Captain Greg's Fishing Report for April 2018
Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Orlando
Last Month's Action
It really has been a grind that has gone on for months now. Thankfully we have the great customers and the best captains so the trips usually end up a success. I have never seen a weather pattern like this for this long of a time. Every time we get decent fishing the wind and seas build.
I’m going to take a long minute to explain what happens when we have continuous rough seas and why it makes our fishing very tough in this day and age. In our area of Florida the ocean floor is a finer brown sand not heavy coral sand like down south. This is why our beaches are brown and the water near the beach is not typically clear. The waves near the beach continually throw this sand up into the water column and it takes longer to settle compared to heavier denser coral sand. The deeper you go the bigger the waves or swells have to be to mix this sand up into the water column. Even when you have a calm day or 2 following rough seas it takes time for this sand to settle. This can actually be a good thing. As the sand starts to settle it can create hard edges. On these edges you can find cobia and tripletail closer in and the when a hard edge is created at the Gulfstream this is when we will have our best mahi, sail fish and wahoo fishing. The bottom does take longer to clean up, but bottom fish are not dependent on sight. The bottom fishing gets phenomenal as soon as it starts to clean up because they can see a little but not so well that they get line shy.
With the above info, we have to ask ourselves what is the problem? There is absolutely no problem at all for those who just want to catch and release fish. Red snappers and sharks will keep lines tight all day long. The problem lies in a severely mismanaged fishery for those who want to target fish that they can keep for the dinner table.
Right now for April we can keep mahi, king mackerel, cobia, wahoo, amberjack, and stringer fish such as sea bass, trigger fish, vermillion snapper, mangrove snapper. That is a fair amount of fish to keep so what’s the problem?
Mahi and cobia are seasonal and very temperature oriented fish so if the conditions are not perfect they are not around. Mahi and cobia are both very mismanaged and in my opinion not protected well enough. I have no science to back this it is just a opinion from someone that is on the water every day. When you can keep 10, 20 inch mahi per day per person now and up to not all that long ago were unlimited. That is a ridiculous number of fish and doesn’t even account for worldwide commercial pressure. Anyways before I go off on a tangent the bottom line is cobia and mahi numbers are not what they should be.
Amberjacks, mangrove snappers and groupers when they are open are phenomenal eating with a very reasonable size and bag limits. So what’s the problem? When fishing shallow 160ft or less we absolutely cannot get baits past the red snapper. When we fish deeper to get away from the snapper we absolutely cannot real the amberjacks and groupers past the sandbar sharks without the sharks eating them. This is a example of a mismanaged fishery on the other end of the spectrum. Red snapper stocks have exploded and now that sharks have obtained a unicorn status the population has exploded on them as well. Don’t get me wrong we need to protect all of our species, especially apex predators but we need a well rounded way of doing this.
Stringer fish now have size limits that are almost unobtainable for our area 13 inch sea bass & 14 inch to the fork trigger fish are trophy catches but only time will tell, maybe someday they will reach that size on a regular basis. If we can ever get past all the red snapper to catch them.
This leaves us dependent on our staple fish the king mackerel. This has to be the most underrated fish in the ocean. They fight hard, the strike is phenomenal and fresh there is nothing that compares to them when it comes to table fare. The fishery seems to be well managed with reasonable size and bag limits. However these fish absolutely will not bite unless water clarity is good.
Deep dropping has started to become the new alternative for those looking to catch fish to keep. This is too deep for red snapper and so far too deep for sharks to be a problem. It is also too deep to hand crank so pushing a button is not everyone’s idea of fishing.. Again even this deep water fishery is severely mismanaged because of rules that make no since what’s so ever. Such as only 1 snowy grouper per boat and golden tile fish are not in season at the same time as blue line tile fish. It either needs to all be closed or all be open because anything reeled up from that deep is going to die.
Lets round this up in a nice neat little package. When sea conditions remain rough it gives us poor water clarity. This results in taking our staple fish king mackerel out of the equation and eliminating the few nice surprises you catch such as wahoo, and black fin tuna while targeting the kings. Those that just want to catch fish for fun are in a absolute anglers paradise. Big red snapper and very large sharks just about as fast as you can go. Ultimately extremely poor fisheries management is the problem for those that want to keep a little for the dinner table. I have said this several times before and this will hold true from here on out no matter what happens with management. You will never ever be able to justify a charter or even taking your own boat by the amount of meat you put in the freezer. However with reasonable common sense management you can have a pile of fun and a few nice meals.
April Near Shore Fishing Forecast
Sorry I am late on this! The fishing and weather has me so aggravated I wasn’t even going to do a report for April. Even though I am 2 weeks into April looking at a very poor marine forecast I have to hope and pray for something to change. Near shore the sharks, goliath groupers and big red drum have absolutely been saving Spring Break for us our customers and those that have their own boats looking for fun in the sun. We have also seen a few tarpon starting to make a appearance so for those willing to target them the correct way that is a fantastic option. In Canaveral the best way to tarpon fish is first off find pogies or decent size silver mullet. Locate the tarpon along the beach, Patrick, Cocoa Beach Pier, Tip of the Shoal and the False Cape all great place to look. Anchor ahead of the rolling fish and drift live baits back to them. This will take a lot of trial and error but very rewarding for those that put in the effort. Sheepshead, mangrove and lane snappers have been abundant in the Port. We have also seen a lot of small jack crevalle (current hot topic of edibility, IMO a fantastic eating fish under 2 lbs) and pompano along with a few flounder. Right now fishing along the beach and in the port is our only saving grace. We also have a tremendous amount of triple tail around for those with boats stealthy enough to target them.
April Offshore Fishing Forecast
The last few years April has been the month for mahi. Unfortunately much like our March cobia run didn’t happen I don’t think our April mahi run is going to happen. Not many reports of mahi getting caught further South so if we see them in any numbers at all it probably won’t be until May. You may find a few cobia and a lot of triple tail amongst all the grass patches we find 5 to 10 miles out this time of year. The king fish will bite as soon as we get 2 or 3 days of calm seas but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting on that to happen. Like always the bottom fishing for red snapper will be fantastic along with amberjack fishing but it is very difficult almost impossible to get the amberjacks past the sand bar sharks. For those lucky enough to get out on a calm day aboard their own boats I suggest you be prepared just like us charter guys. Be prepared to do everything! It is tough right now but with enough versatility you will find something working. One sure way to tell when a charter captain has had a tough day is when you see him rinsing down 20 rods back at the dock because you know he threw the entire arsenal at the fish on that day to make it work.
About Captain Greg's Reports and Forecast
Captain Greg has been fishing the waters of Port Canaveral and the Atlantic for over 30 years. He has the largest and most highly rated private charter business in Port Canaveral, Sea Leveler Sport Fishing Charters. Greg and his team of full time captains fish well over 200 days each per year. We have kept detailed catch history for every trip ran since 2010. You can access this history at www.sealeveler.com/reports. His engineer wife, Amber, has analyzed the catch history along with other historical data such as water temperature and weather patterns. Greg uses his fishing experience and knowledge along with his wife’s statistical analysis to bring you the best fishing report available for Port Canaveral. Greg will give you the honest truth on how the fishing has been along with his best prediction of what to expect by using all of this information.