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Another place in Florida that provides good redfishing is the Indian River Lagoon System on the so-called Space Coast, east of Orlando and the major attractions there, such as Disney World. Make no mistake, the fishing in the Indian River Lagoon system here is much more than an excuse to get away from too much family-oriented recreation in Orlando. The fishing, mostly for redfish, but for other species as well, is world-class.
We’ve written about this fishing before, but here is a refresher course, thanks to local guide and writer, John Kumiski: The Space Coast lies an hour’s drive east of Disney World. A lot of fishermen who come over to the Space Coast are in Orlando on family vacations or at conventions. They take a day or two and go fishing.
The main winter fishery is in the Indian River Lagoon system, with three major parts – the Indian River Lagoon, the Mosquito Lagoon and the Banana River Lagoon. These shallow waters offer sightfishing for redfish, sea trout and large black drum.
Most of the places I fish are surrounded by undeveloped federal properties – a national seashore, a national wildlife refuge and the Kennedy Space Center. If you time your trip right, you can catch fish and watch a rocket launch. No matter how many you’ve seen, rocket launches are very cool!
A lot of our fishing is from a skiff poled through clear, shallow water. On my days off, or when I get fishermen who want to, I kayak-fish, or fish from a canoe. You can access places with a kayak or canoe that skiff fishermen can’t. Also, the Banana River Lagoon has a large no-motor zone where skiffs simply aren’t allowed. The only way you can fish there is by a hand-powered boat. I haven’t been visiting the no-motor zone recently as much as I used to because the entire east side has been closed for security reasons. Recently, though, that area has been reopened, so I’ll be going up there more often.
The number of fish an angler can expect to land in this area depends on the weather and the mood of the fish, and of course on the skill of the angler. Getting skunked is not unheard of. On a good day, though, you can see double digits, and you should have more than a dozen quality shots. Our redfish average five to 10 pounds. The biggest one a fly angler has gotten with me pushed 40 pounds.
While I prefer to fly fish, I’ll fish however the client wants. Guiding is a service business, and I want to make my fishermen happy. Fly fishermen should bring an eight-weight saltwater outfit with floating line. Clouser minnows, sliders, bendbacks, crab patterns, Puglisi-style streamers, spoonflies and sometimes poppers all work. Keep in mind that flies need weed guards here.
Would-be visitors need to be aware that cold fronts usually start coming through the Space Coast, in November, finishing around early April. When a front comes through, the barometric pressure changes, the air temperature drops and the wind turns to the northwest, usually quite hard. These factors drive the fish off the flats. During the winter, if the water temperature is dropping, you will not find any fish. As soon as the water temperature starts to rise again, however, they flood into shallow water looking for groceries. Some winters the fronts come in like clockwork, about once a week. Other winters, we won’t get one for up to six weeks.
I charge $450 per day, which is for at least eight hours. I usually start around sunrise. Orlando is 50 miles from the boat ramp in Titusville. Anglers who want to stay more than one day can check into any one of the hotels I recommend on my web site. Rates run about $80 per night.
I’d be happy to take Angling Report subscribers fishing.