On the Space Coast we like to say “It’s not fishing, it’s catching!” because that is the normal outcome when you do some saltwater fishing around here. From the many miles of public beaches to three estuaries to the cobalt waters of the Atlantic Ocean, you can do a lot of catching; and bag several different species in one outing.
Surf casters love the pristine beaches of Canaveral National Seashore east of Titusville. Because of the distance, the entrance fee ($10 per vehicle) and the lack of creature-comforts, you could likely find yourself alone with hardly any pressure on the fish. The beaches here are about 8-9 miles from town and there are no bait shops at the beach, so be sure to stop in Titusville at Captain Hooks Bait & Tackle or Mosquito Lagoon Bait & Tackle for fresh live bait and all the extra weights and hooks you’ll need. There are several parking lots to choose from once you reach the shore and all can be productive. Beaches south of Port Canaveral off SR A1A also produce catches and are much more easily accessed. Public parks and dead-end streets in the cities of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach south to Melbourne Beach are fishable.
If you want to experience the famous Mosquito Lagoon, one of the best ways is with a local fishing guide. There are several full-time captains who can safely navigate the shallow waters and have the knowledge to know where the schools are on any given day. In addition to giant Redfish, you’ll also hook up with big Seatrout, Black Drum and other species. Other inshore opportunities are spots on the Indian River from Titusville south to Sebastian Inlet. Productive flats abound and fish hold near them or the drop-offs they create. Dozens of private, residential docks line all shorelines and these can be fished stealthily for Snook as well as Reds and Trout. Just be sure not to hook into anyone private property or make a nuisance of yourself. There’s plenty of water out here, so if you see a boat on a flat, give them some space, don’t crowd them. And never run a flat to try to scare up a school! Your prop scars in the seagrass can take years to recover.
Another inshore destination is the Banana River. The northern section, north of Port Canaveral and the SR 528 Beachline Expressway is a designated “No Motor Zone”. That means north of the power lines that run east to west across the river, you cannot have a prop on your boat! Also, you cannot make landfall on either the west or east shoreline as they are the property of Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. No trolling motors either, nothing with a prop! You have to paddle, push-pole or sail. But because of the effort involved, the fish here see little pressure from anglers. Huge Black Drum are plentiful as are the usual suspects, Reds, Trout and Snook. The southern part of the Banana, near Cocoa Beach down to Patrick Air Force Base has many flats and spoil islands to target. The Thousand Islands near the Cocoa Beach Country Club have many points and small bays to find fish as well.
For those with deep-sea dreams, head to Port Canaveral with its offshore fishing fleet. A good beginner’s trip would be on one of the party- or head-boats such as the Ocean Obsession or the Miss Cape Canaveral. Half-day trips start at about $60 to $70 and include bait, tackle, license, lunch and drinks. There are also many “six-pack” charters for up to six anglers for a larger fee. But these boats’ captains and mates are dedicated to finding you that trophy catch. Some specialize in bottom fishing while others troll for the pelagic species. Some even make the long trip to the “Other Side” of the Gulf Stream for Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish and Mahi-Mahi. Other deep-sea captains are based near Sebastian Inlet, in the southern part of the Space Coast, who traverse it to get to The Cones and other deep structure that hold fish offshore down there.
Wherever you choose to wet your line in the saltwater of the Space Coast, you are sure to enjoy your day catching!