Well we are just one month into the new year of 2013. The world did not come to an end, the weather has been just outstanding and the fishing is at epic proportions. As December ended and January went by we have had some of the best days on the water that I can remember in a few years now. The best thing is however that I do believe it will only continue to get better as we get into the spring Florida weather patterns.
With the beautiful central Florida weather we have been having brings some very intense days on the Mosquito Lagoon and the north Indian River here. The entire area from the Titusville, Mims and Cocoa Beach areas up to and including the northern end in the New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater and Oak Hill areas have just been filled with nice pods of redfish, seatrout and black drum. Mixed in this time of year is an occasional catch of a flounder or two.
The redfish bite has been established to begin at first light and remains dominant throughout the entire day. As the sun begins its rise in the east start your search among the backcountry grass flats, western banks, for these will warm first. Look for, as always, signs of life. Birds feeding, bait fish, "nervous" water and over all activity that will point to signs of fish. Redfish have been feeding on a mixture of mullet and crabs along with some shrimp. With the mild winter we have had mullet are a very productive bait now.
Once you are on spots you want to sight fish, begin your approach with the sun behind you. Of course consider the winds but even pushing into the wind you will have better boat control instead of drifting with it at 20 mph. Taking your time to move into ample position. Think hunter because basically this is what you are doing except you are on the water and able to release your catch after words instead of killing it. Allowing this, your catch, to be sought after yet another day.
Once redfish have been spotted gather your thoughts and get a tactical game plan together in your mind. If throwing to feeding or tailing red drum I have been using either a DOA CAL with a weed less hook set up and a very small bullet weight on it. You can choose to throw a live shrimp or even a live mullet but if you can throw those you can throw an artificial lure. Again it always boils down to your accuracy of the casts and techniques applied. So live bait or artificial make no difference at all. The tail does not eat. Ten pound braid with about a 15 pound leader. Basically light tackle set up. Be sure your casts to these fish are precise and soft. Landing on them or even too close to them will scare them off. Again you scare one the others near will move too.
Those of you wanting to throw a top water use the DOA Shallow Running Baitbuster. If throwing to schools of fish that are on the move adjust your timing and your cast to land in front of them and past them. Bringing the lure across the lead fish. When fish are on a move like this it can be a challenge to get them to eat. So work on this a time goes by.
For the fly fisherman out here we have been using the basics for the Mosquito Lagoon. Crab patterns, shrimp patterns, worm patterns and of course I like a nice mullet pattern fly due to the mullet are a good food source out here. Adjust your back cast and strips as to the redfish will spook if they sense or feel the line being stripped by them or see it in the sun. Welcome to flats fishing 101!
Mixed in with the reds are a good amount of black drum. However they are being pursued and bombarded by every body. I tend to give them a few shots then move on. Use extreme caution or stealth when approaching them and try to use a very small, 2/0, or so circle hook with some dead peeled shrimp.The key is with these, and other fish, is to give anglers berth. It always seems like you will be on fish, worked very hard to get into position, got up before others and someone will show up late to the party and just decide to move into the area with you. Remember first come first serve. The flats only have so much area. If you get to a spot and see another boat or two there just move on, there is plenty of water out here to fish.
Giant seatrout are every where. This is such a great thing to see since the bad winter we had in 2010. A combination of great weather and anglers practicing catch and release has been a key to their survival. If you are in search of one of these gator's try getting into extreme backcountry waters where no one else is around. Scan for pot holes or sand holes for shapes and shadows to move, chances are they are the trout. look for bait again. Just take your time with these bad boys of the water jungle. Use a small jig either weighted or not and just work on very precise casts with all of the elements in mind.
Please remember this time of year the water levels are extremely low. So use caution. Also please be sure to practice catch and release. This is the for sure way to ensure a future of fishery out here. Until then everyone have a great day!