Happy Monday SpaceFish Family,
Picking back up with the Eau Gallie River today. There is only one public launch area at Ballard Park which I detailed last week, so if you want to know more, go check out Part I.
Breaking Up the River – So I want to talk about the main EGR in 3 sections: The Marina, The Eastern River and the Western River. The Marina is the area between Ballard Park and the Highway 1 Bridge; The Eastern River is between the the Harbours Apartment Boat Ramp (private residential access only – I used to live there and they will tow people that park there without permission); and the Western River is from that Ramp down to the EGR Dam.
Fishing the Marina – Not really something I’d recommend doing in a kayak for several reasons, it has a lot of boat traffic and usually this is the choppiest water. There’s not a lot of great structure to fish in the open water and you can’t really get in and fish around the private marina property. BUT there are very large tarpon that roll and roam out in the deeper water here and I’ve tangled with a few while trolling through. This would be a great place to fish with big live mullet from a boat, it’s tough in a kayak. I have trolled a Berkley Flicker Shad through here and gotten big Tarpon to hit, but they usually give me a sleigh ride and thrill but I haven’t been able to keep one on long enough to tire it down and land it. I love the Berkley Flicker Shad it’s meant for freshwater guys to troll for crappie but if you replace the trebles with in-line hooks can be a great trolling lure for Tarpon. I’ll get more into this later. This can also be a great place to drop anchor and throw out cut bait for Bull Sharks. Just make sure to anchor away from boat traffic for obvious reasons. I’m sure that you could also catch Tarpon this way, but the issue would be you can’t move to stalk the ones that are rolling – I’ve never caught a Tarpon this way but I’m sure it’s do-able.
Fishing the Western River – At this part of the river you will see a medley of structure lining both banks of the river – rocks, docks, fallen trees, bushes, take your pick! It can be a little overwhelming and it can be easy to fall into the rabbit hole and waste hours of time fishing every piece of structure and not catching many fish.
Here is the best piece of advice I can give to having success on the Eau Gallie River, and this applies to all parts of the river…paddle and cover ground and look for signs of life. 90% of fish are in 10% of the water, that is the gospel of inshore fishing. These signs of life can be birds, especially wading birds stalking small baitfish and baitfish activity. And just because you have successfully targeted the right areas, it doesn’t guarantee hook ups – you have to match the hatch! It doesn’t take a giant tackle box to catch a lot of fish – I caught a grand slam this weekend on one artificial lure profile. When you see baitfish activity try and observe what size this bait is, come prepared with 2, 3 and 4 inch profiles in a light color and dark color and appropriate hooks/jig heads and you will be set!
Fishing the Western River, what I like to do is cruise around and once I see what I’m looking for I hone in on that area and pick it apart. That’s how I catch most of my Snook and Tarpon. Fishing close to bait pods will also bring catches of ladyfish, Jacks, Black Drum, Reds and Trout if they are in the river. This weekend I caught small Trout, Reds and Black Drum close to the minnow schools. Black Drum only around minnow schools and docks.
In the middle of this section of the river is the train tracks, which can be a great place to weave in and out of a kayak power fishing with artificial, or something I have done before anchor down, and throw bait around the pilings. I really like throwing fiddler crabs and I’ve actually gone to the beach and caught sand fleas and used those too. Shrimp will work but you will catch as many catfish with shrimp as anything else. The crabs seem to be better for staying on target with the species you want to catch. This is a great way to catch Sheepshead, and Tarpon. My first ever tarpon came on a fiddler crab at the train track bridge.
One of my favorite parts of this section is a small creek on the south bank, just south of the train track, this creek is really low and the back is dried out right now due to lack of rainfall, but when the water levels are up this can be a kayak anglers dream for Juvie Tarpon and Snook of all sizes. I fished the mouth of it this weekend and caught 4 Snook and a baby Red in there, it’s also well shaded by large trees and can be a great place to fish later in the day on hot sunny days as this water stays cooler for longer in the day, bait gets flushed in this creek from the main river and this is a high trafficked area for all of the predator fish.
Fishing the Eastern River – Once you get past the apartment boat ramp there a few docks within the first hundred yards on the north bank, but outside of this, it is nothing but mangroves. And with the water levels being low, it’s easier than ever to make skip casts back into the shade pockets. Again, I’d highly advise stalking signs of life before fishing an area. It’s like the Patriots of the American Revolution at Bunker Hill, to preserve ammunition they were told to hold their fire until they saw the whites of their enemies eyes. I’ve learned that saving time and energy until I see bait and birds leads to catching a lot more Snook!
As you’re stalking this end of the river, don’t neglect the middle, there will definitely be Tarpon rolling here too. Eventually the river runs into the dam behind the Eau Gallie 1st Baptist Church. This dam can be highly productive after a good rainfall and water is dumping over from the freshwater side. This is also a fishing hot spot for shore anglers so be careful when approaching, and keep your head on swivel so you don’t get pinged in the head by a 12 year old launching a hard plastic plug with treble hooks at you as you round the corner. This can be a great place to get out and stretch your legs too before saddling back up to head back up the river.
My Recent Trip – So I was out there yesterday. I fished all the way to the dam and back, and was on the water fishing for roughly 6 hours. I caught 13 Snook from 2 slot size to a few very small juveniles, 2 good size juvenile Tarpon, 2 small Redfish, 2 Black Drum – one small, and one medium size, 3 juvenile Trout around docks close to Ballard Park, and 4 Mayan Cichlids. I only lost 2 fish I had hooked, I got broken off on a good sized Snook, I couldn’t get it out of the Mangrove roots, and had what would have been my biggest ever Tarpon in the Marina but it spit the hook on its second jump. I only threw 3 baits – My most productive was the 2 inch swimbait again, I used a micro set up, a 1000 series reel with 6 pound braid and 12 pound mono, both of my Tarpon came on this set up, and 1 of my larger Snook as well. I caught a few Snook on a 3 inch DOA CAL paddle tail in Rootbeer/Gold Flake with a ⅛ oz weedless twistlock hook, and I caught the other Slot Snook on a Gambler TZ in Chicken on a Chain color on DOA’s 1/0 1/16 oz Jighead, this bait also produced the Black Drum and Redfish bites. I trolled the Berkley Flicker Shad and that is what got the bite from the bigger Tarpon but he spit the hook, I also caught a Mayan Cichlid on the troll coming out of the dam as well.
All in all the key to success is going small and light in the approach. Getting out early this time of year always increases the chances of a good back, but good Snook can be caught with good skip casting under the mangroves and under docks.
I hope this report helps those wanting to get out and have a fun kayak fishing experience. I met a really nice couple out yesterday and they mentioned they had read last weeks report and were out on the river to give it a shot. It was so nice to meet you, I hope you guys had a great trip! My email is email@example.com – please feel free to reach out if you want, I’d love to hear how the trip went after I bumped into ya’ll.
I hope everyone has a great week, and has a chance to get out on the water and catch some fish! Kids are back in school this week, so ya’ll pray for me!