August is the time of year when the cold water upwelling known as the Labrador Currents move in cooling off bottom temperatures on the offshore reefs along the Indian River Lagoon Coast. The arrival of summertime cobia along the beach and mutton snapper in Sebastian Inlet are indicators of cooler bottom conditions moving in. Thus far, the cold water has begun to push in, but the current has not shown the same intensity as the same time last year. Look for the blue water bite to improve along the inshore reefs and wrecks of Chris Benson, 8A Reef, and Pelican Flats, with kingfish, dolphin, and cobia serving as the primary species, along with an occasional wahoo or sailfish. This is also the time of year when cooler waters sometimes push the giant manta rays in close to the shoals off the Cape, bringing cobia with them. Further off shore, the Gulf Stream typically moves in closer making tuna a possibility for smaller boats working in the areas of anchored shrimp boats and thermals, and as long as the summer squalls stay away, running to the other side of the Gulf Stream isn’t out of the question.
Along the beach, look for the silver kings (tarpon), smoker kings, blacktip sharks, jack crevalle, and redfish to be shadowing pods of Atlantic menhaden (pogies), thread fin herring (greenies), Spanish sardines, and bay anchovy (glass minnows) in close to the beach. So far, the bait concentrations have been slim, but these conditions should start to show some improvement any day now. Currently, there is a hot kingfish bite occurring off of the Cocoa Beach Pier in 30 to 40 feet of water, with some tarpon and small sailfish mixed in. Also look for snook fishing in the surf and inlets to improve, as we get closer to the commencement of the fall bait run. Remember snook are out of season, so if you target them, handle and release them with care. In and around the inlets, look for Spanish mackerel, tarpon, jack cervalle, and bonita to be working schools of glass minnows on the outside, and snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, and flounder in the area of jetties and other structure.
Angling on the in-shore lagoons will continue to show improvement, with fishing in the predawn and late evening hours being most productive. Look for schools of redfish in the skinny water holding in the vicinity of bait concentration, and target them utilizing smaller top-water plugs. Once the sun starts to grow hot, the top-water bite will shut down, and bait becomes your better option. For larger trout, fish live pigfish in close to docks and other structure adjacent to deeper water. In deeper water, look for large schools of ladyfish, small trout, and tarpon pushing schools of glass minnows near the surface. These schools are easy to locate by watching for concentrations of birds, terns and cormorants, joining in on the frenzy, and they are perfect for fly anglers who are interested in the continuous fast and furious action provided by these speedsters. Last but not least, look for pompano schools holding in the shadows of the causeway bridges. Fish small yellow and chartreuse jigs tipped with shrimp or sand fleas (mole crabs) along the deeper edges and drop-offs and in areas of skipping fish. Lagoon water levels are low, so please use caution when accessing skinny water.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you who enjoy angling on Florida’s east central coast for your courteous and respectful treatment of the resource, other anglers, and the sport, and as always, if you need information or have questions, please contact me.