Tom lived in Cocoa for a year as a restaurant manager and learned a few tricks for catching fish out of Port Canaveral. He had a small aluminum skiff and a ten horse motor that, on some days, could be found taking him four or five miles offshore following the buoy line.
This time of year is when the triple tail begin showing up. They have a curious habit of floating on their side on the surface of the water, looking almost dead as they drift with the current. I remember my first encounter with a triple tail in East Cape Canal out of Flamingo back in the '60s. We were tied to a mangrove and several large, black, bream shaped fish came drifting by with the outgoing tide. Only after I tried to net one did I realize that they were not dead.
Since that time, I find triple tail in a variety of place, all of which have some type of structure positioned in open water. It could be a crab trap float, a piece of wood flotsam, or in the case of Port Canaveral, the buoy line. Any type of structure will attract them. At Flamingo, a number of the small stakes that mark channels and cuts will have a triple tail hanging around them.
Tom ran out from the Port and immediately found some triple tail hovering around the sea buoys. He was able to boat four and lost one that he could not turn on 8 pound line. They were hitting bucktail jigs tipped with shrimp, live shrimp, and even a greenie or two.
To show you what the Port can be like, he also ran into a school of bonito, all of them around 3-4 pounds, and all of them tearing up the surface and chasing bait as far as Tom could see. He wore his arm out catching them on plugs and jigs. The funny part was - they wouldn't hit a live bait!
He caught some greenies (threadfin shad/pilchards - you pick the name) on a Sabiki rig and began slow trolling live bait in search of kingfish. It's still a tad early for the kings to be that close, but he did manage to interest a cobia he estimated at 60 pounds. The fish followed in the prop wash on the surface as Tom trolled. According to Tom, he put every live and artificial bait he had in the boat in front of the cobia and it would not hit any of them. He was definitely following the boat, because when Tom turned, the fished turned to stay with the boat. He stayed with Tom for thirty minutes or so before finally moving off, still uninterested in eating anything Tom had to offer.
This was one day at the Port. There will be many more to come, and as the water warms, the fishing there will only get better. Snook are showing up, and at night the sites and sounds of monster snook busting a school of mullet in the well-lit port can make you heart pound.
A trip to the Port is easy if you come to Florida. Heading south on I-95, simply exit east on the Beeline Expressway. A five minute drive on the Beeline east takes you directly to the port where multiple tackle shops can fill your every need. Excellent ramps and free wash down facilities make it one of the most popular departure points on Florida's East Coast, so be prepared for a crowd if you are there on a weekend. Give it a try and let me know how you do! As for my son, I'm buying him several throw-away cameras to keep on his boat so you can see some pictures. As for living proof, I ate it tonight - baked tripletail with tomatoes, onions, lemon, mushrooms, and heavy cream. He needs to go back and get some more!