On February 28 there will be a Merritt Island Show and Tell Fishing Seminar. Tour the wildlife refuge and learn the ins and outs of fishing for reds, trout, and other species in the Mosquito Lagoon and the north end of the Indian River Lagoon. Cost is $50 per person. You will learn more in one day during this popular seminar than you could in a year on your own! Visit http://www.spottedtail.com/show&tell.htm for more information and to sign up.
Sunday afternoon I drove to the St. Johns River crossing at SR 46. I figured Iíd walk out to the bar and see if any shad were around. Tom Van Horn was there with Allen Wyatt and Tom Lucke. They had been there all morning, even fished up into the Econlockhatchee. They had only gotten a few. We were all there casting together for over an hour. I got the only fish, a crappie the size of the palm of my hand. After they left I stayed for another hour but didnít get another bite.
Tuesday and Wednesday I spent a lot of time in doctorís waiting rooms.
Wednesday morning I brought my Sienna in to the Aamco on East Colonial Drive in Orlando to get a transmission fluid flush. They took the van for a drive, checked the fluid, and told me to save my money. The fluid was fine and didnít need to be changed. They told me to come back in September! The managerís name is Jeff and please tell him I sent you!
Thursday a cold front came in. It rained, and got very windy. I went birding for a little while.
On Friday Brian Washburn joined me for a 3/4 dayís fishing on the Mosquito Lagoon. The forecast called for a high of 62 degrees with winds out of the north at 10-20. I donít think it made it to 62, but it was definitely blowing 20. It was COLD. I didnít think weíd see any fish, but we did. Quite a few, actually. Brian even managed to get a slot red on a mullet chunk. But fishing was tough in that wind. The best part of the day was getting into a steaming hot shower after I got home!
Yesterday I went out to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to scout the dike roads for my show and tell on Saturday. Man, the water is low. Two of the dike roads are closed, apparently for an extended period.
Then I did something I havenít done in years. I pulled on a pair of waders and went wade fishing off the dike road.
The wind was southeast at 10, and there were broken clouds. I spotted a redfish almost immediately but before I could get into casting position a cloud came. When it passed the fish was gone. Still, it was encouraging.
After wading a ways I spotted a tail. There was a pair of fish tailing, working their way down the flat. I tossed a black Clouser Minnow out ahead of them and one jumped on it immediately. I missed him.
Now really looking, I soon saw another tail. Again I cast the Clouser. I meant for it to be out in front but it was practically a head shot. The fly hit the water and the fish was on. After a minute or so he came unbuttoned, but I was fired up and renewed the search.
I spotted another tail, and waded out in pursuit. I spotted the fish and dropped the Clouser out in front. When he was close enough to see it I gave it a twitch. A lunge, a pull, and I am hooked up again.
The fish means business and makes several runs in succession, goingwell into the backing. I knew he must be a good one but I wasnít fully prepared when he came to hand- pushing 40 inches and 20 pounds, simply a magnificent fish. While wading? Unbelievable.
I had several more shots resulting in refusals, so I put a Merkin Crab on. Shortly afterwards I spotted a pair of fish over a sand hole. My cast was off a little but I waited for the fish to move that way, then gave the fly a twitch. One of the fish rushed it from about five feet away. I could clearly see the eat, very cool.
While this fish was thrashing around it spooked at least 15 more fish out of there. It didnít pull as hard as the earlier one did, but it turned to be ďonlyĒ 30 inches or so, still a very pretty fish.
After this a few more shots ensue but the clouds were getting thick and I am getting chilly. Plus Iím feeling fairly satisfied about whatís already transpired. Iím almost back to the van when I step into a muck pocket. I am up past my waist in gluey black mud, stuck as if in quicksand. I struggle for a few minutes but canít get out. I go to call for help but realize the phone is in the van.
Relax, John, and think this through. You only have to go five feet forward and the bottom is hard. But underneath you the muck is apparently bottomless. See if you can get out the way you came in.
I pull my sleeves up as far as I can and start to struggle again. Submerging my hand and arms, searching for something to use for leverage, I try to get my feet out and use my knees. The muck is almost up to the top of the waders, and I havenít pulled up my sleeves enough. But there are a few little sticks in there and I start to make some progress. Before too long I am on hands and knees, crawling back the way I came, and next thing the ground is solid.
Solid ground is a wonderful thing, donít you think?
I wade back out into the lagoon to wash some of the mud off. I am covered with it and it stinks. But I am out of the hole. As such, the stink of the mud isnít so bad. A wonderful part of the day was getting in to a hot, steaming shower when I got home!
In spite of the muck pockets I obviously need to spend more time wading.