Mosquito Creek Outdoor's Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Forecast, September 2009

by Captain Tom Van Horn

Special Announcement: On October 10th, Captain Mark Nichols of DOA and Jerry McBride of Florida Sportsman Magazine will be conducting a FREE fishing seminar from 1 -3 PM at Mosquito Creek Outdoors in Apopka Florida.

As hurricane season progresses and the summer squalls try to develop and move north in the Atlantic, our prevailing summer breezes begin to switch from the southeast to the northeast. This shift in wind direction along with shorter periods of daylight signals the beginning of the fall migration of all critters preferring warmer climates. This transition also marks the beginning of the fall fishing season as hordes of baitfish, primarily silver and black mullet, bay anchovies (glass minnows), greenies, and predatory species begin their southerly migration along the beach and through the Indian River Lagoon. Rather than a continuous flow, baitfish typically moves south in pulses or waves, so finding the bait is the key to catching fish. One day a particular location will be loaded with bait, and the next day they will be gone. It's hard to predict the magnitude and duration of the run, but it recent trends continue, this year's run will start early, and like last year, progress into October and November. Currently bait pods are forming up in all areas of the lagoon, and small concentration of baitfish have already made themselves known around Ponce De Leon Inlet, Port Canaveral and along the beaches south to the Sebastian Inlet area.

Look for snook, tarpon, redfish, bluefish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and large kingfish crushing and shadowing bait pods all along the beach. The bait pods are easily located by watching for birds diving and fish working the bait on the surface. 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 along the beach.

September 1st marks the beginning of snook season and the beach snook run has already started with a few fish being reported. This action will pick up substantially as the bait run progresses. When fishing from the beach, I prefer using live finger mullet as bait, (match the hatch). The technique I like to use starts by treading a ½ ounce barrel sinker onto your line. Next, attach a small swivel to the tag end of your line serving two purposes. The swivel acts as a stop keeping your weight from sliding down on the hook, and it also reduces line twisting as your sinker rolls with the tide and wave action. Next, I attach about 24" of fluorocarbon leader, 40 to 50 pound test, and a large circle hook. You will need to step up your tackle, rig, and bait size if tarpon are targeted. Another tip is to use 20-pound test braided line, because it greatly increases your spool capacity over standard monofilament line. Once you're rigged and acquired bait, you'll want to hook your finger mullet through the lips. Fish the very edge of the beach, just beyond the whitewater, and walk along the beach letting your bait roll along in the direction of tidal flow. This technique will allow bait to cover more ground and help keep it in the strike zone longer. Also, if you are into full contact fishing, Sebastian Inlet features some of the best snook action on Florida's Indian River Lagoon Coast, but its popularity attracts anglers from across the state, so be ready for some shoulder to shoulder fishing.

Near-shore, 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, slow trolling live pogies (Atlantic menhaden) on stainless steel stinger rigs is the preferred method. Also as the water temperatures cool, look for the large manta rays to move into shallower water on their migration south bring cobia with them. In Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet look for flounder, mangrove snapper, redfish and snook around the jetties and other structure, and tripletail, barracuda, and cobia under the Canaveral buoy cans.

I always like to use Mother Nature's signals to help predict changes on our nearshore and inshore waters, and currently my goldenrods in my backyard are in full bloom. This flush of golden blooms signals the beginning of the mullet run and the formation of spawning schools of breeder redfish in the IRL and inlet passes. Besides redfish, sea trout are still plentiful on the deeper edges of the grass flats with the best bite occurring at first light and sunset. Also look for ladyfish, tarpon, slot redfish, and jacks to be mixed in. When targeting these fish, work top water plugs for explosive action, or try working ¼ ounce jigs with a white or rootbeer colored DOA Shrimp combined with a Woodies Rattle capsule insert. 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 Inlet feeding on small baitfish and small crabs washing out with the tide.

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 and good fishing,

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

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