Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon Redfish- A New Reality

orlando fishing report

The fly in question? A black redfish worm.

Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon Redfish- A New Reality

Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon Redfish- A New Reality

Mosquito Lagoon was long justly famous for its clear water and abundant fish- redfish, seatrout, black drum, and several other species. Anglers used a variety of techniques to catch these fish, but for kayaking fly fishers the main draw was the ability to sight fish the critters, even while sitting in a kayak.

The landscape began to change in 2011.

During the summer of 2011 an algae bloom appeared. It quickly spread. Soon the water in the lagoon became a sickening brown color. If you put your hand in the water, it disappeared. Unless a fish stuck a body part out of the water, you had no idea it was there.

Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon redfish

You can see the shallow water is not crystal clear. Again, the fly is black.

Winter came, and the bloom cleared.

It came back during the summer of 2012, and cleared again when winter came.

It came back during the summer of 2013, and cleared again when winter came.

It came back during the summer of 2014. Winter came. The water did not clear. It has been disgustingly dirty ever since. Friends of mine have said, “I can’t wait for the water to clear.” Well, yeah, but I think they’re being optimistic. None of the conditions that led to these blooms has been changed (and it’s a complex set of circumstances), so why should the water clear?

Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, but I think brown, dirty water is the new norm here. Adapt or get skunked.

The dirty water has had a cascade effect. Light cannot penetrate the water, so a lot of the seagrass has died. Seagrasses fed the entire ecosystem, so my fear is that the productivity of the system, its ability to produce finfish, has been seriously compromised. There ain’t as many fish, because there ain’t as much fish food.

If you kayak fish with a fly rod, there are fewer fish to find, and it’s gotten much harder to find them. What to do? What to do???

You could, of course, take your game elsewhere. Undoubtedly some fishermen have. Those of us who live here are loathe to take such a drastic step. No, we adapt. This piece examines how to do so.

In a nutshell, what the entrepid paddling hackle heaver needs to do is concentrate his (or her) effort at shallow spots that have lots of light-colored bottom. If you can wade there that’s a huge plus. Places that fit this description include Tiger Shoal, Georges Bar, and many of the spoil islands. There are many other places, and some time spent studying Google Maps will pay dividends when you’re out paddling.

If the water is low (0.5′ or less on this gauge http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?02248380) that’s a really huge plus. The deeper the water is, the tougher seeing the fish will be. The converse is true, too. Low water is one of your biggest allies.

Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon redfish

What you look for has not changed.

What you’re looking for hasn’t changed. Tails, wakes, busts, laid-up or finning fish, concentrations of birds or bait, all can lead to a pay-off. My preference is to find an area that has fish, then abandon ship and do my hunting on foot. Your conversion rate will be higher by doing this.

If there’s any silver lining to the dirty water situation, it’s that the fish can’t see you either. On a recent trip I got three reds. My longest cast was about 20 feet.

For reds and drum you still want flies that sink. My favorite color is basic black. It seems to be visible in the murk.

Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon redfish

Black flies work well…

Your casts will have to be more aggressive. Any fly not in the immediate vicinity of the fish’s head will just not be seen, much less taken. Don’t be afraid to lay it on them!

Seatrout, frequently tough to sight fish even when the water was clean, seem much less abundant now. I have yet to figure them out. When that happens I will write another article.

While this piece is about the Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian River and Banana River Lagoons have the same problems. Indeed, the problems may be worse in those lagoons. Last winter the Banana River Lagoon had an enormous fish kill between SR 528 and the Pineda Causeway.

In the Mosquito Lagoon that hasn’t happened, and in the Mosquito Lagoon there are at least some seagrass beds that remain. All that having been said, there are still fish in both those lagoons, and they can certainly be caught on fly tackle. Again, look for shallow areas with light colored bottoms so you have a chance to see any fish that may be present.

Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon redfish

…but other colors will work too.

So while we can hope that the good old days of plentiful fish and clean water aren’t gone, hoping does not put fish on the end of the line. Get paddling, look for fish in those shallow spots, and some good things will happen. That’s Kayak Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon Redfish- A New Reality.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.

Some days are better than others

Some days are better than others

A guest blog by David Caprera

We got to bed in New Smyrna Beach about 2am Wednesday morning (our flight landed about midnight in Orlando).  I went out fishing in my kayak Wednesday afternoon, saw three fish, caught none, lost interest, played 9 year old kid at the frog pond and came back with three crabs, six dog whelk, one horse conch, and seven oysters (one was a mudder.)

Pulling the kayak out I wrenched my back.  Bad.  It was a four Ibuprophin, two martini, back ache.  I woke up this morning and could not even roll out of bed.  (In our bathroom, the toilet paper is on the opposite wall… Too much information, but I digress.)

