The Mosquito Lagoon water level has been low the past couple of weeks and the clarity has been really bad possibly from a brown algae bloom due to high nutrients in the water. That doesn’t mean that the fishing is bad though, it means that you just have to look harder.
Every Summer the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River and Banana River goes through the same pattern, some years worst than others. I actually prefer to fish in dirty water rather than crystal clear, you don’t see as many fish, but when you do you can get pretty close to make multiple casts until it eats or spooks. I like to use very flashy flies and lures, especially ones with gold flash which reflects more light and you pretty much have to present the fly/lure right in the fishes mouths.
In the cleaner waters which is in the Indian and Banana Rivers right now, there are an abundance of glass minnows and mullet on the flats. Topwater lures have been working great like the MirrOLure Top Dog, Top Dog Jr. and She Pup series. On really calm mornings, I like to use something less noisy so I’ll tie on a D.O.A. Shallow Runner Baitbuster and do a steady retrieve on the surface letting the tail vibrate to top. Redfish, Trout, Snook and Tarpon love that!
These past couple of weeks, I’ve been leaving the Mosquito Lagoon Redfish alone and focusing on Tarpon in the backcountry waters of the Space Coast. Summer time is when they typically show up and most of my clients prefer to target them on fly. I get a lot of clients that are really good fly anglers up North in the small stream but when they come down here, it’s difficult for them to adapt to the style of saltwater fly fishing. I encourage all anglers that want to fly fish in Florida to learn how to double haul your line. That will increase the speed of your cast, the distance, and be able to cast in windy conditions which will increase the chances of catching the targeted species big time.
Andres from Brazil was having a tough time sending the fly out far enough to where the Tarpon were at. Tarpon here keep just enough distance from the boat to barely reach them with a flyrod. After trying for a couple hours with no luck reaching the fish, I set him up with a spin rod and a D.O.A. Baitbuster which he was glad to try. A couple casts to rolling fish, and Tarpon were in the air after that.
Andres also caught a few snook with the fly rod while blind casting against the shorelines.
Matt from South Florida brought his brother Ryan along to introduce him to the world of inshore sight fishing. After he got used to seeing what to look for and casting in the right spot, he started catching them and now he is hooked. Here’s Matt showing his brother how it’s done.
..and here is brother Ryan with his first sight casted Redfish. All fish caught using D.O.A. Shadtails.
Reid and his dad Rudy come up to fish the Lagoon with me at least once a year, they don’t have much sight fishing down in the Palm Beach area so they come up to enjoy some father and son time. Always a pleasure having them aboard and listening to them bust each others balls!
Luke was on a family vacation to Ormond Beach and wanted to scratch a Redfish on fly off of his bucket list. He did just that and caught a few more on top of it on a half day. I’d say that’s pretty good for not having much experience sight fishing for Redfish!
Stuart from North Carolina was pretty excited to catch his first tailing Redfish this day in the Indian River lagoon using a D.O.A. Shadtail.
On June 13th, I was invited to fish a fly only Invitational Tarpon tournament in the Brevard County area. The 2nd annual “Chase for the Chalice” is all for charity and Tarpon research. All of the money went to a German Shepherd rescue of Central Florida and all the tarpon caught and released needed to be swabbed for DNA for research. It was all great times with a great group of anglers and guides for a good cause. My good buddy Honson Lau from Miami came up to fish with me in this event. We ended up getting 1st place with our names on the Chalice that will be showcased at Harry Goodes Outdoor Shop in Melbourne, FL.
Right now from what I’ve been witnessing on the water lately, anglers will have a very good chance at chasing a Grand Slam on fly this Summer. That’s catching a Redfish, Sea Trout, Snook and Tarpon all in the same day which is a great accomplishment!
-Capt. Willy Le
Now is the time to target schools of fish in all three lagoons, Mosquito, Indian, and Banana. With lower water levels, the fish will leave the shallow backwaters and all be concentrated around flats with deeper water nearby. Redfish, Black Drum, and even schools of Sea Trout can be found on healthy grass flats that hold bait fish and crustaceans.
With Spring around the corner, Redfish and Trout will be concentrated on bait fish so it’ll soon be time to break out the surface flies and topwater lures to see some explosive action.
John Kelly from Palm Beach, FL. comes up frequently to take advantage of Mosquito Lagoons excellent sight fishing opportunities. He proudly holds up a nice Redfish that he caught out of a pod of tailers using his 7wt fly rod.
