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.
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.
Growing up I spent a lot of time going back and forth between New Smyrna and the Orlando area. In between these two places is a wonderful oasis, and one of my wife's favorite spots to be "buoyant and cool" while she was pregnant with Scale Lily. Sadly, this was Lily's first time back to the park, outside of the womb. We made the drive often when we lived in New Smyrna, but the move to Panasoffkee put us so far away.
It was about a 30 to 40 minute drive by way of I4, coming from the South west side of Orlando. It was Sunday though so the traffic wasn't bad and with no holiday the park was not full to capacity when we arrived. That does happen during Spring break and sometimes during the Summer, so leave early, have a back up or wait till slower times arrive.
The Spring flows into the St. John's river, and boasts the wild life that comes with that great water way. There were a lot of Ospreys, some bass, including spawners, Blue cats and hundreds of gar. I saw schools of mullet and big groups of Tilapia.
The park also rents kayaks and canoes, and today we were able to view a manatee and her calf, but there is a strict rule about remaining 50 away from the manatees. My experience with them in different areas off the state is that the manatees are often unaware of this rule, and will rub the bottom of your kayak, trying to scratch it's back or approach you while swimming.
On Pleasant Hill Road, where the possibilities are many, we found a nice paddle, giant bluegill, red bellies, and oh yea, those one's with the big mouths too. We parked at the bridge on Pleasant hill road where it crosses Shingle Creek, and then paddled east towards the glories of Toho.
The sunfish in here are aggressive, beautiful, and very robust. The Blue gill below managed to take drag after swallowing a white Rooster tail. It reminds me of Econ in parts but without as much dead fall and it stays rather deep at this end.
I tried pitching a craw, a rattle, and a worm, but ended up taking all my fish on top water, and between 1 and 4pm, not my usual time for throwing top water but it was the Lunar period. We got a lot of hits but only several good sets and fights that made it into the canoe. It's a nice paddle and inside the creek you do find some shade but make sure you bring plenty of water to deal with the afternoon.
The Zoom toad got a lot of attention near the mouth of the creek flowing in to Toho. This was my nicest fish for the day.
A great run in your kayak or canoe and you get to enjoy some good creek fishing on the way to one of Florida's premier bass lakes. Beautiful day!
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.