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.
Here’s a clip of my Redfish to add to Honsons write up while he was up here visiting the Mosquito Lagoon…
Our first major cold front swept across South Florida, sending days of rain and overcast skies, followed by lots of wind and some unwelcomed clouds into my home waters. What a perfect opportunity to drive up north and chase the blue bird skies. I left the office last Friday and rushed over to Kissimmee, FL in order to catch the last couple hours of the FFF Expo. Following this day, my buddies Capt. Willy Le (www.NativeFlyCharters.com) and Dominic A. invited me to spend a day in the Lagoon chasing some redfish. A change in scenery is always welcomed… especially when hometown weather becomes unfavorable. I always have a good time hanging with my buddies from the North.
We arrived to a dirt ramp the next day. There was a slight chill in the air this morning but it was quite comfortable. The winds hadn’t really laid down as it was still blowing at 15kts out of the North. With all the wind and rain from past weeks, the water had been high and dirty in the Lagoon prior to this day. We rode through some marshy looking mazes and across some shallow sand bars in the Maverick HPX-Tunnel as Willy scanned the waters for the right sign. Willy backed off on the throttle as we approached our destination. Everything there seemed right… we found that the water receeded to just about the perfect level, had a brownish tinge to it but was shallow enough to spot fish waking and tailing. The ever-present shrimp that would jump out of our path as we poled down the shorelines looking for signs of life. As I watched a redfish crawl around with it’s back out of the water, occasionally exploding on a pod of shrimp, I knew at that moment that we were exactly where we should be.
I armed myself with Shimano’s latest Brain-child… the Sustain FG (Full write-up review coming soon) on the trusty G Loomis Greenwater. The floating grass was thick in certain parts but still wanting to see some head out of the water eats, I tied on a DOA CAL with a Chug-Head on it. This was as weedless as any topwater lure can be. Needless to say, after 3 head out of water eats and a few misses… I got what I had come for…
We swapped off shots the next couple of hours between the 3 of us, catching redfish on both flies and DOAs, filming both follies and successes, and making a not-so-serious fun time out of catching slot redfish after slot redfish. We claimed a dozen fish by the end of the day on the fly rod alone.
The great time on the water was only bettered by our stop at Ms. Apples Crab Shack, on our way back to the barn. Forget about fish camps, burgers, hostile uppity elitists, and sandwiches… the laid back atmosphere and great eats at Ms. Apples is one tradition within a fishing trip I could definitely dig. There is nothing better then Maryland style blue crabs…
The last 3 photos were shot with a new iPhone 4S 8MP camera. Not too bad if I say so myself.
There was still a bit of time to kill after we got back and washed up the boat. We decided to walk to a nearby pond and throw some hoppers/gurglers at some bass and bluegill to kill off the last hour of light. Now I am inspired to go out and purchase a 5wt.
Here is a short video Capt. Willy snipped together…
Back at home now and waiting for the next opportunity for the weather to allow me to get out and chase some bonefish. Stay tuned…
Spring break had finally come and I took a week off to log some days on the water. The initial plans were to spend 3 days down in the lower Keys but due to circustances, that plan had to be put on hold for now. Instead, I chose to do something I had wanted to do in a long time. In 5 days straight, I fished in 4 different locations throughout Florida in 4 different style Maverick Mirage skiffs. Fishing had it’s ups and downs, but company was great, the overall experience was great, and I had a blast doing this. Upon introduction of the Mirage series of skiffs, Maverick Boat Co. revolutionalized the shallow water fishing industry. In 2000, Maverick introduced the HPX series of Mirage skiffs. These new hulls, floated shallower, rode drier, and were dead quiet. The HPX-Tunnel introduced stealth with the ability to float shallow, run in water once through too shallow for anything but a jon boat, zero hull slap. The 17 HPX-V allowed for anglers to take advantage of shallower draft while still providing a dry smooth ride in the rough and of coarse, zero hull slap. The 15 HPX-V, HPX-Micro, and 18 HPX-V later joined the line of Mirage line of skiffs and continue to raise the bar. I got to fish all 4 models in the last 5 days.
