Our estuary begins at the New Smyrna beach inlet. This inlet allows the water to ebb and flow from the Atlantic and then travel south thru hundreds of small islands to create the Mosquito lagoon. This great body of salt water would have remained land locked except for Haul-over canal. This a man made cut that was created about a hundred years ago that allows the water and boats to travel through to the Indian River. The Indian river then continues southward to the Banana river and eventually exits back into the ocean via the Sebastian inlet.
For the most part the estuary has very little tidal influences except as you approach the inlets. As our fishing is mostly focused on the center areas of the estuary, generally you can ignore looking at tide tables when going out. Tidal influence will definitely govern how you approach the tidal flats such as Calalisa Creek in NSB if you decide to fish those areas. To find updated tide information you can visit the university of south Carolina's tide predictor This link will specifically bring you to the south of NSB but the entire East coast can be checked here using their index.
Visiting the tidal creeks and oyster bars at low tide is a great investment for the future to spot and learn potential hiding spots for game fish when the tide changes.
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Hopefully this will serve as a primer for possible local conditions. The true guide is experience but even experienced fishermen have been surprised by not keeping safety in mind and using common sense.
Tight lines, enjoy and stay safe.
Wind however is probably the most important factor for us, not just on deciding on whether or not to go out on an excursion but it can also influence our decision on where to go.
A calm day with a glassy smooth surface are the conditions that kayak fisherman dream of. Wind is unpredictable but there are a couple of sites that generate some pretty good computer models.
Sailflow is a free service that has some very sophisticated forecasting tools. I have set up the access on the quick-links section on our main page directly to the IRL-ML area. You can click on this and see the forecasts for up to a week or more.
Usually we use this and N.O.A.A. as an early indicator to plan an outing. First post a thread in the "looking for a fishing partner" board with a potential location and the date of the outing. Continue to check weather as the date approaches. We generally make a final call on going out the night before after 6pm as well as post the finalized launch site. We do recommend to PM or Email your phone number directly to your fishing partners to be able to reach each other.
The N.O.A.A has several data buoys positioned around our estuary. These buoys can provide a glimpse into conditions, water temperature and wave height that have occurred leading up to the time you are leaving. We often check this data right before heading out on the drive the next morning.
Depending on the weather pattern and the forecast, we can make a decision on paddling into the wind to get to an area and then take our time drift fishing on the way back. As stated before, winds are unpredictable and you cannot rely on them not to reverse on you, making the way back a challenge. Always keep that in mind and never paddle more than you think you can handle getting back if the winds do pick up.
Another suggestion is to use land structures to minimize the wind's impact. As an example, knowing that you have a wind out of the west you can chose to hug the western shore of the Indian river between Scottsmore and Mim's (see our OKFC Google Earth map )to enjoy at least a calmer morning and the possibility of catching fish. Some of this wind knowledge comes with experience on the water and some club members are happy to share those insights when asked at OKFC meetings or events.
Seasons will change and temperature will follow along. Fish are affected just as much as we are and their behavior will change when temperatures go up or down. Temperature comfort zones vary by species. Snook prefer a warmer climate which is why we tend to find them readily abundant further south. Pompano will not be in our northern latitude until water temperature attain a minimum of 60 degrees in the surf. Even if Redfish enjoy a presence throughout the entire estuary, they become sluggish in colder waters and will be very picky on what attracts their attention during these periods. Being aware of temperature will alter your choice of lure and presentation.
In colder waters slow your pace down. We tend to find that smaller artificials work better in the winter. The reverse is true as the water warms and that favorite top-water plug you haven't pulled out since last fall may be a great choice as most game-fish are aggressively on the prowl to replenish an empty belly.
In my kayak I have a pool thermometer that I keep on a cord. I usually record temps in my log noting it with my catches of the day. During the early part of cool days I look for some flats that are heated on a western edge from the rising sun. Then in the summer I look for steep drop-offs to deeper cooler water near a flat where the fish can ambush prey.
