Happy Monday SpaceFish Family,
I hope everyone had a blessed weekend, and got some time out on the water!
I returned to Crane Creek Saturday morning. It was not my best day of fishing this summer, but it also wasn’t my worst either. My overall thoughts on Crane Creek are that it’s great place to paddle, and if you are able to catch a few fish in the meantime, all the better! It is very similar to the Eau Gallie River in the scenery, the structure, and the type of fish that can be targeted there. In the summer time, it is a great place to look for Juvenile Tarpon anywhere from 1-40 pounds, and a place where with enough persistence beating the bushes, Snook can be caught in good numbers year round. I have not fished it in the winter, but I am sure larger Snook, as well as Trout and Reds push into their to find warmer water further from the flats and shallow water of the Lagoon system.
Where to Launch: I recommend Scurrah’s Landing – this is the address 2421 Riverview Dr, Melbourne, FL 32901. It is non-motorized launch point, there is ample parking and a place to use the restroom. You can back your truck almost to the water’s edge and it makes for an easy launch, right off the western shoreline of the IRL. From there it is roughly a quarter of a mile or so into Crane Creek Marina. You could also launch paddle craft from Front Street Boat Ramp, which I have also done before, but I personally prefer Scurrah’s landing. The shore line on the way in also offers good fishing, and in the past I have caught Trout, Jacks, Ladyfish, Mangrove Snapper, Sheepshead and Snook on the paddle in to Crane Creek. I have actually had several trips over the years where I launch at Scurrah’s Landing and if the water is calm, and the winds are calm, I will fish the IRL up and down the western shoreline.
Where to fish: I just gave a brief description of the western shoreline, but the last two weekends I have gotten into the marina, and then down the creek. Let’s start with the marina.
I have a love/hate thing with the marina. My first ever Tarpon hook up happened here, in April of 2020, not long after moving here. I was given a sleigh ride across the marina, before he went airborne and spit the hook, I was left with a mixed feeling of “what in the hell just happened?” and “I will literally do anything to make that happen again”. Last summer, it was the first place I started consistently catching Snook on artificials, and the docks in the marina always hold Snook, and some really quality ones, but it can be a very tough place to land one, because of the boats and docks. I was heartbroken twice this weekend. But the tale of the tape for the marina is, use your paddle craft to get in places boats can’t and try to skip something under the docks. If you do it enough you will hook into a good number of Snook, but make sure you are ready at all times, and don’t be shocked if you have a chance to land a slot or over-slot Snook, but make sure you are ready and able to turn her head quickly and get her to the kayak before she can take your line around a dock piling. Catching large Snook in tight places has to be one of the most enjoyable, but heartbreaking things any angler can do, The really cool thing about the Crane Creek marina is there are so many nooks and crannies that a kayaker or paddle boarder can get into, to present a lure or bait to a Snook that may not be as pressured as others it can be a high percentage game. But those same tight and hard to reach places offer a high level of difficulty when you have to be able to horse that horse out of hard structure when you are not anchored and are trying to control the leverage on a 40 pound piece of plastic. All I can say is, go try it for yourself, buckle your chin strap and let the games begin! Unfortunately I was 0/3 on big Snook in the Marina this weekend. The first broke me off under the first dock (The FIT/FWC dock) and on the other 2, I was so trigger happy in trying to get the head turned before she could make a run to a dock piling that I didn’t get good hook sets, and both times, I won the battle and was trying to get the Snook in the net beside the kayak when they spit the hook. The 3rd loss came on a little canal between Hwy 1 and the last dock, I was wedged in tight, a group of yacht clubbers got a front row seat to the show, they cheered me on until the big Snook came off, and then they got to hear a few sentences worth of colorful commentary, which they seemed just as amused by. I had landed a small Red, a few under slot Snook, and had my heart broken 3 times before 9 am, so I decided it was time to get on down the Creek.
The creek fished little slower this weekend. My only action for the next two hours was a 40ish pound Tarpon that hit a Baby Bass color Zoom Fluke about 15 yards outside of the Mangroves on the eastern shoreline of Crane Creek just west of the train track. I was targeting the Snook that hang out in the shallows in the first 2-3 hours of sunlight, I didn’t see any Tarpon roll before hand. I never won any leverage vs this Tarpon, I held on long enough to get a few jumps, but with a texposed soft plastic, I never go the hook set I needed and had my hook thrown on the 3rd jump. As I went further down the creek, I saw more rolling, but never landed one. As I got closer to the water treatment plant, I was able to start catching Snook again, and I ended up with 7 caught under the trees in the creek, but none were slot, or over slot. Most were under the 20 inch mark, with the largest being 26 inches. And he was absolutely gorgeous, he had a dark coloration (assuming from freshwater flow down the creek) he was dyed like an Easter egg, he had that golden body, and blackish back. Very different from the Snook one can catch in the ocean water, or near the inlet this time of year.
Before I talk about what lures worked well, I do want to add that I saw 6 absolutely monster Snook hanging in the shallows of the creek, west of the railroad track. They were very lazy, and I sight casted to everyone I saw, never “spooked” one, but none of them showed any interest in the jerk shad/fluke, 2 inch swim bait, 3 inch paddle tail or 4 inch paddle tail. I’m wondering if they were up all night gorging on bait under the bright moon we had this weekend and were too hungover Saturday morning to want to eat? Or are these fish that are already spawned on the beach, and have come back into the IRL/Creek system to relax? Or Maybe they are just older and wiser and have seen those lures enough to know not to chase them? Either way, I know Snook are lazy, but I’ve never seen so many, and been able to present lures to so many and not get a hit.
What worked for me: I tried to go bigger this weekend and match the bigger profiles of bait I have been seeing. There are some really large mullet swimming around right now, So I threw 3 and 4 inch paddle tails on weedless hooks. I tried out the Bass Pro Shops in house brand paddle tails this weekend and caught fish on both baits. The White/Silver one worked well when the sun got higher up, and the skies were blue, and the Silver Mullet color which was all black with silver specks worked well when it was cloudy. As I got further down the creek, the bait got smaller and minnow schools replaced mullet pods, and when that happened I went back to the 2 inch swim bait. I never caught a fish on the Zoom Fluke this weekend. And I didn’t use any shrimp profiles either. This time of the year, it’s bait fish season, and I don’t need any excuse to power fish. I feel pretty confident in saying that if you want yo go out and catch Snook on Crane Creek, just about any soft plastic swimbait rigged weedless and thrown under docks, and mangroves, or over hanging trees from the bank can get bitten. But don’t be surprised if most of the Snook that are hitting back there this time of the year are somewhere between 12-25 inches, with a shot at a slot or over-slot Snook being slim compared to the beaches or inshore closer to passes and inlets.
I love kayak fishing the tributaries of the IRL anytime of the year for wind protection, and the ability to pick an area apart in a small and quiet paddle craft. One of the unique things an angler can do in a kayak in Crane Creek is get into the nooks and crannies of the marina, that anglers in a boat can’t target. I didn’t go any further than the water treatment plant this weekend, though when the cooler weather sets in from late November-Early March I’ll work further down and see if there are some quality fish that have pushed back in there looking for warmer water, and muddy bottoms offered by brackish rivers.
I hope you all have a great week, and have a chance to get out, and get some tight lines. Until next time!