It was a drop dead gorgeous day.  I got up, sat on the dock, drank my coffee.  At eleven, my back was feeling a bit better.  I ran for 36 minutes on the beach, REAL SLOW. It loosened up.  I had lunch.  At 1:30, I could not stand it anymore, and in some discomfort, dragged the kayak to the ramp and set off.

I went to Raccoon Bay, my closest spot.  Visibility was good, but no fish. I continued west, poled a mile of shore and still not a single sighting.  I crossed the cut to the Redfish Motel (the redfish get in but they never leave – kinda like Hotel California.) It was 3:30, calm and clear.  Poling down the west side, 50 yards ahead, I see a splash.  Probably a mullet.  Another splash, more like a tail.  I cross.

And there they are.  Two beautiful copper torpedoes, cruising ten feet off the bank, not too fast but with purpose.  I position the kayak about 60 feet from them and cast a crab fly ten feet in front of their path.  Stop.  Bump.  Bump.  Strike.  Charge.  Fish on.

Nice redfish.  The reel clicks whir. (I don’t use Abels anymore because I love the sound.) Now he is towing the kayak.  It is a fucking sleigh ride. In my delirium I start singing, “Rudolph the red nose redfish, had a very shiny nose.” Easter weekend no less.  It has been a tough couple of months, fishing wise.  It felt good, primeval, to feel the pull at the other end. My backache is cured.  (Later I determine the cure is temporary.)

“And if you ever saw him, you would say it really glows.” You can sing along the rest.  In my euphoria, the only word I changed was “redfish” for “reindeer.”

I get the redfish close to the kayak and try to grab the leader.  I fail to hold on.  But that makes it an “official catch.” (I have questioned this.  I picture a poor, subsistence fisherman living in a debt laden country, say Greece, coming home.  “Boy, we are going to eat well tonight.  I caught three fish.” “Where are they dad?” “Well I didn’t actually put them in the boat but I touched the leader.  Doesn’t that count?”)

But the redfish stayed hooked and I did bring it to the boat.  It measured 26 inches. It was hooked in the lip and with a bit of wiggling the hook came free.  I grabbed the fish’s tail and it swam away.

Guides say that ” practice casting makes you a better fisherman.” I will tell you what makes you a better fisherman, “catching fish.” I had been fishing lethargically, with little effort.  Catch a fish and now you are charged.  Let’s go find another one.  I had two more shots this afternoon.  I failed with both but the sight was good and the casts were crisp. One was in deeper water and I lost sight of the fish, the other was weird in that the cast was good but I think he may have sensed my presence and ignored the fly.

It is 7 pm, I have taken my vodka and vermouth back medicine, and a beautiful sunset is commencing. Some days are better than others.

David Caprera is a talented writer who writes entertaining stories about catching, and not catching, fish with fly tackle. He splits his time between New Smyrna Beach and Denver.

All content in this article, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.

Brief History of the Johnson Minnow

Brief History of the Johnson Minnow

johnson minnow red

Reader Chuck at BellSouth sent me a question about my three favorite lures for blind casting in the lagoons. My response was:

-the Chug Bug
-the Johnson Minnow
-the DOA Deadly Combo

Chuck replied with the following:

“Thanks for tips!

“Would have never guessed the old Johnson Minnow spoon would make the list. But after doing some research on this lure, I now understand why it works well in Mosquito Lagoon.

“You might be interested in the history of the Johnson Silver Minnow and why it’s unique design makes it so successful.”

Silver Minnow is still shining after 73 years

The Johnson Silver Minnow, one of the most enduring and successful fishing lures of all time, was invented in 1920 by Louis Johnson, a retired Chicago foundry operator. The lake where Louis and his son fished was full of fish, but it was also weedy. So, with the practical style of many creative Midwesterners, he set out to develop a fishing lure that would not catch weeds but still catch fish.

The result was the first spoon lure with a weed guard, stiff enough to keep weeds away from the hook, but flexible enough for bass and pike to get hooked. In fact, his experimental spoon lures were made from silver table spoons with the handles cut off and a Scents hook and weed guard soldered to the concave underside. History does not record whether these first spoons were silver plate or genuine sterling, but the idea of having a fishing lure made of silver caught his imagination. Seventy-three years later, the Johnson Silver Minnow is still plated with real silver.

Like other spoon lures of the day, the Johnson Silver Minnow was designed to imitate the flashing movement of a minnow. Other manufacturers had long incorporated flashing spinners into the design of their lures, but Louis Johnson’s new lure was the first to integrate a guarded hook onto the spoon, and the first to use real silver for a whiter, brighter flash than chrome of polished steel.

