Mosquito Creek Outdoor's Indian River Lagoon Fishing Forecast, February 2010

By Captain Tom Van Horn

As winters go here in Central Florida, the 10 day freeze we experienced last month was the coldest weather we’ve seen since 1977. The prolonged period of cold dropped lagoon water temperatures into the 40’s. These extreme cold conditions killed a large number of fish both in saltwater and freshwater, but all is not lost. As the water temperatures warmed up surviving species began to return to the flats, and it appears redfish and black drum were not lost to the arctic chill. Additionally, despite notable loses, a good number of sea trout and some snook managed to find warm enough water to survive. On the freshwater side, only exotic species like tilapia and armored catfish subsided to the freeze, which doesn’t hurt my feelings too much.

Inshore on the saltwater flats of the Mosquito Lagoon, good numbers of redfish and black drum have been easy to locate when conditions are calm and sunny, but getting them to eat has been challenging. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the sandy potholes within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise faster. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and crystal clear water make February one of the best months to site fish for redfish, sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats. Also, now is the time to target tailing black drum in the Banana River Lagoon "No Motor Zone". As we move further away from the extreme cold event, the redfish and drum should begin to feed more readily.

Offshore, kingfish are still available along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there as long as the water temperatures are favorable. When targeting kingfish this month focus your efforts on the areas of 8A Reef, Pelican Flats and Bethel Shoals to the south for best results. Also, look for cobia and amberjack to be present on the inshore wrecks like the Carol Lee, Dutch, and Sub Wreck out of Port Canaveral. Additionally, live bait is tough to find this time of year, so always carry a box of frozen Spanish sardines with you as backup.

Near-shore, tripletail concentrations should improve along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structures, and cobia will move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. Now is also the time for beach anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf.

On those windy days in February it is a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River. Currently, the American shad run has yet to materialize with only sporadic catches being reported. The shad run has yet to kick off this year, but my best fishing last year was on the 15th of February, so it’s too soon to judge the magnitude of the run this year. This past week, the best reports of shad came from the Marina Isles to Mullet Lake section of the St. Johns River, as well as a good number shad being taken north of Lake Harney. As the run progresses the shad should be moving into the shallows flats south of Hwy 46, so if you haven’t signed up for the Shad Derby yet, there is still plenty of time left.

Also, be sure to check out the new Coastal Angler Magazine Orlando in print and online for free at

As always, if you have questions or need information, please contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn
407-366-8085 office
407-416-1187 on the water

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