Located less than an hour drive from Disney and the Orlando theme parks, Port Canaveral offers anglers additional fishing options for their outdoor fishing adventures. Located on Florida’s east central coast between the Kennedy Space Center to the north and Cocoa Beach and the City of Cape Canaveral to the south, Port Canaveral provides anglers with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and a number of year round near-shore and offshore fishing opportunities. Like most of Central Florida’s coastal fisheries, species targeted are influenced by seasonal migrations of baitfish and pelagic species as well as ocean conditions and water temperatures.
During the winter and spring, blustery frontal winds can make sea conditions challenging, so anglers need to pay close attention to the weather and take advantage of the nice days with fishable conditions. During the winter water temperatures in the Atlantic out of Port Canaveral can reach into the 50’s and 60’s near-shore, but the warm Gulf Stream currents flowing north less than 20 miles offshore of the Port will gradually warm up the water as you venture out, with kingfish and reef fish available on the near-shore reefs like 8A and pelican Flats. Other species available near-shore during the winter are tripletail on flotsam and the Port Canaveral buoy line and flounder, pompano, whiting, black drum and redfish in and around the Port.
As spring progresses and water temperatures reach the 68 degree mark, baitfish schools return to shallow water and a migration of cobia pass through our coastal waters heading north. This migration is extremely popular with local anglers and typically happens near the end of February and beginning of March. We also experience good tripletail fishing this time of year. Both of these species produce excellent sight fishing opportunities and are typically targeted using 20-pound class tackle. As we approach the summer, larger concentrations of baitfish begin to move in close to the beach marking the return of larger bonita and large jack cravelle.
Summer is the best time to fish in the Atlantic Ocean out of smaller boats as the seas settle down and tropical species like tarpon return to our coastal waters. During the summer months it is not uncommon to jump tarpon in the 100 to 150 pound range with large jacks, bonito and kingfish also in the mixed. It is difficult to sight fish tarpon in our region as water clarity due to a larger shore break make seeing the fish under water difficult. The technique we typically use is either free lining or slow trolling live baitfish, or pitching live bait to rolling fish.
Unlike most of the continental United States, Florida actually has a fifth season. Hurricane Season can affect our sea conditions even if the summer squalls are 200 miles offshore, but they are easy track and not much of a threat unless they move in close to coastal regions.
Summer is great, but fall is better when it comes to near-shore fishing off of Florida east central coast. As our days grow shorter and water temperatures begin to cool, migrating baitfish like the silver mullet pass through our area on their way south for the winter, and hungry predator stage in ambush location to take advantage of the opportunity to fatten up for the winter. If you hit the mullet run right, it is not uncommon to catch a different species of fish on every cast. This is also a great time to target trophy redfish as they form spawning arrogations near the inlet passes and tarpon following these baitfish schools heading south for the winter..
Captain Tom Van Horn
540 Lake Lenelle Drive
Chuluota, Florida 32766
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