Not only is it home to these fish, but it also the most diverse estuary in North America. These monster redfish (aka ‘Slobberknockers’) live here their entire lives. Due to the abundance of bait, vast flats and the fact the system is a closed estuary makes the perfect place for these fish to live.
There are many large schools of these giant redfish located throughout our system and they are a blast to catch. Most of the fish are caught on live mullet, pinfish or blue crabs. They will also eat a variety of cut bait, but the number one cut bait is fresh ladyfish. They will also eat top water plugs and flies certain times of the year. Whatever bait you choose you must present it properly. Figure out what direction the fish are moving and lead them by a good 25-to-30 feet and then hang on for the ride.
How you approach these large fish is also very important. The slower you move and the more patient you are the better chance you have to hook up. I prefer to push pole when possible. There are times when I use the trolling motor. Sometimes the skill level of the angler will determine the use of the trolling motor. There is nothing wrong with using the trolling motor if you use it properly.
The key is not to change speeds, keep the fish off to your side and be patient. There are times when there may be a few boats on a school. Try to work together. The more pressure the fish feel the less chance of hooking up. There are those days when they will eat no matter what and then there are days they won’t eat no matter what. It is fishing!
Even when the fish are not chewing it is an awesome sight to see. When you see 20-to-40 pound logs swimming past the boat it will get you blood boiling. If it doesn’t, check yourself to see if you have a pulse. They are amazing creatures.
The warmer the water, the more aggressive the fish become. As their metabolism increases they will eat more. We also catch these big ones on fly and top water plugs in the late summer. That is an awesome sight to see. When a big redfish over 30 pounds eats a top water plug the explosion is like no other. The knock the slobber out of the bait, hence the name ‘Slobberknocker’. I came up with that name from an old football term and it has been one I have used over the years to describe these fish.
The great thing about these fish is they are all protected by slot limits and they continue to grow. Unfortunately there are those who do no follow the laws and poach these fish. I have seen carcasses of big reds floating in the middle of the lagoon or washed up on the shoreline. Please report to the FWC if you see someone trying to keep an illegal fish.
These fish are the breeder fish and keep our redfish coming year after year. When you do catch one handle them with care and take the time to release them properly. It may take 15-to-20 minutes to ensure they are ready for release. The summer time is the most crucial time to be careful on releasing these fish. The oxygen levels are lower so take extra time. When you take a picture leave the fish in the water until the camera is ready. Handle with care.
I have spent the last 16 years learning the behavior and patterns of these fish. There have been some changes to their behavior. The pressure has increased and they are much more wary of boats and baits hitting the water. The less noise you make and the better you present the bait will increase your chance of landing a trophy redfish of a lifetime.
The best way to catch one of these fish is to hire a guide. We have some really good guides in our area. We also have some who do not have permits to fish the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. To make sure you are hiring a legitimate guide go to http://www.nps.gov/cana/planyourvisit/upload/permittees_20098.pdf. Make sure they are also a full-time guide and have some experience. We have new guides every week. Look out for those bargain basement guides who charge much less. The average rate in our area for six hours of fishing is $400. You may find some a little lower or a little higher which is normal.
The Mosquito Lagoon is an awesome fishery and you can catch a redfish of a lifetime!
Tight Lines and Good Fishing!
DOVE CLUB PERMITS STILL AVAILABLE FOR ONE AREA
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has Dove Club permits remaining for one of its special-opportunity dove fields.
As of July 20, 24 permits are available for Caravelle Ranch Wildlife Management Area in Putnam County. Permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline to purchase them is 11:59 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 9.
Sportsmen can purchase Dove Club permits by submitting a completed Special-Opportunity Dove Club Permit Worksheet to any county tax collector’s office or authorized license agent.
Permits also are available online at www.wildlifelicense.com or by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (486-8356). Worksheets are on the Web at MyFWC.com/Hunting under “Limited Entry Hunts.”
A permit allows one adult and one youth, under age 16, to participate in all scheduled hunts for a designated dove field for up to eight days. These Saturday, half-day hunts cost $150 and enable both the permit holder and youth to take a daily bag limit of birds each.
For more information on these great dove-hunting opportunities, visit MyFWC.com/Dove.
SHORELINE FISHING LICENSE REQUIREMENT STARTS AUG. 1
Florida’s new shoreline fishing license requirement takes effect Aug. 1. Resident anglers who fish for saltwater species from shore or a structure affixed to shore must have a $9 shoreline fishing license or a $17 regular saltwater fishing license.
Nonresident anglers need a regular nonresident saltwater fishing license to fish from shore or from a vessel. Short-term and annual nonresident fishing licenses cost between $17 and $47.
Additional fees may apply to all fishing licenses, depending on where an angler purchases the license.
The shoreline requirement allows exemptions for resident anglers who fish in their home county, using live or natural bait, on a line or pole without a line-retrieval mechanism. This exemption does not apply to anglers who use nets, traps, gigs, spears or who gather seafood by hand or any type of gear other than hook and line.
Other exemptions apply for anglers who qualify for temporary cash assistance, food stamps or Medicaid. Also, resident anglers who are age 65 or older and children under age 16 may fish without a license. Active-duty military personnel may fish without a license while home on leave in Florida.
Licensed fishing piers have licenses that cover everyone who fishes from them.
The FWC suggests the $17 regular saltwater fishing license may be the best option for most resident anglers unless they are certain they will fish only from shore or a structure affixed to shore all year.
By creating the shoreline fishing license, the Florida Legislature arranged for Florida anglers to be exempt from a more expensive federal angler registration requirement that will take effect in 2011.
More information about fishing license requirements is available at MyFWC.com. Click on “Newsroom” and “Media Resources.”
BASS AND BOATUS ANGLER ANNOUNCE ALLIANCE
The nation’s leading bass fishing organization and recreational boating association have teamed up to give bass anglers a bunch of benefits that will help them get the most out of their trailerboat angling.
The new BASS and BoatUS Angler alliance announced today will give BASS members the opportunity to join BoatUS Angler – part of the nation’s largest recreational boating association – for only $12.50 annually. In addition, the alliance offers BoatU.S. Angler boat insurance with additional policy features available only to BASS members.
“This alliance gives BASS members access to benefits, services, and discounts they would not normally have with their regular membership,” said BoatUS Angler Director Mike Pellerin.
With BoatUS Angler membership, BASS members have access to BoatUS Angler insurance policies with additional features at no cost, including $1000 in coverage for a boat trailer, and a lower deductible for electronics and trolling motors. This comes on top of $5,000 of equipment coverage for tackle, automatic tournament liability coverage and reimbursement of entry fees if an incident prevents attendance, and generous cruising areas that don’t require having to call for an extension when fishing far from home. BoatUS also offers fishing guide policies.
BASS members can get a free quote at www.BassMaster.com/mybenefits.
BASS members will also get $50 of on-the-road towing coverage for getting a disabled fishing boat trailer or tow vehicle to a repair facility, $50 of on-the-water towing coverage for the boat which is provided largest towboat fleet in the country, 24-hour nationwide dispatch service, discounts on fuel and repairs at over 900 marinas nationwide, West Marine store discounts, a new online bait and tackleshop locator offering discounts, a subscription to BoatUS Angler Magazine, and more.
“With our 24-hour dispatch service for on-the-water and on-the-road breakdowns, you’ll never worry if a friend will be able to come get you and bring you back to the launch ramp, tow you to a repair facility or put you safely back in your own driveway. We are there for you 24-hours a day,” Pellerin added.
For more information, go to BoatUSAngler.com or call (866) 906-0013.