Brevard County and Florida's Space Coast host a shallow, golden waterway adjacent to Canaveral National Seashore and Playalinda Beach named the Mosquito Lagoon. It's golden tint is because of the natural tannic trickling from the fresh water feeder tributaries and rain covered marshes fringing the lagoon's shorelines. It's also golden-red when the sunlight reflects off the backs of large schooling redfish often numbering in the hundreds and seen by anglers with our Mosquito Lagoon Guides.
Mosquito Lagoon offers many different challenges for the angler simply by the diverse topography and structure offered. Bottom variations like the famous Tiger Shoals in the middle of the lagoon or the Whale Tail Shoal in the southern part of the lagoon offer places for fish to relate and forage for food. Mangrove shorelines and saltwater marshes combined with crystal clear water and healthy seagrass void of human development make the lagoon a virtual paradise for anglers as well as fish.
Fisherman's Mecca may be an appropriate term for the lagoon over the last decade and a half. If there is a downside to the huge success when the redfish rebounded in the mid 1980's, the lagoon's been found out and hammered by every fishing celebrity and their shows from ESPN's Outdoor channel to videos/DVD's mass marketed in Bass Pro, Cabelas and the internet. Weekend warriors and overzealous part-time fishing guides are sometimes putting extreme pressure on the fish and the lagoon's fragile environment. Anglers desiring to fish Mosquito Lagoon may want to consider fishing on a week day, staying away from Saturday and Sunday crowds. The smarter anglers will wait till the late fall, winter and spring and stay off the lagoon during the summer months. Many anglers are on the water an hour or more before dawn to be in place for the sunrise before less exuberant boaters get on the water. None-the-less Mosquito Lagoon still holds plenty of redfish for anglers wishing to sightfish with artificial, fly or live baits.
Northern Mosquito Lagoon near Oakhill and Apollo beach is filled with winding waterways, islands, sandbars oyster bars, creeks, troughs and holes. It's not as clear as the southern part of the lagoon but it can be every bit as productive. Many anglers caught-up in the sight fishing craze have forgotten how fun it is to catchfish with more traditional methods or modified versions that are tried and true. Here in the northern end a smart angler can catch quantities of fish by simply using methods from live bait to slinging plugs such as topwaters or jigs, fly fishermen will like poppers and dahlberg diver type patterns that producenoise or wakes.
New Smyrna Inlet ebbs it's tidal currents in and out every six hours and with it comes a change of tide and current over the northern lagoon. Fish react differently at tide phases and so should the angler. Incoming tides generally get big seatrout and pods of redfish feeding along oyster bars and dropoffs. Dropping tides tend to send fish deeper and further away from the bars and land. Try using jerk baits or subtle topwaters around dropoffs and holes during falling tides. Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Guide, Captain Richard Bradley likes to livebait around holes by chumming with greenies or hooking on finger mullet when the conditions are not optimum for sightfishing. It may not be as glorious but more often than not these old methods out produce the new fangled sightfishing that's been so popularized by the camera and southern Mosquito Lagoon.
By far the most popular part of the lagoon is the middle section. Tiger Shoals marks the middle of the lagoon with an old plane wreck protruding from it's southern end. East of Tiger shoals is a marl of islands and saltwater marshes adjacent to Playlinda and Apollo Beach, both mecca's for naturalist, sun worshippers and surfers. There are so many nooks and crannies on the eastern shoreline where fiddler crabs are abundant and raccoons wade the mudflats. You'll find places like twin palms where traditionally redfish schools and skittish trout lurk in the grass and marl bottom. Sightfishermen can get buck fever by casting with pinpoint accuracy at the tailing redfish lazily wallowing in the shallow waters and sandbars. West of Tiger Shoals is a series of islands often referred to as the klinkers. Anglers trying to stay out of the wind use these islands as refuge from a strong easterly flow and often find their quarry there too. Keeper sized redfish and trout stay comfortable with crab, shrimp and baitfish nearby in these warm shallow backwaters.
I've saved the southern part for last because that's often the most talked about. The water is crystal clear and when it's calm you can see redfish schools, singles and pods from great distances with a trained eye.
Shortly after the redfish moratorium in the mid 1980's we started seeing for the first time in many decades and certainly my lifetime... schooling redfish! Commercial netter's might argue this fact but everyone that was involved in flats fishing prior to 1986 saw a transformation in the fishing industry centered around redfish. Flats fishing was off to a racing start and everyone was on the bandwagon to purchase a shallow water boat with a poling platform. Jon boats were no longer in vogue and gave way to sleeker, faster, quieter boats. Now it's not uncommon to see $40k or even $50k put into a small flats boat from a prominent manufacturer.
In the last few years flats boats have evolved again as anglers have foreseen the ability to go shallower and lighter with "ultra-high quality" boats made of carbon kevlar and graphite. Don't think these boats are less expensive as a couple of boat makers have small skiffs exceeding $50,000.00 retail. These boats are seen in numbers on the south end of the lagoon lurking for the presence of fish on the flats.
Look for fish around potholes in the grass, dropoffs and shoals on the south end of Mosquito Lagoon. Sightfishing can be challenging and very rewarding for those who have the patience and build the confidence to locate and spot fish. The skills involved after marking the fish can be as tedious and challenging as finding them. An accurate cast is a must for each angler, as poorly placed cast can cause a redfish to spook and disappear as quickly. Practice precision casting in your yard with a hula hoop as a target and you'll save yourself a lot of frustration out on the water.
Fly fishermen will want to perfect a 60 foot cast with an eight weight rod. I like to use redfish candies & clousers for redfish streamers, crab and shrimp patterns work awesome too.
Anglers are often seen sightfishing on the lagoon when the water is calm enough to stalk and pursue wary fish feeding in shallow water. Redfish have a weakness of giving themselves away to anglers by showing their tails above the waterline while feeding or traversing the grassflats. Aided with keen eye sight and a pair of polarized sunglasses an willing partner will to push the skiff along with a long fiberglass push-pole most anglers acquire a sense of sightfishing within a couple of trips. "It's all a matter of building confidence and having fun while you get the hang of things," explains Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Guide Captain Richard Bradley.
Fishing Locations (Where to meet your guide)
NO FISH NO PAY (warning)