Johnson didn’t work with his “table spoon” very long before the learned something else about designing the perfect weedless lure: hooks that faced up were less weedy than hooks that faced down or spun around from the lure’s action. Even a guarded hook would catch weeds occasionally if it was retrieved with the hook facing down. Johnson reasoned that if he could figure out a way to ensure that the hook would always face up, the lure would be almost completely weedless.

Putting his years of foundry experience to work, Johnson decided to forge a spoon of a special copper/zinc alloy that was thicker in the middle than on the edges. With its weight concentrated along its centerline, this created a spoon that would rock back and forth as it was retrieved, but always keep the convex face down and the hook facing up. Other spoons of the day were simply stamped out of brass or steel. They often just spun through the water as they were retrieved. In fact, much of the Silver Minnow’s weedlessness can be attributed to the way in which the downward-riding spoon itself acts as a weed guard — and simply rides over weeds much like a water skier rides of the waves.

By getting the lure to keep its convex spoon side down and it hook up, Johnson also unwittingly made the lure visually effective under water. When retrieved, Johnson’s Silver Minnow rocks back and forth through a 270 degree angle, flashing reflections downs and to both sides, but not up. Since fish almost always attacked a lure from below or the side, there was no need for it to be visible from above. That meant that the lure could produce more flashes in the right directions per retrieve than stamped metal spoon lures.

Yet another benefit of the rocking spoon-down motion was that anglers no longer had to worry about line twist or special swivels. Spinning spoon lures used without swivels twist fishing line, and contribute to backlashes and tangles. To this day, Johnson Silver Minnows are manufactured with a simple soldered wire eye. Line can be tied directly to the lure without fear of line twist. The one exception would be when using the versatile Silver Minnow for” pike or muskellunge. Since even medium-sized pike will often inhale the entire lure, it is wise to use the lure with a short steel leader.

The Silver Minnow’s rocking motion also helps control the sinking rate when cast. Whereas many spoons simply dive to the bottom tail first, the Silver Minnow gently drops horizontally, rocking in its characteristic motion. This gives an angler ample time to take up the slack after cast and begin the retrieve before the lure has had a chance to bury itself in weedy cover, or behind a log. This feature also makes the lure effective the second it touches the water. Many strikes on the Silver Minnow come as the just-cast lure is rocking gently toward the bottom.

Trailers and the Silver Minnow.

The Johnson Silver Minnow is a deadly lure when fished plain, but when it is combined with a trailer, it is especially effective in triggering strikes. In addition, the Silver Minnow’s unique rocking motion is not affective by a trailer like many other spoons are.

For traditionalists, a pork rind trailer of red/white or yellow/white is one of the best combinations. Adding a red 3-inch waving tail imitates the red gill rakers that would show on a wounded or distressed bait fish. This works like a visual “dinner bell” to a predatory fish, who would rather attack a slower, “wounded” fish than try to catch a fast, healthy one.

But red is not always the color of choice. Often some experimentation is needed to find out what color of trailer will be working on that day, in that lake, on that particular species of fish in that particular kind of cover. Newer plastic trailers are more convenient than the traditional pork rind, and can be carried in a great variety of colors with less weight and bulk. Soft plastic Silver Minnow Trailers in a variety of colors, are now marketed by Johnson Fishing for use with all Silver Minnows.

The Silver Minnow Today
The Johnson Silver Minnow is still manufactured in the same way it was in 1920 — by hand — and still plated with real silver for the brightest possible underwater “flash.” Originally manufactured in Chicago by the Louis Johnson Company, the lure was purchased by Johnson Fishing Inc. of Mankato, MN in 1974. In 1976, manufacturing facilities were moved to Johnson Fishing’s Bass Buster Lure division in Amsterdam, MO. The Silver Minnow continues to be one of the best selling lures of all time.

Gettysburg Times, August 11, 1993


And that is a brief history of the Johnson Minnow. The Johnson Minnow has been in continuous production longer than any other fishing lure in history. There just might be a good reason for that.

Thanks for the great response, Chuck- I was able to turn it into a blog!

John Kumiski

Fishing Streamsong- A Photo Essay

Fishing Streamsong

Fishing the phosphate pits was something I’d heard about ever since I got to Florida. This week I finally got a chance to try it.

Alex and I went to Streamsong Resort on Tuesday for some fishing and R&R. In a mastery of understatement, it’s quite the place.

We fished Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning with Bill Read, one of three guides on staff. Bill was everything you want your guide to be- knowledgeable, patient, personable, with a sense of humor. We immensely enjoyed fishing with him.

