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August 30, 2007

Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Forecast

Season of the Mullet

Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Forecast, September 2007

Complements of Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Apopka, Florida

Season of the Mullet

As the tropical storm season wanes along the Indian River Lagoon Coast of Florida, we welcome the arrival of September with hot and humid days, and than say good by to the summer as September exits on the shoulders of a prevailing northeast wind. Shorter days, longer nights and the prevailing shift is the winds and swells signal the end of summer, and the beginning of the season of the mullet.

I'm often asked the question, "When is the best time to fish on the east coast of Florida?," and the answer has arrived with the season of the mullet. Like many of the 700 plus species of fish that frequent the IRL throughout the year, silver mullet gradually return to our estuary in the spring, and then form up for a mass exodus once the water begins to cool. As the bait schools begin to form up, larger predators know it is once again time to fatten up for winter's arrival.

As schools of bait move out of the inlets and south down the beach, they move in pulses rather than a continuous flow, so as always, locating bait is the key to success. Bait pods are easily located by watching for diving birds and fish working them on the surface just inside the breakers. Look for snook, tarpon, redfish, bluefish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and large kingfish crushing and shadowing bait pods all along the beach. Once you've located the bait concentration, simply determine its direction of movement, usually south, and set up in front of it and let them come to you. This is also my preferred time of year to target tarpon and snook in the surf.

The beach snook run has already started with a few fish being reported, and it will pick up substantially, just in time for the opening of snook season on September 1st. When fishing from the beach, I prefer using live finger mullet as bait, matching the run. Fish the very edge of the beach, just beyond the whitewater, and walk along the beach letting your bait drift along in the direction of tidal flow. My rig consist of a #3 Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook, a one ounce barrel sinker, and a 24" section of 40-pound test fluorocarbon leader. I also prefer to use 20-pound test braided high-vis Courtland line to improve sensitivity and avoid line twist. First, slide the barrel sinker onto the terminal end of your braided line, and then splice in the leader, the knot will allow the sinker to slide freely up the braided line, keeping it off of the leader and the hook. This technique will allow bait to cover more ground and help keep your bait in the strike zone longer. Make sure your reel has the strength and line capacity to handle a large fish, so you don't get spooled.

Outside in the deeper water, good numbers of kingfish will continue to work the beaches, Port Canaveral buoy line, and the inshore reefs and wrecks in 70 to 120 feet of water. When targeting kingfish my preferred method is slow trolling live pogies (Atlantic menhaden) on stainless steel stinger rigs. Also as the water temperatures cool, look for the large manta rays to move into shallower water bringing cobia with them. In Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet look for flounder, mangrove snapper, large redfish and snook around the jetties and other structures, and tripletail, barracuda, and cobia under the Canaveral buoy cans.

Inshore, the sea trout bite on top water plugs will increase along the deeper edges of the grass flats, with the best bite happening at first light and sunset. Also look for ladyfish, tarpon, and jacks to be mixed in. When targeting these fish, work top water plugs for explosive action, or try working 1/2 ounce jigs with a white or rootbeer colored RipTide Realistic Shrimp combined with a Woodies Rattle capsule inserted. Near the end of the month, start looking for the pompano and flounder to begin moving out of the lagoon through the inlets into the near shore waters along the beach. Also watch for the larger redfish to begin forming up just outside Sebastian and Ponce De Leon Inlets to spawn, and feeding on small baitfish, mullet, and small blue crabs washing out with the tide.

Seminars and Events:

September 2nd 8am -12pm Rodney Smith's Surf Fishing Tour
Port Canaveral to Satellite Beach

September 8th 10am - 4pm Coleman Tailgate Event
Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Apopka Florida
Information and directions 407-464-2000

September 22nd 2pm to 6pm Rodney Smith's Fishing Land Tour
Longpoint to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

September 29th 10am - 3pm Ladies Social Angler Seminar
Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Apopka Florida
Registration and Information 407-464-2000 or

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

Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
407-366-8085 landline
407-416-1187 on the water
866-790-8081 toll free

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