Easy Sunday on Mosquito Lagoon

The last couple weeks prior to the 4th of July were busy. Between filming for work and runs to Miami chasing bonefish and permit, hectic was the word of the month. Typically, the day after a Miami run is more of a lay-day. Although, with the weather being right the wife and I took advantage to make a few relaxing, afternoon trips to Mosquito Lagoon.

As long as the weather holds Saturday and Sunday afternoons are wonderful times to be out on Mosquito Lagoon. Usually, most everyone has headed home and the crowds have greatly diminished. It can feel like you have the entire place to yourself.

The wife, bird dog and I set out that afternoon to look at some new water. She just wanted to relax so I brought the fly rod and the stripping bucket to try and stick one from the poling platform. It is always a song and dance getting one to eat from up high, but very rewarding when it all comes together.

The first stop we found water that was off-color due to being exposed to the wind from that day. I was really just poling that shoreline to reach a pocket I had fished before in similar conditions. The water was up a little and this area was protected from the wind so I had my fingers crossed.

The first fish caught me a little off guard as he was on the corner at the entrance and I was just out of position. It happens. The next shot was exactly what I had hoped for. Bank crawling, back out of the water and jumped all over a well placed fly. As the wife relaxed on the bow she got a cool shot of the fish eating and coming tight. Well done babe.

Redfish Eat!

Redfish Eat!

A quick photo and another beautiful mosquito lagoon redfish was safely on her way.

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

As the wind began to shift a little we decided to make one more stop before calling it a day. This water was a bit cleaner but it took a little bit before we started to see fish. I’m pissed. This area had it all, except fish. Finally as we came to the end of the stretch I bumped a fish off the bow. Although can be maddening I have to laugh it off and be glad the Chittum can get that close to fish without spooking them.

As I set up for what felt like the last shot of the day, it was a left to right, on the shoreline. Perfect, except I was a little long and decided to take the chance of the fish swimming under the leader that was on a mangrove root. As I held my breath and the line came tight, lifting the line off the water, the fish calmly carried on. I was shocked. That never happens. I just knew I had buried the hook in the root but a quick flick of the rod tip set it free.

I knew this would be my last shot at that fish. Just before I made my cast, I saw another fish coming right at me. This was going to be an exact replica of the previous shot. Thankfully, I landed it short of the mangrove root and with a slight move of the fly, the fish was on. Two short runs and a few clicks of the drag and she was boat-side. Beautiful fish and beautiful afternoon.

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish on Fly

Moral of the scene…never panic. The more frustrated or panicked you get on the bow, the more will go wrong. It is just one of those hard lessons in fly fishing.

As I throttled up and headed for home, I just can’t help to take it all in and be thankful for a wonderful afternoon with the wife and dog. Fly fishing is a beautiful thing.

Meet the Band

Ladies and Gentleman… The Band

Everyone has that group they fish with. Sometimes it is 10 close friends, sometimes it is just a few but they know it as the team, or squad, or whatever. Our spots stay between us, flies and lures that work are kept close to our chest…and so on. Well you have seen photos of this bunch and you will see more so I should properly introduce them. Look, I don’t mean to pump these guys tires but…

Mind if we Dance with your Dates?

Up first, we got Guffy, it is a mix of a nickname with his last name that I never spell correctly and lets be honest, there are plenty of Matt’s in this world but so far we have only seen one Guffy. We have been fishing together now about 2.5 years. He came to work in our office as a writer, well more of a wordsmith and creative storyteller honestly. He really should be writing all of these but y’all are just going to have to make do with me. Anyway, his fishing knowledge and experience was limited at the time but wanted to soak it all in like crazy and is a really fishy dude. He dove into flyfishing head first. Started building his own fly rods, tying flies and we got him out on the ponds to work on his cast before he took his first shot at a redfish. His chosen stick is always a 7 weight on the redfish flats and he slings it well.  His first redfish was a perfect cruiser on a grass flat, laid down a great shot with a gurgler, and he got to see the redfish eat in gin clear water. That will be one I can always look back and see in my mind. He is a big LAX guy, goal scorer, hockey guy, unparalleled sense of humor, Jaguars Fan, sports a hell of a beard, Fly The W guy, got a solid Top 5 Babes list, student of the rap game, Patagucci fan, loves Trout in the snow and his dog. 

