If you can find a day that’s not windy or storming to get out and fish the Indian River or Mosquito Lagoon, then the fishing should be pretty good. Schools of redfish are still around and with the water temps warming up a bit, more singles should scatter the flats which I prefer to fish rather than large schools.
Lots of big sea trout are still lurking the sandy areas and have been taking well presented artificials and flies really well. I’ve been impressed with the numbers of big sea trout that I’ve seen this year.
Don Thomas – a well respected author, outdoor journalist, and photographer from Montana is a doing a piece on the Mosquito Lagoon for a couple fly fishing magazines. Here he displays a smaller fish that beat about 5 bigger fish to the fly, it was crazy watching them fight over it. His wife Lori took some great shots this day. To learn more about Don visit his site: www.donthomasbooks.com
…and something a little creative using Alissa’s eyes as the main subject.
-Capt. Willy Le
This is a little series of video clip that I will be coming out with on a regular basis. All of these videos will be filmed with my iPhone 4S and edited on the computer. Here is the first one of a regular client John Kelly encountering a pod of tailing Redfish in the Mosquito Lagoon. Enjoy!
-Capt. Willy Le
Wow is it hot out there…the fishing that is. After Tropical Storm Debbie back in June, the water clarity in the lagoon systems have gotten really dirty and really high, which made sight fishing tough for most anglers. The spots that usually hold fish in the Mosquito Lagoon was a ghost town for weeks, which pushed me to run my trips way down south around Sebastian Inlet just to find the cleaner water.
Recently I went back to the Lagoon to check up on what was going on in there. The water dropped a couple feet, but still dirty. Once I arrived to the first spot, I had noticed more bait activity in the area, like how it should be on a normal day. As I poled the skiff along the shallow grass flat that was less than a foot of water, I witnessed Redfish rooting and tailing all over the place like they haven’t eaten for days. The grass was really thick, the fish were so buried in it that we could literally get close enough to touch the fishes tail with the tip of your rod. Most of the fish caught were within 20 feet from the boat.
The key was to use a weedless and HEAVY fly or artificial lure. For my spin anglers, I would tie on a new weedless weighted hook system for soft plastics called the “Jig Rig” made by Owner hooks with a D.O.A. Curt Tail rigged on it which worked really well to get down to where the fish’s face was and that curl tail has great flowing movement even when sitting still. For flies, heavy lead eyes tied on a flashy crabby pattern worked perfect. Here are some photos of recent trips in the past few weeks and a short video of a tailing Redfish being caught next to the boat.
Tomo Shiraishi from Boston, Mass was down for the ICAST(Worlds largest Sport Fishing Show) at the Orlando Convention Center. That was the time when the Mosquito Lagoon was really slow so we went to the Indian River where Tomo caught some nice Trout and had lots of shots at Redfish but only landing this one, which happened to be his first Redfish ever.
Dennis and Kaz were also here for ICAST from California and Japan. They work for Owner Hook Company and were the ones who introduced me to the “Jig Rig” made by Owner Hooks. At first I thought I’d never use such a rig, but you will see in the video at the end of this report that this rig was the ticket to catching some tough Mosquito Lagoon Redfish. Here is Dennis and Kaz with a couple small Banana River Redfish that we had to work hard for.
Mark and his girlfriend Rey were surfing the web for fishing guides in the Mosquito Lagoon area, came across my site and decided to give me a call. After a quick run down over the phone of their chances to catch some Tarpon, Trout, and Redfish on fly, they hopped in there car and drove down from Georgia to fish with me for the weekend. Day 1 we searched for Tarpon, Trout and Snook in the Indian River by Sebastian Inlet. Mark had multiple shots at small Tarpon ranging from 15-30lbs, getting a couple to eat but only landing 1, which is great on fly.
We then went to fish for Snook and Trout which we he had tons of shots on both species on the clear sandy flats. The fish were being spooky but we got one nice Trout to cooperate which happened to be Marks biggest Sea Trout on fly.
