East Central Florida Fishing Report
February was another month with up and down weather conditions…..high winds, rain, cold days, and quite a few warm days. This whole winter has been tough to figure out a pattern with the fish you just basically go out each day and adjust and hunt them down. When the skies have been clear sight fishing redfish and trout has been excellent finding lots of big trout over the shallow grass and in the sand holes. As for the redfish they have been pretty well scattered in both the Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River Lagoon in schools, pods, singles tailing in the grass, and a few on the shorelines.
Both the redfish and the trout have been caught throwing a variety of DOA Lures from C.A.L. paddle tails, C.A.L. jerk baits, shrimp, and the airheads. The C.A.L.s I’ve been rigging on Owner twist lock weedless hooks. If the winds are super lite rigging them on a weightless hook has worked well on the spooky fish but as the wind picks up or to get a long cast at the spooky trout use a 1/8oz to 1/4oz. Aqua dream spoons have also been producing in the 1/4oz pinfish, mullet, white and gold.Fly anglers have been catching redfish and trout on a variety of patterns lately. Depending on the location and the mood of the fish adjust accordingly. Most redfish that are tailing, cruising, laid up, or cruising a shoreline will take a well placed shrimp, crab, or a slider. I’ve been tying these flies on size 4 and 6 hooks. The other patterns that are working well for the fish in the sand holes and the ones over the shallow grass are small clousers, bendbacks, and EP baitfish all in natural or white colors with very little flash. Long leaders about 10ft and lite tippet for the the long presentation to the spooky fish in this clear water.
Days with tough conditions or clients that are unable to sight fish I’ve been using live shrimp, live finger mullet, and or cut mullet or lady fish. Some days the redfish were refusing the cut mullet and only taking it live or only taking it cut and not live. Hook sizes have varied depending on the size of the bait and the fish I’m targeting. Owner circle hooks in the 3-4/0 range are perfect for the cut bait and finger mullet, as for the live shrimp a 2/0 is best. Casting live shrimp to the sand holes and working them slow has worked well for the clients that cant see the fish that well. Tailing fish will rarely refuse a well placed live shrimp.
They’re has been amazing color in the skies some mornings on my way to pick up clients from JB’s Fish Camp.
Mid January plans were in the works for me and Journalist/Author/World Traveler Jan Maizler to fish out of East Cape Skiffs new skiff the Glide and Graham Morton of WaterLine Media
taking footage from my boat. Well a cold front came down and sat over Central Florida for three days bringing high winds and lots of rain during the time we were supposed to fish. We had to cancel the shoot but me and Jan made it out for a few hours on my boat in the rain and 20mph north winds to try and make his trip from Miami worth it. We were able to catch a few quality redfish despite the conditions. Here’s a photo I took of Jan with one of the redfish he caught and a link to the story he put together on the trip.
The conditions between fronts equal clear skies and calmer winds and a day off with another guide well that means load up the fly rods. Fished a day with my buddy Capt. Joe Roberts and both had some good shots at tailing redfish and only had a few eats that were short lived. Joe had some great shots at some spooky fish but managed to fool this one with a EP baitfish pattern,
I got together with another East Cape Skiffs guide Capt. Jessie Register of Flyin High Charters
to run East Capes new skiff the Glide. We went out for half a day poking around and were dealing with some pretty spooky fish so we kept moving. I blew quite a few shots so Jesse got on the front and I pushed him to a fish fairly quick. Jesse couldn’t see this fish but I told him right where to cast and as his EP fly came over top of the redfish he just looked up and sucked it in.
Jesse recently took possession of his new East Cape Skiff
the Vantage and he asked me to join for a morning on the Lagoon to throw some flies and I said sure. The winds were supposed to be lite but that was not the case. We had a few shots at the first spot but quickly made a move and found some happier fish. These fish were in pods floating at the surface and tailing and I was able to break in my new Nautilus
FWX 7/8 Reel and 7wt Scott Fly Rod
The next day I had repeat clients Joel and Andrew from FL. These guys had a great day landing some big redfish. The biggest shook free from my hands as I was starting to lift him out of the water estimated to be about 35lbs.
The following day one of my regular clients Dan and his brother in law Jim joined me for some rod bending on some big redfish with a nice double header to start the day.
We landed a few more and lost three others but still a great day.
My friend and regular client Mike joined me for the morning to try and land a few big ones but only managed the one here in the photo. The slot fish we tried to sight fish would not give us the time of day.
