After spending two days at the Flood Tide Company booth, I ducked out to film a little with Catch 1 Films on the home water; Mosquito Lagoon.
ONE: mosquito lagoon
Its always great to spend time on the water with friends. Being able to relive the moments in film is priceless.
The past weeks have been busy ones. Aside from the usual things that make up a normal day, I’ve found myself working hard advocating for a skatepark to be built in the town where I live. My son skates & loves it. The lessons it teaches him, I love.
You would think that by 2015, elected officials would be more receptive to providing a fair shake to all sports. Despite being globally popular and skateboarding being the second fastest growing sport in the US, the idea of a skatepark still scares a lot of politicians.
At any rate, I’ve still found a few minutes here and there to fish and by and large its been great. The bass and redfish along the Space Coast of Florida have been obliged to tussle, and for that, I’m thankful.
Though the writing here on Salt Bum had slowed, I was still putting thoughts on paper. Check out my latest ramblings in the Spring editions of The Drake Magazine and Southern Culture On The Fly.
Its on. There is plenty of social media chatter regarding the onslaught of shoreline cruisers along the Space Coast. The buzz is confirmed, get out there. Light flies, natural colors; you’re welcome.
I’ve been putting in a good bit of time plying the Mosquito Lagoon over the past couple of weeks. When the opportunity presented, I took a few moments to simply enjoy the view.
On one of those recent afternoons I had the pleasure of spending part of my day with T.J. Saunders doing work from the front of the skiff. If you ever find yourself visiting Tampa and need a guide, look him up:
Lucky Fly Charters
He is a masterful fly tier, if you need some tasty crustaceans or baitfish patterns, he’s your man.
There is something about the south that draws you in and wraps its arms around you in a big comforting hug. From the mountains of appalachia where Southern Culture On The Fly is composed and published to the marshes of the Lowcountry where Flood Tide Co. calls home, there is a vibe that invites you into the fold like a long lost brother who’s home for the weekend.
Every time a new video drops, you know its going to be sweeter than molasses.
After Equinox is no exception
Until this week, I’ve always thought there was only one place to go to enjoy wading for redfish in a place that evokes the feeling of bonefishing a Bahamas flat. A few years ago it was the Lower Laguna Madre of Southwest Texas where I had experienced it for the first time.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is also just such a place. Recently I spent the better part of 3.5 hours walking the shoreline there looking for redfish in gin clear water over hard sand bottom. The set-up is identical to what you normally see reserved for bonefish. My timing was off, I was there on an extremely high tide, so I passed on wading and remained on the narrow ribbon of beach along the water’s edge. Nonetheless, I saw a handful of redfish, all solitary hunters, that were plying the same shoreline. This time they were a bit too wary of my offerings and all of the shots I took ended without a hook-up, despite a couple of promising follows.
There are literally miles of flats available. Hard sand bottom with sparse sea grasses stretch on from horizon to horizon.
The idea of spending time on the Redneck Riviera has grown in appeal by significant digits.
For now, I’ll carry the panhandle skunk back home with me, but rest assured, I’ll return again with a sharper plan and better timing. I love bonefishing, I love it even more when the expected gray ghost is actually a copper rocket.
While its often the South Carolina Lowcountry that is top of mind when talking about flood tide opportunities for redfish in flooded spartina. The flats of St. Augustine and Jacksonville up through Fernandina are also prime for stalking redfish up in the grass.
Whether you choose to fish from a skiff or wade, its some of the most rewarding flyfishing that you’ll experience.
Here is a little taste of the North Florida good life from GShank on Vimeo.
Gotta love the marching fiddlers. Excellent shots!
I LOVE redfish. I REALLY LOVE redfish when they’re feeding on fiddler crabs along a mud bank. Its the perfect setup for firing a crab fly into the mix to get tight.
Shallow Water Expeditions captures the action and shares it all on Vimeo
It might be time to drag the skiff up north for a weekend.
The lunar influence on the tides around Mosquito Lagoon are measurable, but unlike the tides of the spartina flats to the north it is a sustained level that impacts the estuary more so than the periodic incoming and outgoing tide cycle.
Fishing the flooded spartina in St. Augustine and Jacksonville is no doubt a worthwhile experience, but there are “flood” opportunities in Mosquito Lagoon. One of the most readily accessible of these atypical high water season fishing areas is manmade.
Over past decades the quest for control of salt marsh mosquitoes lead to the digging of many ditches across the entire lagoon to reduce breeding habitat. More recently, there has been an ongoing effort to remove the unintended consequence of this work, artificial upland areas created by piling spoil adjacent to the cuts.
Use Google Maps to locate remediated ditch lines where water is now allowed to sheet along the marsh and on high tides you will find redfish meandering along in the mangrove shoots looking for an unsuspecting crab or mosquito fish.
Tailing redfish are extremely fun to target when sight fishing. Depending on the type of bottom they are feeding over, they can also be frustrating beyond belief to feed successfully.
One of the reasons for it in thick grass is the fact that their vision is impaired by the grass itself.
The next time you’re experiencing apparent refusals, keep in mind it may simply be that the fly is not being seen.
Switching to a top water fly may be contrary to conventional wisdom, but it works.
Cast a foot or two ahead of the direction the fish is feeding and wait for it to move. A couple of subtle strips is usually all it takes to get their immediate attention and you find yourself clearing line and getting on the reel.
The fall lunar cycle is piling water up inshore, now more than ever, you might consider this different approach to tailers. It could spell the difference between success and failure.
I’m astonished nearly ever time I spend time on the water in Mosquito Lagoon at the pace other anglers move through an area. Their arrival under power to a flat disrupts the natural flow of its inhabitants and rarely do they stick around long enough to see the true personality of the place before firing up the outboard and departing for the next stop on the milk run.
I’m certainly not complaining, this frenetic pace often leaves the best areas I frequent a veritable ghost town. The less human impact on the areas the better for my experience.
I was sitting at the end of a long dock alongside the intracoastal waterway a few weeks ago waiting on friend to arrive in his skiff when I had the chance to talk to a neighbor who was lamenting on his lack of success on the water. He was frustrated and seemed surprised when I said that there were lots of redfish in the areas he was getting skunked. As we talked more it became apparent to me that he was taking a random run and gun approach to his fishing and the lack of success was self imposed.
I’m no expert, but I do spend a good bit of time on the water, so I shared with him what I felt were keys to my success.
1. Fish only three places that are in close proximity until you are confident that you understand when they are productive and why and have the track record to prove it.
2. Become intimate with the area, pole it, go slow and learn the nooks and crannies and what you should expect to find on low or high water. Dedicate time to simply sit back and observe, leave the rods stowed and observe the fish and their movements without pressure.
3. Write it down. Make note of conditions and what you found worked in those situations. I often refer to data from years past when I want a change of venue. I’m always surprised at how well I do when I go somewhere based on past notes vs. flying by the seat of my pants and hoping.
Time on the water is meant to be enjoyed. Slow down your roll and soak it all in, just don’t soak bait.