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.


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Florida’s Manatees Get Killed, Scarred, Protected, and Featured on Beer Cans

Anyone who takes a boat trip, or goes fishing in the rivers of Florida will be used to seeing manatees. They like calm, warmer water with lots of food available to munch on. As they swim along (if they are near the surface) they leave a trail on top of the water that looks like big, wide bubbles.  Although they can stay underwater for long periods of time, they must eventually come up for air. Continue reading “Florida’s Manatees Get Killed, Scarred, Protected, and Featured on Beer Cans”

Manatees Playing at Haulover Boat Ramp

manatees haulover canal
Manatees at Haulover Canal

Nick and I took a ride over to the Mims and Titusville area the other day and one place we stopped was the Haulover Canal boat ramp. It’s a much smaller place than I thought, with only one ramp, but a nice trailer parking area. We walked out on the metal dock and that is where we watched the manatees play.

It was hot so we didn’t stay long, but the small bay area, where the boats launch and dock, was full of manatees. The water is brown and murky (brackish) but the manatees could be seen breaking the surface, splashing and rolling around. I got a short 30 second video – it was too bright for me to easily see what I was filming.  It was also really hot – did I say that?

The boats go very slow in this little bay, so the manatees just move out of the way when they hear the motors. We drove over the bridge and went to the eastern side of the canal where there is a “Manatee Watching Deck” and didn’t see any manatees there. The boat dock was the best place to see them. (The observation area had port-o-potties, fyi.)

The Haulover Canal is a channel for boats to go between the Indian River, on the west, and Mosquito Lagoon, to the east. Both are wide open bodies of water. The canal is part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. On the opposite side from the boat launching area is a long dirt road. We traveled down to the end and saw cars stopped and little camps set up where people were fishing along the canal. At the end was an area to put in canoes and kayaks. This is the view from the end of that road which looks out into the Indian River lagoon, which is a huge area.

Haulover canal, Indian river lagoon
Indian River Lagoon

This is an aerial view of the area we visited. Click the picture below which takes you to the public boat ramp page.

aerial view of haulover canal
Aerial view of this area – click to view the page at Florida Fish and Wildlife public boat ramp finder

I can’t wait to have a boat so we can check out this area from the water!

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