Spring has officially arrived in Central Florida with water temperatures consistently in the 70’s, baitfish flooding the inshore waters, and white butterflies starting to hover around the islands in the area. Waters levels have risen lately, scattering schools and opening new grounds for smaller pods of fish to explore. The bite is generally strong in spring months for redfish (including trophy bull reds over 20lbs) and speckled trout (including some world class trout in the 7-12lb range). While fishing for those two we’ll also come across flounder, black drum, and bluefish. There’s also a slight chance of catching some baby tarpon, as I’ve started finding some getting more active. This is one of the preferred fishing times of the year in terms of fishing quality and charter bookings, which means last minute bookings might be tough, so act quickly to capitalize.
Redfish have been a primary target lately in the backwaters around Ponce Inlet, the Mosquito Lagoon, and the North Indian River Lagoon. Big winter schools are breaking into smaller schools/pods and dispersing on the shallow grass flats and into the smaller feeder creeks and oyster bays. Clear waters in all above areas yield excellent sight casting with lures and live bait. Top producers have been spoons, Mirrolure crankbaits and topwaters, swimbaits , DOA shrimp and CAL tails, live mullet and live shrimp. In some areas redfish have quickly moved into a summer pattern shadowing and mixing with huge pods of mullet working the area. In other areas where baitfish supplies are lower, redfish are laid up in sand spots or tailing in the shallows. I’ve found quite a few schools of trophy bull redfish in the Mosquito Lagoon and the North Indian River Lagoon with fish in the 20-40lb range. The schools generally have 25-75 fish. While these fish at times can still be a little lethargic for the time of year, the reward for patience can be the sightcasting to the redfish of a lifetime. Fly anglers lately have had good success on schooly fish with spoon flies, bunny flies, and clousers; for tailing fish crab flies and bendbacks. Catching has varied lately depending on the weather conditions and baromoter readings; it has ranged from 5-25 or more redfish per day.
The other primary target for the springtime is Speckled Trout. Trout fishing can be at it’s best in the Mosquito Lagoon, North Indian River Lagoon, and in the creeks around New Smyrna where areas of mullet congregate. I could trout fish all day, it’s one of my favorite things to fish for, more so than redfish. There’s three ways to prospect for trout and each can be adapted to your particular fishing style. Free-line live bait, blind cast plugs/jigs, or sight cast with soft plastics or live bait. We’ve had good luck lately throwing shad style soft plastics on jigs on deeper edges and creeks. For catching world-cass gator trout in the 7-12lb range, I’m free-lining live mullet or slow working plugs. For those who want the ultimate challenge, you can use soft plastic lures or live bait to sight cast those same big gator trout. No lies, that style is really, really tough, but also really exciting. Catching has been fairly consistent with us getting good numbers of 12-20 inch trout, and the occassional big one over 5lbs.
There are still some scattered schools of Black Drum in the Lagoons and on the channel bottoms. Most have moved off the flats and into their spawning area around the full-moon cycles. Dark jigs or flies, live shrimp or cut crabs have been the preferred choice when you come across schools on the flats. There are still some Flounder in the sand/muddy bottom areas of the Lagoons. We’re not catching as many as before, but mud-minnows, finger mullet, or shrimp all on jigheads pulled slowly along the bottom have caught some here and there. Around the tidal areas of Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach we’ve been finding a lot of Bluefish. I’m not sure why bluefish can be so sought after in the Northeast but rarely targeted in the Southeast. Regardless casting swimbaits, jigs, and live bait along the ICW and feeder creeks will find decent numbers of blues. With all of the recent warm weather there’s been a substantial increase in juvenile Tarpon activity. Most of the what I can find are babies in the 2-10lb range and they’ll eat small jigs, grubs, and shrimp. If conditions hold, I’ll likely find some willing 10-30lb tarpon by next month in the channels and creeks around New Smyrna, Ponce Inlet, and Mosquito Lagoon.
March is nearly 3/4’s booked by this point, but I have some scattered dates open and other dates I can fit in a half-day afternoon charter. About half of April and May have already been pre-booked, so don’t wait till the last minute to find openings. Having said that, short notice trips are always accepted if I can squeeze you in. 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.