On our quick-links section you can view temperature from the N.O.A.A. buoys. We have one located in the IRL near the Max Brewer Bridge and there is also one near Trident Basin on ocean side. You can view all data buoys available worldwide on this Google Earth map by the N.O.A.A.Here is a list of data buoys from various points around the lagoon and Florida:
Moon and Tides
As we mentioned before in the introduction, the tidal influence in our estuary is pretty limited but in those areas closer to the inlets you will still find that knowing the tides will be necessary. The time of the Moon phase will also create a stronger or weaker tidal influence and therefore also change conditions to take in consideration when locating our prey. It will also affect some game fish species in other ways. Snook during the spawning months will feed vigorously on full moons at night which will often lead to inactivity during the day. I do know some fishing buddies that swear by solumnar tables and pick their days based on moon cycles while others like myself just go when ever the opportunity comes up.
You can view the actual moon phase for any day by clicking here.
These "Virtual Reality Moon Phases" were created by R. Schmidt from ray-traced images of the Moon.
Due to the nature of our preferred fish finding vehicles (kayaks), getting stuck on low tides is not as much an issue as other boats but should still be taken into account especially in areas with oyster bars. There are other factors however, that will influence water levels. There are at least a hundred culverts in the refuge and the amount of rainfall will also affect depth. The Merritt island refuge controls water levels thru the use of these culverts throughout the area. Some of this is due to mosquito controls or to help control rainfall. In the fall and winter months it even helps the wintering waterfowl.
Sight-fishing for redfish is best when water levels are low. To get an idea of water levels,you can view water data at Haul-over and often when levels affect fishing, it will be mentioned in our fishing reports.
This year we will have the last four launches of the shuttle fleet. Why talk about that on a fishing site? Well you have to take into account when they launch as they will block the access to certain parts of the lagoon.
During the four days leading up to the launch, you will not be able to go one mile south past the Haul-over Bridge, nor will you be able to go much past the East side of the Max Brewer Bridge. In addition to that there is a security zone that wraps around the Canaveral shoreline and there is an imaginary line going from west to east through the Haul-over canal. If you were to pass into these security areas you will encounter a machine gun ready security team in some high speed Zodiacs
The security zone last only 24 hours after the launch but is also in place during landings.
View next shuttle launch
Not much to say here. No fishing,safety prevails. I am listing two good storm tracking sites that I discovered. Both provide real time information
Due to our sub-tropical climate, dangerous conditions can also occur that may place a kayaker in danger. This is why we always advocate and actively encourage members to go out as a group. There is always safety in numbers.
In the summertime, a storm can literally materialize in 30 minutes and we are the lightning capital of the world. Some land areas are not accessible once you have gone out due to mangroves or other natural element such as quicksand- like muck. You should plan and practice "emergencies" before going out. Take your kayak into your pool or a nearby freshwater lake and practice getting back in, if you fall out. Always wear your PFD at all times. Take a safety course with a certified trainer. If using a brand new (or used) kayak, take it out for a test run making sure it is water tight and safe.
Plan for this event. What will you do? You will have several graphite fishing poles and maybe even a graphite paddle that we can now dub as "lightning rods". First prepare for safety by being knowledgeable.
Here are a few safety pamphlets from the ACA (American Canoe Association) instructors:
Second, be aware. Whenever you are out, always keep an eye on the skies, and always stay aware of your surroundings. If you start to see unfavorable cloud formation, you may need to make a decision to go back or find shelter, if possible. Summer storms generally do not last for very long and usually, but not always, you can find temporary shelter. If you cannot escape try to make yourself as small a target as possible.
In the event of a being trapped in a lightning storm, then I would cut my lines on my poles, remove my reels and stow them below with any other metal objects such as lip grippers. I usually carry a few emergency lines to tie them over the side of my kayak and then drop my poles and paddle into the water. Hunker down and let the storm pass.