Redfish – These ‘Copper-Clad Gladiators’ seem to be genetically engineered just for the pleasure of the inshore angler. Redfish are willing adversaries off every coastal region of mainland Florida. In the northern area of the Indian River Lagoon the redfish are “world class” size with many fish over 50 inches long weighing over 30 pounds! Readily identified by their ventral mouth, eyespots at the base of the tail, reddish coppery hue and rust colored side and lower fins, they range from the Gulf of Maine to South Florida and westward in the Gulf of Mexico to northern Mexico.
Snook – This awesome fish is the “salt water” version of the largemouth bass”. Snook fishing can be addicting and is perhaps the most popular inshore species in our area. Snook are a fish that will use any tactic to win, even going so far as pull a knife! This brings us to the one drawback to this brawler – the razor-sharp blades on the cheek plates. These pointed blades will readily slice line, necessitating short fluorocarbon leaders of at least 40-80 pound test.
Tarpon -“The silver king” are deep bodied fish commonly found in coastal and inshore waters throughout the Indian River Lagoon. These amazing fish have cruised warm water seas since the era when dinosaurs ruled the planet. These fish just may be the ultimate gamefish as their ability to jump and take off on long runs are second to none. Tarpon can be caught a variety of ways including fly fishing, lures and our favorite – live bait.
Goliath Grouper – A true giant of a fish and largest of all the groupers. Goliath Grouper have been federally protected for many years but now anglers are allowed up to one fish (click here for new regulations). The largest of all the groupers, the state and world record is 680 pounds and was caught just up the coast a bit in Jacksonville Florida. Did you know? All Goliath Groupers begin life as female but become male as they mature. The average female reaches about 4.6 feet and carries millions of eggs each year. These grouper were almost hunted and fished into extinction but now are very plentiful in our area.
Black Drum – cousins to the redfish, black drum range all throughout the Indian River Lagoon from shallow water to offshore and everywhere in between. It is common for these fish to take both live and dead bait, making them popular with all types of anglers, including fly fishermen. Common foods include oysters, crabs, shrimp and small bait fish. The Florida record is a 96-pound black drum fish. They tend to get large in our area and the average size fish is in the the 15- to 30-pound range. Smaller black drum are known as “puppy drum” and average about five to 10 pounds.