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Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Forecast, January 2006

As we ring in the New Year, it is once again time to reflect back on the events and accomplishments of 2005, and to count our many blessings. We are truly fortunate to live on the east central coast of Florida where enjoying the lagoon and angling are year round endeavors. I am also thankful for another great year of fishing with my clients and friends on the precious waters of the Indian River Lagoon estuary. Thank you all for a year filled with adventure on the water.

In preparation for this forecast, I first reviewed last year fishing photos, and I was taken back by the number of quality fish caught and the enjoyment expressed on the faces of the victorious anglers. While seeking input for this report, my good friend Captain Rodney Smith suggested that I begin with the end in mind, and the end in this case is conserving and protecting the resource we all love and cherish, the IRL. This report is not only an expression of my thoughts and experience, but also those of many within my circle of influence, and together we will make a difference in promoting the use, and not the abuse of resources we love and respect.

With these thoughts in mind, I would like to inform every one of some changes in the Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Reports format. I realize that change is not always a good thing, but do not fret. Instead, this report will be the first of many to come as I step into the arena of senior editor and moderator of the new Coastal Angler Magazine.com Fishing Report Page. Those of you on my mailing list will still receive my reports as you have in the past, with detailed fishing reports from throughout Florida as an added resource by visiting www.coastalanglermagazine.com. For the past 8 years, Coastal Angler’s in print magazine has served as the only magazine exclusively covering fishing, boating, and the conservation of the IRL, and I’m very excited to be part of their new online expansion. Scheduled to be activated on January 1, 2006, the new CAM website will be loaded with detailed information about the resource.

Winter on the east central coast of Florida cannot be defined by any specific dates, but rather by the temperature differences generated by passing cold fronts as they swing south across the state. These variations are subject to change from year to year, and they are impossible to predict. On the average, daytime temperatures usually range from the 50’s in the morning to around the 70’s by afternoon. Likewise, water temperatures average in the upper 60’s, but they can drop as low as the 50’s during extended cold periods. On warm sunny days, water temperatures can increase as much as four degrees on the shallow flats and sandbars. All of these factors greatly affect species targeted and methods used. Last January as an example, a two-week warm-up brought ocean water temperatures up to the 70 degree mark, and a number of large tripletail and cobia moved inshore off the bight of the Cape resulting in some of the best fishing experienced all year.

Inlet fishing has been good this past month weather permitting, with Sebastian and Ponce De Leon Inlets proving to be the most productive. There are still some reports of flounder moving through the inlets, but the bite has slowed considerably. On the inside of Sebastian Inlet, look for good numbers of pompano, ladyfish, and jacks to be located on the flats both north and south of the inlet cut and in the area of the monument. Also, January is the month when the jumbo reds move in and feed in the mouth of the inlets during the last part of the falling tide. These monsters are brood stock, so please handle and release them with care.

Along the beaches, pompano will remain the staple for the majority of surf anglers, with a mixed bag of whiting, slot size black drum, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish added in. Try fishing with sand fleas (mole crabs) if you can catch them, cut fresh clams, or freshly peeled live shrimp.

Near-shore, January is the month when the tripletails become consistent on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and their numbers will increase as the month progresses. The other hot item near-shore is king mackerel holding along the 70 to 90 foot reefs of North Pelican and 8A. Also, bottom fishing on deep structure should remain consistent as long as the weather holds. Look for snapper, cobia and sea bass in depths of 80 to 140 feet, and grouper and amberjack along the 22-fathom ridge and deeper.


On the flats during the winter, redfish and sea trout will seek the warmest water they can find. Start out working the deeper edges of the flats in the morning and then move into the warmer wind protected flats around mid-day to late afternoon. An early morning start is not necessary this time of year. Additionally, both redfish and sea trout love to warm themselves in the shallow water sand pockets “potholes” within the grassy flats. On colder days, focus your attention on the deeper holes using a very slow presentation. When targeting redfish and trout in these deeper holes, I prefer using shrimp imitation baits like RipTide, DOA, or GULP shrimp in the clear or nightglow colors fished extremely slow. I also like to add the element of sound to the bait by inserting a Woodie’s Rattle into the soft plastic bait. Other species encountered in January are black drum, flounder, sheepshead, jacks, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish. Also, January is one of the best months to target tailing black drum on the flats, especially in the Banana River “ No Motor Zone”. Both live shrimp and clams are the preferred bait for black drum, but they will eat both artificial and fly when presented properly.

Last but definitely not least, January marks the beginning of the American Shad run up the Saint Johns River. Last year, I started catching shad on January 13th, and the run remained heavy through February. Start watching for the shad to arrive in the Marina Isle and Lemmon Bluff areas first, and than moving upstream past Lake Harney and the Little Big Econ later on in the month. Currently, the water levels are still a little higher the last year, but if this year’s run is anything close to last year, look out.

Seminar Schedule:

January 13th, Daytona Boat Show 7pm, Braided Lines for Light Tackle Applications
January 14th, Daytona Boat Show, 12pm, Spring Cobia and Tripletail
4pm, Braided Lines for Light Tackle Applications
February 11th and 12th, Bass Pro Shop’s Spring Classic Orlando
February 18th and 19th, Bass Pro Shops Spring Classic Orlando

In closing, I wish you a happy, prosperous, and fishfull New Year. As always, if you have questions or need information, please contact me.

Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn
www.irl-fishing.com
[email protected]
407-366-8085
407-416-1187 on the water
866-790-8081 toll free

If you would like to be added to my e-mail list, contact me at [email protected]
 
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