Day 2, we head to Mosquito Lagoon for some tailing Redfish action. The Redfish were all happily tailing for us all morning and were ready to take a fly. Rey even had a chance to take a few shots and fight a few of her own.
Capt. Shawn Neurath from the West Coast of Florida has never fish on the East Coast and always wanted to experience the Mosquito Lagoon. Again, Redfish were happily tailing, and this time we put the Owner “Jig Rigs” to the test rigged with the D.O.A. Curl Tails. As you can see, it worked well. If you plan on fishing the Tampa Bay area, check out Capt. Shawn at: www.missionfishincharters.com.
Here is a clip of Capt. Shawn catching a tailing Redfish about 10 feet from the boat.
Remember to stay hydrated out on the water, it’s been scorching out there!
-Capt. Willy Le
Kent Johnson from Montana spends his winters in warmer climates to get away from the frozen lakes and icy streams back at home. This year he is in Florida with his 5th wheel in tow and his wife by his side and they plan to travel the whole state staying in each region for 2 weeks then on to the next. This week he is staying on the outskirts of East Orlando and called me up to target Redfish with a fly rod. Kent has traveled the world with his fly rod and has caught Bonefish, Salmon, Tarpon, Permit, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, etc. but always had trouble with the Red Drum in Florida. After several attempts in the past years, he has failed to catch one until today, January 10, 2012, which was a very special day for him.
On a sandy flat of 8-12″, we would encounter Laid up Sea Trout, laid up Redfish and also large schools of Redfish. The water was crystal clear and not a lick of wind making the whole river sheet glass, which also made the fish very spooky. Kent had over 50 shots of both Trout and Reds but most of them blew off by seeing the fly line soaring through the air. The ones that didn’t spook off are the ones that either trailed the fly for a few yards before turning away, or ate the fly that imitated a small baitfish.
After landing a few nice Sea Trout (which Kent can also check off his list now) I see a pod of upper to over slot Redfish approaching us. I quickly position the skiff for Kent to fire off a long cast next to the school which he did perfectly without spooking the fish. Once the pod of fish headed towards the fly, Kent makes 3 or 4 quick strips which gets a fishes attention which then turned on the fly and ate. Now Kents first ever Redfish is hooked up on the end of his line and the battle begins.
It wasn’t too long after the release of his first Redfish when he made a perfect cast to his 2nd Redfish ever caught.
After a bunch more shots and spooky fish, the wind picked up which made it tough to get the fly in the right spot so we called it a great day and headed back to ramp.
Congrats Kent on your Redfish and I hope you enjoy the memories that these photographs will bring back to you!
-Capt. Willy Le
Did some exploring in the Mosquito Lagoon yesterday with buddy Capt. Justin Price. Justin and I decided to check some areas where we haven’t been in a while, and guess what? That’s where the fish were hiding! With the water in the lagoon still dirty and high, it makes for tough fishing and the fish are more scattered. We should have gin clear and low water this time of year but with the Summer conditions we are still having while we are ending December and going into the New Year, things are going to stay Summer-like until the temperatures drop.
I’ve heard a lot of “not so good” fishing reports of where the fish should usually be, instead of going to those spots, we decided to go and look around where not a lot of people check. Boats normally run past these areas to get to the “hot spots” that are normally crowded with boats pressuring the schools of fish with trolling motors. With no other boats in sight, Justin and I did some work with the fly rod on some pretty aggressive and unpressured fish, these fish happily took most of our fly offerings that we presented to them. We had a successful day of finding fish that were tailing, cruising shorelines, and were not spooky. Hopefully they will still be that way for our charters that we have lined up next week!
Capt. Willy Le
Winter time is a great time for sight fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon. Although it does not quite feel like winter here in Florida yet, the Redfish are starting to act like it is. The water has cleaned up a lot since last month and the fish are starting to tail and mud rooting for crustaceans on the shallow flats.
