Merritt Island

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Fishing in Merritt Island

A Merritt Island fishing adventure on Florida’s Space Coast offers plenty of action for families and experienced anglers alike. Not only is it surrounded by the Atlantic, it’s also home to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a hotspot for a ton of inshore species.

If it’s backcountry saltwater fishing you’re after, this is where you want to be. The Indian River, Mosquito, and Banana River Lagoon make up the Refuge and are home to a diverse ecosystem of mangrove shorelines, shallow grass flats, and creeks. As a result, it’s one of Florida’s best Redfish, Snook, Seatrout, and Tarpon fisheries! If offshore fishing is more your game, there’s plenty of Cobia, Mahi Mahi, and Sailfish to hook in the productive Atlantic.

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge spans over 140,000 acres. There are tons of accessible areas to cover, so if you’ve got the time for a full day trip, go for it. If there’s a specific fish or area you’d like to explore, a half day trip is just as productive. Big game fishing in the Atlantic really gets going between 10 and 30 miles out, so make sure to account for travel time when choosing your trip.

There are several boat ramps in the Refuge, which provide easy access to productive inshore fishing grounds. For offshore trips, you’ll likely head out of Cape Canaveral, located about a 20-minute drive away.
 

Rules & Regulations

If you’re fishing in the Refuge make sure to book with a captain who has an annual Commercial Permit. You’ll also need to sign a self-issuing permit that you can print out online. There are quite a few regulations to be aware of when fishing here, so it’s worth reading the government issued guidelines before heading out. 

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Merritt Island Fishing Seasons

January

Inshore, it’s all about Black Drum and Sheepshead. Looking for bigger fish? No problem! The offshore waters are teeming with Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Tuna.

February

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is the place to be for monster Redfish and Black Drum. You could even end up with some Snook! If you get hit with bad weather, head over to the Kennedy Space Center for a tour.

March

The water's heating up and so is the inshore fishing! Hook Redfish, Snook, and Seatrout in the waters surrounding the Refuge. Nearshore, the Cobia bite is on fire.

April

The inshore bite continues to impress and this time, it’s all about Snook. For action in deeper waters, troll for your share of Mahi Mahi and Cobia.

May

Seatrout and Jacks provide non-stop action inshore and the Mahi Mahi bite doesn’t disappoint offshore. The annual Merritt Island “Hook Kids On Fishing” event takes place and is a great way to get youngsters familiar with sustainable fishing practices.

June

It’s Snapper and Grouper season so get out your bottom fishing gear! The bite is hot across the board and everybody knows it. Book early to ensure you end up with the dates and trips you want.

July

It’s peak Tarpon fishing season and you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to land Florida’s most famous fish. Kingfish come closer to the shore than usual and offshore it’s all about Sailfish and Wahoo.

August

Beat the heat and the crowds by getting out early to fish for your limits. The Kingfish bite is hot and you’ve still got a shot at hooking Mahi Mahi offshore. 

September

Snook season opens up again! These hard-fighting fish are a Florida favorite and right now, the bite is hot. There’s also plenty of Redfish, Seatrout, and Black Drum to keep things even more exciting.

October

The crowds have gone home, but the fishing is still killer. Inshore, it’s all about Redfish and you’re looking at hooking into some seriously big fish. Offshore, we’re heading into prime Sailfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi season.

November

If you haven’t gone on that full day offshore trip yet, now is the time. Sailfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi are all in their prime so get ready for seriously rod-bending action.

December

Take advantage of the King Mackerel invasion in the reefs and offshore! This is some of the most exciting fishing of the year and the action is fast paced and consistent. Inshore Mangrove Snapper and Snook reign supreme. 

Merritt Island Fishing Calendar

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