Port Canaveral, Ponce Inlet, or Sebastian Inlet, are all more small boat friendly in the summer than in other seasons of the year. Why you ask? Because the seas are more likely to be calm and safe, making a productive fishing trip a reality. It is especially nice if you can catch a west wind to flatten the seas even more.
Always check the night before and look for seas in the 2 to 3 feet range or less. If you are a small boat angler it is senseless to risk going out in anything higher. You will even run into kayakers out there this time of year.
The potential catches for August in the nearshore Atlantic include kingfish, bonito, jack crevalle and tarpon, all of which can be caught while slow-trolling. You better plan on dealing with a shark or two in the process. Even though you may not be targeting them you are likely to catch some.
Start your day by patrolling the coastline in search of schooling baitfish. Pogies can normally be caught easily in a cast net and greenies can be brought to the boat using Sabiki rigs.
Use at least 20 to 40 pound tackle in your trolling adventure. You can tangle with some real bruisers out there so don’t be outgunned. Believe me; a big ocean jack will make you wish you had a stouter rod if you hook one on light tackle. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a light tackle pitch rod handy and rigged with a silver spoon in case you run across a school of Spanish mackerel, a likely occurrence.
Rig your trolling baits on a wire stinger rig with two octopus style hooks. I use a rig taught to me by nearshore fishing expert Capt. Keith Kalbfleisch. It uses a 6/0 Daiichi Octopus hook on the back and a 4/0 on the front. Place the front hook through the nose of the baitfish and the other hook through the back, just under the dorsal fin. The bait should be rigged in a way that leaves them free to swim and look natural.
Capt. Keith says, “The single hooks are just as productive as trebles and safer.” He has an excellent illustration of the rig on his website.
Start your troll and keep an eye out for diving birds, skyrocketing fish, or other surface action. If you see anything out of the ordinary make a troll through that area. Don’t fail to ask local bait shops or area guides for specific location on where the bite is on.
The boat ramps available at Port Canaveral, Ponce and Sebastian inlets are quite accommodating for small boats. So, if you haven’t ventured out for some big game fishing just because you thought your boat was too small – now’s the time to do it.
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Angler Alert: Don’t forget to log you catch online at the Angler Action Program.