Skiff: Maverick Mirage HPX-Tunnel
Desitnation: Titusville, FL
My buddy Will invited me to spend a day fishing on his HPX-Tunnel up in Titusville so I took advantage of the situation and got to get out on the water with him for a few hours before I had to head back down to pick up my skiff at Maverick Boat Co. and head back home. We met up at dawn and got an early start, making our way through the shallows to get to our destination. The Mirage tunnel skiff handled the Lagoon chop fairly well and got us into some real shallow water where we would start our search. The sun was still hidden behind the clouds so we waited for the water to warm up, blind casting some shorelines in the meanwhile. Blind casting was not too fruitful so we made our way to the flats a little early to wait out the tailers. Once the sun broke through the clouds, the water warmed up, and the light revealed to us a couple of big red tails flags waving in the distance. With 9wt in hand, I tied on a simple modified redfish slider and had a few refusals before coming tight to a few smaller redfish. The day then revealed to us something different. Big grey tails began popping up and the through of being cold and throwing at reluctant oversized redfish had left my mind in a hurry. Being from South FL, we don’t get many opportunities to fish tailing black drum. We approached the first of many and this fish ate my redfish slider. After landing that big drum, we caught several more on a variety of flies ranging from a black merkin crab to black rattle shrimp flies. These drum aggresively attacked the rattle shrimp. It was pretty amazing. My buddy Will is fairly new to the fly game and managed to catch his first and second black drum on fly. Screams and high fives defined the degree to Will’s new fly fishing addiction. Time ran out and we left the fish tailing for the next group of dedicated anglers to find. This was definitely a cool experience neither of us will ever forget. I then headed home and made a stop at Maverick Boat Co. to bring my skiff back home after a minor nip/tuck.
Day 2 & 3
Skiff: Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V
Desination: Key Largo and Florida Bay
My buddy Jeremy picked up a new 18 HPX-V with a Yamaha F115 last weekend so we spent the next couple of days tweaking the boat, testing it under real life conditions, and trying to get this boat dialed in properly. Unfortunately, the TRO model prop we have on this motor is not the right prop for the job so we are still waiting on different props to test out. Rest assured, several props are on their way and this boat will be dialed in. We will have more technical info for this setup shortly. Our first day on the water was rained out so we just took the boat out to run around Blackwater sound in Key Largo to make sure everything was in top order. The weather finally gave us a break the next day and we were able to take the 18 HPX out that afternoon for her maiden fishing voyage. We started out fishing East of Flamingo and had a few shots at some very big redfish that were reluctant to eat any of our offerings. From here, we boogeyd out to the oceanside of the Keys and paid a visit to one of flats where bonefish have taken residence. Jeremy managed to hook his first bonefish but the fish ran away from the boat first filling the air with the sound of the screaming drag. Then the bonefish turned and screamed towards the boat. My buddy reeled as fast as he could but could not keep up as the fish ran under the boat and spit the hook. The wind had picked up and the clouds rolled in so we headed back in staying bone dry and comfortable as we ran through a 2ft chop. Earlier in the day, while poling around in some real skinny stuff, I was amazed again to see how this boat performs on the pushpole. The 18 HPX drafted significantly shallow as we poled through some real skinny water. To put things into perspective, the only part of the push pole submerged in the water was the foot. It had to be no deeper then 8 inches and the 18 HPX was not even touching the bottom. When we had hit a hump no deeper then 6 inches, the 18 HPX was a breeze to push off it. The effort to push this boat was no more then pushing my 17 HPX-V with F90 but the stability when poling around in rough water and heavy winds was second to none. This is truley a remarkable poling skiff with an amazing hull. I will likely find myself in one in the near future.
Skiff: Maverick Mirage HPX-Micro
My buddy Jason also picked up a new Maverick Mirage this last week. For the type of shallow water fishing he plans to do and the long range runs out west, Jason opted for the HPX-Micro. With the inevitable implementation of the pole and troll zones that are to be enfored at Flamingo in the near future, the ability to run in shallow water will not as big of a factor as the ability to pole easily for longer distances, float shallower, and be a ble to take to handle running in a slight chop. The HPX-Micro fits this bill perfectly. The skiff floats in extremely shallow water. We poled around in water with the tips of grass protruding from the surface and slid along with ease as we poled for great lengths chasing down big schools of redfish pushing across the flats. The ability to be able to pole fast and set up on these fish is vital to success. Jason and I managed to feed countless numbers of redfish on a variety of lures and flies. I must admit, even having caught plenty of redfish on fly in my past, there is still nothing cooler then watching a big school of redfish dogpile on top of each other to try to eat a topwater plug. After being taken in by the cool ad I’d seen in a fishing magazine, I bought one of Bomber’s new Badonkadonk ( I also liked the name) topwater plugs and fed it to a bunch of redfish today. The fishing this day was spectacular as we plucked doubles off of each of the different schools of fish. Not only were there large numbers of fish in each school, but we encountered at least a dozen different schools of redfish up in the real skinny stuff. With the water continuing to warm the sight fishing opportunities on the flats is returning to the way it should be. Fishing can only get better from here. On the way back to the ramp, the wind had kicked up pretty bad but the Micro took to the chop surprisingly well and we stayed dry. The only thing I would change on the Micro is the engine HP rating. I would love to see a F60 or F70 on the rear of this boat. The F40 performed nicely and fuel economy is second to none, but the ability to scoot around faster would be nice. I must say though that even with an F40, the Micro was able to jump on plane in less then a boat’s length and with very little squat once tabs were applied. I also got to test one of Carbon Marine/Loop’s new push poles. These poles are amazingly stiff and light weight. I did not find a problem at all poling it in both shallow or deep water. The Carbon Marine Loop push poles are pretty impressive and priced unbeleivably cheaper then the Stiffy poles. After having used the Loop push pole, I highly recommend one for the absolute best value per performance.