If you enjoy bass fishing and plush accommodations you need to try fishing Streamsong.

On to the photos.

fishing streamsong

Fossilized shark teeth set in jaws.



fishing streamsong

Close-up of said teeth.


fishing streamsong

Overlooking one of the ponds on the property.


fishing streamsong

View inside the main building.


fishing streamsong

One of the fine restaurants on-site.


fishing streamsong

The bookshelf in our room was custom made for these books.


fishing streamsong

Some of the other guests had nice wheels.


fishing streamsong

Bill Read on the morning run.


fishing streamsong

Alex slings some line.


fishing streamsong

The only bass that fell to fly.


fishing streamsong

Bill with a nice, chunky fish. Most of our fish came on soft plastic baits Texas-rigged.


fishing streamsong

Alex trying to finish the job.


fishing streamsong

This was a nice fish!


fishing streamsong

Alex with his prize.


fishing streamsong

Alex and Bill do a little celebrating.


I certainly hope I get another chance at fishing Streamsong!


John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.

Orlando Area Fishing Report

Orlando Area Fishing ReportOrlando Area Fishing Report

The Mitzi is still for sale!

Blog Posts This WeekPoppers for Seatrout

It’s April and I’m thinking about tarpon. Friends on the west coast have already seen some.

On Monday I went bass fishing. I threw the same bluegill popper I threw last time I went, with much the same result- three or four bluegills and about 20 bass, mostly little ones with a couple decent specimens thrown in for variety. It was a beautiful day and a very enjoyable several hours.

orlando area fishing report



orlando area fishing report

Tuesday was Tammy Tuesday, so let me just copy her facebook post:

“Yesterday’s original plan was to fish the lagoon. Last second change had us going offshore. My faithful companion and mentor and friend John Kumiski had some issues getting across the bridge to port because of a bad accident.
“Change of plans again. He called and we decided to fish the IRL instead. So I left the port and headed to Port Saint John and we launched. Got into some jacks and trout and talked about what a beautiful day it was. As we could see the bridge from where we launched we saw traffic moving again. Next thing I know John is motoring to the ramp. Boat back on trailer and off to the port we go.

orlando area fishing report
“It was a long day of hunting for anything out there. A whole lot of nothing until a lone undersized tripletail appeared. We finally caught and released it. We looked everywhere and found nothing. Finally john decided to pull a Hail Mary and head to a spot a good bit away but likely unbothered yet for the day.

orlando area fishing report
“The lone tripletail on that structure was dinner last night. Just as we were giving up and admitting to and accepting the suck, though…. Divine intervention in the form of a huge ray leaping from the water 100 yards away.
“One rod set up and one cast made. A few minutes later there was much celebration aboard the Mitzi. We looked for that ray again hoping to pull another cobia off of it but it was not to be. So glad john never gives up! Another adventure toosday with John Kumiski in the books.”

orlando area fishing report

In spite of the beautiful weather, did not fish Wednesday.

Thursday Brad and Greg joined me as part of a two boat trip on Mosquito Lagoon. It was slick when we got there and although we saw a decent number of fish we could not get near them. In the third spot we tried Brad got a bluefish on a DOA CAL Shad. We then tried the DOA Deadly Combo out at the edge of the flat and got a few trout, small ones. At the last place we looked we found a school of big reds. In spite of having cut mullet in them numerous times over the next 45 minutes we did not get a bite. Stomachs growling at us, we gave up, ran up to Goodrich Seafood, and had quite the delicious lunch, after which we returned to the dock and pulled the boat.

Friday Scott and Ryan joined me for a half day on the Indian River Lagoon. Ryan got a rat red right away of the CAL Shad. Then we just spooked a bunch of fish. Ryan wanted to try fly fishing so I took them to the small trout spot and gave him a lesson. He was good enough to get two or three while Scott railed them with a barb-pinched-down DOA Shrimp.

We changed spots and saw some nice, spooky reds and trout. Ryan got a hit on the CAL Shad from a nice red but missed it. On the way back to the dock we saw birds diving. Breaking fish, how lucky was that? Ladyfish and bluefish, we got a few of each before the frenzy stopped. We were happy to have run into a bunch of fish to end our day.

And that is this week’s Orlando Area fishing report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.

Second IRL Paddle Adventure Report

paddle adventure

Second IRL Paddle Adventure Report

Gray sky, howling wind. The whitecaps were breaking over the gunwales of the canoe. The shoreline was only inching closer. The “adventure” part of the IRL Paddle Adventure made its presence felt in an all-too-real way.

