Orlando Area Fishing Report

Orlando Area Fishing Report

Upcoming Events-

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, January 23-28, 2013

– Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Clean-Up, February 9, 2013. Contact Nancy Corona, 321-861-0668 or nancy_corona@fws.gov

-Titusville Surf Fishing Workshop, Wednesday, March 6, 6-8 pm. There are several other surf workshops coming up along the Space Coast in the next two months. For more information please email Rodney Smith irlcoast@gmail.com

Mosquito Lagoon Show and Tell Fishing Seminar, MINWR, March 2; On-the-Water Show and Tell Seminar, March 3

Bumper Sticker of the Week:

orlando area fishing report

We did some fishing this week, folks.

On Monday Tom and Joyce Moore, Green Mountain state folks, joined me for a day’s fishing on the Mosquito Lagoon. Tom got a nice redfish on a jerkbait right out of the gate. Then we had to work, as the fish seemingly disappeared. We got several trout and another redfish on DOA Shrimp.

Orlando area fishing report

Tom Moore got this fish on his second or third cast.

Fish Story of the Week:

Tom was using a DOA Deadly Combo when he had a powerful strike. The fish took off and the leader parted. We could see the bright orange float as the fish swam off with it. Inexplicably, the fish turned around and came back towards us.

Tom tried to hook the line between the fish and the float, but the DOA Shrimp was a poor choice of baits for that particular task. I climbed down off the poling tower and tied on a Sting Silver and snagged the rig on the second cast. Joyce reeled the fish in, a beautiful 26 inch seatrout. We got our Deadly Combo rig back, photographed and released the fish.

Orlando area fishing report

The star of our fish story of the week, displayed by Joyce Moore.

On Tuesday Cincinattian Steve Horgan joined me for the first of four days of fly fishing. Steve describes himself as a “multi-species fisherman”, which means he is interested in catching as many different species on fly as he possible can. So that was our goal for the week.

Tuesday found us on the Mosquito Lagoon. In the morning the weather was perfect, very few clouds, very little wind. The redfish were thick, lots of schools, but very spooky. There were quite a few boats about. We stalked schools of both tailing and cruising redfish for about five hours. We did not get one. Steve had only one bite during that time. A three or four pound black drum took the crab fly. Steve had his first specie of his trip.

orlando area fishing report

Mr. Horgan’s first ever black drum.

Early in the afternoon it got windy and cloudy. We fished in several spots trying to get a redfish and/or a seatrout. We failed to do so. It was a frustrating day, after seeing so many hundreds of fish.

Wednesday morning Steve and I drove down to Sebastian River and launched the boat. Tarpon were rolling 100 yards from the boat ramp. Like Sebastian River tarpon usually do, they laughed at everything we tried. We gave up.

I idled down to the ICW and ran through Sebastian Inlet, hoping it would be calm enough for us to look around out there. It was definitely not. We tried floating the flats inside the inlet. There was no grass, no bait, and no activity. We saw nothing and did not get any bites so we headed back into Sebastian River.

I poled while Steve banged the shoreline with a streamer. He ended up with seven snook, three mangrove snapper, and a couple of ladyfish, all new species for him. We went back to where the tarpon were and tried various things for another hour plus but did not get a bite. I was hoping we’d get a crevalle and maybe a redfish, but neither of those happened, either.

orlando area fishing report

Seven snook sounds great. At least they weren’t all quite this small, although they were all lovely.

It was nice being there, but in my opinion not worth the drive as far as catching fish went.

Thursday we went to Mosquito Lagoon. We found a school of redfish. They were not showing themselves very well. We played cat and mouse with them for a couple of hours. Steve had some good shots but the fish didn’t bite. As the wind got harder I lost the fish, so went and looked in a couple other places. I saw very little.

We pulled the boat and went to the Indian River. By now it was blowing about 20 mph. There were no groups of fish and Steve had trouble seeing the singles I found. We’d blow right past them without a shot. We ended up completely skunked, wet from the rain and wind. It was a really tough day.

Friday found us at the St. Johns River. The temperature was in the high 40s when I launched the boat, with a 15 mph wind, which increased in force as the day went on. Fishing was s-l-o-w. Steve did get a nice shad on a bucktail streamer.

orlando area fishing report

Mr. Horgan’s shad, another first.

