WHAT TO DO & WHERE TO GO WITH YOUR PONTOON BOAT RENTAL FROM
VERO TACKLE & WATERSPORTS
Renting a pontoon boat is an excellent choice when you’re looking to have a fun-filled day on the water – without all the hassle of transporting, storing, or maintaining your own vessel. Boating on the Indian River Lagoon is an exciting experience with lots of opportunities for sightseeing, island exploration, fishing, and riverside dining
No matter what else you choose to do on the water, you can count on seeing lots of Florida flora and fauna along the way. The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most biodiverse estuaries in all of North America, and more than 4,000 species of plants and animals call this waterway home.
Wonderful Walking Trees
In addition to the beautiful riverside homes, there are also mangrove trees lining every coast on the lagoon. There are three main species of mangrove trees in Florida, but the one most commonly found on the lagoon is the most iconic: the red mangrove. Colloquially referred to as “walking trees” due to their unique prop root system, these important tropical plants protect the coastline and provide shelter and food to many species of birds, fish, and marine animals like otters and sea turtles.
Magnificent Marine Mammals
Some of Florida’s most famous wildlife live right here in our stretch of the Indian River Lagoon.
As you make your way on your adventures, it’s extremely likely – almost guaranteed – that you will see some of our local dolphin friends. In the Indian River Lagoon, bottle-nose dolphins are the most common dolphin species. These intelligent animals are social creatures who communicate with squawks and whistles, and when living inshore, they typically stay in smaller groups of ten or fewer. They are naturally friendly, playful, and curious, often coming right up to boats to say hello and hang out.
Manatees are more frequently seen in the cooler months, but even during warmer parts of the year, they can usually be spotted in the mornings. These gentle giants feed almost exclusively on seagrasses, spending most of their days leisurely grazing around the lagoon. Keep an eye out for no wake zones – they are posted around manatee habitats and thoroughfares to protect these slow-moving animals from injury and death caused by boat propellers.
Be sure to bring your binoculars! Indian River County is often referred to as a birding paradise. Dozens of birds reside here full time or part time as part of their migration patterns, and the Indian River Lagoon is a great place to see them. Many locations along the river are roosting and nesting hot spots for a variety of bird species, including herons, egrets, ibis, cranes, terns, gulls, and more.
There are plenty of islands to explore when heading north from our docks and spending time between the Merrill P. Barber Bridge and the Wabasso Causeway Bridge (one of our favorite areas!). Some of them are natural, others are islands that formed as a result of human activity, and all of them are superb places to check out and explore.
One of the first islands to be found is Joe Earman Island, which is part of the Lost Tree Islands Conservation Area, a group of naturally formed islands. Joe Earman Island Park features a dock for easy access as well as a small recreation area with walking trails and picnic pavilions, making it a perfect no-fuss option for enjoying some island beauty.
A little further north along the river is another, a much smaller island that also has a dock. Known as IR-25 (or Boat Club Island), this island is a spoil island – that is, it was made with the excess material (spoil) that resulted from dredging activity in the Indian River Lagoon. Despite being artificial, there are very few signs that this island is different from the natural islands. Many of the same plants and animals can be found on the spoil islands.
There are many other islands to visit: Stonewall Island, Lee Island, and Bedford Island, to name a few! These islands are a mix of natural and spoil islands, but what they all have in common is their lack of docks. To set foot on these islands requires a little time and patience to find a suitable place to drop the anchor – one that’s free of rocks and seagrasses. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the tide when anchoring at these islands to avoid getting stranded.
As an honorable mention, Hole In The Wall Island is fun to look at, but it is completely inaccessible by boat. Because of that, there are a lot of wildlife there that appreciate the break from the hustle and bustle of people on the river, so you’ll likely be able to get an inside scoop on the lives of local animals if you look closely.
