Captain Greg's Fishing Report for July 2020
Port Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, and Orlando
Last Month's Action
The positive thinking worked! We could not have asked much more out of June. Flat calm seas, plenty of live bait and great fishing from right on the beach to 100 miles offshore. King mackerel, tarpon, sharks and goliath grouper were plentiful along the beach. King mackerel, sailfish, mahi, cobia, wahoo, mangrove snapper, trigger fish, vermillion snapper and lane snapper from 60 ft to 120 ft. Beyond 120 ft produced amberjacks, almaco jacks, grouper, vermillion snapper, mahi, black fin tuna, triggerfish, sailfish and tunas.
Everything was good so let’s keep the positivity going for July.
July Near Shore Fishing Forecast
Fish early or late but avoid the mid day near shore slump. Expect to find pogies tight to the surf and be sure to keep a eye out for the tarpon as you are looking. Every morning and evening you will see the silver king swimming North. I don’t know when they go back South or if it is new fish every day but they always seem to be on a Northbound march. We have seen and can expect to find permit stacked on some of the further buoys marking the shoals, close wrecks and if you fish down to Sebastian they will be in the surf line on outgoing tide. Big goliath grouper have set up their summertime home along the shipping channel and any given structure inside of 15 miles so bring the big gear and test your muscle. Sharks galore up and down Cocoa Beach and North of Canaveral to Daytona. Blacknose, finetooth, spinner, blacktip and hammerheads are the most common. If you catch the big hammers be sure to snap a very quick picture boat side and cut the line. Try not to ever have these sharks stop swimming forward. In our most recent work with the shark tagging programs we have learned that just about every shark is a tank and can handle the stress of catch and release with the exception of hammerheads so let’s do our part to make sure these magnificent sharks are released safely for everyone to enjoy. Live bait trolling for king mackerel and the occasional cobia will be really good. The best place to start will be just offshore of the bait in the clean water. Snook are loaded but are spawning so its not a bad idea to leave them alone plus they are very finicky during the spawn. If you do want to catch them then try to use heavy tackle to whip them quick and get them back into the water to do their thing. Lots of options but go early or go late because mid day will most likely be a shut down.
July Offshore Fishing Forecast
Live bait trolling and chicken rig fishing should be the only 2 styles of fishing crossing most people’s minds and I will explain why further down in the report.
Lets first talk about our ever so generous 4 day red snapper season that once again falls right in the middle of the spawn. Get your fish and get home would be my strategy but I also understand making the most of the day. The red snapper should be easy and we all know that no one is taking the first few fish they catch. Start off using big baits, literally baits that are border line shark fishing size or goliath grouper size. Keep the first x amount of respectable fish that come over the gunnels to your limit. After you reach your limit I suggest switching everyone to chicken rig fishing for vermillion snapper, trigger fish, lane snapper and porgies. At the end of the day you will have a phenomenal catch. If you only want to go big you can continue to soak big baits and weed through snapper but the grouper bite is not going to be great. The water is too clear and the grouper numbers just aren’t right so in my opinion it is a waste of time.
Live bait trolling is what you should be doing in the Summer. This past weeks fishing has solidified it for me when it come to summertime fishing because we have caught more of everything while live bait trolling than we have by specifically targeting certain species such as sailfish and mahi.. Everyone needs to wrap their heads around that it is only called king fishing because that happens to be the dominant, most abundant and most aggressive species. Think about the logistics of this. If you see a mahi, sail fish, cobia, tuna, wahoo or pretty much any other pelagic species and you only had one thing to throw at them what would it be? A live bait should be your answer. When you troll live baits, no you don’t cover as much water but anything that live bait gets in front of will eat it. I never refer to live bait trolling as king fishing because it is absolutely the wrong thing to call it. The only reason not to live bait troll in the summer is if you can’t stand the thought of catching a lot of king mackerel throughout the day. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to catch kings but that would be the only reason not to live bait troll.
Mangrove snapper fishing this month can be awesome and I very rarely, if ever mention it as a option. You can find them from 40 to 100ft. Traditionally we fish them with sliding sinker or knocker rigs on the bottom. This month you can get them chummed to the surface because they are spawning and like to get above the colder water. Once in a blue moon mangrove snapper fishing out of Port Canaveral can be good for anglers of all skill levels but this scenario calls for a very rare and very blue moon :). Most calls I get inquiring about mangrove snapper fishing are anglers that have fished the Gulf or South Florida. Mangrove snapper fishing out of Canaveral is completely different. If you think you are a good mangrove snapper fisherman but you are use to these other areas then I am going to be truthful but unfortunately break your spirit by informing you that you are not. I am not trying to derail any potential mangrove snapper heroes but I can give you a little insight on how to get better. Fluorocarbon is a must but have everyone start with 60 and work down to 30 if you have to. Bait presentation is everything so learn how to properly use cut baits or where to hook live baits so they are as natural as possible. You will have to master the art of applying as much pressure as possible without breaking the line from sheer force, especially when these fish are up in the water column. Knowing when to engage the bite is critical. Mangrove snapper are probably the most abundant yet difficult fish to catch out of our area.
We have several other great fishing opportunities coming this month but the above suggestions are sure to produce. We look forward to another great month of positive thinking and phenomenal fishing. I only mentioned a few of the best bets for July but we still have a lot of other great fishing opportunities such as other side tuna trips and deep dropping for golden tilefish.
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.