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Fishing in the Barge Canal near the Banana River, Florida

Banana River's Barge Canal Fishing

Trips and Guide Service on Florida's East Coast

Friday June 22, 2018

The barge canal was built as a commercial transportation corridor between Port Canaveral (the Atlantic Ocean) and the Intracoastal Waterway known locally as the Indian River Lagoon. It's main purpose was the transportation of crude oil from offshore oil tankers via barges across Merritt Island to power plants on the Indian River Lagoon.  A lock system was provided by the Army Corp of Engineers to allow safe navigation and deter shoaling and tidal flow in the narrow passageway in the west end of Port Canaveral.

Merritt Island became populated with the construction of the Kennedy Space Center and the "Space Race" in the 1960's and 70's. Prior to 1950 the area was sparsely populated and considered one of the best places to grow citrus and pineapple although it was mosquito ridden and swampy in many locations. Evidently the sandy portions of North Merritt Island were fabulous for growing the world famous Indian River Citrus Fruit.

The construction of a barge canal to the Intracoastal Waterway from the Atlantic Ocean cut off the northern half of the Island for many years and to this day remains more rural than the central and southern parts. State road 3 or Courtenay Parkway now connects the two halves of the island together again and has been widened to four lanes. The small towns of Merritt Island vanished with the coming of the Space Age, towns like Georgiana, Courtenay, Tropic, Fairyland, Orsino, Angel City, Wilson, Lotus, Shiloh, and Indianola now only live on in the names of streets and historic churches. At one time the Guinness Book of World Records claimed that Merritt Island was the largest unincorporated city at around 60,000 during the 1970's and remains unincorporated today.

Barge Canal on Merritt Island Florida

Today's barge canal offers some fishing for the dedicated angler looking to go far into the manatee zone in search of game fish. Because it's a navigation channel between to fairly busy bodies of water, there is no vast clear shallow water and grass beds for fish to forage on. However there are times when the fish will congregate and travel in this corridor between the Indian and Banana River lagoons and it can have it's moments, like many of the saltwater canals and inshore waters on Florida's coastlines.

Lagooner Fishing Guides do not regularly take people into the barge canal for fishing trips. However rumors of a fish bight or schools of red fish, sea trout or snook may bring us deep into the canal in search of elusive game fish from time-to-time.

Points of Interest on the Barge Canal

Traveling from east to west along the the barge canal you will immediately notice various boat yards and junky looking marine scrapyards on the south side. Further into the waterway you'll discover Harbortown Marina also on the south side even further the Sea Ray boat immediately east of State Road 3. Dining and docking is provided by Harbontown Marina and the food is well liked by many locals.

In the shadow of the SR3 drawbridge (Christa McAuliffe Bridge) you see the ruins of the once popular Tingley's Fish Camp where weekly mullet fries and dining where common place into the 1970's. Once a popular fishing destination, this has become a ghost town as the Manatee Restrictions prohibited the business from flourishing.

Fishing destination and waterway on the Banana River Lagoon near Merritt Island, Florida and the Indian River Lagoon.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

Author Captain Richard Bradley

Captain Richard Bradley is the author and contributor for many of the articles written on the Lagooner website. Richard is a professional fishing guide, taking anglers in his native waters near the Banana and Mosquito Lagoons on Florida's central east coast almost three hundred trips seasonally. When not charter fishing, Captain Richard enjoys time with his family surfing, fishing, camping and various other outdoor activities.

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