East Central Florida Fishing Report
The fishing this past month was phenomenal with excellent spring conditions, high water, and the water temps hovering in the low to upper 70’s over the shallows keeping the redfish and large trout in a feeding frenzy. The mullet migration had also started in the beginning of the month which was great for the gator trout that were just coming off of there spawn. We’ve been catching trout on just about everything from soft plastic DOA’s, top water and subsurface hard baits, and some of the best results came from using live finger mullet. My fly anglers have done well for the trout and redfish with Puglisi bait fish patterns in natural colors.The water levels were up the majority of the month keeping most of the fish in shallow water spread out. Some winter redfish schools have held together well through the month hanging on the edges of the flats trying to keep there distance from anglers. On the calmer days they have been tailing on the shallow edges only giving you a few chances to make the right shot and once we would hook up the schools would stay down deep only being seen if the sun is high enough. Top water plugs have been working well early through mid morning with low light fishing around concentrations of finger mullet. Then switching to subsurface hard baits and soft plastics once the sun is up to either sight cast or search for both the redfish and trout.
The Spring days are nearly behind us with Summer just around the corner. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Summertime algae bloom will not be as strong as the past two years but we will see. With all the bait fish migrating north the tarpon will not be far behind passing through the Lagoons, ICW, and Ponce Inlet. Our resident juvenile tarpon have been showing themselves quite a bit lately rolling on the surface in different areas feeding heavy on all the glass minnows and small shrimp.
Jim a local resident that just moved here from Wisconsin joined for a day on the Mosquito Lagoon. We fished the first hour or so throwing top water plugs from Unfair Lures the Dinkum Shrimp. High water had the fish spread out but not hard to find. Here’s Jim with his first redfish ever.
We then switched to live finger mullet to finish out the short morning trip with great success catching a hand full of some nice gator trout up to 9lbs. Here’s Jim with his first trout ever and a few others.
The following day I had a fly angler Matt and his wife Christie. The conditions were terrible for sight fishing with a passing cold front right on top of us. Just before the rain drove us off the water we found a few redfish tailing and feeding on the shorelines and Matt caught one of the tailing reds.
The following day the front had passed over just leaving us with a good north breeze. My anglers this day were Ed and his daughter Dora from FL. Ed has fished in Mosquito Lagoon before but this was all new to Dora. Little did they know they were in for an amazing trout bite with Dora catching here first trout ever and Ed catching his biggest trout ever and bunch more not counting the missed strikes. Ed just wanted some time spent with his daughter and to see the wildlife and was not as concerned about fishing. All of our trout were caught on live finger mullet. Dora also caught her first redfish to finish the day which was caught on a cut mullet.
A few days later I had a repeat angler Josh and his friend Sydney. It was Josh’s birthday and had been looking forward to this day since the last time we fished. The first time fished we spent the entire morning targeting big redfish and this trip he hoped for the same. Our first spot produced some big redfish but not as big as the year prior. We spent the day rest of the day sight fishing up shallow only to be denied over and over again by some really picky trout and redfish. Here’s Sydney and Josh with there fish from the day.
My next trip was with a new client and fly angler James. He frequents the area often traveling for business and never leaves home without a fly rod. With the low light of the early morning we were relying on surface movement or redfish tails to break the surface. We stumbled upon a school of black drum so we switched flies to a black rattle shrimp pattern….that did the trick and James caught his first black drum on fly.
The black drum only a gave us a few for more shots so we moved on. We moved to a small flat that had been holding some nice redfish and trout. The sun was just right and we were getting shot after shot with buck fever setting in. James took a shot a nice redfish a sand hole that tracked the fly to the boat only to be eaten by a nice trout first.
We continued to get shots at redfish just to be denied after multiple fly changes. As we started leave we found three redfish tailing and feeding hard and James made the right cast and the fish inhaled the fly. Not a bad way to complete the day with a slam on fly!!
A few days later I had the pleasure of fishing with Michael Schimdt owner and operator of Anglers Choice Flies
. Mike was in New Smyrna Beach on vacation from OH and was ready to sling some flies. With the cloud cover and wind we were limited but still had our fair shots at picky redfish and trout on the fly. We did have a nice fish on early just blindly throwing the fly down a shoreline but he spit the fly pretty quick. We switched to spinning gear throwing DOA paddle tails to nice trout cruising over white sand on the edges of the flats landing a few.
Mike finished the day sight casting a redfish tailing in a sting ray mud.
