Saltwater Fly Fishing the Indian River Lagoon

Posted by Dean Pettit on 20. June 2012

June 16th 2012.

Seatrout 1 16 jun 2012I started fly fishing at about the age of 13 with my grandfathers fly rod, mostly for bluegills and bass in the few freshwater ponds I found growing up near Satellite Beach Fl, and continued for a while after moving to Titusville, mostly at Fox Lake. My rod was a 5 wt. freshwater rod, not really designed for the seatrout and redfish of the Indian River Lagoon system, though I did manage a few seatrout here and there using small streamers designed for freshwater rainbow and other species of trout normally associated with coldwater northern and mountain streams.

Recently I purchased a 9 ft 8 wt flyrod for the lagoon and have started using it almost exclusivly while wading our shoreline flats and am quickly becoming addicted. My first trip just north of haulover yielded three small trout and two ladyfish. A second trip to Eddy Creek yielded three hits on my first three casts near a small inlet emptying into the main body of Eddy Creek around the northern shoreline from the dock. The first and the third hit yielded two small trout, while the second felt quite a bit larger and of course was the one that got away after playing it for about 30 seconds.

Seatrout number 2 16jun2012It was the third trip, again to Eddy Creek that proved to be the charm. Casting from the same position near the little inlet where the surrounding salt marsh drains into the main body of Eddy Creek, the first strike felt like the one I had previosly lost, and ended up being about a two pound seatrout (Top Photo). I then hiked to several other spots where casting from shore is possible but no luck. During the hike back to the parking lot I again tried the little inlet and was rewarded with a second trout of about 1 and 1/2 lbs (Photo just above).

If you are interested in taking up saltwater flyfishing here along the Indian River lagoon System here’s what you need.

Fly Rod, 7 to 9 wt., 9 ft. Mine is a Redington Crosswater, 9 ft. 8 wt. four piece.

Fly Reel with a reliable drag. I use a Phlueger Trion that holds about 100 yards of backing and an 8 wt. fly line.

Fly Line, 7 to 9 wt. weight forward taper or saltwater taper. For best year around results get two lines, one formulated for warm weather and one for cold. The warm water or “summer” lines will get too stiff during the winter, while the lines designed for cold weather or “winter” lines will get to limp for effective casting in the summer. I bought mine at the fly shop in Titusville and Gary used wrapping thread to put loops in both ends of my fly lines, and then sealed the wrappings with rod varnish to keep them from unraveling. This allows me to change lines as the weather changes, while the front loops allow ease in putting on new premade leaders.

Backing, about 100 yards or more. A fly line is typically 90 ft. in length, not enough to fight a large fish that make a long run like a large redfish on the flats could do.

Leaders; You can’t tie your fly directly to the fly line. it’s too thick and visible. You need to use a tapered mono leader, one that starts out thick at the fly line and tapers to a smaller diameter is virtually a must to get the fly to lay down right after the cast. Mine taper to a twelve lb. tippet.

Flies; I like the “Clouser Minnows” and the “Crazy Charley’s”. These are tied so that when in the water the hook rides with the hook up. This prevents you from snagging gobs of seagrass or mangrove roots while fishing the shallow shoreline flats. Other shrimp and minnow patterns will work as well. I use these tied on about a # 6 hook.

Misc; You will need something to cut your line in order to change flies, etc. fingernail clippers are excellent for this and can be attached to your tackle bag with a lanyard, always keeping it accessible. You will also need a way to remove a hook from a fish (hopefully). Longnose pliers can be used, or many flyfishers use medical forceps which can be clamped to a shirt pocket, or the strap of a tackle bag for easy access, especially if wading or fishing from a kayak. I also carry a boga grip which allows me to grab a fish by the bottom jaw, remove the hook, and release the fish without ever actually touching the fish with my hands and removing it’s protective slime coating. I clip this to the strap of my fishing tackle bag or a belt loop while wading. That way, it’s always there when I need it.

Last you will need a tackle bag to carry your equipment. While there are many specialized fly fishing tackle bags and vests, some costing hundreds of dollars, the Plano bag I got at a local department store works just fine and cost me under $20.00. These will usually come with one of their molded plastic tackle boxes with the moveable dividers, but will hold several. You can buy as many as you need for a few bucks each, or, if your wife is into crafts and uses Plano boxes to store beads and other small craft items, you can dump them in a drawer and steal the boxes. Just be prepared to fish as much as possible, camp for weeks on end, and eat what you catch because it will not be safe to sleep at home, and lastly, make sure you have enough fly fishing gear to last the rest of your life because you will likely no longer have access to your bank account.

On the “Fishing the Indian River Lagoon Homepage” on my website,   you will find a total of nine pages of fishing locations, including three pages each dedicated for shoreline fishing, kayak locations, and boat ramps. Some of the shoreline locations are also great for wading, which is one of my favorite ways to use a fly rod. Just look for areas of shallow seagrasses and the trout and reds will be hanging in 1 to 3 feet of water around the grasses.

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Good Luck and Tight Lines! 

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