Category Archives: Mosquito Lagoon

Catch A Buzz

Have you ever had the pleasure of poling a remote shoreline in Mosquito Lagoon early in the morning while being serenaded by the buzzing of thousands of wings?

No, not the insects for which the area earns its well deserved name; honey bees and bumble bees are omnipresent when mangroves are blooming. So much so, their collective buzzing nearly drowns out all other sounds in the area.

The next time it happens, slow down and poke your nose into the shoreline and watch them work. It’s a fascinating service they perform as they glean nectar from blossoms and collect pollen.

The lagoon is an amazing place, down to its smallest detail. Just like these little overachievers, we all need to do our part to make sure we’re acting in a manner that contributes to its sustainability.

Our responsibilities lie in how we treat it today and how we leave it for tomorrow.

Mosquito Lagoon Fly Fishing Guide

For decades Mosquito Lagoon has been know to some as “The Redfish Capital of The World”.  The area earned the title due to the presence of redfish of all sizes that roamed lush grass flats, shoals and oyster strewn bays.  The highlight being the presence of schools of  breeder size “bull” redfish in many areas that sustained the local population by remaining in the estuary to spawn.

Over the years, water quality has suffered and what was once an estuary known for its gin clear water has become a place where often times you will face limited visibility due to algal blooms and turbidity caused by a devastating reduction of seagrass.

Now more than ever, the guides that work in Mosquito Lagoon must be committed to loving the imperiled estuary.

Loving the estuary starts with how and where they fish, how they handle and release the fish and what they teach anglers about efforts to restore Mosquito Lagoon.

There are approximately 80 guides who may legally operate charters on Mosquito Lagoon.  Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is responsible for the permitting process and enforcement of commercial operations across a vast area.  The Law Enforcement Officers tasked with doing so are understaffed and underfunded.

Due to the wholesale lack of a law enforcement presence, guide operations are not unlike the wild west frontier.  Routinely you will see behavior that is unprofessional and unethical in the name of putting fish in the boat.

A large number of the permitted guides are merely part-time operators who merely see their trips as extra cash in their pocket, not a lifestyle or profession.  Their behavior in exploiting the resource is shameful.

The small number of working guides who are out there nearly everyday are working hard to highlight these problems and have taken on a leadership role in advocating for policies and practices amongst guides that will aid in sustaining Mosquito Lagoon.

If you’re looking forward to booking a fly fishing guide in Mosquito Lagoon, please make sure you’re supporting the resource by choosing a guide who has demonstrated a commitment to preserving and protecting it.

Not sure who that is?  Contact me and I’ll make sure you get the names of guides that I would trust.  I’ve spent a long time fishing alongside them and know who is worthy of your hard earned money.

More importantly, I know who loves the Lagoon.

 

Skiff Dog Adventures

Lately; my English Lab, Cabo has been spending a good amount of time on the water.

As with most labs, he loves the water and often times finds the most inopportune time to quench his desire to get wet.  He’s a master at going total ham and plunging into the backyard lake when you need to be on the way out the door to an appointment in five minutes.

Over the Christmas and New Years holidays, Cabo spent a couple of weeks in Melbourne with Florida Fly Co. co-founder,  Ben Pickett.  While there he joined Ben on the water a lot and unlike when he was younger, seemed to be a bit better behaved / able to remain in the skiff.

I’m not sure whether Ben employed some “dog whisperer” charm on him or its simply that he has settled down now that he’s four years old.

Recently I had the opportunity to get out for an afternoon session on Mosquito Lagoon and figured it was time to see if he was ready to join me while I tried to fly fish.

We stopped on an island beach to get wet on my terms and in hopes that maybe Cabo would be more apt to chill out the rest of the day if he had just gone full tilt for a few minutes.

Our beach time was a blast.

Visit New Smyrna Fly Fishing Guide

Skiff Dog Mosquito Lagoon Charter

Once he started to slow down, I figured it was time to go look for a redfish.

Orlando Disney Fly Fishing Guide

A few minutes into the first flat, he was totally chilled out, simply posting up alongside me, content to watch the shoreline pass by as I hunted for a hungry fish.

Fly Fishing Space Coast

We spent the next couple of hours slowly poling over deserted flats, taking a few shots at the happier redfish we came across, even managing to feed one that was lost skiff -side when I bungled the landing.

Cabo still seemed proud of my effort, showing great interest in the fish as it spun and thrashed alongside the gunnel.

Occasionally, an osprey or pelican would attract his attention, but he remained calm and never left the boat, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

Mosquito Lagoon Fly Fishing

I believe that Cabo is going to be fishing a lot more in the future.  Maybe my solo trips are over for a while…

Guide’s Day Off: Tanner Severt – Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon

I’ve known Tanner for years.  He’s been in love with Mosquito Lagoon since before he was able to drive.  Years ago, his parents would drive him over to Oak Hill so that he could explore and fish the area from a Gheenoe.

