Entering into June and it won’t be long till half the year has already passed us by. A little late, but better then never, we’re entering the peak of the spring bait run . Millions of mullet and menhaden (aka pogy’s) are moving up the coastline and flooding the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River. Tarpon are scattered all over the backwaters around Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach, and some have pushed down into the main areas of Mosquito Lagoon. Some scattered snook that survived the winter freeze are biting around the docks. Redfish and speckled trout are abundant and can be found in schools and tailing around the baitfish schools. All of the fish are eating a variety of lures and flies and the weather conditions have really cooperated as of late to make for great catching success. Those patiently waiting for pigifish, a favorite summer baitfish we use, will have to wait just a couple more weeks. They too are running behind schedule, but just this past week I caught a couple dozen in my bait traps. Last but not least, I’m coming off great showing at this year’s Fishstock tournament held annually in New Smyrna Beach. We won 1st place in the redfish division, 1st place in the redfish jackpot, and 2nd place in the overall top boat honors. Over $5,000 in cash and prizes was a great way to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend!
There’s no better way to start a day then chasing Tarpon on the local inshore waters, it’s definitely my favorite thing to fish for. There are good numbers of big juveniles that survived the winter freeze and I have found decent numbers of fish around Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna and southern portions of Mosquito Lagoon. We jumped several fish in the 20-40lb range, and clients landed three last month. Most of our best bite has been on jigs to imitate the numerous small baits they are feeding on. As the summer wears on they will move on to bigger baitfish like mullet and pinfish. I haven’t yet seen any laid up fish in the areas I found over the past few years where we spot and stalk them. Some migrating adult fish over 80lbs are beginning to show up along the beaches and push into the Inlet backwaters. Opportunities for tarpon will only get better from now through October.
Another great way to start the morning is trying for a big gator Speckled Trout in the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River Lagoon. The bait run has these fish active, hungry, and looking for a meal. We are finding active bait pods in the morning and working a soft plastic jerkbait, Mirrorlure topwaters or suspending twitchbaits, or waiting patiently with a frisky live mullet. The pigfish (a popular summer baitfish) season is running a bit behind, but it won’t be long till we will be bouncing pigfish and catching hundreds of trout. I caught two dozen small pigs in my bait traps the last time I tried. Fly anglers will connect with bigger baitfish profile flies like a deceiver or seaducer tossed right in and on the edges of the mullet pods. A good trout lately has been in the 4-7lb range. While the winter freeze really took it’s toll on the big gator trout population there are still some 8-10lb’rs to be found if you do your homework. I strongly encourage the release of all those oversize trout this year, especially around the monthly full moon cycles when they are spawning.
Not to be left out, Redfish have been on fire. These summer months are a prime time to find a do battle with our world famous GIANT trophy sized redfish from 20-50lbs. There are numerous schools to choose from when you want to try for a giant bull red in both the Mosquito Lagoon and the North Indian River Lagoon. These fish are schooling in preparation of a late summer spawn so respect that, play nice and land them quickly. Speaking of big redfish, congrats to a Florida client of mine who landed one of the top 5 fish I have had anyone catch, a giant pushing 49” and close to 50lbs. Typical summer weather patterns with calm water makes them easy to find and you’ll guarantee a hook-up if you toss them a live pinfish, mullet, or fresh piece of cut bait. If you are first to the scene in the morning, they will often smack a topwater plug, spoon, or fly. But once you yank one out of the school they wise up quick. On the shallow grass flats in the Lagoons, find the bait pods and you will find the redfish schools on the fringe or right in the middle of the bait. These fish will eat a variety of lures, but I typically prefer anything that looks like a small baitfish or minnow. Fly anglers will connect on spoon flies, bunny patterns, seaducers, or bendbacks. Fly anglers casting to “tailers” will connect on crab and grass shrimp patterns. The tidal creeks around Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna, Edgewater have water that is still fairly clear and you will spot redfish cruising or laid up on the edges of the oyster bars or up under the mangrove roots and they will eat just about anything you can possibly pull out of the tackle bag.
I’ve been finding some decent Snook along the deeper mangrove shorelines in the creeks around Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach, as well as in the shadows under the docks. It was far from a total loss on our snook populations this winter. Numbers are certainly thin, but I caught one just under the slot and had a few more follows which gives hope for a good rebound in the years to follow.
Still some remaining dates for June and July. Call or email now to reserve/book a date. Short notice trips are accepted if I have the date open. 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.