The past couple weeks have brought some changes to the Mosquito Lagoon which include a sudden rise in the water level along with some long awaited clear water. Since the water has cleared, the sun has been in hiding which has made the sight fishing difficult but not impossible. On days when it has been too windy to fish the flats, the St. Johns River has been providing some excellent fishing for American Shad on light tackle and fly. Shad are the freshwater version of a mini tarpon. They fight hard and jump high. In addition to the shad, the bluegill, sunfish, bass, and crappie also help keep the rod consistently bent.
It was one of those cloudy and windy days last week that I took John to the St. Johns after we decided fly fishing for redfish would be futile. John proceeded to catch dozens of fish hroughout the day on a variety of flies in sizes 10-12.A few days later, another client named John was faced with the same situation. He wanted to fly fish the flats but the weather was going to make it difficult. Again we hit the river and, armed with my new 3wt flyrod, John enjoyed some spectacular catch and release action on both shad and panfish.Most of the day he used lightly weighted flies tied on barbless size 12 hooks in gold, chartreuse, or pink. When throwing into a feeding frenzy, color made no difference.
Karen joined me on the river for some shad fishing this week. She used an ultralight spinning rod and the DOA Tiny TerrorEyz to land an assortment of shad and panfish. I used both the fly and spin rods to catch a bunch of shad, bluegill, redbreast, and a nice bass.
The next day Paul and I fished the river. While the shad were not biting quite as fast as the day before, we still tallied over 20 with dozens more panfish mixed in. We saw lots of alligators, tons of birds, and even some swimming cows.
Returning to Mosquito Lagoon Thursday, I found the cold snap over the weekend had caused the water to clear up dramatically. Many areas had the cleanest water I have seen since last spring. The redfish were not tailing, however, and Todd and Steve had a difficult time spotting the few we came across. They managed to landed several trout and a flounder on a CAL bait.
Friday's trip with Roger and Annie brought more clouds. We encountered plenty of redfish, most of which were in schools of 25-100 fish. In addition to the reds, there were lots of large seatrout on the shallow flats. Both Roger and Annie landed trout and reds on the DOA shrimp in watermelon holographic, and the 5.5 inch CAL in golden bream with a Woodies Rattle.
With the water clear, the redfish schooled up, and the big trout up shallow, all we need is some sunny days and we will get some excellent sight fishing action on Mosquito Lagoon. Fly anglers should stick to crab and shrimp patterns for redfish and drum, and bendback or topwater sliders for big trout. The DOA shrimp will continue to work well for sight fishing both species and the CAL bait will cover lots of water if you need to blind cast. The Shad run should continue for several more weeks in the St. Johns River.
Capt. Chris MyersOrlando Fishing Guide