Gags, Black Drum and Peacock Bass

Well, I am still laid up with what the doctors call Plantar Fasciitis. It is like a toothache in your heel. Although the ailment has kept me from piloting my own boat, a couple of friends have made it possible to get a couple of fishing trips in. One was to Homosassa with Captain Rick Burns and another was to Mosquito Lagoon with Captain Chris Myers. They both dutifully put up with my handicap and put me on some fish. I might just have to keep the boot (cast) on and play sick. That way I can just ride around and fish.

With respect to the gag grouper, Capt. Rick ( ) ask me over to Homosassa to do some shallow water grouper fishing with him and his friend Captain Bill Lotz ( 352-860-2310 ). We took Bill’s boat which is rigged with a tower for easy spotting of the rock piles we would fish. Rick manned the tower and ran the trolling motor with a remote from high above the water. Another friend of Rick’s came along to help in the catching. Jeff and I were doing the fishing while Captain Rick and Captain Bill treated us like royalty, catering to our every need.

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The strategy was for Rick to use the visibility provided by the tower to move Jeff and I along the rock piles just within casting distance. We use 5500 reels loaded with 50 pound braid and finished off with diving crank baits on a 60 pound leader. These heavy rigs are needed in case you hook up with the big guys. We didn’t that day, but we did get 14 gags, a couple of trout and several real nice Spanish mackerel.

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This is an interesting fishery where you can cast plugs in 6 to 7 feet of water toward underwater rock piles and catch these hard hitting grouper. If you have never done it you need to give it a try.

Mosquito Lagoon

My second trip was with Captain Chris Myers ( ). Captain Chris specializes in poling the flats of legendary Mosquito Lagoon. On our way out Captain Chris told me of some black drum, redfish, and redfish he had been seeing in the “goon” so hopes were high.

Not long after approaching our first location we started spotting redfish but they were a little spooky and showed no interest in our offerings. We poled through one area that held a bunch of large trout but they too were showing no interest in being caught. As we continued along the same flat we started seeing wider ranging ripples that turned out to be 100’s of black drum.

I managed a hook-up on a Rip Tide Realistic Crab, sprayed with Rip Tide Blast Shrimp Scent. I had pinned the crab on a ¼ inch jig head by hooking it sideways across the bottom of the lure and then rotating the jig head 180 degrees to make the crab settle upright on the bottom with the hook up. I sprayed on a little scent and pulled the crab very slowly through the huge school of black drum. One finally showed some interest and I caught my only fish of the day.

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We continued to work the school and Captain Chris pulled 3 more out of the bunch before we called it a day.

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Captain Chris is a master on the flats using artificial baits. He likes to say that if you are not comfortable and confident in using plastic baits you need to go out with no natural bait so your only opportunity at catching a fish will be on the artificials. This will force you to use them and your confidence will rise. Another point about sightfishing that became abundantly clear to me was the need for accurate casting. I feel like I would have caught more fish if I had made better casts. Don’t wait until you are fishing to cast, practice in your backyard on days you are not fishing. It will pay dividends when you get on the water.

Peacock Bass

Don’t get excited, I am not going to talk about catching any peacock bass while I was in Mosquito Lagoon but I do know where you can catch some. This is one of those trips of a lifetime deals. It’s not inexpensive but what a trip. It’s a 10 day trip that includes at least 6 days of fishing. A trip like this is a bargain at $3,550 plus airfare and tips. If you would like more information send me an email at The trip is to the Amazon for some of the best Peacock Bass fishing in the world.

I hope to talk to you real soon with great fishing reports from Florida’s Space Coast.

As always, you can visit my website at to view pictures of the fish we catch in the Cocoa Beach area. That's what it's all about. Good fishin'.

Capt. Ron Presley