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
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
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
The reason why I focus most of my trips in the Mosquito Lagoon is because the fishing is never the same. There are so many little nooks, crannies, and creeks to discover that every trip for me is a new adventure. Nothing gets my heart pumping more than tailing Redfish on a quiet, calm morning with no other boats in sight.
Me and fellow Mosquito Lagoon guide Capt. Billy Rotne ran around looking for some tailing fish to photograph, which we found plenty that cooperated very well for us. It was so peaceful just to watch these fish tail for minutes that all we wanted to do was watch instead of catch. That’s what we did the first part of the morning, then we ventured off to different areas to catch a few with the fly rods.
In these areas, we had to change up flies to match what the fish were keyed on eating for better success. For the tailing fish, a copper slider with a rattle inserted in it did the trick really well. The rattle helped call out the fish which had their heads buried thick in the grass searching for a meal. Once the fish detected where the rattling was coming from, they would then see the copper flash of the fly and move in for the kill.
We then found some fish that were cruising the sandy shorelines busting on mud minnows and small finger mullet. A tan pattern that resembled a mud minnow got better reactions than the copper slider that we were using for tailers.
In another area where we found Redfish cruising on top of dead grass, we noticed small shrimp skipping all over the surface. I had the perfect shrimp pattern that a good buddy Capt. Honson Lau tied which worked great on these picky fish. It’s good to have a nice variety of flies in your box just for these occasions.
Last week I had journalist Jan Maizler on my boat to do a write up on me and my guiding career. Jan who is from Miami, FL. travels the world to write for multiple fishing magazines and online publications. We had a short day on the water due to some rain storms but we did manage a few fish using D.O.A. Shadtails.
Branden Roberts from a new lure company out of Texas called Logic Lures joined me on his first trip to Mosquito Lagoon the other day. He brought a camera man along with him to film for a video project that they are working on. Branden proved that his lures work well catching multiple fish that clobbered his 4″ PlastiX. visit www.logiclures.com if you would like more info on lures and innovative hook systems.
Fishing is definitely getting better in the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River, and Banana River. Fish are starting to school up and attacking topwater lures. Fly fishing is really good in the Mosquito Lagoon and will be getting better as the cooler temperatures approach. Fly fishing in the fall is great but winter can get even better with crystal clear water and blue birds skies.
Also, the Black Drum start to show up in big schools around late Fall early Winter. They are a blast to target with the fly rod and can put your patients to the test.
Gotta love the year round fishing down here in Florida!
-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.
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
The last 2 trips for Native Fly Charters was with new clients Kyle and Chip from Georgia on the last couple of days of 2011. This was their first trip to the East Coast of Florida to do some fishing and their main goal was to see and catch tailing Redfish. On the first day of the 2 day fishing adventure, it seemed like it was going to be cloudy, cold, and windy for the first half of the day so I took them in the Indian River along the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for some big Trout that have been roaming the flats. Making long casts with topwater lures around sand holes resulted in some nice trout and some fun blowups.
Once the clouds finally cleared up, the skies were blue bird and the wind laid down giving us the perfect glassy conditions for an afternoon of tailing Redfish. This day was the first major cold front of the year for Florida, making the fish a little sluggish. Most of the fish refused Kyle and Chips offerings except for this one Redfish at the end of the day that was tailing 10ft from the boat. Kyle made a perfect presentation by slowing down the retrieve and dropping the D.O.A. 3″ Shadtail CAL right in front of the fishes nose.
The next day our main goal was Redfish all day in the Mosquito Lagoon. The morning temperatures were in the 50′s with slick calm conditions and blue bird skies. We found Redfish in small groups pushing on the flats first thing in the morning but these fish were on a mission to get somewhere and were pretty spooky. After chasing those fish around for a while with no luck, we headed to another flat where we would see some single fish cruising around still sluggish from the cold morning and also spooky. They too did not want to cooperate with us. It wasn’t until the sun heated up the flats late in the afternoon when the Redfish wanted to tail and start feeding. Kyle and Chip both had numerous shots at tailing fish but did not quite get it close enough to the fish until the fish saw us and took off. A couple fish did get hooked up but only one came to the boat at the end of the day. Both Kyle and Chip ended 2011 in a great way, they got to see some great Wildlife including a family of Wild Hogs wading in the water, Momma Dolphins teaching their babies how to catch mullet, Manatees, Alligators, Exotic Birds, and best of all they got to see the Tailing Redfish that they came here to see. They get to go home with great memories and great photographs! Next on the list for them is Tarpon so we will be seeing more of these guys in the future!
This was a perfect way to end my 2011. Weather was beautiful, I got to spend it on the water and met 2 new very cool friends that work hard for a living and love to hunt and fish! Happy New Year everyone!
-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