You’ve heard the saying… What do you do when life hands you a pile of lemons? Make lemonade.
That’s exactly what Billy Rotne, Rod Mergardt and I did when fishing in FL last week. In 4 days of fishing (hard), in perfect weather, we managed just three Redfish, two small Tarpon (in the 20 Lb range) and a handful of other “non-targeted” fish (shark, sea trout, catfish etc.). The lone highlight of the trip was a double hook-up by Rod and I with a 17.5 Lb. and 33 Lb. Redfish across from T.O.’s bar on Mosquito Lagoon. Rod also had a close encounter of the 4th kind with a baby manatee that was approximately 60 pounds.
Rod’s 17 lb Redfish also had an attached tag that revealed it’s growth and migration over the past several years. A very interesting report is attached.
Many thanks to Captain Billy who once again “worked his ass off” to create the best experience for us and Rod being Rod, we still had a great time being on the water in the beautiful FL sunshine.
The sad news is that it’s very apparent that Mosquito Lagoon has finally degraded to the same levels of the adjacent Indian River and Banana River Lagoons, where the majority of the sea grass has died and the lagoon bottom resembles an aquatic wasteland. The ratio of sea grass to sand used to be about 70% – 30% (dominantly grass) to now maybe 30% – 70% (dominantly sand).
If there isn’t some positive environmental relief this year (hurricane, no algae bloom, really dry weather, closing the lagoon etc.), we may be at the tipping point of no return where the future recruitment classes of juvenile fish may not be able to survive in numbers sufficient enough to repopulate the estuary.
A very depressing situation that has happened in the “blink of an eye” time horizon of just over the past 5 years.
There obviously will still be occasional good days to fish in this region of FL (at specific times of the year) but the odds of having a string of productive days in a row has reached the point where the experience can be more frustrating and depressing than it’s worth. According to my fishing logs, I have decreased the number of days on the water in FL in each of the past 3 years and shifted more days on the water to LA where the habitat is still healthy and the fish plentiful.
Another advantage of fishing for big redfish in LA vs. FL is that in FL the fishing guides “HAMMER the shit” out of the fish and they are highly educated to be wary of the local invasive species – two legged predators (aka humans). Also, In LA the average Redfish probably has the relative IQ of the resident human population and are much easier to catch – especially on a fly. 😊
Attached are several great pictures of our trip. More to follow as we enter the summer field campaign here in MT.