The IRL Paddle Adventurers left Samson’s Island after a pleasant two night stay. A pair of great horned owls serenaded us to sleep each evening while we were there. We observed that they were a mating pair. Apparently the actual act of mating occurs very quickly in great horned owls, taking approximately three seconds in this particular case.

paddle adventure

These owls serenaded us.

I thought I might find owl pellets at the base of the tree they were in. What I found was an active beehive. I left the area as quickly as possible.

The Trip to Lagoon House was uneventful. There was not a lot of camping space there and several of us were literally at the water’s edge, But the Lagoon-Palooza was well attended and MRC garnered several new members. The IRL Paddle Adventurers would like to sincerely thank everyone who came out to see us.

On the next day’s paddle we stopped at Honest John’s Fish Camp and ate our lunch. Honest John’s represents the finest of what’s left of old Florida- funky, laid-back, gracious, a cool place. We chatted with Elliot, who worked there, and Barbara Arthur, a wonderful lady, one of the owners. She has several IGFA world record seatrout to her credit, quite the woman.

paddle adventure

Honest John’s Fish Camp

Our next stop was Long Point Park, near Sebastian Inlet. The park graciously donated two campsites to us for our stay. It was sad getting there in a way because that’s where Dee Kaminsky was leaving us. Mike Conneen’s brother Matt came by with two pots of vegetarian chili with all the fixin’s and fed the lot of us, the sort of kindness that has made this trip so outstanding. The IRL Paddle Adventurers would like to sincerely thank Matt Conneen for his delicious contribution.

paddle adventure

The storks hoped for handouts that never came.

On the bright side of this particular stop, Karen of Karen’s Kayaks joined us for the overnight and the next day’s paddle and Brian the kayak fisherman joined us for three days.

paddle adventure

Brian brought a cheering section.

A half-dozen wood storks hung around waiting for handouts. Since we had hardly caught any fish (a recurring theme on this trip) we had nothing for them. Feeding the wildlife is never a good idea anyway.

We paddled through miles of stinky water the next day. The seagrass has been replaced by a red alga that collects in depressions on the bottom where it rots. The rotting algae stinks. It was like that for miles.

paddle adventure

This stuff collects and rots, raising quite the stink.

We thought we would catch some fish in the vicinity of Sebastian Inlet but no one did. Nearing Wabasso Rodney managed to get a slam- redfish, two snook, seatrout, and a crevalle thrown in for good measure. All the fish combined maybe would weigh two pounds.

paddle adventure

The larger of Rodney’s two snook.

paddle adventure

Our best redfish of the trip- so far.

Evening found us at the Environmental Learning Center at Wabasso, the nicest of this type of facility that I’ve seen. They allowed us to camp there, take showers, and wash our nasty clothes. Then, Lou and Laurie of Chive in Vero Beach came out with a portable kitchen and cooked us an amazing dinner- steak, shrimp, three-beans and rice, condiments, sauces, truly amazing stuff. The IRL Paddle Adventurers would like to sincerely thank Lou and Laurie for their delicious contribution.

I got confused navigating the next morning and missed the route I wanted to take. Because of that error we got to meet Dr. Grant Gilmore, who had come out to see us. We stopped and conversed about IRL fisheries and their protection. Apparently the county wants to put in a boat ramp at the location of the best seatrout spawning habitat remaining in the south end of the Indian River Lagoon. Dr. Gilmore does not think this is a good idea, and I agree with him.

paddle adventure

Dr. Grant Gilmore makes a point.

Just north of the north causeway in Vero Beach the most amazing thing happened- we began seeing seagrass again. With the seagrass came all kinds of bait, too. Crabs, no. Large fish, no. Rays, no. But there was still grass there, and we’ve seen it more or less all the way to Jensen Beach.

Rodney’s son James and two of his friends joined us on the south side of Vero beach. They camped with us that night on the best spoil island of the trip. There was a pocket of deep water on the north side of it and we caught jacks and ladyfish there, most of us catching at least a few. I even broke out the fly rod and caught a ladyfish.

paddle adventure

James was happy to see us too.

Sunset was spectacular, a gorgeous, calm evening.

paddle adventure

James photographs the sunset.


paddle adventure

Dusk at Home Sweet Home.

Morning broke gray and windy, a solid 15 from the north. Mim, a kayaker from Sebastian, joined us for the duration of the trip.

paddle adventure

Mim truly is epic.

Rodney and I tied our canoe to Nick’s and we put up sails. We made great time to Fort Pierce and without thinking it through too well kept right on going. We stopped at a speck of dirt south of the causeway. Suddenly the wind doubled in intensity, pushing up big, ugly whitecaps. We had to leave- our speck would be underwater at high tide. So we made for the nearest shore. It was a tense, scary ride but fortunately everyone made it safely.

