March 4, 2001-- Ponce Inlet to Mosquito Lagoon Report
February has brought us all kinds of weather conditions. We've fished in fog, bright sun, haze, overcast, wind, calm and well... you get the idea. Water temperatures have risen into the 70's. Air temps have hit the mid 80's, fluctuating to the low 60's. The water level itself has remained low in the lagoon. Jack Crevalle and Ladyfish have made their way back in to the lagoon early. March came in with eighty degree afternoons and bright sunshine. Cold fronts have been getting milder, although this week the air temp is supposed to fall to the 40's for a couple of mornings.
Redfish are constantly on the move. Tight schools are the norm but more and more rogues are being found working the "edges".
Most of the Redfish we're catching are between 4 and 10 pounds. Schools of smaller Reds ( 1 to 3 pounds) are in force. These little Reds compete aggressively and usually will grab your offering before the bigger guy can. The small Reds provide little sport. Luckily they're protected (18 inch minimum) and release well. Once the bigger Reds get on a feed though, the small ones disappear, that's when your pole will get a good bend and your drag will scream.
We've had a few tough days where fish were slow to be found and to bite, but the majority of days these last two weeks found us fishing a steady and sometimes great bite. Shrimp remains king but small topwaters and plastic baits are catching reds too. The Borski Fur Shrimp and Borski Slider have been the flies that have caught Reds.
Al Cohen of Backcountry FlyFishers tied a version of a Slider that got a grab, but sadly it didn't stick. It was an impressive sight and we all held our breath as a school of 10 lb. Reds moved straight at us and right to Al's fly. We couldn't see the pick up but Al felt it. We worked hard that day for good shots and came up empty handed. Flyfishing is a game of ecstasy and heartbreak, the rewards are there and so is the disappointment. It's a great game, it takes practice and preparation to play.
Andy Cooper of upstate New York cast his version of a Borski Slider perfectly to a moving school of Reds. Time stopped as the fly descended and a slow strip was rewarded with a bent rod and Andy was hooked to his first Redfish on fly.
On one side of the coin perfect conditions had Bud McKechnie and friend Doug McTighe of Orlando psyched for a great day of catching but it wasn't to be. We fished hard and caught a few but the Redfish schools did a disappearing act on us. On the other side, Walt Shepard of Washinton, D.C. left his fly rod ashore as we headed out in a strong Northeast wind. Opting for bait, Walt caught Refish after Redfish in very windy conditions. For 4 or 5 hours Walt was able to cast his shrimp to large school of Reds lit up by bright sun, down wind. As the sun peaked, single fish in the huge school of Reds would roll and flash a silvery copper glow as they casually swam in search of something to eat. A beautiful sight!
The Mosquito Lagoon is hosting a huge number of resident, returning, and migratory birds at this time. Porpoises are in the shallows, feeding and putting on a show. Jacks are blowing up bait. Pinfish are back in the shallow seagrass. The sun is rising noticably earlier and earlier, and its rays are more intense daily. All a welcome change, adios winter!
Brian Clancy/Eldora Charters
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