Although not widely known as a Tarpon destination, the Mosquito Lagoon offers backcountry Keys-style angling opportunities for Megalops Atlanticus, the mighty Tarpon.
As summer approaches the Space Coast of Florida, juvenile and adult tarpon migrate into the inshore waters of Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River Lagoon. In certain key areas of these waters, anglers who possess the patience have opportunities of catching tarpon from 5 to 120 pounds or more on light tackle and fly gear.
We’re not talking about throwing out a piece of bait and waiting on a bite…its all sightfishing techniques that rival those opportunities found in the Florida Keys and Everglades waters. In fact, the day I wrote this article, Capt. Nick Sassic was on the bow of my boat when he hooked in to a laid-up tarpon on fly in the Mosquito Lagoon that was estimated to be in the 130-pound range-certainly one of the largest tarpon I have seen in Mosquito Lagoon. Nick’s tarpon made three heroic leaps before sending the fly shooting back across Mosquito Lagoon.
While Mosquito Lagoon does not experience the classic tarpon migration “strings” found along the Atlantic oceanside, our early morning rolling fish and mid-morning laid-up tarpon can be nothing short of exceptional.
Prime months are considered to be late July, August and September. Typically, Mosquito Lagoon waters are most calm in the month of August absent any hurricanes. On these slick calm mornings, rolling tarpon are sure to be found.
Light tackle anglers will find top-water plugs and soft plastic jerkbaits productive while on dawn patrol in Mosquito Lagoon. As the sun rises, and visibility increases, anglers can locate laid-up Mosquito Lagoon tarpon that will gladly inhale a well-placed jumbo shrimp or live pinfish.
Fly fishing for Mosquito Lagoon tarpon is probably the most challenging, and the most similar to Keys-style laid up tarpon fishing…with one exception, Mosquito Lagoon tarpon are more apt to eat your offering than a Keys fish in crystal clear water that has seen every fly known to man.
Mosquito Lagoon tarpon are also more forgiving of “bad casts.” This is not to say that a good cast isn’t required, but the likelihood of a mediocre cast being eaten is much better than one would expect.
Laid-up tarpon on Mosquito Lagoon can range in depth from completely floating on the surface, to 3-4 feet subsurface. Within the first 2-3 hours of the morning during the summer, anglers will find more Mosquito Lagoon tarpon closer to the surface than later hours of the day.
Prior to hooking into his brute tarpon on Mosquito Lagoon, Capt. Nick Sassic spotted his fish floating so high in the water column that it’s dorsal and tail fin were well-exposed above the water’s surface. The “hole” that was left in the water when the fish ate Nick’s fly was incredible, as were the following giant leaps to the sky.
Given ideal conditions, visiting Mosquito Lagoon anglers can experience some serious tarpon fishing that will test any angler’s fishing skills. Mosquito Lagoon isn’t ALL about redfish. Even though very few make it to the boat, for a short time every year our tarpon can steal the show.
Update: September 30, 2005
Glass calm conditions enabled us to hook 2 tarpon on fly in Mosquito Lagoon around 10am this morning, one in the 50-pound class and another in the 120 pound range. Each fish was sight casted in 4 feet of water…an awesome sight!! Using a 9-weight, we were slightly outmatched and luckily the fish chewed through the 60-pound bite tippet.
Capt. Scott Macalla