The Indian River – Fishing and Manatees

In October some friends came to visit and we went fishing on the Indian River. The water was exceptionally clear that day and we could easily see manatees near the boat.

We all enjoyed the beautiful weather and the fishing was pretty good.

Where is the Indian River?

I often write about being out on the Indian River. So, where is the Indian River? It is part of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) that runs up the eastern side of Florida. In my (central east coast Florida) area it is named the Indian River. A bit further south, part of the river branches out by Merritt Island and the Space Center and that part is named the Banana River. Here is a good map of the area.

The river is salt water, or brackish, which is a mix of salt and fresh. We only live about two miles from the local boat ramps. This is the main area we go when we travel by boat. Our part of the Indian River is actually designated as “north” and is part of the Mosquito Lagoon area. The Indian River is also referred to as a lagoon: Indian River Lagoon.

The area is known for it’s abundance of fish and sea life specifically bottlenose dolphin and manatees. We see lots of dolphin while boating, but only see manatee when the water is warm.

This area of the river can be a nursery for fish until they grow and migrate offshore. Whenever we fish in the river, our catches are usually small in size, and are released back into the water. However, some fish hang out in the river once they have become large. We’ve caught good size Redfish, Jack Crevalle, and trout. The Snapper is usually very small as they move offshore to grow large. Offshore fisherman catch some really nice snapper. An old friend of ours runs a fishing charter business out of Jupiter if you like offshore fishing.

The only parts of the river and lagoon that are deep are the dredged parts which allow for large boats to travel it like a highway. This can make for some very big waves at times! Well, big if you are in a small boat like ours.


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Early Boating Day to Beat the Thunderheads

We’ve been getting rain like a monsoon lately but finally we got in an early day of boating to beat the thunderheads. We were on the water by ten in the morning, which is early for us. My son is not an early riser. With the chance of rain nearly always possible, we hoped to get a few hours in.

After riding around for a bit my son dropped me at an island beach while he went across the river to fish.

island view
The Island

Today the place was deserted. It was a Thursday so not surprising. I walked the beach looking for treasure in the form of seashells but found nothing – except for the one broken and partially buried shell right in front of the boat landing.

broken knobbed whelk treasure buried in the sand
Broken knobbed whelk shell

Most people would probably pass on collecting this shell, but I rarely find shells this size, even if they are broken. I’ve never found a live knobbed whelk snail. In fact, knobbed whelk shells in any form are a rare find here.

This marine snail makes a beautiful shell, and I found a stunning specimen a while ago just off this very island, in roughly the same place. It contained a big hermit crab, but I got some photos before putting it back into the water. That shell was tan in color with a shiny exterior. It is still one of my favorite finds.

The knobbed whelk is a hefty shell so this one had done a lot of rolling around in the water to break it up or possibly it was broken by a boat. Boats often pull up to this island. There was absolutely no place for a hermit crab to hide inside. I brought it home and cleaned it up.

The tide was going out but the water was very murky and brown. It was not at all inviting. The beach held no other treasures so I texted my son and he came back to pick me up and we moved on.

Encrusted Horse Conch

We headed into a little bay area that has a lot of shallow spots. I was looking for a place to get out and dip into the 83 degree water to cool off a bit. We pulled up to this little beach area.

Little beach
Little beach where I found the horse conch shell

I hopped off the boat here only to see a nice size, yet juvenile, horse conch shell moving along the bottom. I t had a hermit crab inside, but I got some photos of this beauty. The sand was very soft and sucked at my feet, so not a good place to take a dip. We moved on into Oyster Bay.

Into the Bay

Heading a little further into the backwaters there is a big shallow area. Here the water was only a foot or two deep. We were able to get out and float while keeping hold of the boat so it didn’t drift away. As I mentioned the water was pretty brown and I mostly worry about stingrays.

shallow area where we got out to swim

I think this area of the lagoon is called Oyster Bay because it is very shallow with lots of oyster beds. Oyster shells are very sharp and can harm boats. It’s also easy to get a fishing line caught on the shells, so we don’t go in here much. I did find a huge, living horse conch in this area one time.

We’d been keeping an eye on the sky all day because the line of clouds over land and over the ocean could build and move in our direction.

Keeping an Eye on The Clouds

We made it in before the storm reached us, but you never know. Florida storms can have lots of lightning so we don’t take any chances. We had a good four hours out on the water, which was nice.

Big Barge On The Indian River (ICW)

When my daughter and her fiancé were visiting we were out boating on the Indian River. This is part of the Intracoastal Waterway along the eastern, central part of Florida.

A big barge passed us by and I got these photos. We never know what we might see while out on the water!

  • Big barge going past on the Indian River
  • Big barge going past on the Indian River
  • Big barge going past on the Indian River
  • Big barge going past on the Indian River
  • Big barge going past on the Indian River

Read Recent Posts

Pretty Gray Banded Tulip Shell

A quick little share of this pretty gray banded tulip shell found on a recent boating trip. Read more shelling stories on the blog

%d bloggers like this: