We have continued to experience outstanding fishing for redfish and large seatrout during the past few weeks. On most days, we have encountered multiple schools of redfish along with a significant amount of singles tailing on the flats of Mosquito Lagoon. Seeing redfish does not always equate with catching them, as those who have fished the Lagoon know. Although the fish have been plentiful, and, on most days, will eat a properly presented artificial bait, they have been very spooky. Being able to cast the bait quickly and accurately have been the most important factors during the past few months. The ability to make these cast under what are commonly less than ideal wind conditions this time of year can be the difference between a day of catching ten redfish or a day of catching none. Practice your casting before you go fishing and your catching will increase dramatically.
Easter Sunday was cloudy, cold, and windy but Carlton, from Arkansas, and I were one of the only boats on the Lagoon. Though the weather was less than perfect, the fish didn't seem to mind. We spent the entire morning in an area less than one square mile and had over a dozen schools of fish all to ourselves. I'm sure Carlton will be the first to tell you that catching them is not as easy as it sounds. His first fish was a respectable seatrout that took a 4” DOA CAL tail in Arkansas Shiner that was meant for, but was behind, a school of redfish. This was the first of two nice trout this week that were following schools of reds and were caught on what seemed to be an errant cast. Carlton's next catch was nearly a double as a redfish from a large school grabbed his CAL tail and a second fish got hung up on the leader while trying to attack the same bait. He nearly got both fish to the boat before one shook free but he was able to land his first ever redfish.
By Wednesday, the weather had improved and my good friend Dave joined me for a perfect spring day on the Lagoon. In the first two hours, we saw about 15 schools of redfish. Several of them spooked and swam off before we could ever get a shot at them but I managed to get a cast into a school of over slot fish and a 30” redfish inhaled a 5” CAL tail in melon back color. We each caught a few reds and some nice trout all on four and five inch jerk baits and headed in when the wind picked up.
Thursday, I fished Steve and Dan from Orlando. The fish were still plentiful but we had more wind and clouds than the day before making them more difficult to see. Dan opened the day with a 29” redfish caught on a 5” melon back tail with a Woodies rattle. The schools moved off so we headed to some ultra shallow water to look for tailing reds. It took the guys a while to get their casting dialed in to the small strike zone of tailing redfish but as the day progressed, so did their accuracy. Adding a rattle to the baits also helped get the attention of the redfish when the cast was not exactly perfect. Both guys were able to catch their first tailing redfish on artificial baits.
By Friday, the wind had increased to a steady 10-15. Alex from Orlando treated his father from Sweden to his first trip to Mosquito Lagoon. The guys wanted to target big redfish. After a bit of searching, we found a school of large reds. Finding them was difficult. Getting them to eat proved impossible. Fresh live baits did not even draw a strike so we moved on to another location with less than an hour left to fish. Alex caught a trout and his father landed his first redfish. Although it was not the giant they had hoped for, we managed to avoid a shutout.
Ahead of an approaching cold front, Saturday's winds had increased to 15-25. Julie and Peggy, both fly anglers, faced some tough conditions. Our first spot had 6-8 schools of redfish. Between some morning clouds and wind, seeing them proved difficult and casting a fly to them even harder. Julie's crab fly was totally ignored by a large school of redfish. As the schools vanished into deeper water, we headed shallower and came across a fair number of extremely spooky singles throughout the day. Many of the fish took off before we ever got a shot at them. Some of the best anglers I have ever fished, both ladies made some amazing fly casts under impossible conditions but they were totally ignored. We changed fly size color and pattern but could not seem to find one that would work. While backing up Peggy with a spinning rod, Julie caught a trout. The only interest in any of our flies came from a blowfish. Had we enjoyed better conditions, I am certain these accomplished anglers would have had a very successful day.