While there has been some good fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon this year, the weather has been less than cooperative. Lots of cold, windy, and rainy days have made sight fishing difficult, if not impossible, on many days. We have had huge fluctuations in both water temperatures and levels this year as well. Right now, the water is unseasonably high and midday water temperatures the last couple of days have been 75 degrees and just last week, the water was 52 degrees. I much prefer the warmer air temperatures we are having this week.
The flats are crystal clear and the floating grass had not been a factor until the water came back up and lifted the grass that was piled on the shorelines. In some places, weedless lures are a must.
Lots of black drum are being spotted lately but the larger they are the harder they can be to get to bite. These fish are heavily pressured by lots of boats bombarding them with all types of lures, baits, and sinkers, as do the large 20-40 pound redfish. Black drum are rarely aggressive and the huge redfish in the winter do not act anything like they do in the late summer and fall when you can fool them with plastic lures on the surface. Big pieces of crab, mullet, ladyfish or similar on the bottom combined with a lot of patience is usually required to fool the largest fish. Some days, however, you can find some cooperative giants that will eat lures and fly. The 2-15 pound redfish are much easier to target with lures and flies and can be found away from the circus usually surround the schools of breeders.
Small plastics such as the DOA crab, 1/4 ounce shrimp, or 3″ CAL shad tail will work well for the redfish. The larger trout prefer a large bait such as the 5″ CAL or the airhead but will often eat any redfish lure if properly presented. On calm sunny days, extreme stealth can be required to get near the fish in the shallow clear water. Baits that land softly will work best as they will flee from noisy plops.
Winter is a great time for fly-fishing the flats as well. The redfish worm fly in a variety of colours such as black, rootbeer, and olive are my favourite for reds and drum. A bendback will work well for redfish and is easier to present to big trout in shallow water but the trout will eat the redfish worm as you can see above.
On cloudy and windy days, blind casting may be the only way to find fish. The 5.5″ CAL is great for covering a lot of water. I add a woodies rattle to the back for extra attracting power.
On the freshwater side, the shad run in the St. Johns river has been up and down. Anglers finding themselves at the right place and time can easily score double-digit landings. I have only made it out once so far. We managed a total of four shad between us at the same spots the guy had gotten 40 only a few days before. We both caught more bass than we did shad and some nice ones for that part of the river. All were fun on ultralight tackle.
Winter vacations are upon us and spring break is just around the corner. If you are thinking about booking a trip in the next couple of months, get your days locked in now, as this is our busiest season.
For more information on Chris’ charters visit his website.