Skiff: Maverick Mirage 17 HPX-V
Location: Key West and The Marquesas
During my 5th and final day on the water, I decided to take my own 17 HPX-V out to fish as south as I can go. Jeremy, David McCleaf, and I headed down to Key West to throw crabs and flies at Permit. Jeremy had never caught nor had a shot at a permit before but this day we produced many shots. Our first few shots came off a strip bank where there we had shots at 3 big fish. One cast was dead on but the fish spooked and didn’t eat (welcome to permit fishing). Towards the end of the day, we decided to make the journey across Boca Grande channel and look for some permit over at the Marquesas. We had 5 more solid shots at the end of the day and Jeremy ended up hooking his first permit. The fish ran under the boat during the fight and somehow ended up breaking off. This was a heart breaker but we were very content with the amount of shots we had and the fish we hooked. The day was growing late and the wind was steadily picking up so we decided to head back. Running back was no walk in the park. We made our way across Boca Grande channel again but the wind and current had sped up this time creating a consistant 3ft chop with a 4 to 5 footer mixed in here and there. I had the skiff airborne several times but she felt solid running across the chop and brought us home dry, humbled, and in one peice. Boca Grande channel is a definitely a force to be reckoned with but having the right skiff for the crossing is a must. Once Jeremy gets his GPS installed, we are going to try taking the 18 across to the Marquesas. This time, I can perhaps hopefully capitalize on my first permit on fly.
Spring is finally here and I am absolutely THRILLED about the warmer weather and good fishing to come. Stay tuned… the next journey has just begun!!
Sept 3rd 2009
Yesterday I got up at 1pm to make the drive down south to fish Flamingo (Everglades National Park) with Captain Benny Blanco. We got there right around sun up to launch the boat and of corse the famous Flamingo mosquito were there waiting to drain our blood. We were, for a change.. Blessed with gorgeous nice calm day finally!
We hurried the process as much as possible they still got us. It wasn’t too bad but still it’s never is a pleasant experience. Benny ran the boat to our 1st tarpon spot. We expectted to find baby tarpon but this morning there we tons of big tarpon blowing up bait every where.
Benny and I hurried and rigged up as they were rolling all around us and eating everything in sight. Benny tied on a Rapala plug and I used my Sebile Stick Shad. If we made a good cast the plugs were inhaled by tarpon 40 to 80 lbs. This was great! However… us not expecting to run into this kind of action only had 10-15lb braid. We got our ass kicked pretty much on every hook up. I think the number was 10 big tarpon jumped, all on plugs and zero landed.(yes we lost a few plugs… it was painful$ but it was worth it jumping big fish on plugs..)
The bite subsided after the sun was up and bright the tarpon stopped rolling and moved on. Benny ran to much shallower area and we immediately started to see tailing red fish. They were tailing all around us.. most singles and doubles and they were feeding in like 1′ of water. Benny and I used the Flapping shad and Berkley Gulp rigged weedless and landed 5 nice redfish before that bite ended.
We moved over to find big snook. While I was tying up Benny hooks up to huge snook on the Flapping shad in a foot of water but his 10lb braid for whatever reason snapped.! After that we spooked a few more fish but got no eat.
Since I’ve been up since 1am.. I took a 15minute nap on the bow while Benny sight fish from the poling platform as I rested. I hear thrashing and awoke to see Benny with another large redfish. This woke me up with more energy immediately. We spotted a large finning fish in the near distance. It was a large 70lb tarpon in less than 2′ of water.
I took a couple of photos and grabbed the spinning rod(I knew it was no match if I hooked it) and made a few cast but he was in no mode to eat my flapping shad.
We ended the day about 3pm as the bite slows the afternoon rain was approaching. I will never for get the Tarpon bite was had that morning. It had to be the best artificial big Tarpon bite I’ve ever been on. Thanks Benny.. you’re one hard working guide!
Big 70lb class Tarpon in less than 2′ of water. I don’t see much of this in Tampa..very cool!