The story so far this December has been one of weather and water. Neither one have been cooperating. The weather has been less than optimal for sight fishing. While there have been a few days with light winds and sun, there have been many more with one or both of those factors working against us. This time of year, the waters of the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River should be crystal clear. Unfortunately, that is not the case in most parts of the Lagoon system. The water temperatures are still hovering above 65 degrees and the bloom of exotic algae that plagued us most of the summer and fall is still lingering on. To see the fish, you need both sun and clean water, a combination that has been hard to get lately. The good news is that there are redfish around and they have been more than willing to eat well placed lures and flies.
To start the month off, I had fellow FFF Certified Casting Instructor Dan Boggs on board for what I was hoping would be one of the best fly fishing days of the year. The fish had been tailing well the week before and I was certain Dan would be able to hit the target. We arrived to find winds sustained at 19mph, chilly temperatures, and plenty of clouds. Not only do redfish not tail as much in the wind, it is more difficult to spot them when they do. Needless to say, the tailing fish were nowhere to be found. Dan's father reeled in the only redfish of the day.
A few days later, I was joined by fried Rick for a day of fun fishing. We spent the first part of the morning exploring miles of water that held very few fish. After much searching, we found some clean water and plenty of cruising redfish. The black redfish worm fly and the watermelon holographic DOA shrimp were pounced on by most of the fish that saw them. While many of the fish we saw were digging in the grass feeding, we saw very few tails break the surface.
The following morning, I returned to a slick calm flat to find schools of tailing redfish in every direction. The first cast of the day with my 5wt flyrod resulted in a redfish eating my brown and gold bendback fly but the fish broke off. I tied on a green and silver bendback and got 4 bites on the next 5 casts but no hookups. I inspected the fly and discovered the hook had broken just below the eye on the first bite. I grabbed my black redfish worm and quickly began hooking, and landing, fish. About 45 minutes later, the tails all went down, the fished moved off, and I never saw them again. I spent the remainder of the day scouting for some places to fish on what I knew was going to be a windy charter the following day.
Scottish angler, Brian, joined me for another one of the days of 20 mph winds we have had. To go along with the wind, we had morning temperatures in the 40's. The water temperature had dropped thirteen degrees overnight. It was the last day of his trip, however, and he wanted to give it a try. His preference was fly fishing but, due to the wind, he decided a spinning rod might give him a better chance. Unfortunately, none of the fish I had found the previous day were in wind protected areas. We were the only boat in sight when Brian began getting bites on his weedless rigged three inch DOA CAL. For some reason, the fish were not getting hooked so I switched him to a four inch CAL in golden bream color. We were fishing in about 2 feet of slightly cloudy water with both grass and sand patches. A Woodies Rattle in the baits seemed to be helping the fish locate the small lure. Brain caught redfish on the 3, 4, and 5 inch CAL baits. The bite was consistent and he even got out the flyrod and made some blind casts with a brown crab pattern. He landed his flyrod redfish and turned some poor weather into an excellent day of catching.
This week's weather was even less flats fishing friendly with gray skies dominating the days. Steve and Hank joined me on the Lagoon for some sight fishing. The winds were light for a change but the clouds were thick in the morning. Unable to find any tailing fish we tried some trout fishing while we waited for the clouds to clear. I tied on a couple DOA Deadly Combos and we began hitting islands, bars, and dropoffs. They caught a dozen or so and we suddenly had a break in the clouds. We raced off to the flats in search of redfish. We had just located a decent concentration when the clouds. Unable to see the fish until we ran into them, they were forced to change tactics to blind casting for the rest of the day. Both guys had several bites from redfish but failed to set the hook and they never managed to land one.
When the weather cooperates and the fish are tailing, the fishing is excellent. During periods of clouds and wind, finding the fish can be a challenge. Hopefully, as we move towards what is traditionally the coldest time of the year in Florida, the algae bloom will clear and more areas will be open to sight fishing. Clean water and blue skies are at the top of my Christmas wish list.