There is an old saying, ‘April comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,’ and this is typically an apt description of our weather conditions for early spring. However, since we had such a mild winter, spring actually roared into the area in early March rather than mid-April and the fishing has been phenomenal. During the last sixty days, we seen many, many charters with enormous catches, both in size (several world record fish and many monsters) and quantity (many charters over 25 fish and several in the 40 to 50 range). In short, we are currently seeing some of the finest fishing in many years. Do you want proof? See the following summaries and photos.
Jack Chamblin of Merritt Island has been on a mission over the past year or so to introduce his sons and grandsons to the wonderful world of our local bull reds. And each of his grandsons have caught big, bragging-sized reds. This time it was Shawn, his youngest son’s turn on the Banana River with Capt. Rocky. The charter started mid-morning amidst the calmest, slickest part of the day and the fish were super spooky in the bright sun and clear water. The scarce fish were extremely sluggish as if waiting for conditions to change before starting to feed. Then the sea breeze finally kicked and that’s when history was made as Jack hooked a huge redfish not more than a half mile from his own dock. The monster stripped line time and again and had to be ‘chased down’ repeatedly in order to put line back on the Shimano Sustain 4000 reel and the battle royal raged for nearly an hour testing the considerable skill of aged angler. As the beast was finally subdued and lying in the net, no one could believe their eyes – the redfish measured 53 inches and weighed 46.9 pounds. It has to be one of the largest redfish ever caught in the Banana River. Now when the Chamblin clan gathers to brag on tales of by-gone bulls, there is no doubt who will own ultimate bragging right – the 80 year old patriarch, Jack for a fish passing into angling lore!
Will, Tom, and Josh fished with Capt. Peter for a full day of fishing in Ft. Pierce, Fl. The majority of the day was spent casting live baits to feeding fish holding over grass-flats. There was non-stop action most of the trip…the anglers caught over 15 gator trout up to 30 inches, six redfish up to 32 inches, bluefish, jack crevalles, and a couple of 60lb stingrays.
The weather was the only thing that did not go as planned for George Litrrell on his recent fishing charter with Capt. Rocky. Dodging isolated rain showers throughout the day in the Indian River near Titusville, George caught fish after fish after fish as the reds and trout turned super aggressive in advance of an approaching front. When the day was complete, the final tally showed 15 redfish (seven in excess of 20 pounds) and 20 sea trout (all but two over the 20 inch trophy threshold). So despite the occasional sprinkle, it was still a great day on the river.
Long-time customers of Capt. Peter, Howell and Gene Riggs, traveled down to Florida and fished two with Peter in Ft. Pierce. The first day was spent targeting numbers of fish. The water was crystal clear, and the weather perfect. They started the day off fishing catching gator trout after gator trout around spoil islands. As the sun climbed higher in the sky, they switched gears and sight-casted to schools of redfish up on the flats. In about an hour, the husband and wife duo landed over a dozen redfish. After moving off the redfish to give them a break, the anglers landed a dozen trout up to 26 inches before heading to the “Tiki Bar” for a dockside lunch.
On the second day of fishing, Capt. Peter picked Howell and Gene up from their hotel dock, and headed out to the fishing grounds as the sun broke the horizon. The second day’s target was snook. Fishing the falling tide, Howell and Gene drifted live baits along mangroves and grass flats. Most of the snook were between 35 and 40 inches, providing some spectacular fights. Those 20 pound snook soaring into the sky with water gushing from their gills is a sight that really gets the heart pounding. The anglers also caught a handful of trout up to 27 inches and a few redfish.
Orlando is considered the convention and vacation capitals of the world and when the two capitals can be combined, as was the recent case for Jared, Karissa and Rich, an Orlando trip will be fantastic. Coming straight from the Orlando International Airport to Kennedy Point Park on the Indian River in Titusville, the threesome, along with four other colleagues, jumped aboard the ‘Flat Broke’ captained by guide Rocky Van Hoose for an afternoon of fishing and relaxation prior to the opening sessions of their business conference to be held later that evening. We are not sure about the relaxation part of the formula but the fishing part was fantastic as they caught fish after fish after fish. Many of the redfish caught were in the 20 to 30 pound range while the trout measured 20 to 28 inches in length. The other four anglers, guided by Capt. Peter and Capt. Robert and fishing in close proximity, also caught numerous fish and shout of exhilaration and exuberation echoed back and forth from boat to boat to boat in the redfish capital of the world.
Reid, Rick and Roy spent a day fishing with Capt. Peter in the Banana River targeting redfish and seatrout. These trophy hunters did not want to keep many fish, so most of the trip was spent going after the big boys. The trio had a great day of fish catching. They landed over a dozen redfish up to 40 inches and some big trout up to 25 inches with a couple of double headers.
John White, along with his son-in-law Scott, fished with Capt. Rocky several years ago. Returning to Florida again this spring, John decided to book two charters and bring one of his grandchildren on each day. Fourteen year old Jill was the first to enjoy the fishing with dad and granddad and she was the star of the day catching so many fish we lost count. Eleven year old Kevin had the following day and his adventure was even better than the previous day. Again we lost count but believe the totals for the half day charter were close to forty trout and redfish. The location of the charters was the Indian River Lagoon near Titusville.
Dan booked a half day fishing trip with Capt. Peter in hopes to show his good buddy Danny some Florida redfishing. The trip was spent fishing groups of big, overslot redfish that were feeding on schools of mullet. Fishing in the Banana River, they keyed in on the schools of redfish that are moving up and down the shallow sandbars in the clear water. The anglers caught over a ten big redfish up to 38 inches, and half a dozen big trout.
