Rolling into February and 2010 is off to a good, but interesting, start. For the second year in a row, extreme cold temperatures created dangerously low water temperatures causing another snook kill in the area. This time however, the fish kill was more wide spread and claimed some baby tarpon and some giant speckled trout as well. Redfish, black drum and most other trout were largely unaffected by the cold water and the fishing for them has returned to pace. Far from catastrophic, remaining snook are showing back up and biting again. Now that temperatures have warmed up and are stabilizing the fishing is getting back to normal. Fish have taken up residence along the edges of flats in deeper water and are easy to find. The water is crystal clear everywhere and the sight fishing is incredible. As we move through the next two months, the spring bait run is right around the corner and fishing will be explosive.
Redfish are the main target right now in Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian River, and scattered throughout the backwater creeks of New Smyrna, Edgewater, and behind Ponce Inlet. With the water so clear it’s been easy to locate several good schools of 25-50 redfish throughout the day, and there are also a couple places where at times all the smaller schools combine to make 200-300 fish schools. Redfish have been staged on the deep edges of shallow flats around deeper sandy/mud bottom creeks and sloughs where they can retreat when the water temps cool at night. Warm, calm weather and rising tides has them pushing up and scattering into the shallows. These fish are hungry and have been shadowing baitfish schools. Find bait schools and you’ll find redfish nearby. Light tackle anglers are having the best success using baitfish imitations like gold spoons, small swimbaits and the Mirrolure mirrodine and mirrominnow. If the fish have been finicky, we’ve switched to DOA shrimp and Gulp scented baits for more of a finesse approach. Choices vary for live bait anglers, live shrimp, live finger mullet and pinfish, and cut crabs are all producing at various times. Fly anglers are connecting using clouser minnows, ep minnows, redfish blossoms, and my versions of the borski slider and borski shrimp. There are also several schools of GIANT redfish moving in the Mosquito Lagoon and North IRL. Clear skies and light winds are a must if we are going to spend any time looking to catch one of these trophy bruisers that range from 15-40lbs. Most of the schools appear to have 25-100 fish in the 40-inch range.
Speckled Trout are another target for our winter fishing months in Mosquito Lagoon, Oak Hill, Edgewater and New Smyrna. Trout have also been in the same areas as redfish lately, schooling along the edges of deeper creeks and sloughs, with the occasional few fish spotted laid up in sand spots on the deeper portions of the grass flats. Find bait schools and you’ll find trout nearby as well. Casting jigs, plastics, and suspending twitchbaits around the bait is currently putting 10-20-30 or more trout in the boat a day. If they have been picky, live or cut mullet thrown into the bait pods has also managed to produce consistent bites. Clouser minnows, EP minnows, and seaducers are good flies for my fly anglers. With the improving bite, our average trout lately has been in the 15-20” slot range, with a few around 4lbs. It’s been tough going for sight casting big gator trout from 5-10lbs that survived the freeze in the southern portions of Mosquito Lagoon and Oak Hill, but recent scouting trips revealed a few spotty areas that have some 6-10lb fish that made it through. The speckled trout sight fishing is a shell of what it could be in there though this time of the year, and it’s wise to encourage catch and release for any over-slot speckled trout in Mosquito Lagoon. Outside of the Lagoon, the death toll on those gator trout seems minimal.
Normally I would talk next about the Snook fishing in the winter as it’s one of my favorite times of the year to spend a day catching snook and catching loads of them. Out of all the fish, snook were hit the hardest during the recent freeze; not just here but around the entire state of Florida. It wasn’t a total loss, however, for the linesiders making their home north of the frost lines in Volusia County, but consecutive years of snook kill is taking it’s toll on our resident fish. Due to timing of this writing, I have yet to explore many of the places I fish for snook during the winter, but friends have and they have caught some decent snook here and there. Survivors have been on shorelines in and adjacent to the deepest marina’s, bridges, jetty structure and backcountry holes. Now that it’s warming they will be moving onto adjacent flats to warm up and eat. IMPORTANT! -- Fishing for Florida snook in 2010 will be catch and release only, with the passage of an emergency species closure by the State of Florida FWC on 1/16/10.
One fish that didn’t mind cold weather one bit is Bluefish. They have been on fire lately with all the cold water and there are thousands of them to be caught. A glamour species of the Northeast US, laughingly nobody seems to target them in Florida during the winter. So if you just want to bend a line all day, they’re more than happy to oblige. February is the best month of the year to catch big bluefish around New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet. Casting jigs, Mirrolure crankbaits and suspending twitchbaits or free lining live bait will yield great numbers of caught bluefish in the ICW and adjacent deep cuts and creeks. The average bluefish is the schooly 10-20” blue, with the occasional fish that will weigh 5-10lbs.
There are loads of Black Drum in the ICW, flats in Mosquito Lagoon, and flats in the North Indian River Lagoon. These fish also didn’t seem to mind the cold weather, in fact, it brought many of the bigger fish over 15lbs up out of the deeper water and near the edges of the sand bars for a short period of time. Black drum have been schooled up by the hundreds. Live shrimp and cut crabs will provide a day of action when everything else may have lockjaw.
Dates remaining open for February are limited with only 13 dates remaining as of today. March and April dates have been booking fast with about 15 dates remaining open in each month. Short notice trips are accepted if I have the date open. Give me a call call now to reserve/book a date. Read my fishing charter page to view the top reasons why you should book your trip with me today. I look forward to fishing with you soon…386-212-4931.