I got a couple little ones on a wooly booger. He got a few bluegills. I got a small crappie and a small channel cat. It rained intermittently. We worked hard all week and really didn’t have a lot to show for it.

Steve did get five new species, but we failed to get either a trout or a redfish for him. Thank you for your patience, Steve- it was wonderful fishing with you.

My fisherman for Saturday postponed his trip because of the wind and clouds.

And that is this week’s exciting version of the Orlando Area Fishing Report.


Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon

A Guest Blog by Rodney Smith

Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon


Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon

James Smith with some fine Indian River Lagoon crab claws.

My oldest son, James, has been getting on me to write a blog entitled “Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Coast.” As much as I write, you’d think it would be an easy task, but at the end of the day, I felt like the task of writing a blog was about as exciting as being flogged with a soft-shell blue crab. Useless!

But then again, James reminded me why I should be communicating more frequently with other folks who also love and cherish the Indian River Lagoon coast. So, to restart my blog I have a question for you:

Why do you love the IRL coast in winter?

Please answer at irlcoast@gmail.com . If I get feedback on this question I’ll know some of you out there are reading this blog, and this will help me judge my course, blog-wise, moving into a new year!

Funny what a difference a month can make. It’s been the opposite of what you would typically consider standard conditions; in mid-November water temperatures along the entire Indian River Lagoon coast were in the mid-sixties in the north-central inshore ocean waters, well below normal. It looked like we were in for a long winter, but the weather flipped between Thanksgiving and Christmas and ocean temperatures rose nearly ten degrees.

The mild late fall weather guided thick schools of Atlantic menhaden toward the beaches along the north-central IRL coast. This, along with a steady stream of late season mullet still lingering near ocean inlets, attracted a smorgasbord of gamefish.

Because of the mild weather, tripletail, cobia, king mackerel and shark could be caught not far from where the Atlantic Ocean met the beaches. Tarpon by the hundreds flocked to Sebastian Inlet, snook packed the Ft. Pierce area and flounder and red and black drum roamed the beaches and inlets. Large schools of pompano, pushed south by the early cold and dirty water surged north, creating plenty of happy anglers from Sebastian to Hobe Sound.

Yes, December can be a fickle weather month along the Indian River Lagoon coast; tropical one day, winter-like the next. But as I found from going back to my twenty years of journals on the outdoor history of the IRL coast, much of the time the fishing and catching are above par this time of year.

If you’re interested in learning more about what to expect each month of the year along Florida’s IRL coast, check out my book Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon Coast.  It touches on a wide range of topics, from shrimping and crabbing, to fishing for snook, tarpon, pompano, spotted seatrout and a large number of ocean pelagics. This book is jam-packed with useful information concerning the IRL coast for every month of the year.

Visit rodneysmithmedia.bigcartel.com for more information, or to order.

Rodney Smith is a writer and author, and currently director of Anglers for Conservation. He lives with his family in Satellite Beach.

Fantastic! Orlando Fishing

Orlando! Most folks equate a trip to central Florida with Mickey Mouse and Shamu. These attractions and quite a few others make Orlando one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations.

There’s fantastic fishing around Orlando. Central Florida’s coastal areas supply some of the finest saltwater fishing Florida has to offer, and many of the area’s lakes and rivers supply world-class bass fishing. While the kids frolic with Goofy and Donald Duck, Dad can be hooked up with anything from a five pound largemouth to a 150 pound tarpon. Brief descriptions of the various options available to the visiting angler follow.


Disney World itself is in the bass fishing business. Guided bass fishing trips are available on Disney’s Bay Lakes at by-the-hour rates. Angling pressure is light, and the action is generally fast with many sizable bass caught. Dave Burkhardt fishes here regularly. He told me it’s the only place you’ll ever catch bass that have these funny little mouse ears!

One of the best kept bass fishing secrets near Orlando is the Clermont chain of lakes. Twelve lakes connected by canals are so clean that they’ve been designated an outstanding Florida waterway supply plenty of room to fish and explore. In addition to the bass, bream and crappie are available. The scenery and wildlife are both wonderful, and are well worth the trip.

orlando fishing, orlando bass fishing

Bass like this one are common catches around Orlando.

