Haulover Canal, located in north Brevard County, is a manmade cut between the Indian River and the Mosquito Lagoon. In 1884, when the canal was blasted out of coquina rock to provide a link between the two water bodies and throughout the late 1800s; the canal was an important waterway for steamboats and paddle wheelers. Today Haulover Canal, located just northeast of Titusville, has become known as one of the best protected fishing hotspots in all of East Central Florida.
The canal countours quickly from the bank to 10 foot or more depths and provides a home to “bull redfish”, black drum, grouper, “gator” seatrout, snook, sheepshead, and mangrove snapper. It is also home for dozens of sea manatees that feed on the lush grass beds in the area. A slow speed, no wake zone, is in effect throughout the waterway which makes it pleasant for bank fishermen as well as the manatees.
Many people fish Haulover Canal year round because of the protection it affords anglers from the wind, and all the fish it holds in the coquina rock ledges. The submerged trees and stumps along the edge of the canal provide cover for small “puppy drum”, sheepshead, trout and snook.
There is almost always a current flowing through the canal, that is generated by the wind moving water from either the Indian River, or the Mosquito Lagoon. A negligible current from Ponce Inlet, far to the north, can occasionally be detected when no wind is present; but there is no measurable current in either of the lagoon systems to speak of.
Some of the largest “bull” redfish and black drum in the area are caught in the canal on cut baits, blue crab, or live pinfish drifted along the bottom. Bank fishermen use the same baits with surf rods and enough weight to hold bottom with excellent results. You never know what you are going to catch in Haulover Canal. Haulover Canal is also a shrimping hotspot during the summer nights when the current is moving.
The shrimp are swept through the cut, and boaters anchored near shore, equipped with underwater lights and dip nets, can load up 5 gal. bucket limit of “jumbo” shrimp in a hurry, when the conditions are favorable. The abundance of shrimp also triggers the snook and “gator” sea trout bite.
At night you can hear the trout and snook smacking the surface in their feeding frenzies, and more often than not a manatee will surprise you with a friendly visit. Although night bank fishing is prohibited in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, night time boating and shrimping is allowed. A special free, self issuing, Refuge Sport Fishing Permit is required by everyone fishing or shrimping in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
It outlines the special fishing regulations applicable for the area and can be download online, or you can get it at boat ramps and refuge entrances, in the Fishing Maps & Regulations Brochure. The popular Bairs Cove boat ramp is located on the southwest side of Haulover Canal, is open 24 hours a day, and offers convenient access to both the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. With April almost gone, and May just around the corner, you can expect some outstanding fishing opportunities in Central Florida’s Haulover Canal.