Lowcountry to Backcountry Ð A Weekend in Mosquito Lagoon
by Capt. Jay Nelson
Last week I had the opportunity to travel from my home in Georgetown, SC to the East Coast of Florida for some Mosquito Lagoon red-fishing. The game-plan was to meet my friend Eddie Oliveras in Orlando for a few days of fly fishing in the Lagoon. Why would I want to travel 500 miles to chase a fish that I can catch right here in my back yard? Two words Ð sight fishing. Some of the best sight fishing for redfish in South Carolina’s marshes occurs during the flood tides of summer and fall when fish are seen rooting around for fiddler crabs in the flooded spartina grass.
During a flood tide, the Georgetown marshes experience roughly 6 feet of variation in water level from low to high tide. Now that winter has settled in, the tailing redfish action in South Carolina has slowed down but I still find myself jonesing to throw flies at tailing
While we still have great sight fishing opportunities throughout the winter, the appeal of sunny Florida was just too much to resist. So for a few days I traded oyster bars and pluff mud for mangroves and manatee grass.
To start, Eddie and I fished the middle lagoon covering the large, open manatee grass flats. Once the wind picked up, I asked Eddie to take me where I could fish the mangroves. You Florida boys better not take those mangroves for granted Ð they are awesome!
Eddie obliged and took me to the North Lagoon where we traded off pushing the skiff across the flats of the backcountry creeks and bays. Man, it was great being able to pole the boat for miles without ever hitting deep water! The fish were highly cooperative and we watched every fish we caught inhale the fly Ð something that I don’t get to see with regularity in the stained water of the Lowcountry marshes.
We also enjoyed some warm weather while my buds at home were suffering through a major cold front. It was one of those weekends where everything just came together. Finally I planned a fishing trip on the right week. To top it all off, on Saturday Eddie had his best day of fly fishing ever! On this day, the fish preferred a slider pattern modified from Tim BorskiÕs [http://www.borskiflies.com/] bonefish slider.
After some successful fishing, we hit JB’s on the Lagoon for some celebratory beers and gator bites. My first Goon experience was incredible and left me with a serious hunger for more. I’ve got a feeling EddieÕs wife is going to get sick of me crashing the guest room once a month.
My last day of the trip we slept in late and hit Little Lake Conway in Orlando to try our luck to catch giant carp and bass on fly. The winds and cold water made it tough, but we did get shots at some giant bull red sized carp and Eddie landed this aggressive little bass on spin. At the ramp, we were told we were the only anglers to land a fish that day, and thatÕs with all the super fancy nascar bass boats to compete with so we didnÕt feel so bad.
Now I have two favorite locations to harass redfish. HereÕs some pictures from Mosquito Lagoon and from South Carolina’s tidal marshes along with a short video taken on my Kodak Playsport while fishing with Eddie.