It’s Cobia Time!
by Capt. Tom Van Horn
My azaleas are in full bloom and the current water temperature outside Port Canaveral is 69 degrees. What time of year is it? It is cobia time!! Currently the water temperatures are right, and the manta ray are starting to show up south of Port Canaveral, both indicators spring has arriver on the Space Coast and the fishing is heating up.
As the ocean begins its gradual warming phase, 67 to 68 degrees, watch for the progression of baits schools (Atlantic menhaden and silver mullet) from warmer waters into the near-shore waters bringing the cobia and other predators with them. The warmer waters will also draw manta rays into the shallows shadowed by pods of cobia. Other notable species are tripletail around the buoys and under flotsam, and heavy weight jack carvalle near the end of the month, large redfish, and sharks shadowing bait schools.
In the inlets and along the beaches, whiting, pompano, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel are staple with sheepshead and black drum holding on jetties and rock piles. As we move into the later part of March watch for the snook and tarpon action to improve in Sebastian Inlet and then move north following the bait progression.
Moving out into deeper water, the spring kingfish run should begin with the smaller kings showing up around the middle of March, followed by the smokers, 30 to 50 pounds, in April on the near-shore reefs and wrecks like Pelican Flats and 8A reef. If the bait moves in close to the beach, look for the larger kingfish to follow them. Also, April marks the beginning of the fishing season for many of the blue water anglers with the start of the April/May northern migration of dolphin in 120 feet of water and beyond, and the early part of the run usually includes some of the largest bulls taken all year.
On the lagoon, high water levels will draw the slot size redfish schools up onto the shallow flats, with the larger breeder schools holding along the deeper edges and sand bars. On the cooler days, focus your attention on sand bars or potholes. Also, the end of March signals the return of silver mullet to the estuary, and the beginning early morning and late evening top water sea trout and redfish action.
Last but not lease, mid-March brings largemouth, stripers and sunshine bass into the equation as schooling bass begin to form up in consistent patterns on the St Johns River feeding on threadfin shad schools. Lastly, we can look forward to the shellcracker and bluegill spawn and the arrival of large channel catfish once the river water levels rise with the spring rains.
As always, if you have questions or need information, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom Van Horn
407-416-1187 on the water