This past Wednesday I fished with Adam Compton who is maintaining a skiff for his buddy that is stationed in Afghanistan. The skiff is a Maverick HPX-Micro which is very similar to my Maverick HPX-Tunnel but with slight differences. The Micro is the lightest skiff in the Maverick line with a max outboard rating of 50hp. The one we took out was powered with a Yamaha 40HP 4-Stroke, and performed extremely well. It has a soft ride running through chop, it ran in inches, and poled everywhere my Tunnel skiff can go. I was pretty impressed with what it can do, especially how light it felt while poling.
photos courtesy of www.maverickboats.com
Adam and i caught fish in skinny backwaters to windy open flats this day. All the fish caught were single tailers or mudding/tailing in groups of 6-10 fish. After catching a few on spinning gear and the fly rods, the wind picked up and we opted to fish with only spin gear. Adams soft plastic baits kept getting blown off the fish by the wind so I decided to tie on a D.O.A. Softshell Crab. This bait sinks straight to the bottom and buries in the grass like a real crab would do, it seemed to work great on the fish that had their face deep in the grass/mud and was easier to cast and control in the windier conditions. Once the D.O.A. Crab landed next to the fish, they engulfed it.
There are plenty of fish to catch in the Mosquito Lagoon right now, it will only get better as the water gets cleaner. Redfish will start to school in larger numbers and the Black Drum should be showing up in huge schools as well. Time to get on the vice and tie your favorite crustacean patterns!
Capt. Willy Le
As soon as I thought the water was actually going to clean up enough for some good sight fishing in Mosquito lagoon and the Northern Indian River, we get another week of high winds that has been turning up the water and making it difficult to see fish again. What do you do when that happens? You go to where you think you know where the fish are and just blind cast like crazy while praying to the fish gods for a bite! It seemed to work for Danny Francis on this breezy day in the Mosquito Lagoon.
On Saturday I hopped on Eddie Oliveras’s skiff to do some exploring in some areas of the Indian River that we haven’t fished in years. Same story, the water was high and dirty but at least the winds were a little calmer for us this day. We poled along a flat that I used to catch some big Trout and started blind casting. Eddie was first to hook up with what we thought was a Redfish because of how hard he was pulling but once the fish was shaking it’s head out of the water, we saw huge fangs and a yellow mouth….Big Sea Trout!
Eddie and I switched positions after releasing the fish.(which by the way is out of season all thru November & December in the South Region.) Since the water was so dirty, I wanted to try something out with my lure. I was throwing a D.O.A. Cal in New Penny color rigged weedless, I then slide a glass bead and a 1/16oz. tungsten bullet weight on that I got from my bass fishing buddy. I tie about a 1 inch loop knot and slip the bead and the weight below the knot which cannot slip back up because the tag makes for a stopper. That rig creates a little rattle along with a brilliant sparkle from the diamond cut glass bead. It seemed to work better this day versus fishing with just a hook and plastic.
After catching some nice size trout, we left them still biting and decided to go find some Redfish. After a short run, we made a stop at a cove where I’ve had good luck with Redfish during higher water. Immediately after pushing up to the spot, we see multiple fish crashing bait on the shoreline. I make the cast with the same D.O.A. Cal/rattle set up and instantly hook up to a Redfish! This was a fat fish and we figured out why after getting it to the boat.
I have found some big trout in the past with the same thing, but the trout were not so lucky to live thru it. I figured I would pull the mullet out of the redfish’s mouth so it can swim and eat like normal again, the fish was not harmed and swam away healthy!
While in the same area, Eddie gets himself a Redfish on spinning gear as well. We then pulled out the fly rods and poled along the sandy shoreline. You can barely make out a fish in the murky water but it was possible. I get my fish on fly, then shortly after Eddie gets a nice one on fly.
We ended the great day of fishing at Ms. Apples Crab Shack along the Indian River Lagoon for some cold ones and spicy steamed blue crabs! Inshore fishing is getting better and better each day, and it will only get even better as the water gradually clears up.