Brett Reed from Chicago came down to target Redfish on fly but the winds were blowing pretty good that day so we decided to change plans and hit the backcountry creeks for Snook and Tarpon. Even though the tarpon were rolling all around us, Brett only managed a few to eat but none came to the boat…that’s tarpon fishing for ya. He did get a few small snook on fly.
Kershel Barfield from Stuart, FL. came up to fish the Mosquito Lagoon for his first time. We got into some large schools of Redfish this day which Kershel has never seen so many grouped up like that before. Well placed D.O.A. Shadtails did the trick on these fish.
BJ and Scott joined me on the Mosquito Lagoon for their annual fishing outing. Wind was cranking a bit but that didn’t keep them from catching fish. Golden Bream D.O.A. Shadtail was the hot lure this day.
A great day for Kevney Dugan from Bend, Oregon. He got his first Redfish on fly this day and witnessed Mosquito lagoon at it’s finest. The water was slick calm and we saw schools of Redfish pushing and tailing from a mile away. Kevney’s good casting ability landed him some nice fish.
I recently had a free day to get out and do some fishing for myself. I called up fellow Mosquito Lagoon guide Capt. Billy Rotne to do some exploring for bigger fish. We did some running around and found some good schools of fish ranging from 12-30lbs. Although I love watching other people catch fish while I’m on the poling platform, sometimes I gotta feel the tug for myself.
Capt. Willy Le
I hear a strong winter storm approaches our buddies in the NE this weekend and I reflect on how fortunate we are here in South Florida this time of year.
The classic sight fishing scenario in my home waters on the clearer side of the Everglades has been nothing short of epic this year. From fat redfish floating on the surface like a laid up poon to hoards of sheepshead tailing like a school of small permit (just as skittish and at times even tougher to catch on fly). Of coarse, all this fishing helps pass the time between poon season but is lots of fun nonetheless. It makes for a great opportunity to sharpen your skills using clear fly lines, turning over longer leaders, sneaking heavier flies into zones with skittish fish, and of coarse helping to calm your nerves before the day you are confronted with a more difficult or rewarding challenge.
So to my buddies in the NE, I leave you all with some fish porn and wish you all safe passage through this nasty winter storm. Stay tuned… there is far more to come shortly.
Happy New Year everyone! I guess the world did not end in December 2012, which means we are stuck on this beautiful Earth to enjoy more memorable days of fishing….DARN!
Fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon/Indian River has been hit or miss. The crazy weather pattern that we’ve been experiencing with 80 degree temps one day and a high of 45 degrees the next, then back to 80 and so on. If this pattern didn’t get Floridians out of whack, it sure did get the fish acting all crazy.
My week of being on the water consisted of a ton of fish schooled up and happy one day, then gone the next. If temperatures decide to stay consistent for at least a week, then the fish should be more predictable and make the lives of guides and anglers a lot easier. But what’s the fun in that?
Well, when the fishing is good, you can find Redfish schooled up in big numbers on the flats, some trophy sized “Gator” Trout laid up in shallow sandy areas, and some small pods of Black Drum roaming around.
Mark Wolaver who is a great caster and knows how to feed fish on the fly rod joined me for a great day of redfishing in the Mosquito Lagoon. This was one of the better days to be on the water with blue bird skies, light winds, and happy fish.
Buck and Jim were the lucky ones to have their trip fall on the coldest day of the year. The thermometer in my truck when I arrived at the Mosquito Lagoon ramp read “ICE”, which was the next level below 37 degrees. This was one of the slower days where fish were scattered and far in between, but they managed to catch a few redfish on D.O.A. Shadtails.
Paul Casserly from Boston, Mass came down for some Mosquito Lagoon action. Plan was to catch his first redfish on spin tackle to break the ice, then switch to the fly rod the rest of the day to try his luck. Well, conditions were still cold and fish were still scattered from the previous cold front. Paul did get his first redfish on the spinning rod but had a few shots with the fly rod afterwards with no luck. Paul will be back for revenge one day.
Tim Creasy came down from Kentucky during the holidays and has planned to fish the Mosquito Lagoon with me for a couple years now. The weather on this day was not so good. 25-30mph winds with a 70% chance of rain and storms. Instead of canceling the trip and Tim being bummed out that he didn’t get to fish while he was vacationing in Orlando, I opted to take him into some small wind protected creeks in the Indian River Lagoon to try our luck on Snook and Tarpon.
Tim ended up catching a couple Snook, jumping a few small Tarpon, a couple jack crevalle, and ladyfish all on fly. We turned what would have been a cancellation into a fun day of catching mini species…..he now can scratch Snook off of his list of fish to catch(almost scratched Tarpon off the list but you know how it goes.)