Living close to Daytona we tend get quite a few race fans wanting to fish while here for the races. Each year I charter Rodney and his son Roman and this year was special because I got to watch Roman land the biggest fish he’s ever caught.
In New Smyrna Beach they’re is a fly fishing club called the Mid Coast Flyfishers
that I am a member of and also the Vice President of. I get to meet anglers from around the country in this club and occasionally get to show them my back yard. Club Member Jean Caron of FL and his father in law joined me for a day on the Lagoon in hopes of getting Jean his first redfish on fly. Solid cloud cover made it tough to sight fish and they were not tailing. We did get the interest of one red that tracked the fly and gave it a lick before spinning away. But the day was not a total loss Jean managed to test out the hook point on one of my shrimp patterns and was lucky enough that the barb stuck out so I could snap the barb off with my pliers. We also cleaned up the Lagoon a bit by removing some balloons that landed in the mangroves.
The next day I was asked to help out my buddy Capt. Willy Le of Native Fly Charters
with a multiple boat trip involving 4 boats and the the other guides being Capt. Joe Roberts of Indian River Guides
and Capt. Billy Rotne of Tail Hunter Charters
. Rain and winds were in the forecast and we cannot always pick our days so we went. We caught our only redfish in the first 10 minutes from a pod of tailing fish that we never saw again. We hooked into a few big fish but with early hook sets we never saw the fish . The guys were able to put a few trout in the boat and they had a great time considering the conditions.
The next day was the start of a two day trip with someone I met a few months prior at Riverbreeze boat ramp in Oak Hill. As I was returning from a trip in the afternoon I was tying my boat off to the dock and someone said to me aren’t you Capt. Justin Price and I said yes and he said we follow you with your reports and Facebook Mosquito Lagoon & East Central Florida Fishing Report February 2014s……I was humbled to say the least. He introduced himself Lucas McCurdy and his wife Danielle McCurdy and asked if I had heard of their website She’s Hooked
and I said yes I follow you on Facebook. I gave them a few tips on what the tides were doing since they haven’t been out in a while and they were on their way.A few weeks later I get a call from Lucas asking if I wouldn’t mind chartering his dad and another family member with the exception of them fishing some of the same areas and I said sure. Most would shy a way from the request but he has fished out here enough to know fish move and nothing is a secret anymore and secret spots only last a few days. I met them at Mosquito Lagoon Fish Camp
on the water in Oak Hill ran by veteran guide Capt. Brian Clancy. The front from the day before past through giving us clear skies and lite winds out of the North at 5-10mph……..WRONG more like 15-20 out of the North with gusts to 25 by mid day. Both days were going to be 8hr days throwing artificial lures and mainly sight fishing. Here’s a few Mosquito Lagoon & East Central Florida Fishing Report February 2014s Lucas took at the camp and from his skiff during the first morning.
I had the pleasure of fishing with Scott McCurdy father of Lucas and another family member Ben Zeigler. Ben had hopes of fly fishing but mother nature crushed them with the strong winds. We had some good action throwing DOA soft plastics on a flat that has had a lot of trout and redfish mixed but the fish were short striking the baits and a few that had us second guessing how sharp the hooks were. We made a move further south to a different flat and a few minutes in Ben hooks a 6lb trout that popped off under the boat. Shortly after we found a few schools and landed a few redfish just before the winds started to gust to 20+. Here’s Scott with a nice redfish he sight fished.
After landing a few this size we headed back to the north and man was it rough. Considering the winds and chop everyone stayed dry and the ride was fairly smooth. We spent the rest of the day trying to hide with limited success. The following day was forecast to be the same so we headed south first with the plans to hide later in the north around some islands. Also today we switched tactics and went for some big fish with live baits and planed to fish live all day sight casting fish with shrimp if need be. The plan worked well and in the first few minutes of fishing Scott hooked up.
The winds picked up quick so we made a move the north to fish the edge of a flat that’s had a few fish. We were ran over multiple times this day by other boats running from the wind but we were still catching fish. Here’s Ben and Scott with a few more.
Most of the boats have headed in for the day and we had the Lagoon to ourselves. We decided to pole a few flats and sight cast redfish with live shrimp. Ben landed two more redfish sight casting despite the winds and had quite a few more shots to finish the day. I had a great time fishing with the group and couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the month.Sorry for being long winded in the report just trying to share the experience and adventure. Thanks for reading!
Capt. Justin Price
Right In Sight Charters
Mosquito Lagoon/Indian River Lagoon
Fly Fishing and Light tackle