Recently I’ve been tossing around the idea of a new skiff something a little more versatile for other areas in the state but still keeping a shallow draft. A friend of mine Matthew Abello and his wife Amy invited me to take a ride and fish out of there East Cape Fury. It was hard not to play guide for the day and have them bend the rod on some fish for letting me test drive there sweet skiff. Matt caught a few nice fish on top waters early and then we switched to live baits and caught some nice fish. Here’s Amy with her biggest redfish ever!
They continued to exercise the fish for the next hour prior to heading in. Here’s a few more pics of there fish. And thanks again Matt and Amy for letting me ride in your skiff!
The next day I fished with a new fly angler Matt from CA. The conditions where perfect but the fish were not impressed with us at all. We had to redfish eat and sight fished a really nice trout just feet from the bow. Here’s Matt with his first speckled trout on fly.
The next two days I helped a friend out Capt. Joe Roberts with his clients that are in town annually. It was a group of four with two dads and there sons. The first two days I had both the boys Justin and Tommy who both just graduated from high school and on there way to college. We caught some nice trout early throwing DOA 5.5″ shads on owner weedless naked 4/0 hooks making it easy to work it on the surface or let it sink on a slower retrieve. We then switched once the wind picked up to live finger mullet and caught a few more nice trout and redfish.
Day two fishing with Justin and Tommy started out strong fishing a big school of redfish tailing up shallow. Justin landed one then the school took off and never really settled down after that. We finished the morning sight casting to tailing redfish hooking a few but none boated. We finished the day with a few other redfish and small trout all caught on DOA artificial plastics.
The multiple boat trip needed a day off from fishing to relax so I scheduled a trip with some new fly clients from PA, John and his wife Marcey. There were a lot of boats out for a Thursday which kept us on the move. We had a pretty slow start but finished with a bang. John wanted to fly fish said lets just catch some fish first. Johns first redfish of the day came on a DOA paddle tail sight fished in 3ft of water cruising on the bottom.
We then worked multiple schools of black drum that were all balled up on the surface in 3-4ft of water just daisy chaining. They were very cooperative to say the least and we boated 9 pretty quick.
We caught a few more redfish on the same edge and finished the day with John catching a black drum on fly.
Final day fishing with my buddy Joe of Indian River Guides
and his clients. We switched up and had Tommy and his dad Ed. We changed the scenery a bit and fished in the Indian River Lagoon to start trying to stay away from the boat traffic from anglers prefishing a big tournament over the weekend. The guys caught some trout on live baits to start and then Tommy hooked a nice redfish from a small group that were tailing.
We caught a few more trout and a few jack crevalle before moving back to the Mosquito Lagoon to finish the trip. On our way across the IRL we came upon a feeding frenzy on the surface…..100’s of ladyfish feeding on glass minnows. So the guys through out some soft plastics and boated a few just because…..”opportunity fishing”! Our final spot produced a few more fish to complete the trip.
The following Sunday me and my son Hayden went out spend a little quality time together and brush up his angling skills a bit. We were welcomed with more fish than we knew what to do with. We had a large school of giant redfish tailing in front of us and a lot of rolling juvenile tarpon on our right side. Our best chance was with the redfish so we stuck with it hooking three and only landing one. The one we did land I had to reel in for Hayden due to all the grass that managed to cover the line. If it weren’t for the grass he would have done a great job but he did holding him for a pic.
I finished up the month fishing with a regular client Michael and his friend Kyle. The goal was big redfish and maybe a tarpon. They lost count catching small trout throwing DOA 3″ shads and moments had there chances with rolling tarpon. We switched plastics a few times before getting an eat on a DOA shrimp. After playing with the tarpon we moved on to find the school of big redfish. They were not quite as happy as they were just days prior but still willing to eat. Floating high in the water column and good sun light we could see the size of the school from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock was all redfish. Mike hooked the first one.
Mike hooked the second one but not where we wanted. The fish ate and either spit the hook and snagged another or himself. After fighting the fish for nearly 45 mins the line snapped. Its odd that if you hook a fish in the mouth you can get the fight over quick but hooked in the rear there is no chance at turning them. We found the school again after a few minutes and with just a little time left Kyle needed hook up to one and he did.
Finished the month with some great catches and good memories and hope June is half as good!Capt. Justin Price
Right In Sight Charters
Mosquito Lagoon/Indian River Lagoon
Fly Fishing and Light Tackle