To a novice angler, fishing is as simple as putting some bait in the water and waiting for something to bite it. To experienced anglers and fishing guides in Cocoa Beach though, having a fun and successful day catching fish requires a bit more observation of the current conditions.
Local residents and charter captains will likely have contacts who will provide insights on what’s currently biting where, but in the end, even the most experienced angler will look at the following signs to see where large gamefish may be.
Before even setting out though, the captain will study the tides, the weather, surface water temperatures and anything else that may affect fishing.
However, the following 6 things can only be seen out on the water. These visual clues are important for having a successful fishing trip off Cocoa Beach or anywhere else around Florida.
- Diving birds – One obvious clue that Cobia, Amberjack or Snapper are below is the presence of any birds overhead. If you see pelicans, sea gulls or other birds feeding on shrimp or pinfish, then prime bait for gamefish is in the water underneath. If the bait is there, chances are the nice sized fish will be there too.
- Rip Lines – Currents and wind drive the ocean, and is the reason why debris can travel so far on the open water. When these currents are strong enough, they create rip lines that can stir up a lot of debris. Strong rip lines can also be created by a reef, large wreck or underwater sea wall that forces water up. Gamefish will hang around the edges of these rip lines in search of prey.
- Weed lines – Weed lines are simply one common type of debris stirred up by a rip line. These large clumpings of vegetation attract everything from baitfish (i.e. shrimp , pinfish, etc.) to the large gamefish. While not all weed lines will attract the trophy-sized fish, experienced anglers will always be on the lookout for weed lines.
- Surface activity – This can cover a lot of ground, and can include signs of the fish itself or activity at the surface of the water indicating one may be nearby. Perhaps you noticed a fin sticking up out of the water or you were able to spot a nice Redfish stirring. If you see the actual fish and are able to get close enough, you can present your bait in a way that will entice a bite. A school of dolphin or a fleet of scallop boats is one clue that large Tuna are in the area. Floating debris, especially large wood, is also known to attract large game fish. If possible, you or a deckhand must pay constant attention to what’s going on all sides of the boat.
- Underwater clues via sonar – Any fishing boat that is properly equipped will have an underwater sonar, depth finder or “fish” finder. The sonar will be able to spot any underwater reefs and wrecks where large gamefish like to hide. A sunken ship like the massive City of Vera Cruz (see below) about 17 miles off Cocoa Beach offer prime fishing opportunities for Snapper, Cobia, Grouper and more.
- Other boats – While it isn’t necessarily proper etiquette to barge in on someone else’s spot, seeing where other boats are fishing can be a valuable clue. If you notice a group of boats sitting in the same spot for more than an hour or so, there’s a high chance they’re sitting on top of a good spot. If you decide you want to see for yourself, be careful and don’t get too close to the other boats.
Other factors like how the tides affect fishing will also be on a charter captain’s mind. He will be able to tell where good spots may be just by checking the tides each day.
Although anglers and fishing charters have access to advanced sonars and up-to-the-minute reports on weather and tides, they will always look for clues like the ones mentioned above.
This of course is just a brief description of some of signs experienced anglers use while fishing off Cocoa Beach. An experienced charter boat captain will be able to describe these visual cues so you can spot them by yourself should the need arise. To learn more or schedule a charter, contact Cocoa Beach fishing guide Captain Mark Wright today!
Image courtesy of Wikipedia