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Compatibility A peaceful schooling fish Note: Note: Pet availability is seasonal. Pricing may vary by store location. These fish have very tough mouths to set a hook in and do require the use of a fluorocarbon leader. Not much food value but a "Tarpon Tag" is required if you want to keep one for mounting. Jack Crevalle are powerful, fast, and voracious feeders when found around schools of glass minnows during the summer months.
Hook one of any size to it on light tackle and you are in for a fight. The average size in the lagoon is about 2 lbs but can get up to about 50 pounds as adults offshore. Use a shock leader to protect against cutoffs. Not much food value and the catch is not regulated. Ladyfish are like a poor man's tarpon as immediately upon being hooked will take to the air. In fact, both fish are in the same family of Elipodae.
They feed primarily on small fish but will take a live shrimp Largely nocturnal, can be found attacking glass minnows and other tiny schooling fish in large numbers at which time they will hit almost any lure thrown their way. Ladyfish can reach 15 pounds but most will be under 3 pounds.
In the lagoon the average size is about 1 pounds and fish caught there will be juveniles who will move to the ocean to live before reaching sexual maturity. Bluefish are primarily associated with surf fishing along the space coast but will come into the lagoon especially in the vicinity of inlets. Traveling in schools they can be voracious feeders, gorging themselves on baitfish and striking nearly anything cast to them. Size and bag limits apply. Mangrove Snapper are also known as Gray Snapper and can be found in the lagoon around rocky shorelines, under docks, in mangrove creeks and also out over the grass flats.
Inshore they are usually much less than 10 lbs as the adults tend to congregate on offshore reefs. They can be caught on jigs, spoons and smaller rapala type plugs as well as live shrimp. Good eating and limits do apply. Black Drum can grow to a maximum size of lbs but the average in the lagoon is about 10 lbs. They normally feed on shrimp, crabs, clams and oysters, crunching the later two with rows of rounded teeth and powerful jaws. Those targeting larger drum should fish with fairly stout tackle in the 20 to 50 lb.
They can also be caught aground bridge pilings, oyster bars and both submerged structure.
Then again they can sometimes be seen "tailing" over shallow sand or mud flats as they dig in the substrate for clams and other foods. Drum can be good eating but the quality drops off once the fish grows beyond about 5 pounds. Atlantic Croaker are a small relative to the Black Drum and can be caught on the bottom using cut shrimp, clams, and sand fleas on a size 2 hook.
Jigs tipped with cut shrimp will also work. The average size is under a pound with the maximum being about pounds. They are good eating and are not regulated. Sheepshead can be seen cruising the flats but are really more suited for life among rocks, pilings, oyster reefs and other hard surface structures. They have small mouths with teeth that look almost human and small hooks are best when targeting them. They commonly eat small crabs, barnacles, small bivalves and other creatures found attached to structure.
Fishing with live fiddler crabs as bait next to bridge pilings is a very effective way of landing them. Mole crabs sand fleas and shrimp, either live or fresh cut however, are other effective baits. If targeting them off of a bridge or pier it is best to use tackle of at least 12 to 20 lb. The bite will be fairly soft and they are experts at stealing bait off of a hook. Good eating and size and bag limits apply.
Click here for current fishing regulations.. Whiting are yet another fish normally a ss ociated with surf fishing but also can be caught in the lagoon. They feed on a variety of small invertebrates and can be caught on cut shrimp, clams, mole crabs sand fleas and jigs tipped with shrimp. They are good eating and are non-regulated. Flats Fishing is by far the most popular style of fishing along the Space Coast with seatrout and redfish being the two most popular species sought, and for good reason, it is a combination of fishing and hunting and when a gator seatrout or big redfish strikes a topwater "walk the dog" type lure like a Mirrolure Top Pup or a Mirromullet, it is the most exciting fishing there is.
Especially when you see the fish before you cast or you see a hump of water approaching the lure during the retrieve. Be very quiet.
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Fish in shallow water are skittish because they do feel exposed and will leave an area or quit feeding if it becomes obvious to them that they are being targeted. Flats fishing can be done from a shallow draft boat, a canoe or kayak, from the shoreline but your coverage are will be limited, or by wading.
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If wading be sure to shuffle your feet along the bottom to avoid accidently stepping on a stingray. The best flats to fish are those where the seagrasses have been able to thrive over the years. In many areas near major towns and cities the grass coverage on the flats has been greatly reduced by stormwater runoff and been replaced brown algaes.
There are usually some fish in the area and they can be caught off of city docks and seawalls but areas where the shoreline development has been minimal, non existant or done so with proper stormwater facilities and shoreline vegetation preservation requirements present will usually have more intact seagrass beds nearby and provide better fishing opportunties. Most of the grasses seem to be concentrated along the eastern shorlines in all three major bodies of water within the lagoon system.
Flats that are adjacient to deeper channels seem to provide the best fishing. Sight Fishing; When sight fishing the flats a good pair of polarizing sunglasses is highly recommended as it will greatly reduce glare from the surface of the water allowing better vision of the bottom. Redfish spotted on the flats will most likely be moving as they tend to browse the grasses looking for prey. They can also frequently be seen "tailing" due to the fact that they spend a large amount of time grubbing the bottom for crabs, marine worms, shrimp, and other invertebrates.
Big trout and snook on the other hand will often be waiting motionless among the seagrasses waiting to ambush prey that swims by, and will be much harder to see.
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Either way, when you have spotted your target the last thing you will want to do is cast directly on top of the fish as this will spook them into fleeing, ending any chance of catching them. Cast about six to eight in front of the direction the fish is facing and about the same distance or more beyond. Potholes; On healthy grass flats in the lagoon you will find open sandy areas locally called "potholes". In warmer weather, seatrout will often take up ambush sites along the edge of these potholes waiting for any small baitfish that venture over the open water above the potholes.
By artificial lures or natural baits through these areas you can often score some great action. The diagram at left shows a good way of working a larger pothole by strategically placing your casts so that you do not spook other trout that may be working the edges of the area. After a siginificant cold spell in winter, the potholes serve a different function for the fish.
On a sunny day after a cold night the sandy bottom will serve as a solar collecter, warming the water over the pothole as the sun rises in the sky. The trout and other species will be directly over the pothole soaking up the extra warmth. We only use the information we collect for purposes consistent with this policy. If we propose to use your personal information for purposes beyond that explained in this policy, we will provide appropriate notice before doing so and we will provide you with the means to opt out of those uses.
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