish this river for different species but today I will focus on Elbow Creek and how I fished it this weekend.
Where to Launch – Ballard Park is the only public boat ramp/launch spot with direct access to the EGR. I usually unload all of my gear and kayak close to the picnic areas and drag my loaded kayak down to the shoreline access just west of the boat ramps. I would much rather slide my kayak into the water on a natural shoreline anyway, but the boat ramps are usually crowded and there is usually a lot of tension and weird vibes going on between boaters and jet skiers rushing to get in the water and rushing each other over the ramps. Having a paddle craft I highly recommend just getting out of the frenzy and sliding into the water via the sand shoreline.
Fishing Elbow Creek – Elbow Creek is a tributary that branches off of the main EGR to the south, once it goes through the Hw1 Bridge there is a small island, if you paddle to the left you can follow a residential canal until it dead ends a few hundred yards south of the island or you can follow the creek east until it gets too shallow to continue paddling. I have not had any success fishing beyond this island. My last few trips down I stop under the bridge and get out to stretch my legs and enjoy the shade a few moments before I head back north again to the EGR.
I’ve never had any issues catching Snook along the mangroves and under docks going down the creek, I usually average around a dozen per trip but they’re mostly smaller in size. I included a photo of one I caught the other day which is about the average size I catch there – Roughly 20 inches or so. Be on the lookout for rolling tarpon as you head down and back through Elbow Creek I’ve been there twice in the last two weeks, I’ve seen them rolling each time, last weekend I caught a few and hooked up with a few more, this past weekend nothing. I did catch a dozen or so Mayan Cichlids, a few jacks and one small Redfish this past weekend. I got broken off on a bigger Snook and caught one that I guestimate to be lower slot size but he slipped out of my hands when I was getting him out of the net, so it made for a quick release and I didn’t get an exact measurement. The key to finding feeding fish is look out for wading birds, they will be stalking schools of minnows and you can always bet there are Snook somewhere close by. The beauty of fishing this creek from a kayak is getting into shallow water, and getting into holes behind docks and in cuts in the mangroves. It’s also nice to be able to get really close to the mangrove to be able to skip cast lures deep into the pockets of the overhanging trees. The water level all over the EGR and EC is low right now, and the deeper you go into the creek you will really see it, as much as it would be nice to get more consistent rain and a break from hot days and bluebird skies low water means its easier to get lures back deep into the shade pockets provided by mangroves.
What Works for Me/What Doesn’t – Most of the bait that I have seen back there is small, and since it is connected to freshwater and brackish I’m not sure that using live shrimp or shrimp lures is the most effective, To be fair I haven’t used either one So I can’t say for sure. For me the key to catching the most fish is downsizing baits. I love the DOA CAL paddle tail and if I’m not getting bit will trim a half inch or so off and I like using their smaller 1/0 Jighead 1/16 oz. If Idon’t have one I will use a regular 2/0 1/8 oz Jighead. I’ve also caught a good number of Snook, Trout and Redfish on the DOA Curly Tail Grub. My favorite colors are the Glow/Gold and Rootbeer/Gold Flake paired with a red DOA CAL jighead or a twistlock hook weedless. But if you are trimming baits down to under 3 inches it’s hard to get them on a twistlock hook. A great bait choice for Snook and Tarpon is the DOA Tiny Terror Eyez. After conducting my experiment last week on “freshwater” baits I really like the Creme 2 inch swimbait and continued to use that this weekend and catching fish off of it. No Tarpon this weekend but it is a great bait for Juvenile Tarpon as it closely resembles a Mosquito fish or small Minnow. I actually accidentlly snagged a Minnow when casting into a school of them, and thought it was really cool how slosely my bait resembled it in size and profile, I included it in my picture as well as a testament to “matching the hatch”.
Conclusion – We’re in the dog days of summer for sure, it can be tough fishing anywhere right now, and I didn’t go out and catch any trophies this weekend but I was able to catch close to 20 total fish, paddle around and enjoy being on the water. The Eau Gallie River, and Elbow Creek especially is a great place to fish from a kayak or paddleboard, and for someone wanting to catch a good number of Snook on artificials it is great, it’s like a Snook nursery back in there. If you’re looking for something different this week it can be a great way to explore some quiet backwaters, and catch a lot of hungry fish on light tackle. I haven’t caught any bigguns back there but it’s always a reliable place to get bites, and I can never complain about a day spent on the water catching fish!