Capt. Willy Le
I live (recently moved) on a little river in SW Florida that flows or connects into a large river, figuring out the fish movement with tidal flows and spillways has been challenging, but now that I have it down, it has been more than rewarding! I have caught everything from bass to tarpon (And i am not talking the little guys) and all the backcountry saltwater species along with a few fresh water usuals. As most of you know, I fly fish so finding that special fly/color combo was also a must. It ended up being a peach bunny/dear hair slider variant with gold (they can’t say no to this guy)! I obtained a gheenoe when I moved in and it suits my needs perfectly for most of the situations, for it sits in my garage and I can launch it from my back yard with little to no effort. The NOE is a great addition to any anglers line up when need to go backcountry wide and ultra, ultra skinny!! I have also found a way to target ”Sunshine Bass” on fly, which I am currently working on that piece which is going to be a very interesting read! These fish are amazing, they are a cross-breed between a white bass and a striper! The physical charactristics are very close to that of a striper and they range from ~ 5- 12lbs! Stay tuned for the full write up and photos of these trips! Iam also considering shooting a short fly fishing film for these fish for they eat like a big snook and pound for pound fight as hard a jack but have long straight runs into backing like a bone fish!
Last week, I had a good friend with me after work trying his maden luck out on the big snook that have been lurking around lately. It did start a little slow with high winds and a strong opposite tide forcing bait in places that were not natural to the big sand bars creating presentations difficult. Once the tide and wind slowed, my buddy was more than impressed with the power of the river. Non-educated, giant female snook eating even after the first missed hook set (Those are the kind I like!). We ended up with countless numbers but Eric did manage to land 4 big line siders above 34″ and topping the ruler at 38″ with bigger ones lost! Here are the photos from the other day but stay tuned for the Sunshine Bass expedition piece!
BTW: You Gotta love the NOE!!!!
Shake, rattle and shake some more!!
As our tarpon season has come to an end the search for tailing redfish has begun. The Redfish season is only in its juvenile state, but it feels like we have caught a seasons worth! To see tails here and there are very common in our area but not this fall…sure….we have seen a few here and there but it has been large schools everywhere. When the fish get like this, its like they are on crack, they eat anything that is offered in front of or on top of them a time where flock shooting is encouraged! It started late August where good friends Eric, Ben and I made our way to the same flat, same tide, and same time of day.. only 7 years later. Like clock work the pods and schools were nose down all over the flat eating anything that came into them. For seven years straight now we have been there and seen the same chaos every time!! We even get into a few big snook prowling the flat and the occasional small poon to show up and play. I fished fly and did equally as well as the boyz with spin tackle!!!!
Next came a short Labor Day trip to Boca Grande with good friends Joe and Ashley Nicolette just for some R & R with my wife!! They have a condo right on the beach so it was very relaxing. Good times hanging out and casting flies from the beach at big jacks……until I hooked a monster and managed to loose my wedding ring stripping as it turned and ran at me!!!!!! Yes I lost the ring..and NO did not land the fish….. Wife…NOT happy!! Jacks are **** fish but a lot of fun on the fly if there is nothing else around! It was cool to see all the turtle nests and to find out if you live on the beach it is mandatory to turn off the lights inside after a certain time not to confuse the turtles.
Where we called home for the long weekend!
Back on the water with Rich and Nick chasing the schooling spot tails to find them once again everywhere!! from pods of 20-30 to schools of 500+, it has been fly fishing for redfish heaven! We lost count of how many big reds we boated and even had multiple triple hookups on fly…..like I said….juvenile season but catching a seasons worth already! Last Friday Capt. Colby Hane of Sarasota joined Rich and I to look for the Late, Late season backcountry poons. The tide never got right and we had a few issues with the skiff so we yanked it and headed to look for snook which was another bust for the most part. We only saw maybe a half dozen poons roll out of casting distance and the wind was howling at the snook spot making it basically impossible to sight fish effectively!! Next time Colbs!!! To make things worse for Colby, Sunday I was out with good friend Ben and during the sunrise part of the morning we were on about a 1000 poons rolling and busting bait schools all over us. I really thought we were going to hook up on fly but the show ended within 30 min….. That really got me going for next years season! Redfish have been on fire so I think this will shape up to be a season to remember.