Catch Redfish. Go Jags

Next up we got Taylor Belinger(one L), he just pretty much just gets called Taylor and he is ok with that. Taylor joined the team at work as well and had some fishing background. He really wasn’t steeped in the fly game yet but he flocked to it like the salmon of Capistrano. He is a graphic designer by trade and enjoys coloring pictures. You would think since he sits behind a camera so much that the lens might not love him, but you are dead wrong. The camera loves him, he is really the 2019 Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. but with a dad bod, which is really in right now.  Builds his own fly rods, ties a mean fly, *Cheat Code* is his go to pattern and can shoot ropes. His first red on fly was on a gurgler a well. There was a small group of tailing fish on the back edge of a flat and a few blown shots didn’t discourage this new fly fisherman and the one that worked was a killer shot off the edge of the feeding school when one fish broke away and slammed it. His rod of choice is an 8wt and can send it. He is a big TB Rays guy, lives for a good rope hat, loves skinny bitches, keeps his ear to the street for sick beats, keeping dad bods sexy, big UCF guy, loves weddings, a digs a long frisbee on the beach. 

Magnum P.I. Poon

There you have it, you will undoubtly see more of these two so if they offend you, better bow out now. 

FRIDAY

I know ya love redfish, I know this. And I’m gonna get you a redfish on fly cause it’s Friday, you got the day off and you ain’t got shit to do…

Sometimes it just all comes together. 2018 is nearing the end, you have a few vacation days to blow, although the weather men are calling for some wind, there are very little clouds in the forecast.  Anyone one who has fished the flats, or guided on the flats knows they would rather have wind and no clouds rather than clouds and no wind, generally speaking. Y’all know my thoughts on clouds, I have the stickers to prove it…

I had my boy Guffee on the bow for the trip as he too snuck out of the office. The weathermen were right on both accounts, there was wind and there were no clouds! Thankfully plenty of redfish to be found but there was also one of the first cold snaps of the year, so it had the redfish in a slight funk. We hopped around to some of the typical haunts as the sun got up but I had a feeling they would be in Mosquito Lagoon that has softer, slightly darker bottom looking to warm up with the bring sun.

On our second mud flat we started seeing fish. I pushed one shoreline that wrapped an island and dead ended into one of the famous mosquito ditches and found 3 redfish sunning. Two casts at these uninterested fish and we decided to push into the ditch as we could see activity down what was a long hallway of mangroves. Casting was tight and difficult and the fish still seemed lethargic so I spun the boat and out we went.

We didn’t make it 50 feet before I spotted a lower slot fish actively working the shoreline with his eyes down searching. It only took Guffee one shot to put it in the zone and two bumps of the black/purple and the redfish was on. Beautiful smaller fish and love the energy they have during the winter. Great fight, shot a couple quick photos and off he went.  That wasn’t the only fish we came tight on but the only one we got our hands on, shit happens and you loose fish, but it is always good knowing you fooled them.

As with most fly fisherman we love accessories, some are worth it and some are worthless. One of the good ones comes from Carbon Marine with their LineLair II, mine is in Ice Blue but they have a number of other colors to match your skiff. Plus, they work as good as they look at keeping your fly line on the deck and help keep it from turning into a cluster.

First Trip in the New Skiff

December 8th was the delivery day and after just six weeks the Chittum Skiffs, Mangrove 18, was on her way home. The wife rode down with me to their Palm City, FL facility to do a final walk through and see the place. Her last visit down was during the initial test ride and looking at colors and layouts. She was a big help during the process as she spends quite a bit of time on the skiff and has to constantly listen to my ideas or thoughts on making improvements to the setup on all my past skiffs.

This one was different. I had notes, sketches, and ideas on how I wanted the side console, casting platform, fuel capacity, rod holders…etc. George and Hal and even a few of the team members there walked me through all options and ideas I had to make sure this was the skiff to end all skiffs.

Options were as follows, Carbon package, Side console, quick release trolling motor mount, Simrad NSS9 EVO3, Florida Marine Tracks, Setup on Poling platform, Aft facing stair stepped rod holders, 13.5gal tank(which could be replaced without cutting the deck), 12in heigh casting platform with deck fittings, Tohatsu 50Hp as the power and a Ram-Lin Aluminum trailer.

As you can imagine, our first trip was the following morning and it did not take long for Melissa to claim her spot on the bow and land a beautiful over slot fish to claim the, “Queen of the Boat” title.