East and West Lake Toho are well known for their fishing. Kissimmee sits right on West Lake.

The St. John’s River and its tributaries offer wonderful areas to fish. The river basin covers a lot of area to the east of Orlando. Largemouth bass provide a dependable year-round fishery, and there are all types of fish holding structure. There are several species of sunfish, locally called “brim.” During the winter, crappie supply plenty of action.

During January, February, and March light tackle fishing for shad is a very popular sport on the St. John’s River in the Sanford area.

During May and June fly fishermen pay congregate at Homosassa, sightfishing  the crystalline waters for the greatest flyrod gamefish known to the inshore angler- the mighty tarpon. A few years back one of them caught the Big Mamoo, a 200 pound monster. Other fishermen want to duplicate the feat.

Orlando fishing, orlando tarpon fishing

Tarpon like this are available all along the Gulf Coast. Homosassa offers the biggest.

Homosassa has other fishing available. Redfish, seatrout, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and more are all available, some species year-round.

Homosassa lies to the west of Orlando. From Orlando driving time is about two hours.

Central Florida’s east coast is where the visiting angler can really find him or herself some quality saltwater angling, often without the services of a guide. Sebastian Inlet State Park is regarded by many as the premier snook hole in the entire country. Jetty fishermen fling all types of lures as well as live bait to catch the linesiders, which often exceed twenty pounds.

Redfish, bluefish, tarpon, flounder, and seatrout are other species taken from the jetties, the adjacent beaches, or the flats on the Indian River Lagoon side of the inlet, where waders can have a blast, too. Sebastian Inlet is about an hour and a half’s drive from Orlando.

Those who like to surf fish can find beach access and some excellent fishing in the vicinity of Sebastian Inlet. Closer to Orlando both Satellite Beach and Playalinda Beach in the Canaveral National Seashore offer outstanding angling for the beach angler. Redfish, pompano, flounder, bluefish, and whiting are most often caught from Playalinda’s twenty plus miles of undeveloped, pristine beach. At Satellite Beach, snook, pompano, sheepshead, whiting, and sometimes Spanish mackerel and tarpon are all caught in the surf. Since these are public beaches, early in the morning on weekdays will  supply the least interference from surfers, bikinis, and other distractions.

Those wanting offshore fishing can find it at Port Canaveral or Ponce Inlet. Charter boats from the Port fish nearshore for kingfish, cobia, tripletail, and tarpon, while those venturing further out find action from dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, and even marlin. The same type of action is available from Ponce Inlet. Also, at both locations bottom fishing for grouper and snapper is available from either charter or partyboats. Finally, both the Port and Ponce Inlet have long rock jetties which attract all of the typical inshore fishes, and the fishermen who chase them.

My favorite area to fish is in the Indian River Lagoon System. The Lagoon, over 150 miles long, stretches from Ponce Inlet down to St. Lucie Inlet. The System’s three main components are the Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian RiverLagoon, and the Banana River Lagoon, which are separated from the waters of the Atlantic by a thin strip of sandy coastal barrier.

One unique thing about fishing in this system- unless you are near an inlet, tides have almost no effect on the fishing. There is no tidal water movement. You just go fishing!

There are many areas around Titusville for wading anglers to get access to some beautiful grassflats covered with crystal clear water and some excellent sightfishing for redfish which average up to ten pounds. Most of these are either in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or the Canaveral National Seashore.

orlando redfish, orlando redfish trips, wading for redfish

Wading in the Mosquito Lagoon produced this redfish.

Dike roads in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge open up miles of wadable flats to the visiting angler. It’s entirely possible to fish both the beach and the Mosquito Lagoon in the same day. Information about the location of these dike roads is available from the Refuge headquarters, located on SR 402 east of Titusville.

In both Titusville and Cocoa you can rent kayaks and go paddle fishing on any of the three lagoons. And plenty of fishing guides offer their services here too.

Driving time to most east coast fishing areas is about an hour.

Why doesn’t Orlando have a reputation as a fishing destination? World class fishing awaits. The next time your family coerces you into visiting Disney World, bring your tackle and check it out. You will be most pleasantly surprised at Orlando’s fantastic fishing.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2011. All rights are reserved.