I have mourned the state of the lagoons I grew up with as a kid for some time now, and it has been even difficult to be out there, whether the land of the Biting Flies, the Indian River Lagoon, or the Banana River; they've change a lot. I remember having to wade with great care at the berm in the Scottsmoor and Shiloh area. The grass was so high and thick there that it curled over on itself. When I moved back from the mountains there was still plenty of grass in the early parts of 2000, and the winters saw schools of reds in the Mosquito Lagoon, in clear water, numbering in the hundreds if not thousands. I moved away again to the other side of 75 and eventually started heading back this way. Somewhere between 2012 and 2014 I went camping with some friends on the spoil islands, and it was shocking to see the loss of grass in the Mosquito. The floor of the Lagoon looked like the top of my head, areas where there use to be thick grass filled with pigfish, clams and crustaceans, the perfect nursery, looked more like the surface of the moon. It's one of my favorite places in the whole world. My great grandparents settled there at the beginning of the 1900s, and my grandmother went to the old brick school in New Smyrna Beach. They lived in Oakhill on U.S. 1 when it was a dirt road, and my grandma worked at Nasa for about 25 years before she retired, so me and my brother spent a lot of time on the three Lagoons and the ICW, fishing from Jacksonville to Miami, and occasionally on the Gulf Coast, but the Lagoons were like home to us.
It's never been a perfect area, it didn't get the name Mosquito Lagoon because of the way it's shaped, and the no-see-ums can be maddening on a still day near the shore. I have had the pleasure of being stalked by a very large gator while wade fishing there, and stuck paddling a boat on a windy day when the outboard broke and the trolling motor ran out of juice. I still don't see the big schools of reds, but this last weekend I went out on the Lagoon and found a lot of grass, better visibility then I have seen in a while, and we caught some healthy trout. I hope this signals an upturn, and I hope people will quit putting in HOAs that create runoff, the kind that bears everyone's over fertilization and herbicides. I saw mainly the narrow, more cylindrical types of seagrass, none of the broader leaf that reminds you of Val or Dwarf Sagittaria, like the turtle grass down south. It was like glass out there the other day, and for the first time it seemed like a window into my past, a place that I hadn't just imagined, it was beautiful and overwhelming.
The fishing was good, couldn't get the bigger reds to bite, but we could see them, and maybe we were a bit too aggressive and out of practice for such a calm day. We caught most of them on a Salt Strong Bomber in Slim Shady, a very reliable color almost anywhere. I also caught a few trout on a chartreuse jig. My little brother gave me an awesome jig head and I was able to find them here on line. Some places sell one under the same name but it doesn't have the clip. I like the clip because it allows me to change hooks to the size of my lure and as a bass fishermen I have plenty of EWG hooks in various sizes. The jig is called a SnakelockZ and I found it here.
I also did some exploring and Geocaching with Lily, found another old sugar mill with a pretty garden up in Port Orange called Bongo Land Ruins. Its been a good week off.