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
I made a decision earlier this year to take time off from guiding starting this Fall. I set forth to rediscover the feeling of being the dude on the bow of the skiff facing a great technical fishery right at my doorstep. Of coarse, this can only be possible with an alternative source of income as I am no trustafarian. This past summer was all all about calm windless days, waving flags, and lots of copper. The days spent on the water this Fall amongst friends was set in the Everglades and upper end of the Florida Keys, primarily focusing on silver-clad gamefish.
The shameless plug this time goes to Maverick Boat Company. My first ride in a new Mirage 18 HPX-V was back in 2009 and from there-on, I knew this was to be my next skiff. I sold my 17 Mirage HPX-V shortly after that demo ride and have been fishing in my 18 HPX-V for the last couple of years. For my style of fishing, the 18 Mirage was just the work horse technical fishing platform I needed. A Mercury 115 Optimax ProXs found it’s way on my transom this past year, replacing the 90 horsepower Yamaha I had originally hung on the skiff. This set-up is perfect, achieving fuel efficient 40mph cruise speeds and top speeds in the low to mid 50s. The extra 6lbs on the transom was negligible taking into account the extra speed gained from the motor swap. Recent fishing trips and tournament days have really pushed the limits of this great skiff… traveling over 100 miles a day, covering lots of water, getting there at just the right tide, and remaining stealthy once arriving at the stalking grounds. Kudos to Maverick as all performance expectations were exceeded. It is almost time for a new skiff soon and I may actually have an itch for something a little bit different. Though the idea a new skiff is tempting, it is difficult to not to fish another season out of my 18 Mirage. I guess time will tell…
These past couple weeks have been pretty busy for me out on the goon. Poling the skiff for 6 days straight can really put a hurting on someone but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! The fishing in the Lagoon has been really good. Reds on the shoreline, Reds tailing, Reds schooled up, and Reds just cruising around by themselves waiting for an easy meal to plop right in front of them. Big Sea Trout are also plentiful in the Lagoon. I haven’t seen a Sea Trout bite this good in years! Multiple fish up to 30″ is not uncommon. D.O.A. CAL 4″ Jerkbaits has been getting the job done, while baitfish pattern flies has been working well on the long rods. Here are a few highlights of my previous trips from Mosquito Lagoon.
Glen from Pittsburgh joined me on his first trip to the Mosquito Lagoon, he used his Smallmouth Bass and Walleye fishing skills to catch him some nice Redfish and Trout. He was amazed of how hard a Redfish can pull!
RCI Optics has launched a new Ad of me promoting my signature series of the “MONSTER HOLE” model. Should be available later this Summer! I can’t tell you how much I love these sun glasses, the lens has been holding up great and seems to impress me every time I’m on the water with them….no joke.
-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
Skinny Water Culture, a fishing/street culture apparel company out of Tampa, FL. that has a creative vibe to every piece of clothing that they put out. I’ve been working with SWC for about a year or so and they have been very supportive on custom items that fit my needs. This past Saturday, Vince who is the man behind the brand and Chase who creates all of the designs for SWC met up with me for a day on the Mosquito Lagoon to do some fishing and to go over some new fabrics and designs for new products in the works. The winds were howling a good 10-15mph out of the East so we were limited to where we could fish and there was a Rocket launch scheduled that morning at 10am over at NASA so the South portion of Mosquito Lagoon was restricted. We were forced to tuck behind islands to get out of the wind at a spot I like to call “Escondido” only to find tails popping up and fish crawling the shorelines all around us. Well, you probably know what happened after that….
Each fish was celebrated with a beer break to share some laughs and talk about the future of the company. Skinny Water Culture has some good things to come in the future with great new fabrics, new designs, and new products for 2012. One of my favorites is the new SWC Tech Hooded jacket. Talk about a stylish, super comfortable, and well manufactured multifunctional product for the Winter! What’s cool about these guys is that they not only design clothes for the sport, they actually have a passion for it and are really good at it! Make sure you check out their stuff at www.skinnywaterculture.com.
-Capt. Willy Le
Being that we are in the heart of Tarpon season in Tarpon country, the Memorial Weekend crowds flooded our ocean side flats. I sat out on the ocean one morning and after we fed our first tarpon, I soon found myself crowded out by out of towners running flats boats fishing and anchoring way too close for comfort. The once tranquil ocean side flats where tarpon swam lazily in uniform strings awaiting a small fly to be snuck in under their noses had turned into a pin ball game where the fish were literally bouncing from boat to boat. I came out to get away from it all, but found myself surrounded by a scene depicting that of Boca Grande Pass. It was all I could take, so we packed it in early this day and I vowed to do something else less stressful the following day.
It had been a while since I had a chance to make the run from Key Largo to the flats out front of Flamingo and pole in some of the skinniest water in search of redfish. Redfishing was the first form of flats fishing that I absolutely fell in love with in my youthful years. The weather was right and the redfishing was said to be spectacular on the flats, so Jeremy and I took our bus man’s holiday to the skinnier side of town. This was a great chance to see how the recent changes in climate and day to day operations had effect on the redfishery. We caught plenty of juvenile redfish in the backcountry creeks this last winter and it was only a matter of time before those fish should take to the flats. This theory proved sound. We arrived at our first flat and Jeremy instantly connected with the first of many redfish this day.
After only having cast a fly rod for several months on straight, I think my confidence with a spinning rod was way down. So I picked up a fly rod and caught half a dozen of these little guys on pink redfish sliders and tan seaducers…
… before picking up a spinning rod and getting my “chuck a DOA at a tailing redfish” mojo back. We poled further up on this expansive flat in search of something different. Perhaps a tailing redfish, rather then one that was cruising. Once we spotted that tailer we searched for, we got distracted by an even bigger redfish crawling nearly with it’s back out of the water. We poled my 18ft Maverick Mirage skiff way up onto the crown of the flat. Looking back, we weren’t even rubbing bottom. I stick the tip of my Shimano Terez Spinning rod into the water to guage our depth… the rod tip bumped bottom half way between the 2nd and 3rd guide. I looked back again and saw the grass being waved aside, but no mud stirred up. Were we really floating this shallow? Tips of the blades of grass began to pierce the water’s surface and we pushed along, still floating, crossing the crown of this flat poling after this nice redfish. Poling on the rough ocean side flats for big tarpon one day and stalking redfish in skinny water the next day… can you say VERSATILITY?
The next scene was familiar… I dropped a DOA CAL on this redfish’s head and the rest was history…
The storms started to build, so we poled off of the infamous Snake Bight, picking off a few more redfish along the way, and motored our way back to Key Largo. I almost forgot how tranquil and scenic the ride back to Largo was. This was truly the perfect day to take a little bit of time off of my normal routine and rediscover what redfishing should be like. Guess what I’ll be doing after this tarpon season?
Stay tuned… we will be back with your normally scheduled chronicles…