I was finally able to drag Drew into some back water, and she caught her first flounder. It was a beautiful day, but the water was extremely high following the hurricanes and I could not catch anything in the cast net. After several failed attempts at bait, Drew asked me to tie her on an artificial, and we caught 7 reds and 5 flounder working a 1/16 ounce jig head with a Berkley Gulp shrimp.
This place is like home to me, and I have fished here and the surrounding waters for over 40 years now. In the last few years, I have noticed what seems like a decline in the reds over 18 inches. It has always been a nursery back here for reds, flounder, Snook and a host of other species, but the mid to upper slot redfish are missing. I returned with my brother last week and we caught a lot of rat reds, but a high number of trout that ranged from 14 to 16 inches. This is not a place I would normally target for trout but I have found more of them here in the last 2 years then all my previous trips to this side of Spruce Creek. Other fishermen have taken notice of this as well and have written about the changing fishery. It takes these reds about 2 years to get into slot, and it is said that they usually stay within 3 miles of where they spend their early stages. If nothing goes wrong then maybe 2 years from now I will return and find those 22 to 26 inch reds I use to see. There has always been Tarpon in here during certain times of the year, but they have been thick the last few years, and still really hard to keep on the hook, I got schooled by two of them really quickly.
Peter purchased a new Hobie Pro Angler, and it looked like I wasn't even paddling as he pedaled past me. Very nice boat and as you can see, very easy platform to stand and fish.
Plan A: go with Marcio to Mosquito Lagoon and chase reds with an outboard.
Plan B: After working getting into the water and finding outboard broken, we opted for my trolling motor. This took us for miles before running out of juice.
Plan C: Split a kayak paddle in half so we each have a paddle and cover the miles of open water back to the ramp.
He kept telling me only one more mile, but by the time we made it back to shore, we were two broken men. I slept 10 hours straight that night. Would I do it again? Of course, it is the kind of tired that clears the mind, and is broken up by possibilities, the beauty of nature and a tight line. We were exhausted, but it was well earned, and it pays into a man's bank of mental health. I feel very much at home here, and it was cool to share the day with a good friend.
We launched out of Haulover Canal, and it was packed with Manatees and their pups. I tried finding the lure bite and looking for some trout, but we got a bit of late start and the sun was up pretty high, so we shot across the Lagoon to chase some reds. I always look for schools of mullet and or those tell tale V's and tails. It has been a while since I have come up on tailing reds though, but we did find the mullet. I still couldn't figure out the the lure bite, so I grabbed my cast net and picked up a couple of pins off one of the spoil islands. We moved down to another group of mullet and noticed some go skyward. I tossed lures again thinking I was in the middle of a feeding school, but no luck. Marcio told me to pitch the pin fish so put it on my Cajun rig and it disappeared about 3 seconds after it hit the water. Fish on, the first red of the day and he was keeper. We lost the only other pin we had so we went looking for more bait.
We caught killifish, sand perch and some really small (founder candy) size finger mullet. I also caught baby snook on two different cast. Good to see the little guys are here. In years when there is more rain, it's not uncommon to find large snook and juvenile Tarpon in these areas.
Not a bad day though, event with a tough start, we both caught fish and watched some kids catch several Black Drum from the shore. Watching them wade and soak crabs and shrimp from the point, brought them memories flowing back. I needed to clear my head and this was the ticket.
It's been a great week off from work, and today was the last day so I decided to get up before light and find some water. There was a pull towards the coast, but I opted out of the wind and stayed in Orlando. I have been hitting some of the down town lakes where I use to walk the shore line as a kid. I love my kayak, because after throwing it on the C-Tug and taking a short walk across the field, I was in Lake Highland and headed to parts of the lake I could not reach before. It was early and the third cast ended in a fight with a really strong 3 pounder, but then I tangled all my lines and ended up cutting and retying 3 rods in the dark. What a waste of time. It didn't take long to find fish again though.
Well Spring has sprung and if they aren't bedding they may be willing to hit on some power method that hasn't produced much at other times of the year. I had some success with a lipless crank bait in Lake Ivanhoe so I decided to throw that and a spinner bait in here. No takers on the Rat L Trap, but I landed a few on the Spinner, and had on what was probably a personal best Spinner bait fish, but she actually broke the lure in half. I have never had one snap like that before, it was like getting the smaller half of the wish bone.
I took fish on a Booyah Spinner bait, Producto Tournament worm and Producto Hot Rod. Tournament was Tex posed and hot rod was Wacky. There is a lot of Eel grass in some of the down town lakes so go weedless or hunt the edge with a Trap.
I wondered how all this Road construction would affect the fishing in Ivanhoe, but I actually caught bass on a Rat L Trap next to the barges. 3 on traps and a couple on a Motor oil Tournament worm.
