The high winds, clouds, and rain during the past week made the sight fishing conditions along the east central Florida coast less than perfect. The fish, however, did not seem to mind a bit. The cooler water temperature has brought about a significant increase in the amount of schooling redfish. I have also been seeing an increase in the numbers of tailing redfish during the past few weeks. This means it is time to bring out the soft plastic crabs and shrimp. There are still plenty of mullet around, however, and with the fish feeding aggressively, almost anything you throw to them will work.
Monday's trip to the Mosquito Lagoon was a perfect example of the variety of the redfish diet this time of year. I landed ten redfish and had quite a few more bites on a variety of baits. The gold DOA Baitbuster is still drawing aggressive strikes from redfish of all sizes. I have been working this bait on or just under the surface with a moderate and steady retrieve. After catching a few fish on this bait, I began experimenting with other lures. The fish responded well to everything I threw at them. The DOA crab, a Captain Joe's Shredder, a CAL jerkbait, and a green/white bendback fly all landed fish.
Thursday, I returned to the Mosquito Lagoon with the hope of spending the day fly fishing. The wind and the clouds were more of a factor than I had anticipated. I switched from a 7 to a 9wt flyrod to overcome the stiff breeze but the cloud cover made it difficult to spot the fish until they were only a few yards away. I managed to land two redfish on a green/gold #2 bendback pattern before switching over to spinning gear. Seven more reds were brought to the boat on a gold 4 inch CAL jerkbait and the gold Baitbuster. I spotted quite a few large trout in shallow sand holes but with the poor visibility, most of them saw me before I saw them.
As we progress through the cooler months, tailing redfish will become a common occurrence in the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River. These fish can be some of the most aggressive feeders but can also be the most difficult to hook up. When the fish are rooting in the grass attempting to dig out a crab or shrimp, they are often oblivious to their surroundings. If you are quiet, you can get extremely close to these fish without spooking them. Because they are so focused on the bait in the grass, it is often difficult to draw their attention to your bait. I like to cast past the fish, bring my bait directly in front of their nose and let it lie still until the fish raises it's head. A slight twitch of your lure at that moment will usually draw an instant strike. Using small crab or shrimp imitations works well. Some anglers prefer to add a rattle to their baits to draw the fish's attention.