There is no doubt he’s developed a vast knowledge of Mosquito Lagoon in that time, but what strikes me most about Tanner, is that he is always seeing more.

The last time we spent time on the water together was around Thanksgiving and as always, we had a great time and shared in the joy of giving a few redfish a quick ride in the skiff.

When planning to fish this time, our expectations for good weather was high.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the weather guessers got it wrong.

The calm winds and clear skies we were expecting were actually a fresh breeze from the NNW coupled with thick clouds.

The first area we chose to fish had decent water clarity and a bit of visibility tight along the shoreline.  As we poled along we spent time catching up on the latest happenings.  Its times like these that I cherish the most about a day on the water with a good friend.  Life’s normal distractions fade to the background and the topics of the moment are of our choosing.  They are typically something fun, upbeat and positive.

A redfish appeared along the shoreline, hovering along, over the sand  as it silently searched for its morning meal.  Tanner was the first to see it  and with a calm and deliberate clock position and distance had me focused on the prize.  My first cast landed precisely where it should to set up a crossing pattern between fish and fly, but while in mid flight, the redfish’s attention had been peaked by something else and after it had turned to inspect the distraction, it had reversed course,

Before being able to adjust to the change, the distance between the fish and the skiff had shrunk to inside of 30 feet.

Sadly, my accuracy at that range was horrible and the open loopy cast I attempted smacked the redfish right on the head and it was over.

Shortly after that failed attempt, we made a decision to try another area in hopes of changing our luck.  One redfish per mile of shoreline wasn’t really cutting it…

Despite the fresh breeze, we elected to fish open water over a well known bar to take advantage of better water clarity.

Tanner had hopped up front to give it a go and off we went.

The overcast skies were beginning to break up a bit and blue sky was peeking through at times.  As one of the breaks in cloud cover streamed past, the sunlight illuminated the light sandy bottom as if stadium lights had been turned on.  It was all we needed to expose a lone redfish that was swimming parallel to the skiff 45 feet away.

Tanner let fly a back cast as soon as the fish was seen and a couple of twitches of the fly were met with a flaring of gills that signaled success.

As I staked-off the skiff, we saw flyline turn to backing as the fish tried to make the county line in an effort to escape.

It didn’t.

mosquito lagoon fly fishing guide

We spent the next hour or two meandering to the south exploring a large flat where we saw several tailing fish, but I was unable to coax any of them to eat my crabby offering.

Eventually, I relented and offered Tanner the bow again and resumed the role of pushing.

What was once a cloud covered sky had morphed into a nearly cloudless sky and the brightly lit result had given us hope for even more opportunity.

We transitioned back to shorelines and eventually found another unsuspecting redfish that became our focus.

Tanner worked through a couple of presentations and soon was tight again.

The entire stalk and resulting hook-up was accomplished with a simple low whistle and nod, as I was on the phone with a client when the fish appeared.

I wrapped up the call just in time to hop down and snap a couple of pictures to memorialize the event.

space coast fly fishing guide redfish mosquito lagoon

We wrapped up our day on the water a little while later and headed back in.

I’m always thankful to have spent time on the water with Tanner, he’s one of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.

If you’re ever looking for a capable guided to lead you to a successful day on Mosquito Lagoon, you’ll do yourself a favor booking him for the trip.

 

– Ben Sittig Is A Huge Fly Fisherman – I’m A Huge Fly Fisherman Too

Recently, I had the good fortune to spend a few days on the water with my good friend, Ben.  As always, I picked him up at the Orlando International Airport and within an hour or two, he was tight on a redfish. Its become quite the tradition for us.

Ben is working on a new YouTube project and it was a “work trip” for him, so it seemed fitting to put him on the back of the skiff.

Here’s the result of that effort to get him up to speed with a push pole.

I’d say he’s well on his way to becoming a regular Pusherman.

In addition to stabbing a few fish in the face, we spent time talking about more technical issues like the following:

Make sure to follow Ben on his new YouTube channel, Huge Fly Fisherman, more content is on the way, including conservation issues facing Mosquito Lagoon.

Ben will also have his writings about the state of conservation efforts in Mosquito Lagoon featured in This Is Fly magazine very soon, check it out.

Stay Huge!

 

Tailer Trash Fly Fishing Podcast

I’ve been maintaining a weekend retreat along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon now for going on 14 years.  Its where I retreat to unwind and spend my days on the water searching for fish.

Its from that little slice of heaven where friends and I hang out and record our experiences and thoughts about life,  fly fishing, drink beer and smoke meats.

