Fishing Report: Fat pompano appearing up and down the coast
Fishing is up in all areas, from offshore to the St. Johns River, anglers are enjoying a hearty catch.
SURF, PIERS: There was a lilt in Tom Farnham’s voice when he reported on surf fishing over the last week. “Fishing has improved,” he declared from his post at Your Rod & Reel in Daytona Beach Shores. “We had a guy catch seven pompano down around the inlet, and another got some in Ormond Beach. It’s a little earlier than I expected, but they’re starting to come in. They are big, fat pompano.” The pompano are gobbling up cut clam. Farnham suggested prepping clams in salt that contains no iodine. “You kind of marinate them overnight in salt,” he said. “It toughens the clam meat up.” Jeff Burkhead at Fishin’ Cove Bait & Tackle in New Smyrna Beach offered a similar report in the southern side of Volusia County. “It’s been real productive with pompano,” he said. “Everybody is happy and catching lots of fish.” Daytona Beach Pier anglers are getting plenty of action off the planks. Gene Lytwyn at The Fishin’ Hole said veterans and novices alike are landing keeper-sized, upper-slot redfish. “We’ve seen some reds that are around 26 inches, and round like a football,” Lytwyn said. “They are also getting some nice pompano and some big sheepshead.” The Flagler Beach Pier report catches of black drum, whiting, bluefish and trout.” The Sunglow Pier has had a run of whiting in the last week.
OFFSHORE: Burkhead said offshore fishing has been quite productive in the last week. “We’re seeing some very good fishing,” he said. “We’ve had several boats get out and they’re all doing good.” The offshore catch includes cobia, dolphin, wahoo, jacks, sea bass and various types of snapper. “Trolling, bottom fishing, it’s all good,” he said.
PONCE INLET, HALIFAX RIVER: Capt. Kyle Busby of nobigreel.com has been fishing the Port Orange area with a lot of success. “The trout bite continues to be the best thing going inshore,” Busby said. “We are focusing fishing around islands (in the river). Top water in the morning is always a good option and the incoming tide has been best. We’re also catching a bunch of small reds, black drum, sheepshead, bluefish, jacks and ladyfish.” Busby said he has hooked into some snook in Spruce Creek. “The bite is average and the water is pretty dirty,” he said. Around the metro bridges, Lytwyn said fishermen are catching trout “really early in the morning.” He said half the trout are keeper-sized. “We got a few guys catching snook, but they have all been shorts,” Lytwyn said. Burkhead said the primary inlet catch has been sheepshead.
TOMOKA BASIN, RIVER: Capt. Barry Englehardt of fishwithcaptainbarry.com said he has been fishing the incoming tide around the islands separating the Intracoastal and basin. “We’ve been very productive on reds and trout,” he said. “The sun late in the morning and afternoon has sparked a snook bite in the river.” Just north of Tomoka, Lytwyn said one of his regulars “caught a mess of trout” around Highbridge. Norm Echelberry, who is an avid angler from Ormond Beach, said there’s a school of juvenile tarpon in a Tomoka Estates lake near the river. “They’re not biting on anything,” he said in an email report. “I have tried lures, live shrimp and mullet. Nothing is working.”
MOSQ. LAGOON, INDIAN RIVER: Al Huffman at Lagoon Bait & Tackle in Edgewater said the bite has been generous. “Black drum and redfish around Tiger Shoals, plus decent trout around Eldora and Slippery Creek, and we’re seeing snook just about everywhere.” Anglers are catching all sorts of bruisers in Haulover Canal, according to Huffman, who said he’s seen photos of a 50-inch redfish and a 42-inch black drum that have come from those fertile waters. The river around New Smyrna Beach has slowed up, but Burkhead said anglers are pulling up mangrove snapper and sheepshead around docks, plus black drum in the south bridge area.
MATANZAS INLET, RIVER: Karen Miles at Devil’s Elbow Fish Camp north of the inlet said redfish are thick on the flats, plus there are big schools of trout “all over the place.” And she added there were “bluefish galore.”
ST. JOHNS RIVER: Capt. Bryn Rawlins from Highland Park Fish Camp in DeLand said speck fishing has steadily picked up. “With a little more consistent cooler weather, we are seeing more catches and bigger fish come in,” she said in an email report. “Open water in Lake Woodruff has been the best for catching them. Right around the new moon on Feb. 7 should be a good time to go after them. Bass fishing is also doing pretty fair. Decent catches coming in ranging up to 8-pound fish.”