But now we had to find a place to stop.

The entire shoreline there is mangroves behind which are mosquito impoundments. There is no place to stop, much less camp. We got to Little Mud Creek just before sundown and that’s where we spent the night, wind howling, surf crashing.

paddle adventure

There were miles of mangrove shorelines south of Fort Pierce.

We got going as early as possible the next morning. Our destination was Jensen Beach.

Both Caribbean Shores and River Palms Cottages offered us donated lodging. We ended up at River Palms, from where I type this. The IRL Paddle Adventurers would like to sincerely thank both facilities for their generous donation. My only regret is we couldn’t manage to stay at both places.

Mim bought all the Paddle Adventurers dinner last night. The IRL Paddle Adventurers would like to sincerely her for her generous donation!

Speaking of donations, you can still sponsor a paddler and donate to the MRC Education fund at this link…

We are scheduled to give a presentation at the Florida Oceanographic Institute in an hour. Tomorrow we recommence our adventure.

Life is short- go fishing.

Life is great and I love my work!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

Port Canaveral Fishing Report

Port Canaveral Fishing Report

Upcoming Events-

Mosquito Lagoon Show and Tell Fishing Seminar, October 26

Mosquito Lagoon On-the-Water Show and Tell Seminar, October 27

First Coast Fly Fishers meeting, November 4

Indian River Lagoon Paddle Adventure starts December 1. Paddle the length of the lagoon with us!


The forecast for Tuesday was NW at 5-10, seas 2-3 feet. I went out of Port Canaveral in the Mitzi. The forecast was not exactly correct. The seas were at the limit of the Mitzi’s capabilities. I got exactly one crevalle before turning around and bagging it.

Wednesday after the colonoscopy I was too wrung out to do much of substance. Regular readers may have read about this long canoe trip Rodney Smith and I (and others!) will be taking in December. The Coleman stove came out for testing, since we’ll need it and it hadn’t been used in several years.

After oiling the pump that baby started right up.

I then went into the cook kit to see what was in there. As strange as it might seem it was like reuniting with an old friend.

A long time ago I lost my favorite camping spoon on Cape Sable while on a canoe trip. As stupid as it was I almost went into mourning over that spoon. For years I looked for another one just like it without success.

A fan took me out to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Somerset NJ while I was at the Fly Fishing Show. To my joy that restaurant had my spoon. I told the guy about losing my other one and said I was taking one, which I put in my pocket. Then I started feeling guilty. “I’m 53 years old, I shouldn’t be stealing silverware from a restaurant.” So I put it back on the table, and left with a clean conscience.

My friend gave me a ride back to the hotel. When I got out of the car he had a present for me- he had stolen the spoon.

It was in my cook kit, along with a cooking pot I bought in LaPaz and many other treasures filled with memories. It was like opening a time capsule.

I am so looking forward to that canoe trip.


Thursday I took a long bike ride through the state forest by the Econlockhatchee River. It was glorious. The river was still a little high but has dropped a lot. It looked good.


Friday I went out of Port Canaveral with Steve Butrym and his nephew Steve. It was a gorgeous day. The water was pretty dirty in most places, cleanest in the Bight.

We ran down the beach all the way to Satellite Beach without finding any bait. Once there I caught a single Spanish mackerel.

We headed east and went out four or five miles looking for anything that might indicate fish, heading north and heading past Cape Canaveral. We found nothing.

At that point we got close to the beach again. The water was close to nasty, very dirty. Once we cleared the tip of the Cape it cleaned up a little. I netted about 15 mullet and we started casting them into the surf. We got exactly two small jacks.

The bluefish ought to be nuisance thick right now, and there should be all kinds of fish in the surf. There wasn’t much bait, and there were hardly any fish. Is the mullet run over already??

That is this week’s not-so-exciting version of the Port Canaveral Fishing Report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish Fishing Report

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish Fishing Report

Oh yeah, it’s GREAT to be home! Fishing has been outstanding, too!

Upcoming EventsMosquito Lagoon Show and Tell Fishing Seminar, October 26
Mosquito Lagoon On-the-Water Show and Tell Seminar, October 27
Indian River Paddle Adventure starts December 1

Before the local report, an Alaska fishing story, my favorite from the season just past. No names have been changed to protect anyone.