If you’re inclined to enjoy shooting the shit at a fly shop or on the water with like mined folks, you may enjoy our podcast, Tailer Trash Fly Fishing.

 

Its hosted on Soundcloud and is available via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

Find it here:  Tailer Trash Fly Fishing Podcast 

Between episodes you can keep up with us on Instagram.

@tailertrashflyfishing 

 

Tailer Park Turtle Patrol

I recently had the pleasure of getting on the water with Michael Marco to chase redfish in Mosquito Lagoon. It had been quite some time since we had last fished together, so we were overdue to spend some time on the skiff.

 

Like me, Michael spends a good bit of time on the road logging what we like to call “windshield time”. I was cruising northbound on Interstate 95 and had decided to call and check in to see how his new Skimmer Skiff was coming along and found out he was actually in the area for a day or two, so we quickly hatched a plan to capitalize on the opportunity to get on the water.

 

When he arrived in the early evening a good number of thunderstorms were just beginning to fire off and drift through the area. After watching the radar for a while, we accepted the reality of having to cancel our evening patrol plans, but quickly pivoted to dinner plans at the local, Goodrich Seafood.

 

There is no doubt when you roll through Goodrich that the food will be fresh and the beers cold, so we made the short drive there and had a feast.

 

After returning home, we put out a call to fellow Fly Fishing After Dark Podcast members Avery and Cameron to join us for some beers. Once they arrived we spent a few hours catching up and telling lies.

 

Michael was freshly back in town from a trip to the former Soviet Union where he and his father had spent a week fly fishing for taimen. Other than a very scant few details to peak our interest, he kept stories of the adventure to himself so that we can bring him on a future episode of the podcast to reveal them for the first time. Based on the couple of nuggets he did share, I can’t wait!

 

The next morning we made the two-minute trip to the landing to launch the skiff as the sun was breaking the horizon over the eastern horizon. Surprisingly, we ended up finding redfish sparse, despite the cooling rains the evening prior. The handful we saw while Michael was up, were of the prissy variety for which our home waters are known.

 

As we prepared to pole off of a flat to fire up the engine and scoot across the channel, we spotted what we at first thought was a hawksbill terrapin. As we poled over to take a closer look, we were both shocked to see it was actually a Florida Box Turtle that was swimming, albeit slowly, across the skinny flat separating two islands. We scooped the obviously tired dude up and gave him a skiff ride with the plan to release him later.

Michael insisted on poling the next flat, so I got the chance to fish for a bit, which was great.

 

We eventually found some more agreeable fish and I was rewarded with a nice redfish that ate a well placed fly before it could even be stripped. The redfish literally made a hard U-turn and inhaled the fly that had dropped six inches away along its right side. It was the kind of eat you don’t forget.

fly fishing saltwater

We exchanged ends of the skiff and worked for a while to get Michael a fish, but despite some epic casts and even a follow that we both expected to end in a hook-up, we had to end the day before we tallied a second fish.

 

Work was calling for us both and more importantly, Michael had an appointment he needed to keep, the delivery of his shiny new Skimmer Skiff.

 

As we idled towards deeper water preparing to run back to put the skiff on the trailer, I saw what I thought was a crab trap buoy. Moments after looking at it, I saw a head pop up and realized it was a turtle of some kind.   Turns out, it was another Florida Box Turtle! We scooped him up too and gave him a lift back to the Tailer Park along with his smaller cousin who had already been chilling with us.

male box turtles

Both of the box turtles were set free to roam the neighborhood shortly after getting back to the house.

It was great spending time with Michael, and without a doubt it will be a trip I wont forget, not just because of the great redfish moment, but also for the unique opportunity to encounter two box turtles swimming in a saltwater estuary.

 

Fly-fishing never fails to deliver great friendships and amazing experiences. I’m looking forward to hearing the full taimen story, getting out on Michael’s new skiff or some other adventure that leads us to amazing places.

 

MINWR Shiloh Commercial Space Launch Environmental Impact Could Be Epic

Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Hermine brought wind and rain to the Space Coast; very few, if any, skiffs were on the water enjoying the mostly pristine beauty of Mosquito Lagoon.

The serenity of the quiet moment was interrupted when a thunderous series of booms shook the house again and again.

I immediately  went outside to investigate, knowing it wasn’t thunder from a storm band rain shower approaching.

Moments later, social media began to break the story of an “anomaly ” that had just occurred when SpaceX was testing a rocket motor in preparation for an early morning launch on Saturday.

I went to a nearby dock and immediately saw the smoke plume rising to the south, nearly 17 miles away.

Thanks to safety protocols, no human life was lost, nor were there any injuries.  The question that remains is: how much environmental damage might be done by the remnants of rocket fuel that were surely washed into the surrounding marshland when a deluge of water was applied to extinguish the massive fire.

