Monday, November 30, 2009

Indian River Lagoon Fishing Outlook 12-09

Mosquito Creek Outdoor's Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Outlook, December 2009

By Captain Tom Van Horn

Old man winter is once again knocking at the door here in Central Florida with the passing of the first set of cool fronts this season. Cooler conditions will force anglers to dig out their winter shorts in preparation for their day on the water. Like November, December is loaded with outstanding fishing opportunities, with the only difference being the impact of cold fronts on water temperatures and fishing conditions. Currently, surf and lagoon water temperatures are in the seventies with offshore water temperatures remaining near the eighty-degree mark. As these fronts approach and pass, gusty breezes will kick up the sea shutting down most offshore and site fishing opportunities.

In and around the inlets, look for oversized redfish feeding on surface baits during periods of slack tide. At both Sebastian and Ponce De Leon inlets, target these fish outside the inlets near the end of the falling tide in areas of bird and bait activity. These fish will hit artificial swim baits, but live pinfish, pigfish, and finger mullet are the most productive baits.

Art's Respectable No-Motor Zone Redfish

Snook fishing will also remain steady as long as the water temperatures stay warm, with Sebastian Inlet proving to be the prime location. It is best to target inlet snook during periods of slack tide drift fishing live pigfish or pinfish at night in the channel under the inlet bridge. This style of angling can be quite rewarding when the bite is on, but it can also be challenging due to the number of anglers competing for the same action. Snook season ends December 15th, so if you enjoy those yummy filets, your time is limited.

Flounder is another notable species worth mentioning when speaking of inlet fishing in December. The warmer than normal weather and water temperatures have delayed the traditional flounder migration from the lagoon to the warmer coastal waters. Normally the run begins in mid November and lasts through mid December, but as of this writing, the doormat size southern flounder have not arrived in quantities.

No Motor Zone Black Drum

Along the beaches, look for pompano to begin moving off the inshore flats to the deeper troughs along the beach in search of sand fleas (mole crabs) their favorite winter food. Also look for schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel shadowing pods of glass minnows and other bait ii the surf. To target both blues and Spanish, watch for birds working bait pods and through small jigs and spoons with a fast retrieval to avoid cutoffs.

Near-shore when the seas permit it, look for tarpon and sharks to be cruising the beaches working remaining bait schools as they move south. Also, solid concentrations of kings will be holding on the near-shore reefs and wrecks in 60 to 100 feet of water. Several prime locations to target kings are the north end of Pelican Flats and 8A Reef. The kingfish bite should remain steady as long as the water temperature stays above 74 degrees. To target these fish, slow troll live bait if you can find it, or troll dead Spanish sardines or cigar minnows (spinning minnows) dressed with skirts. When near-shore water temperatures approach the 70-degree mark, look for tripletail and cobia to begin to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line and the near-shore water off the beaches and the bight of the Cape. These fish normally hold on structure such as floating weeds and other debris, but they also have a tendency to free swim on the surface once the sun warms the surface water.

Offshore, December is one of the best times to target grouper, snapper, and amberjacks. If sea state settles down, target hard bottom in the 21 to 27 fathom range. Additionally, dolphin, wahoo, and an occasional sailfish are still quality targets in areas of color changes, rips, and weed lines.

Inshore, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay in the 70-degree range. Fish in protected areas and sunny spots, and look for fish to be holding in sand pockets (potholes) until the sun gets overhead. Now is also the time of year to begin looking for tailing black drum in the Banana River Lagoon No Motor Zone. Try fishing early in the day, and preferably with a west wind, and if you've never seen black drum tailing before, it's worth the paddle.

filming in the no-motor zone

Lastly, do not forget about the American shad run which typically starts around Christmas and last through February. Last year's run was the best seen in years, and hopfully this year will be better.

Also, be sure to check out the new Coastal Angler Magazine Orlando in print and online for free at

As always, if you have any questions or need help, please contact me.

Good luck an

Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
(407) 416-1187 on the water
(407) 366-8085 landline

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