The summer heat isn’t the only cause for anglers perspiring at the thought of our National Parks right now. The recent National Park closures have sparked some heat among us fisherman who really enjoy this great resource we have in South FL. Times like these leave me reflecting on the great memories raising Hell in the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks this past summer. Law Enforcement is now patrolling the boundary line entering the ENP from the Keys but I can’t help but feel tempted to cross over and pole some of my favorite flats until the blue lights chase us.
Fall is approaching now as we are adorned by NE winds following the last few storms of the year. As the season takes a shift, so does our fishery. The park closures have kept man out of the glades and there is no telling what we will find when the gates open up once more. I, for one am anxious to get back to my slices of heaven… Everglades and Biscayne National Park.
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
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
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…
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
Dark skies and rain storms looming overhead has been the norm this year, making it a very challenging tarpon season. The few days of sun light have brought forth some good fishing, but those days are few. Yet, we stay persistant and make due with what we have; hiding under bridges in between storms, trying to establish our place in the lanes in a way too crowded town, and making use of all the new technology we have available to us today. We’ve spent this year shooting more videos then stills so stay tuned and we should have a teaser up shortly.
There is no telling what tarpon season will bring… high winds, nasty seas, rain, etc. There isn’t much you can do when there is no light but establish yourself on one of the few white spots or attempt to dredge a poon from the depths. When light is decent and winds kick up, seas get real rough and that is where sitting on an anchor is the only way to go. I used to dread having to run from spot to spot with the anchor banging up the inside of my hatches but this year, I found a cool product that protects the inside of my hatches from the anchor jumping around as well as helps conserve space. Similar to the concept of a fly reel with a reel pouch… www.anchorsuit.com
Until next time… we will still brave these storms and try to bring you more tarpon porn.
A short clip of Honson catching a nice Redfish on fly while he was up visiting from Miami.