Currently, Space Florida is awaiting an environmental impact study’s completion in an effort to bring just such a launch site to the MINWR, just 5-7 miles south of my home along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon.  I hope that a fully transparent and objective study includes the aftermath of this incident in the study.  The area being considered is home to many endangered and threatened species and is opposed by US Fish & Wildlife staff that run the Refuge.

Environmental Impact Study Pending
Environmental Impact Study Pending

Yesterday was a wake-up call.  Space flight remains a risky business and with that in mind, I remain opposed to the Commercial Launch Facility that is proposed.

Shiloh Commercial Spaceport

In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center, near Daytona. The site – known as “Shiloh,” which is largely unpopulated at this time, would be developed into a dedicated commercial spaceport. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana communicated his support to the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2013 for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study of the site. Today, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is working with the State of Florida to complete the Environmental Impact Study, which is anticipated to be complete by late 2015. Following the successful completion of that study, Space Florida will submit a formal application to the FAA for consideration of a Spaceport Operators License at the site.

I support the creation of a new launch facility on the current NASA campus where infrastructure already exists to respond to and manage the next inevitable “anomaly” when it occurs.

Continue to stay engaged on this issue and have your voice heard saying No Shiloh Launch Complex.  The MINWR needs to remain pristine and clean.

 

Failure Is Not An Option

In fly fishing, I believe that failure is not an institution we believe in.  At least not like most of the “normal” populace.

Who in the world would chase permit, for example, if they believed in failure?  Really, its a low percentage game of tides, winds, fly design, fly placement and fly movement; and thats before we even consider the fish as part of the equation.  I know plenty of people that have tried, yet have never hoisted a permit above the water for a quick photo before loosing it to have it swim away to fight another day.  I’m in that category.  Still yet, I have friends who have caught one, a year or two ago and they still pour money, time and frustration at the next one.  Surely this behavior supports the theory, failure is not an option.

For sure, there are plenty of species other than permit swimming in water, all across this globe, that are targeted by fly anglers that often serve up these micro defeats on a daily basis.

Turns out, its what we love.  How many times have you heard; “If catching them was easy, everyone would do it.”.

To a fly fisher the experience is paramount.  The preparation, from the rigging of gear, selection of a “spot” and other environmental considerations are a big part of it.  We study the angles.

Each experience we have on the water is a step forward to achieve a goal.  Once it is attained, we reset the board and begin again.  The reset can be triggered by capturing a fish or simply the lack of it.

Even when you’ve been wearing a skunk for weeks, it happens; you’ll still get up and get gear together and go tackle the day, in search of a little taste of victory.

I’m seeing that happen now with my son.  He’s a skateboarder.  He and his friends are cut from the same cloth that we are.  To them failure doesn’t exist either.  No matter the amount of pain, agony or otherwise, when they choose to skate an obstacle or learn a new trick, they are committed.  They will try over and over again, until they achieve the success they’re aiming for.

As I’ve been spending more and more time with them, going to a skatepark or pulling into a random alley so they can flagrantly skate a ledge behind some business in the shadow of a “No Skateboarding” sign, I’m inspired by their dedication to the principle – Failure Is Not An Option.

A couple of his friends have recently picked up a fly rod and started using it more and more to chase backyard bass and even redfish when they can hitch a ride on a skiff.  I know they’re well suited for it and hearing their outlandish stories confirms it.

Skaters are much like fly fishermen when it comes to documenting their adventures, if not even better.  Perhaps its generational, but their affinity for video is second to none and they’re good at it.

My son worked for a couple of months to amass  enough “footie” to put together this short video.

I can’t wait for him to get bitten by the fly fishing bug so I’ll have my very own “filmer” to chronicle our time on the water.

For now, I’ll wrap myself in the comfort of knowing that he has no fear of failure, actually he laughs in its face, and wait for him to join me on the skiff.

Casting Call: Skiff Dogs – Dock Dogs – Fishing Dogs

We’ve had the benefit of pure joy gracing our lives for over a year and a half now in the form of an English Labrador Retriever we affectionately call, Cabo.

His namesake is none other than the infamous coastal town in Baja California Sur.

He’s a swag hound and as such, he took a shot at winning an awesome collar & leash combo from Wingo Belts on Instagram.  He just found out he’ll be cashing in and getting his very own redfish pattern leash and collar by being selected from their monthly give-away that just wrapped up in July.

Instagram: daily_dose_of_cabo
Instagram: daily_dose_of_cabo

 

If your best friend is half as cute as mine, get over to Instagram and check out Wingo Belts to get squared away on how to enter their monthly give away.

Check out their pawesome leashes here: Wingo Artisan Fish Skin Leashes