Merritt Island winter resident Jack Chamblin has been on a quest over the past several months to take his sons and grandsons fishing and with each successive trip the fishing results have gotten better and better. This past Friday Jack brought his son Rocky and fished with Capt. Rocky in the Indian River Lagoon near Titusville. The two Chamblins absolutely smoked the fish catching somewhere between 40 and 50 fish during their half-day charter and, let me tell brother, that’s a lot of fish! Most of the large number of trout caught was in excess of 20 inches with the longest measuring 26 inches. Three of the redfish caught exceeded 35 inches with the biggest exceeding 40 inches. By the way, Jack who is 80 years old, graciously let Rocky Chamblin catch the big reds since he himself battled and landed an enormous 53 inch, 46.9 pound redfish with Capt. Rocky on his previous charter.
Local wood turners Joe from Merritt Island and Herb from Titusville recently took a turn out of the shop for a fishing adventure with Capt. Rocky on the Indian River. Leaving the dock at noon, a time when many fishing charters are returning, the duo polished off every piece of precious bait in subduing 13 redfish and two trout. And every fish caught was a true trophy with the two smallest reds weighing 15 pounds and the largest brutes tipping the scales near 30 pounds. The near constant action resulted in plenty of sore mussels, broad smiles and remarkable memories. What an absolutely awesome afternoon of angling!
Tim Dobson, now of Ft. Worth, Texas, recently vacationed near Disney World with his wife and two daughters and was rewarded for his diligence to domestic duties with a half day fishing charter on the Indian River Lagoon with Capt. Rocky. Fishing in the shadow of Kennedy Space Center property, Tim, a former lumberjack from Michigan, had an absolute blast enjoying the finest of natural Florida waterlife and cutting down fish after fish. Pictured below is Tim with a 28 inch gator trout and one of several 20 plus pound redfish caught on the day.
Skilled anglers Mark and Brenda Moore from Leesburg chartered Capt. Rocky on a day when a late spring cold front approached the area. As the front approached, the winds swung around to the southwest and scattered the fish. The big gator trout were still abundant and the Moores caught a bunch of them with several in the 25 to 28 inch range. The reds, plentiful the day before, were harder to locate but Brenda was able to uphold the family honor by catching two bulls, one measuring 43 inches and weighing 25 to 30 pounds.
The weather is often the wild card in spring inshore fishing. The fish gather in fairly familiar patterns for their daily activities, it is the weather that either allows or prevents us access to them. If we can access the fish, we’ll have big banner days on the water. If we can not access the fish, we’ll scramble but still catch enough to make the charters successful. Jack Chamblin and Cody, Jack’s grandson from Illinois, booked a half day charter with Capt. Rocky where the forecasted weather was iffy at best. Navigating the charter around the stiff winds and rain possibilities proved to be challenging but not impossible. And they still caught fish. Well, that may be a bit understated since they actually caught quite a few fish; nine redfish and three trout. The reds were all over-sized, ranging from 15 to 30 pounds while the trout were big and plump and went home with the Chamblins for a fish fry later that evening. Best of all, everyone had a blast, despite the iffy forecast.
Slick, calm water greeted Cliff and Mark Watton from Atlanta for their half day charter with Capt. Rocky on the Indian River Lagoon. Using a variety of fishing techniques, including sight-fishing the sandy potholes, the Watton boys caught a mess of fish – eight reds to 25 pounds and 15 trout, all longer than 20 inches – making it a perfect fishing day as well as a perfect weather day.
Paul Gaston from West Virginia had promised his father-in-law from Pittsburg, also named Paul, a fishing charter as part of an extended Florida vacation. They had originally wanted to book an offshore trip out of the Port Canaveral but high winds and seas, along with some very good advice from Dan Deihl of iOutdoors, convinced them there might be a better option. Instead of roughing it out on the ocean, the twosome enjoyed a fishing adventure of a lifetime in the wind-protected, shallow waters of the Indian River lagoon near Titusville with Capt. Rocky Van Hoose of Native Sons Fishing Charters. And boy oh boy did they ever have a blast catching a mess of redfish and trout. The biggest trout went 27 inches and weighed close to eight pounds while the bigger redfish, the three bigger redfish, pushed the scales past twenty pounds with the largest weighing an estimated thirty pounds. It may have been rough off-shore but the two Pauls hardly even noticed the winds during the day, commenting at the conclusion of the charter what a wonder day it had been. The moral of this story is ‘it pays to heed to good advice’.
Wayne and Julie from Topeka, Kansas, fishing nearby good friends Lee and Angie Harp, spent a beautiful spring day with Capt. Rocky on the Banana River in the midst of millions of finger mullet. Now the annual advent of the mullet, known the spring mullet run, has caused our predator fish to do some surprising things. Firstly, it has moved the fish from places where they have been holding for many months. Secondly, since their appetites have been thoroughly satiated, it has caused them to be less than enthusiastic about chasing down live bait. Thirdly, it has changed their feeding times from early mornings to later in the afternoons when the winds are highest giving them maximum protection and camouflage over the flats. Wayne and Julie had to wait through mid-morning and early afternoon for the fish to begin an aggressive feed. However, when the fish finally ‘turned on’, the bite was impressive. And pictured below are several of the reds caught their charter.
Jack Chamblin from Merritt Island with grandson John from Hollywood, California fished with Capt. Rocky on a very calm spring afternoon. Chasing waking and tailing reds and even wading in the slick still waters yielded a number of monster trout and several outstanding redfish including the one being held John in the picture below.