This is East Central Florida’s fabled No Motor Zone, 10,600 acres of water nestled in the Banana River, east of the Indian River Lagoon. It was established in 1990 to protect the manatee population. Merritt Island forms the west bank of the N.M.Z.; the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is the barrier from the Atlantic Ocean.
Spoil the reed and spare the fish. Let’s face it. Dropping even the smallest anchor in a tidal creek or wilderness canal can turn off the fish. Whether it’s the splash, or simply because fish sense your presence, they can be frightened by anchors, particularly in tight quarters.
How would you handle fishing for one particular kind of fish, hundreds of miles from home, on a random calendar date? What would be your strategy? What resources might you use? What tackle would you bring?These are the kinds of questions tournament fishermen routinely answer.
If Stephen Foster had known about the Econlockhatchee, or Econ, the lyrics to his famous song may have been different.
The Econ doesn’t come up in discussions of great Florida fishing waters. Fishing the Econ is usually a lovely day on the water with a few beautiful fish thrown in. It can be better than that, but you really can’t expect it to be.
Right here in Florida, the fisheries lab at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), in Fort Lauderdale, has emerged as a fountain of useful research into blackfin tuna. Under the direction of Assistant Professor Dr. David Kerstetter, three research papers have contributed much to the scientific and common understanding of the species’ habitat, growth and reproduction.
When you hear the word bass, most think of sparkly boats, baitcasters and big tournament payouts. But for fisherman in South Florida, the peacock bass is the staple in the local freshwater systems. With their aggressive eats, strong runs and beautiful colors, these fish have become prized gamefish.
The first time I live chummed offshore I had my angler standing beside me with a fly in the water waiting for a fish to cast at, only to have a 15-pound bonito make an arrival that just about ripped the rod out of his hand. There was no need to set the hook, as all his concentration and strength went into retaining possession of the rod as the fish dumped the 8-weight well into the backing.
Find a dark, stagnant pool or stream tucked way back in a mangrove swamp and there’s a good chance you’ll spot little silver fish rolling at the surface. Odds are they are tarpon, very small ones, only 1 to 3 feet long, and they are gulping air—a survival tactic that enables these fish to survive in habitats that repel most others.
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