By Captain Tom Van Horn

January's Fishing Forecast

My resolutions over the years has been and continues to be to enlighten people on the many attributes angling and life in the outdoors provide, and as president for Anglers for Conservation Orlando I believe recreational anglers are making headway in many areas. The majority of us understand the value of our limited resources and the challenges they face. Since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, recreational anglers are leading the way in conservation and resource protection. These efforts are constantly met with challenges, but the popularity and growth of our sport and its economic impact have changed the prospective of many policy makers. As the president of AFC Orlando, I'm challenging each of you who are passionate about fishing and the outdoors to reach out in 2015, and share your passion with others. Take this challenge in the New Year and introduce someone new to fishing, join us in a Hook Kids on Fishing event or simply pick up some trash at your favorite fishing hole. Your efforts are important in preserving our sport for future generations to enjoy.

The AFC is a nonprofit 501C3 organization whose mission is to create a new generation of angling stewards using community-based angling education, habitat restoration, habitat preservation and applied conservation science. Our primary educational tool is a program called Hook Kids on Fishing, where kids and parents alike learn basic fishing skills, encouraging them to use not abuse our priceless resources. In 2014 AFC Orlando reached out to over 700 kids and their parents just in Central Florida and each child received a new fishing rod of their own to take home with them, so volunteer to take a pledge in 2015 to practice good conservation and good ethics both on and off the water and take just one day this year to pay if forward by joining us in our efforts to enlighten others.

Starting off with my all-time favorite, the American shad run on the upper St. Johns River has not yet materialized, but should be swinging into full gear by mid-January. The current water levels and water temperatures are elevated, but once they drop within the traditional range, the run should commence. And if this year's run begins, keep a sharp eye out for Captain Tom and Three Quarter Time when you are passing through shad alley. Also, if you enjoy a fresh fish dinner once in a while, the specked perch (crappie) bite has been good and will continue to improve in all of the big lakes, rivers and creeks in Central Florida.

Inshore in the lagoons water levels should drop producing clear and shallow conditions on the inshore flats, making sight fishing the best we will see all year. Silver mullet and other finfish have migrated out of the area for the winter, so anglers should switch to smaller shrimp and crabs and a slower presentation. When targeting inshore species during the colder months, I like to downsize my lures and fish with a shrimp or crab imitation baits like the DOA Shrimp and Crab. Also, January and February are key months for targeting tailing black drum on the exclusive Banana River No-Motor Zone. For the past several years the black drum populations have expanded on our lagoons, so I'm eager to see how they show up in the NMZ and to catch a few nice ones on fly.

Near-shore, look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structure, and look for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. If we expedience an extended period of warm weather, mid-winter thaw, look for a mid-winter cobia run to commence.

Now is also the time for surf anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting off of the beaches and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian.

Catch-um-up in 2015, and reward yourself this year by taking a kid fishing, and pledge to be a reasonable conservation angler. Our numbers with help draw all concerned about our resources to the same page.

Tight lines and good fishing for generations to come and Happy New Year,

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

Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
407-416-1187 on the water