On New Years day I had a last minute cancellation. I decided to head out solo on a scouting mission for a trip the following day. I forgot how nice it was to get out on the water alone, everything seemed to happen in slow motion and I was enjoying every second of it. I had no worries, no pressure, no rush, just enjoying doing what I love. I found fish, caught a few, but most of the time I was just memorized by all the wildlife and everything happening around me while poling the skiff peacefully down the shoreline.
John Kelly is an avid fly fisherman from Connecticut(now lives in South Florida) that fished a lot of places around the world. He’s caught Stripers, big Bluefin Tuna, Roosterfish, bonefish, Tarpon, Snook, and even Marlin on fly but has never caught a Redfish….until now. John learned that you have to be more patient with tailing Redfish than any other fish. When they tail, you have more time to think than if you were casting at a cruising fish. I had John wait until we got at least 40-45ft from the fish before making a cast, then I had him watch the fish for a minute to see what direction it was facing, once he knew where he wanted to place the fly, take a deep breath, relax, and make the cast. When the fly landed at the perfect spot, a couple twitches of the fly and BAM, John was hooked up to his first Redfish ever! After the first fish, John was catching tailing Redfish left and right.
John also had shots at some monster laid up “Gator” Trout, but feeding these fish are extremely tough, they are as spooky, if not spookier than Islamorada Bonefish. Getting them to eat is a challenge, which makes them even more rewarding to catch on fly…if the stars align.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year and great fishing for 2013!
-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
A short clip of Honson catching a nice Redfish on fly while he was up visiting from Miami.
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
Last week I was able to get a couple of the new G-Loomis microfiber shirts to try out. These are a little different than any other microfiber currently on the market since they have a vented back to help keep you extra cool. They are very comfortable and come in any color you want, as long as you want black or white. I would guess that most fisherman would opt for the white shirts due to the black just being too hot to wear most of the year. No matter what color you decide on, they both look great. Now you can look stylish on the water or around town, without looking like you’re wearing a fishing shirt.
At first, I was worried about the white getting extremely dirty and the stains not coming out in the washing machine. However, after a long day of fishing offshore, and getting covered in blood, I let the shirt sit overnight and washed it the following day. After just one wash the shirt looked just like it did when I got it new. With that being said, look for these shirts to be hitting your local tackle stores soon, but don’t expect them to stay there too long.
With all the strange weather systems that moved through early in June, it made for many days when fishing conditions were tough. We had lots of wind, cloudy days, and now very rainy days here in South FL. There were lots of days when conditions were just not right but when things were as they should be the poons still swim with vigor and chew on flies with much enthusiasm…
All the classic June fishing for big tarpon on fly, though was spotty at times, still went off this month. We found days with very few fish swimming, but other days when fishing was nothing short of spectacular.
Define Text book tarpon fishing: One Gold Cup late afternoon of fishing… 1 shot, 1 fish, 5 minutes of pulling, and past Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament champion Tim Mahaffey has this 110lb tarpon on its side and ready for fly extraction.
During days when cloudy or rainy conditions did not allow us to tarpon fish, Capt. Jeremy Alderman and I spent afternoons poling our Maverick Flats skiffs in the shallowest flats chucking flies at tailing sheepshead and redfish near Key Largo.
Thanks to Nautilus Fly Reels and G Loomis Fly Rods for providing the tackle to make it all happen. The new FWX and NV series Nautilus Fly reels have realy raised the bar of what a fly reel should be. They are the lightest reels in their class and offer the smoothest sealed drags. With all the extremely light weight rods on the market, it should only be right to balance them with lighter fly reels.
I just got back from the west coast of FL. Capt. Rick De Paiva and I recently fished the A.W. Dimock Tarpon on fly tournament in Fort Myers. Being a tarpon fisherman in the Keys, it is fun to see something different during the season. Fishing against local guides and tarpon fisherman, we missed the 1st place spot by a mere 4 minutes but had some pretty good fishing. I managed to drive the hook into 5 Tarpon before finally catching one. Had we leadered any of the previous 4, the tournament would have been ours. But that’s how it goes. It was a fun time being one of the top boats to put tarpon in the air amongst other fellow tarpon fly rodders around us. Gosh, I love tarpon fishing. Congrats to Captains Chris Rush and Randall Marsh for winning the tournament again. You guys squeaked by us this year but we are coming for you next year with a stronger resolve.
July is right around the corner and I leave to spend a few days at the DOA Lures writers event tomorrow in Stuart. It looks like we may possibly have some rainy weather but the company will always be great, food will be amazing, and fish will chew on DOA plastic.