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
This past weekend I made the 3 hour drive down to Miami to fish with good buddies Capt. Honson Lau and Capt. Jeremy Alderman to do some Tarpon fishing in their home waters. We launched Honson’s 18ft Maverick Mirage HPX at Jeremy’s house in Key Largo and made the long run all the way to Islamorada. The 115 Mercury Pro XS made the run a piece of cake, and man, that motor scoots!
Fishing the Tarpon migration is not easy. You gotta know where to sit, what direction to point, what tides are doing, what fish to feed, what flies to throw, how to strip the fly, where to put the fly and so on, and these guys know it all, and exactly what to do.
Sure I wanted to catch a Tarpon on fly while I was down there, but what I really wanted were some good action shots of Tarpon jumps. I was on bow a couple times and had some good shots at some laid up and cruising fish, had a few follows but no takers. I had Honson take my place on the bow while I was behind the lens and Jeremy on the push pole. Sure enough after a few shots, Honson jumps a nice fish that gave us a spectacular air show! The cool thing about this fish was that the first cast at this fish, it tracked the fly all the way to the boat but didn’t eat because the fly was fouled, Honson quickly picked it up, fixed the fly, slapped it back in front of the fish and next thing you know, there’s explosions in the water. Of course like what most Tarpon would do, this one gave us a good short show then shook the fly out of its jaw. You can see the fly ejected from the fishes mouth on some of the photos.
Next up on the bow was Jeremy with Honson on the push pole and me behind the lens again. After sitting at a spot waiting for fish to show up only seeing a few here and there, we decided to leave since it was a little slow. As soon as we were about to power up. a pod of 50-60 Tarpon come heading our way and Jeremy quickly grabs his rod, strips out some line and fires out a shot into the pod and hooks up! The fish never knew it was hooked and stuck with the school just daisy chaining around the boat and then shortly after, th hook pulls without a jump. Frustrating, but that’s the name of the game. After that, we called it a successful day and made the long run back to Key Largo.
The next day, my friend Ramiro invited Honson and I to hop in his Maverick Mirage HPX-T and fish the Everglades National Park. The conditions were horrible with 20-30kt winds and some storms brewing so it was going to be a short trip. We launched at Flamingo and made a good run to some spots that were holding a bunch of Redfish. It was too windy for fly rods so we all threw some D.O.A. Cals on spinning outfits. The fishery down there is amazing, beautiful water, healthy grass and lots of fish. We caught Redfish, Snook, and Sea Trout until we got chased out by storms. Great day on the water with great company, that’s what it’s all about!
I’ll be back down very soon for more action and hopefully better conditions. Stay tuned for part 2….
-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
I spent this last weekend hanging out in the Keys at the Alderman’s. It’s always a chill time in the Keys.. fresh seafood, a little bonefishing, cold beer, and a very relaxed atmostphere. My buddy Jeremy and I decided to put together a little poker run/mini-shoot to an island in the middle of Florida Bay one afternoon. With 3 Maverick Mirages (two 18 HPX-Vs and a 17 HPX-V) and Juanki’s “Lake and Spray”, we headed out and shot a few cool photos on the water. So within this chilled out weekend, we did manage to sneak out for 3 early hours of some slightly serious business… bonefishing!!! They were there…. they ate shrimp… they ran like hell when they felt the pinch… and your sun glove smelled like hell after you released one.
Between the photoshoot, giant stone crab claws for dinner, bonefish wreslting, and being amongst great company… the weekend was as always… incredible!!! Enjoy some skiff porn….
Stay tuned… more to come shortly!!!
Welcome to the Third Chapter in the construciton of my next Maverick Mirage…. Fused
The construction of my new Maverick Mirage is near completion. I visited the Maverick Boat Co. plant this past week and got to take the first in person glance at my new skiff. The color combination looks great in photos but even better in person. I can’t wait to bring her home. While at the factory, I got to watch the masterminds fuse the hull and the cap of my boat together. After I had lunch with the whole Maverick Boat Co. administration, Tyler of Castaway Customs met up with me and installed the under gunnel seadeck pads. The work definitely speaks for itself as the quality of Tyler’s work is second to none. Here are some photos from my visit north…
Stay tuned for the next chapter… Refined…
All my life, I have always tried to seek out the best of the best and this comes especially true when choosing my next flats skiff. This will my my third skiff I own and my third product from Maverick Boat Company as well. Currently, Maverick Boats is building my next skiff… and for the first time, I was able to build one from scratch with every little nit pick detail that I desired. After a 12 year run fishing the shallows from Flamingo to Islamorada, I have finally spec’ed out everything I wanted in a skiff; both for guiding and for fun fishing days.
I learned to run a boat and fish the shallows at age 12 on a Hewes/Maverick Light Tackle 18 flats skiff (currently the Redfisher 18). It had a 2 tone commander blue and white hull with Yamaha 150HP Saltwater Series motor, lots of weight, and a fishy attitude. I tried to get into places where this big flats boat was pushed to it’s limits from big water Dolphin fishing to shallow water Redfishing. This was hardly a skiff, but a big water flats boat, which my buddies and I actually did end up still trying to pole. For many years, I first learned to fish Whitewater Bay before learning how to fish the flats out front in Florida Bay. Along the way, my buddy Capt. Frank had also taught me how to bonefish in Key Largo as well as introduce me to fly fishing. I did a lot of this in either Frank’s Hewes Bayfisher 18 or my Hewes Light Tackle 18. These bigger skiffs were adequate and got me where I needed to be dry and comfortably. I fished the hell out of my 18 Light Tackle from the day I bought it in 1998 until the day I sold it in 2004.
In the next few weeks, I will keep an updated blog on Saltyshores of the entire skiff building process that goes into a Maverick Mirage HPX from start to finish. Until next time…. stay tuned for the “Hatching”!!!
My buddy Dave Teper (www.worldangling.com) had rented a house in the lower Keys for the month of July so Jeremy and I decided to take his 18 HPX-V down to Key West this last weekend for a couple of days of fishing. Fishing was good, food was great, and the good times had were second to none. Thanks, Dave for the invitation.
Jeremy, David McCleaf, and I decided to make a game plan covering all the different types of fishing that Key West had to offer. The crystal clear waters were teaming with life and the many types of fishing that could be had in one day were too good to pass up. There was bait everywhere, lots of clear water, and the remnants of lobster hunters stayed well away from where we planned on fishing (except for that one tool bag in a big catamaran who decided it was a good idea to get in front of us and motor up to every tarpon that swam towards us). The versatility of the Maverick 18 HPX-V allowed us to cover everything from the shallowest inshore flats where permit and bonefish tailed to the wrecks and reefs in the deeper waters. Making the crossing through Northwest Channel, Lakes Passage, and Boca Grande Channel to the Marquesas had never been this comfortable. We kicked off the first hour of fishing with our first small permit and proceded to mix things up from there. From the wrecks to the flats, we caught Permit, Bonefish, Cobia, Snappers, and even hooked a Tarpon on fly. Some of the food I had this last weekend was absolutely epic; Lobster dinner on the first night, the best cuban food at El Siboney the second night, and then grilled up the cobia we caught on the final night there. This was definitely a weekend to remember…