The lodge had a guest named Ray. Nice enough guy. Apparently the IGFA just opened a new class of world records based solely on length. Ray wanted to get a record dolly varden, and needed a fish of only 24 inches. For this quest he brought a 12-weight. No, I don’t get it either, but I took him dolly fishing one day and he threw it all day. Must have a huge arm. Anyway…

He used said 12-weight for silver salmon one day. In spite of the tackle a silver somehow got into his backing. He had had the line rigged at a Bass Pro Shop. No, I don’t get it either. Of course the backing and fly line separated. He lost the line, in spite of spending quite a bit of time looking for it. At Goodnews 12-weight fly lines are not something we keep in stock, so the 12-weight rod was out of business for a while.

Later that same day another guest who we will call Gary caught Ray’s line. The fish who had done the damage was still attached to it. Gary caught that too. But when he got back to camp he did not tell Ray about it. No, mum was the word.

Every Tuesday night the Lodge has a little awards ceremony. The guys who get the biggest fish don’t get awards. The guys who get the most fish don’t get awards. The guys who fall into the river, they get awards. The guy who breaks the most fishing rods, he gets an award. You get an award if you manage to catch a dead salmon, or a rock. So you know when Tuesday night came rolling around, Ray got an award, and he finally got his fly line back. To say he was surprised would be a large understatement. There was a lot of laughter. A very funny, very entertaining episode it was.

But I digress from the business of writing about the fishing here.

Tuesday I put the Mitzi in the St. Johns for a water test. Steering worked, bilge pump worked, anchor light worked, all systems go. I wanted to visit Mosquito Lagoon on Wednesday but my son needed my car to get to school- his car was in the garage. So I didn’t get out until Thursday.

I did not get a bite on my first cast. After that it was pretty much wide open.

I found slot reds finning at the surface and popping baits as the opportunity arose. I tossed a 5.5 inch DOA CAL twice and a fish whacked the bait on the second cast. Another whacked it on the fourth cast. I lost track of my casts pretty quickly but I had a third fish before five minutes of fishing had elapsed.

Mosquito Lagoon redfish fishing report

This fish nailed the lure on the second cast.

I strung up that fangled fly-pole thang, tied on a grizzly seaducer. The fly hit the water and a fish nailed it, first cast.

Mosquito Lagoon redfish fishing report

My first cast with a fly resulted in this little feller.

Damn, it’s good to be home.

The sun cleared an offshore cloud and the surface activity at that spot stopped immediately. Within 300 yards I had found a 200 fish school of 15 to 20 pound reds. My first cast spooked them. I just backed off and let them calm down. A fatty whacked the fly on the next cast. I watched it all, very cool. After releasing the fatty I hooked and lost another.

Mosquito Lagoon redfish fishing report

The fish got bigger quickly…

At this point I decided I had come to look around and had only worked one half-mile-long stretch of water. It was time to look around.

I found a school of big redfish. I threw a four inch DOA CAL jerkbait at them and Mamoo ate it. I was calm enough to photograph myself. I wanted to try with a fly but I lost them while tussling with Mamoo. The wind had come up enough that I couldn’t find them again.

Mosquito Lagoon redfish fishing report

…and the last fish was the fish of the day.

It was raining all around me. Having had quite the morning already I decided to bail. The boat was loaded before noon.

On Friday Dr. George Yarko and Dr. Dave Nickerson joined me, again on Mosquito Lagoon. I was expecting a repeat of the previous day’s success.

How foolish of me.

The fish were not behaving the same, nor were they in the same places. We burned some fuel searching, and finally located a school of redfish.

None of them bit. They quickly vacated the place once they realized we were there.

Dave managed to catch the only tailer we saw, a beautiful 27 inch redfish, using a 5.5 inch DOA CAL jerkbait. George got a handsome 22 inch seatrout using a DOA Airhead. We got some other minor stuff not worth reporting.

Mosquito Lagoon redfish fishing report

Dr. Nickerson got the only tailer we found…


Mosquito Lagoon redfish fishing report

…a lovely 27 inch fish.


It was a lot of work for only two fish. On the other hand we have all had worse days. The weather had been superb and everyone except perhaps me was quite satisfied.

That is this week’s exciting version of the Mosquito Lagoon Redfish Fishing Report.

Bonus Report! Port Canaveral, Saturday 9/14

George Yarko and I launched the Mitzi at about 8 AM, ran south along the beach to Patrick AFB. The menhaden were solid from the pier south, as many as I have ever seen. We did not see any other kind of fish, which was very surprising and very disappointing.

At Patrick we took a left and headed out about three miles, then headed north. We saw one small pod of tunny briefly. There was lots of sargassum out there but no fish that we found. We continued north all the way to Cape Canaveral. We saw a small pod of breaking fish, Spanish mackerel. I got one on a Sting Silver. George got a bluefish on a DOA CAL jig. We did not see any other fish around the Cape or the shoal.

