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A good run.

From Daytona to Sebastian, all eyes will be on the inshore Atlantic starting in mid-October as the fall baitfish run kicks into high gear. Mullet will be leading the parade south. The possible catch list goes like this: kingfish, cobia, tarpon, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, big jacks, sharks and no doubt a lot of bonito. In addition to the silver and black mullet we'll have pods of menhaden (pogies) and hopefully some good patches of glass minnows still hanging around.

It'll be a good bet to slow troll live baits around the pods of pogies and mullet for the heavyweight kingfish in excess of 35 pounds. Areas to consider are along the Canaveral National Seashore south of Ponce Inlet all the way to Playalinda Beach, then south from the Port Canaveral buoy line, past the Cocoa Beach Pier to areas off Patrick AFB. Those out of Sebastian Inlet will find smaller, 20- to 30-pound kings inshore near to the beach from first light until mid morning after which they'll move out to deeper water. Anywhere you see Spanish mackerel flipping on the surface there's the possibility of the bigger kings, particularly early in the day. A mackerel is smackin' good to a smoker kingfish.

Clean water is necessary for finding the fall kingfish, so if there's big swells from a late-sea son storm, it can be a wash. Everything inshore will be a wash for that matter until the conditions improve.

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It's impossible to predict the numbers of cobia, or how long they'll stay. Keep an ear to the reports and be ready. Where there's cobia the boat ramps are jammed. Cobia are more challenging and more rewarding game in the eyes of many anglers because they sight fish them. What's more they are good eating. Unless you're fishing on one of the reefs, like any of those out of Ponce Inlet and Canaveral, cobia becomes a hunting game. You keep moving and watching until you spot a manta ray, turtle or floating debris and you go to investigate. Cobia and rays travel together frequently, and the fish are drawn to floating objects of all sorts, including boats.

Have your rigs ready, including a rod with a live bait in a live well. If a cobia refuses your brightly colored jig, offer up the live bait. Cobia don't do well when they're pressured, and that can be the case when the crowds are fishing. If all else fails, spend the money on some live eels. Good-size cobia in the 40- to 50-pound range usually are part of the fall run and the best light conditions to seeing them will be between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Tarpon are drawn tight to the beaches, a time when surf casters throwing large plugs score their best hookup rates of the year. Needless to say, few are beached, but when they are they need to be released immediately.

Boaters stand the better chance of scoring a release. Two of the better areas will be the Canaveral Bight, immediately north of Port Canaveral, which was outlined in this section last month, and the deeper surf zones south of Melbourne Beach and all the way past Vero Beach. Like the cobia, the tarpon must be located, generally around the mullet schools, and for sure around concentrations of glass minnows. You wouldn't think the little 2-inch glass minnows would be targeted forage for fish the size of tarpon. Not until you see tarpon moving through a pod of glass minnows with their gaping mouths wide open are you a believer.

HUNTING Changes are in store for duck hunters this season at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge east of Titusville. During November, December and January limited entry-quota permits will be required for areas 1 and 4. New quota permit fees will increase from $15 to $25 each, plus a $2.50 administrative fee. The $5 application fee is cancelled. Internal combustion engines will be restricted to the outside perimeter impoundment ditches at all times. Push poles, paddles and electric motors can be used inside the perimeter ditches. Prior to leaving the refuge, all hunters must report their hunting activities at one of the two check stations.

* BEST BET

EAST CENTRAL

We're coming up on flounder season at Sebastian Inlet. Be thinking about the second or third week in November, and if we get an early cold front, so much the better. That little drop in the water temperature in the Indian River will trigger the start of the flounder migration offshore to spawn. While there is ample room to fish from shore, a boat is a definite advantage because you can maneuver to different areas. Most boaters stay west of the State Road A1A Bridge. Use live finger mullet on sliding-sinker "flounder rigs," and adjust the sinker weight according to the amount of tide.
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Title Annotation:EAST CENTRAL
Author:Sargent, Bill
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Nov 1, 2016
Words:811
Previous Article:A wooly wilderness.
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