March 24, 2020
“Tarpon in Mosquito Lagoon” sounds a bit like a scary movie, maybe with a swamp monster type theme. But don’t believe it. If it were a movie, it would be an action movie for sure, a thriller that would keep you on the edge of your seat and occasionally make you spill your popcorn!
Throw a twist in the plot by adding “fly fishing” and you’ve really got a show that isn’t for the faint of heart. First, let’s focus on Mosquito Lagoon. The Mosquito Lagoon is part of the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, stretching from the Ponce de Leon Inlet to north of Cape Canaveral. It is located along the Florida coast between Daytona Beach and Titusville in Brevard and Volusia counties.
For starters, the tarpon in Mosquito Lagoon are not always the largest you’ll find in this area of the country. It’s not unusual to catch quite a few juvenile tarpon in the five to ten pound, possibly 20 pound range. There is the occasional 40-50 pounder and it isn’t impossible to break 100 pounds, but that is highly unusual. But even the smaller ones are fun to stalk, hook and play, especially on a fly rod. This isn’t an easy sport for beginning fly fishermen because the fish are very acrobatic when they are hooked. And the bigger they are, the harder they are to keep on the hook. If you are new to fly fishing, going after the smaller ones is a thrill that is worth pursuing.
Do yourself a favor if you are going after tarpon on a fly rod: practice, practice, practice. To be successful you need to be comfortable smoothly casting a fly 50 feet or more and you have to be proficient in a bit of a wind. Those will be the conditions you’ll face in Mosquito Bay. You can also study up on the habits of the tarpon in these conditions and be ready to listen to your guide and follow his instructions.
Most guides will look for tarpon in the shallows and direct you which direction and how far to get your lure out. It’s important to be confident you can follow those instructions. He’ll also tell you that when the fish hits your fly, don’t immediately set the hook as hard as you can. A moderate hook set after a short two-second pause works the best. Then when you get a hit, be ready for the tarpon to take off like a heat seeking missile, even if it is only moderately sized. The next thing to be prepared for is the jump. As sure as the fish has scales, he’ll head high into the air numerous times to try and throw the fly. That’s another critical time when you have to lean forward and give him as much slack without losing tension as you can. That’s commonly called “bowing to the king”. If you forget to bow, he’ll break your line, or your rod, or your heart. He’ll be gone.
The fight can go from five minutes to 30 minutes, but you’ll do yourself and the tarpon a favor if you can land it as quickly as possible. First, it won’t wear you out and second, it gives the released fish the best chance to live to fight another day.
Following those tips and depending on a little bit of luck can make you the star of the movie. It’s a role that not just anybody can play.
Tarpon will hit a large selection of different flies. If you are on a charter trip, that problem is solved for you without wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. Your guide will know what fly to use in certain conditions and water types. You can bet some of the common names for flies he will recommend will include names like Tarpon Shrimp, Tarpon Toad, Black Death, Cockroach and Coker Smoker. But that’s just a small group of choices. Most of the effective flies are two to three inches long and pretty bulky. They have to be to get the attention of a largemouth fish. A 1/0 or 2/0 hook is most popular with many angling experts here. Of course, a good guide will have all that laid out for you and match the size of the bait to the size of the tarpon that are available.
Most tarpon here are caught on the northern end of the lagoon and usually run on the outside edges of channels or mangrove roots in three to six feet of water. The good news is that tarpon can be found all year long in the lagoon. In the summers, the larger tarpon move into backwaters and usually congregate around deeper bays and sometimes in the intracoastal. Calm days are best to be able to spot the bigger fish as they move around feeding in the lagoon.
Another good thing about having a guide is that they can keep you abreast of all the laws and they are aware of special boating regulations throughout the lagoon, such as poling only areas and no wake zones that protect the fragile bottom environment and habitat as well as migrating manatees.
Get ready for the fishing trip of a lifetime when you fly fish for Tarpon in Mosquito Lagoon. Reserve your trip today and make sure to bring your camera to capture the memories. Tarpon are catch-and-release only throughout the Sunshine State.
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