The winter fishing here in east central Florida continues to be excellent. Redfish, black drum, and seatrout are our primary species this time of year and all three have been readily available. The water levels over the past two weeks have been low resulting in some great sight fishing opportunities.
On Sunday, January 27, I fished the second annual fly fishing tournament sponsored by The Fly Fisherman in Titusville. This event had been cancelled the previous two weeks due to poor weather. This day turned out to be a poor day for fly fishing but the tournament went on as planned. When I arrived at the ramp with my partner, Capt. Keith Kalbfleisch, it was raining and the winds were blowing around 20. Unable to see any fish in the low light, we spent the first couple hours blind casting and picked up one redfish. By late morning, the sun came out but the wind continued blowing. We had steady shots at redfish and big trout throughout the day. Casting was difficult but the hardest part was trying to stop the boat before the wind blew us on top of the fish. Capt. Keith and I each caught two more redfish by sight casting a small rattling crab type pattern. Our five reds were good enough for a second place finish in this catch, photo, release tournament with the winning team having caught six reds.
Tuesday, I joined captains Tom Van Horn and John Kumiski in the Banana River no motor zone. The weather had improved significantly and we came across a large school of big redfish tailing along the edge of a flat. I hooked a fish around 40 inches with a green crab fly using my 7wt.
Capt. Tom landed a nice red and a black drum while Capt. John used a black redfish worm fly to land several black drum and had a huge redfish straighten the hook after a good fight.
Thursday, I had a last minute cancellation. The weather was perfect, so I loaded up my flyrods and headed to Mosquito Lagoon. I spent all morning casting to schools of big redfish and black drum. Despite trying about a dozen different flies, I could not get a single bite. I ended the day catching three trout on a black crab pattern.
Monday, my wife was finally able to join me in Mosquito Lagoon on a day when the wind was not blowing. The water was slick calm and we were easily able to see the fins of big redfish and black drum. Julie hooked up first with the best fish of the day on her second cast. Eleven minutes later, she had the 46 inch 33 pound fish at boatside where we snapped a few pictures before sending it back to its friends.
We each caught one more redfish around 38 inches before leaving them to look elsewhere.
We continued to see both black drum and redfish throughout the day and caught them on various crab flies as well as 4 inch DOA CAL tails in golden bream color. This fifteen spot redfish certainly wasn't the biggest but it did take the prize for best looking.
We finished up the day with 9 reds, a black drum and a trout.On the way home, we stopped at the St. John's River to look for some shad. The bite was slow but I did catch two shad and a speckled perch to add to our total.
Tuesday, I fished with Tom and Rick, a couple of fishing buddies from Indiana making their first trip to Mosquito Lagoon. They wanted to try some sight fishing and it was a perfect morning to do just that. With the calm water, we were able to see at least twenty different schools of redfish tailing and finning on the first flat we visited. Rick was at a serious disadvantage having never cast a spinning rod before. Although it sounds like easy fishing having schools of 10-100 fish in every direction, presenting a lure to these wary fish can be easier said than done. It took a bit of trial and error but we managed to get seven redfish to the boat by the end of the day. Rick had a battle with the biggest fish of the day right at the final bell a 32 inch fish around 15 pounds.
The redfish have been feeding heavily on small crabs which means flies and small soft plastics such as the DOA crab will get their attention. Accuracy and presenting the bait without spooking the fish is far more important than color.