On the way back south down the beach we saw several schools of mullet, some quite large. No other fish. Near the port entrance there was a school of menhaden. I cast our last one to them and hooked a shark of maybe 30 pounds.

The weather was spectacular and it was great being out but fishing was disappointing. We met a guy at the boat ramp who had gotten one fish, a fat tripletail. At least someone got one!

tripletail, port canaveral

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

Redfish- Presenting the Fly

This is an excerpt from the book, Redfish on the Fly, by Capt. John Kumiski 

Redfish- Presenting the Fly

Redfish- Presenting the Fly
It was a redfish fisher’s dream, a school of at least 500 fish, swimming fast, up on top, crashing bait all around us, one of the finest sights in all of angling, and one that one doesn’t see very often in the Mosquito Lagoon. Rob Ricks was trembling with excitement. He had caught exactly one redfish on fly in his life, and badly wanted another. It was practically certain that the deed would now be done.

“Cast out in front of them, and just make it look alive,” I told him. Rob was a weak caster. When he got the fly in the water, not very far away, there was so much slack in the line that the cast was useless.

“Try it again,” I said. “Lead them, put it where they’re going and let them swim into it.” Rob tried again with the same result. And again, and again, and again. Finally the fish disappeared. We’d caught exactly none.

The moral to this story? Your casting must be second nature in order to take advantage of opportunities, especially once in a lifetime opportunities like this one was. But it’s a great segue into this section’s premise- after locating the fish, how you present the fly to them is the single most important variable in getting one to bite, much more important than what’s at the end of your leader.

The Strike Zone
When I was younger and just getting into saltwater fly fishing, I was fortunate to get a copy of the finest instructional fishing video ever made, the late Billy Pate’s Fly Fishing for Tarpon (which I recommend highly). In this video Billy explains the concept of strike zones as it relates to tarpon fishing. We’re going to revisit this concept and then relate it to presenting the fly to redfish- cruising fish, laid-up fish, and tailers.

The strike zone is an area around the fish where, if the fly is properly presented, you have a reasonable chance that the fish will take it. This area is roughly shaped like a half a football, extending with the wide part at the mouth of the fish to the apex out in front of it. Since their mouths point down, redfish prefer to feed down, but they show little hesitation in coming up for a fly unless they are heavily fished or have been disturbed by boat traffic.

Understand that the strike zone changes in size constantly though, going from non-existent to huge and back again, and occasionally even goes behind the fish. Over the years I’ve seen a few fish do about faces to take a fly. It’s rare, but it does happen. Our assumption here is that in order to get a bite, the fly must be in the strike zone.

Hopefully it’s obvious that the longer the fly is in that strike zone, the more likely the fish is to take it. This brings us to presentation angles.

Read the rest of the article here, or  buy the book!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

The Art of Fibbing

The Art of Fibbing- A Guest Blog By Tammy Wilson


the art of fibbing

Any angler worth their salt knows the value of a good fib. It’s the difference between a skunking and an 8-pound bluegill, after all. It’s how a 10-inch brook trout becomes a 20 incher over the course of an afternoon, and a world record over the course of a lifetime. It’s what makes a slot sized redfish a trophy bull when the story is retold over the campfire.

There’s a definite art to the yarn, and some folks don’t give that fact enough credit. Some don’t understand the fine nuances, the unspoken rules or the definite boundaries that go along with a really great fish story. Amateurs may delve right in with stories of a 700 pound black drum that got away down at the inlet when any seasoned story teller will readily admit it’s a known fact black drum don’t grow over 539 pounds.

An experienced angler knows to truly appreciate the one that got away. The one that was caught and witnessed or photographed or seen by the angler is a fish with a diminished potential for growth. The lost fish, on the other hand, has an uncanny almost otherworldly ability to morph into astonishing sizes. Some of these growth spurts take only mere hours, while some grow indefinitely, depending on how many times the incident is rehashed squared by the amount of single malt scotch gone from one’s flask.

Before mastering the distortion of truth, it’s equally important anglers keep buried in the recesses of their brains an entire library of excuses and be able to conjure seven to nine of them up at any given time. Fast thinking and the ability to keep said excuses neatly organized depending on method and location of fishing is crucial. One simply cannot have caught any trout on the stream because the tide was all wrong, after all.

The invention of the digital camera has really taken away from the art of fibbing in a drastic and sad way. The ability to CPR (catch, photograph, release) a catch has taken imagination right out of the fishing tale. Immediate proof with the ability to instantly show off one’s catch on the World Wide Web if one chooses has cut into the fine moral fabric of the fish tale. It’s why in most cases, the dog ate my camera, the batteries were dead, I left it in my car and I hit the wrong button.

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.