Lily wanted to practice shooting some, and there was a fish she couldn't quite make out, so she handed me the bow. That was a mistake, because I broke her only arrow. Luckily it was just the Nock, so later that day we picked up a bag and the archery guy at Bass Pro hooked us up with some free 2 part epoxy. 24 hours later and it was good as new.
It's hard to put into words, feelings about a place; though love sure comes to mind, it is a bit over used. You told me you love your children, but you've also told me you love pizza. I remember a little boy and a bag of frozen shrimp. We all have to start somewhere, and for him it was on his grandmother's dock in a canal, off the Banana River. She worked for Nasa and for a time lived on the water not far from there. I think something happened there on that dock, because I recall being very small and watching my heart drift away with a bag of spilled shrimp. Those shrimp represented my passion and hours of entertainment, watching my bobber slip below the surface and pulling up another Pin fish or the occasional trout.
Today was a special day, because my wife and kids drove over with me and they enjoyed the beach while I went to Mosquito Lagoon to chase Reds. I think I had the better time, the waves were rough at Canaveral and my wife lost her prescription glasses. I enjoyed a calm early morning and my biggest struggle was finding bait. I settled for what looked like a Killi and didn't slip through the holes in my cast net. I couldn't find any mullet, pins or sand perch within casting range, and I got to use my new Old Town to pull myself out of the mud. I have fished all up and down Mosquito Lagoon, and lived in Edgewater and New Smyrna for a time. My Great grandmother and grandfather settled in Oakhill at the turn of last century and she told stories of an incredible fishery. It's the salt and it's in my marrow, it's the breeze and chasing signs on the water, I do feel this place and miss it. I love all the Lagoons, but Mosquito holds a special place in my heart.
It's good to see some things never change. We stopped in at Steve's diner for some fried flounder, mashed potatoes and green beans, fantastic.
Not the best fishing day, 16 mile per hour winds and clear blue skies, but I can't wait to try out my new Yak. I built an anchor Trolley for it the night before and a winch system using 2 old deer skinning gantries that consist of 4 pulleys. This makes loading and unloading at the house an easy one man operation. Back to water though, and I chose Lake Underhill, because I heard there use to be decent fishing there, but it was over pressured now. Maybe, but still worth a shot, so I loaded up the kayak and headed to the lake.
Even though the conditions weren't the best for bass, I did manage 2 misses and a decent chunk on one of my go to lures, Producto Tournament worms.
I stopped in at Producto in Sanford to pick up some more lures for the Spring season, and as always it was a pleasure to talk and share fishing stories with the owner. Great baits and highly recommend them.
We also did a trip to Turnbull the week before and poor Lily lost a good redfish. Every time he saw the boat he took drag, and she got impatient and grabbed the line. Oh well, we will go again and part of fishing is disappointment, it builds character.
Lily looking for Gar at Econ. We have been out a few times with the bow, and she has only been able to take a handful shots. We couldn't find any gar that day, but it is always a beautiful walk. I did manage a nice bass on topwater, but Scalelily was unimpressed.
I found Gemini springs using a Google satellite image. You could see Tilapia beds in the image, so we crossed our fingers and drove up to scout it out. They were there in force, along with a sign that only allowed fishing from the pier. There were no beds by the pier, so Lily quickly learning the disappointment side of fishing and the overuse of rules and signs around local waters. She wasn't very happy.
I took her to another spot where my brother and his friends frequently shoot Tilapia. One of the people, who live on the private side of the lake, called OPD. We got the siren and then a voice over the loud speaker telling her to drop the bow. She froze and couldn't understand him so he asked again and I told her to put it on the ground. he said we couldn't shoot there, but according to FWC regulations, I told him we could. I read the regulations before we left and I have been there, at another lake, when the police were called on my brother and his friend. Peter explained to him then that we were well within our rights and that as long as you can fish then you can bowfish. The restrictions are species. You can't shoot bass, but you can definitely shoot gar and Tilapia. I recommend Tilapia because they are much easier to clean. Anyhow, the police officer and his back up ended up being nice guys and we joked that they would rather her bow fish then turn to a life of crime and drugs, but certain people had to call about everything. Anyway, it's good to question authority in a respectful manner, when you know the law is in your favor. Make sure you read your regulations; police officers have enough to deal with, especially thanks to "concerned citizens", who would prefer no fishing signs everywhere.
Still love to fish, and I recently sold my canoe, so I will be looking for a kayak here soon. I really like the pedal drives with the ability to go in reverse, but I may have to lean toward a tandem, like the Big Tuna instead, because it sounds like Lily wants to do some saltwater with me. Here are some pics of some fish taken by me and friends of mine this year.
Getting ready for spring. I lost my favorite spinning outfit a few episodes ago, but I purchased a Penn Battle and Fierce combo, and have been very impressed thus far. I put 20 lb. braid on the Battle and 8 pound stern on the Fierce. They both cat a mile and have already seen several bass on each, can't wait to chase some reds and flap jacks.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.