The Indian River Lagoon is a renowned fishing destination, known primarily for its snook and tarpon. If you don’t have your fishing gear with you, take some time to browse our selection in the Vero Tackle Shop or check out some of our fishing pole rentals. We sell the most popular baits among anglers (and fish!) in this area. Most of the time, live shrimp is going to be your golden ticket to a plentiful day’s catch, but we have a variety of frozen bait options in stock as well.
Fish species in the area vary throughout the year – some based on migration patterns, and others based on changing water temperatures. However, there are several excellent fish that are always waiting to be reeled in. Some of our favorites are Mangrove Snapper, Sheepshead, and Black Drum. It’s likely that you’ll land some Ladyfish and Triple Tail too. Sometimes, Permit and Whiting will get tired of the beach and spend some time in the lagoon, and there’s a small chance you’ll catch a rare Gag Grouper.
Chilly temperatures in nearby regions bring lots of fish from deeper waters straight to the shallows of the Indian River Lagoon in an effort to stay warm for the winter. If your trip is between late fall and early spring, you can expect to target highly sought after species like Pompano, Red Fish, and Spanish Mackerel. As a bonus, you may hook a larger than average Spotted Sea Trout. The cooler water also brings Bluefish into the lagoon, and it urges the Flounder living near Sebastian to bite more often.
As the weather starts heating up, so does the fishing scene! Warmer waters bring Snook out of dormancy and add Indian River County to Tarpon migration itineraries. There’s a good chance you’ll get to tussle with a Crevalle Jack, too. Once the water temperatures are consistently around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer (usually starting around late March), you can expect to reel in some of these prized fish.
Fishing Licenses & Regulations
To get started on obtaining your Florida Fishing License, head to https://myfwc.com/. For fishing in the Indian River Lagoon, a saltwater fishing license is required. The FWC website and its associated mobile phone app, Fish | Hunt FL (Apple and Android), are the only official resources on which fish are in season as well as slot and bag limits, so be sure to take a look ahead of your boat rental reservation.
DOCK AND DINE
There are several choices for riverside dining in Indian River County, with some excellent options in Sebastian, FL just past the Wabasso Causeway Bridge. Approximately 90 minutes north of our docks, these are ideal options for full day boat rentals, which offer enough time to include a sit-down meal in the day’s list of activities. Be sure to take care when docking your rental boat at these locations – passing boats frequently create a wake in this area.
Crab Stop of Sebastian
Serving up fresh seafood and some of the best shellfish around, this casual eatery features an expansive outdoor patio. Offering large portions and live entertainment many days of the week, this spot is a great choice – especially for king crab connoisseurs. Find out more here: https://crabstoptc.com/
Blackfins at Capt Hiram’s Resort
One of the only dock and dine options that serve breakfast (until 11 am), this restaurant features a riverfront deck and provides the resort experience. On the menu are options ranging from healthy to stick-to-your-ribs, including classic and creative seafood dishes as well as gluten free meals. They’ll also cook your catch! Find out more here: https://hirams.com/riverfront-restaurant/blackfins/
Squid Lips Overwater Grill
This restaurant is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Part of a small regional chain with just three locations, the menu consists of delicious seafood options as well as burgers and more. One of the most striking characteristics is its unique setup – as the name suggests, the entire restaurant sits over the Indian River Lagoon! Find out more here: https://www.squidlipsgrill.com/
For those who only want a half day rental, we always recommend our neighbor, Riverside Cafe. After a productive morning of fishing, you can take your catch to Riverside Cafe, where their skilled cooks will expertly prepare it. Anyone departing in the afternoon can take advantage of their to-go orders – even drinks can go along for the ride! Find out more here: https://www.riversidecafe.com/
READY TO SET SAIL?
Adventure awaits! Seize the day and head toward the horizon with your pontoon boat rental from Vero Tackle & Watersports. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask our friendly and knowledgeable staff before or after your rental, and they’ll be happy to help. Bon voyage!
Author: Lauren Hamers