Florida State Road 520 (SR 520) is a 35 mile east–west state highway in central Florida, United States, connecting the Orlando area with Cocoa and Cocoa Beach, ending at State Road A1A in the world famous Cocoa Beach.
Over the rivers and thru the woods to the Banana River is where I go explains the excited angler as he approaches Florida's eastern coastline on State Road 520 on his way to the fertile fishing grounds. Leaving Orlando on this state road from highway 50 you'll notice the woods grow thick before approaching the St John's River and into the struggling community of Cocoa (not to be mistook for Cocoa Beach). Passing thru Cocoa and crossing the Indian River Lagoon on the Hubert Humphrey bridge, you'll discover Merritt Island, it's shopping and restaurant district before crossing the small relief bridge over Newfound Harbor between Merritt Island's Tropical Trail and Newfound Harbor Drive or Horti Point to the east. Quickly afterwards you'll be rewarded with the sight of the beautiful Banana River Lagoon and the western shores of Cocoa Beach and it's Thousand Islands to the south.
"I was taught in my childhood that Merritt Island was shaped like a tooth with two distinct roots, one long westerly point (Tropical Trail to Dragon Point) and one short easterly point (Horti Point). Between the points is Newfound Harbor and cutting into the tooth from between the roots is Sykes Creek." Explains Captain Richard Bradley of Lagooner Fishing Guides. If you look at the map on this page you'll see that the upper part of Merritt Island is dedicated to Kennedy Space Center with a large residential population in the central and southern portions. Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge makes up most of the remaining land on the North end of the island.
Merritt Island's recent history dates back into the mid-19th century and centers on the growth of citrus, stressing the cultivation of pineapples and oranges. The Indian River oranges and grapefruit come from this sandy area surrounded by lagoons on every side.
The Island grew in the 1950s and 1960s as the Space Race began and nearby NASA expanded. Construction of a barge canal to the Intra coastal Waterway from the Atlantic Ocean (for power plant oil shipments) cut off the northern half of the island for many years and to this day it remains slightly less developed with few areas remaining cattle pasture or citrus land. The small towns on the island vanished with the coming of the Space Age, and now only live on in the names of streets and historic churches.
The town of Cocoa Beach was established in 1925 and has flourished as a sleepy bedroom beach community since with many of the residence seeming to like it that way. The only commercial activity seem to be the surf shop war between the Ron Jon Surf Shop and the adjacent Cocoa Beach Surf Shop at the end of SR 520 on A1A. Most of Cocoa Beach is comprised of residential neighborhoods, small shops, businesses and restaurants. In the last decade or so Cocoa Beach purchase or annexed the Thousand Islands (a habitat of natural and spoil islands) scattered in the Banana River Lagoon with no plans to develop, only to maintain their elegance. The best way to experience the Thousand Islands is either taking a tourist boat ride, a guided fishing charter, by canoe, kayak or perhaps a Stand Up Paddle board. There are many available and can be found on this site or Captain Gina's web site, the guided fishing trip is of coarse our specialty.
"Bloody 520" is a popular nickname for the 22-mile (35 km) stretch of SR 520 between its western terminus and Interstate 95, with numerous fatalities occurring on this stretch. From 2002 to 2007, the Florida Department of Transportation widened the entire stretch to four lanes and the roads have become much safer, but we encourage our anglers to traverse the easier and direct route on SR 528.
Living near the Banana River all my life and traversing State Road 520 on nearly a daily basis, I've been fortunate enough to see the beautiful lagoon that's become my home waters more often than not.
Early morning trips transporting the kids to school over the lagoon while my husband Captain Richard is periodically fishing the same waters with his customers is just part of my daily grind. What am I talking about? Daily Grind?! The times I spend in my native island homeland looking at the clear waterways are healing and good for my soul and knowing that my family has these experiences with me shows me that we're living in exactly the right place during the 21st century in America.
You need to come experience the same soul searching and healing experience that we do and come fishing on the Banana River Lagoon... Give me a call and we'll show you what this part of Florida is all about!
-Capt Gina Bradley
Lagooner Fishing Charters
To find out more information about taking a fishing guide service on the Banana River Lagoon, please at (321) 868-4953 or fill out the request form above and Lagooner Fishing Guides will be prompt to respond.
The easiest access for launching boats and demarcation on the Banana River Lagoon is at Brevard County's Kelly Park located directly off of SR 528 approximately 35 minutes from the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Go to our maps page and get detailed directions to the nearest boat launches on the Banana River Lagoon.
Banana River Boat Ramp
2550 North Banana River Drive
Merritt Island, FL 32952
Here we go! It's September and the Banana River is cooling down and the fall mullet run will start. It's a great time to fish the Banana because the fish are looking to get those extra calories before the winter sets in. Food is plentiful and so ar the gamefish during September so count on good numbers of fish and a mix of several species. Redfish, snook, sea trout and tarpon along with jacks, ladyfish and sharks on the Banana River Lagoon as we approach start the fall. The winds tend to try and pickup in September, but it's often mild and calm for days and sometimes longer. Look for the early morning and late evening bite to be the best and then things to be slower in the mid-day.