The inshore waters along the Space and Treasure Coast inched up to the 70-degree mark around the second week of March and the bite turned on. Many species began to move out of the deeper holes and channels and began to feed at the edge of the flats. By the time this issue hits mailboxes, the water temperatures should be closer to 75 degrees, barring any more late-season winter fronts. This will put all species up and on the flats during rising water periods.Tournament season is underway. The Back Country Circuit sponsored by the Florida Flats Fishing Association headed up by my good friend, Capt. Jeff Brauer, had 49 teams sign this season. Part of the attraction is the updated “Paddlers” division, which allows the fishermen who wish to participate a “Catch, Photo & Release” option. As in the past, there will be eight sanctioned tournaments and two junior angler events. Don’t let the tournament anglers scare you away from fishing one of the events; you need not be a member to participate. Please check out www.myflfa.com for further details.Here’s the skinny:Inshore: I just love this time of year. The springtime fronts have passed, the winds have become fairly predictable and the afternoon, summertime showers have yet to start. You can spend all day on the flats and boating 100 fish per trip is commonplace. Everything seems to move out of their deep wintering holes and spend their days amongst the eelgrass and sand potholes. Don’t be afraid of throwing your favorite topwater plug at high noon on the partly cloudy days. If the fish become finicky, just remember the old saying: It’s like having an afternoon BBQ of hamburgers and hotdogs. When someone shows up with a pizza, it can be a game changer. Dig into the bottom of that tackle bag and break out some of those older topwaters, suspending lures and soft plastics at anytime. You never know whether it’s hotdog or pizza time!The smaller tarpon will begin to show up in the creeks, inlets and turning basins in the area. When targeting them, don’t forget your DNA sampling kit (free of charge) which can be found at www.myfwc.com. Just follow the link to apply.Offshore: The cobia bite started around the first week of March with the springtime migration of the larger manta rays. When the winds were blowing out of the west, it seems like every type of boat, including one surfer with his spinning rod, was hooking up on these monsters. During this time of the year, the pods have broken up and the cobes have moved to the deeper reefs and wrecks.The month of May on our coast means the start of the dolphin run. First to show up will be the smaller “schoolies” with their larger cousins arriving later in the summer. Free swimmers can always be found, but look for the sargassum weed lines or other flotsam that will offer baitfish both cover and concealment.For you bottom and spear fishermen, please make yourself familiar with the ever changing possession rules on snapper and grouper that include both state and federal waters. Band the Slam: This year’s eighth annual South Brevard Ducks Unlimited “Band the Slam” Inshore Classic will be held on Friday, June 3rd and Saturday, June 4th, 2011. Squid Lips will again be hosting the event on the docks of the restaurant. There will be 18 payouts this season totaling $6,000 in cash and merchandise to include a “Catch–Photo-Release” category for the paddlers. Raffles, silent and live auctions will take place on both days and you do not need to fish to participate. Cost is $60 for adults and children 15 and under fish free with a paying adult. Ducks Unlimited, the largest conservation organization in North America, averages 86 percent of its yearly funds going directly back to purchasing, preserving and conserving our disappearing wetlands. Please contact my cell phone at 321-863-9182 for additional information.See you on the boat or in the blind.
Capt. Jeff Kraynik is the owner/operator of The Coastal Sportsmen and for the past 26 years has fished and hunted the Palm Bay/Sebastian/Vero Beach areas of the Indian River Lagoon. The Coastal Sportsmen and crew specialize in personalized light-tackle saltwater flats fishing, waterfowl and alligator hunts. Capt. Jeff is an IGFA certified guide and a guide in good standing with CCA/Florida. Capt. Jeff is a pro-staff fisherman for Hurricane “Redbone” Rods, PowerPro Lines, Riptide Lures and Albakore Tackle Systems. “From the grassflats to the mudflats and everywhere in between.”Contact Info: Capt. Jeff “The Commodore” KraynikThe Coastal Sportsmen(p) 321 863-9182(w) coastalsportsmen.com(e) firstname.lastname@example.org(Facebook) captjeffkraynik