SaltyShores Close-up: Mosquito Lagoon
Jan S. Maizler
I’d met Captain Justin Price as the guide who would spearhead the hunt for redfish and seatrout as part of a photo shoot for an article on ultralight spinfishing in Sport Fishing Magazine. From dawn to dusk, Justin and his East Cape 18-foot Lostmen took us through the “bays” and flats of the “Goon” with finesse and stability as we caught and released stud-sized bruisers of both species on line barely testing over four pounds. When our mission was over for that day, we were determined to fish together again.
Our plan was to fish in early summer of the following year, but a tropical storm plus other prior – committed travels on my schedule postponed our two days of fishing until late July. The conditions of our revised time featured flat calm warm water and a slew of vacation-liberated skiffs all over the inside waters of the Space Coast. The water was also slightly more turbid than two months prior and due to the annual growth of algae. This stood in stark contrast to the stronger algae blooms of the past year as well as the present toxic dumps of fresh water through the inlets of Stuart and Jupiter to the south.
I told Justin that I’d be bringing friend and photographer Alan Williams to New Smyrna Beach to join us on our two day adventure. As our target dates arrived, it turned out that we were blessed with fair weather and sunny skies. It appeared there would be few if any thunderstorms or showers to drive us off the flats.
On the day of our drive from Fort Lauderdale, we spoke to Justin for a last minute status report. He told us that although there was a huge push of fish in the shallows two weeks ago, the fish had now predictably settled into the flats drop-offs and potholes. As we discussed the most effective techniques for these conditions, Justin did not hesitate to recommend using live pigfish for the best results if we wanted rod-bending action and ample “photo-ops.” Local knowledge placed a great deal of trust on the gamefish – calling grunts of live piggies.
I had mixed feelings about using live bait- as did Justin. While I prefer to cast a lure to a sighted fish, I also want a backup if any shallow water gamester is unresponsive to lures or flies, especially on a story trip. Live bait would give us some old school action, just like a plate of Mac N’ Cheese. It would get us quick satisfaction, but we’d have to moderate our efforts lest we grow fat and bored with much too much.
And that’s exactly what those two days brought us: seemingly endless action on piggies with a first day tally of over forty trout to five pounds and a few redfish. We started the second day poling the flats. While most of the fish spooked way ahead of us, I did hook one golden-colored stud of a redfish which picked up a raft of grass on the line and then the hook on the soft plastic twitch bait popped out so disappointingly.
The day grew hotter and the skiffs seemed to materialize all around us in the shimmering light of mid-morning. We went back to fishing the drop-offs with live bait and easily caught another twenty trout-including some gators-and a few nice redfish.
Alan, Justin and I had a wonderful time. As we headed in to JB’s for lunch, we were already planning our next trip targeting the cooler waters of fall and bigger bunches of fish.
Captain Justin Price
Web Site: www.rightinsightcharters.com