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March 21, 2007

Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishihg Report

The Top Water Sea Trout Bite is Back

Indian River Lagoon Coast Fishing Report, March 16, 2007

Complements of Mosquito Creek Outdoors

Although another blast of cooler weather is around the corner, the signs of spring on the lagoon are abundant. During my time on the water last week, I was delighted by the return of good numbers of finger mullet and other baitfish, and the return to a consist top-water plug bite. Top-water plugs have always been my favorite style of fishing, and I will never get over the excitement of a hefty game fish exploding on your lure. Another exciting feature of plug fishing is you never know when, where, or what is going to attack your offering, because seatrout are not the only gamefish attracted by them.

Also, with the arrival of the first new moon on March 18th, comes the first wave of spawning seatrout as the smaller males call their mates up on to the shallow flats to get jiggy. Seatrout are in the drum family and shortly after dark; the males form up on the flat and begin calling, drumming or croaking, the larger females in and they spawn together in an aggregation.

Spotted seatrout reaches sexual maturity at one to two years. Most large spotted seatrout caught are females and commonly live to be nine or 10 years of age. Anglers long ago recognized that very large trout were usually female and appropriately called them "sow" trout. A female spotted seatrout may spawn several times during the season. Younger females may release 100,000 eggs and older, larger females may release a million eggs. Recent studies indicate that spotted seatrout spawn between dusk and dawn and usually within estuaries and lagoons. They prefer shallow grassy areas where eggs and larvae have some cover from predators.

On the days before and after the new and full moons, look for the larger females to be staging along the deeper edges, and than move up in the shallows during spawning activity. Remember, most of the larger seatrout caught are egg laden because they do not release all of their eggs each time they spawn, so it is very important to handle and release them with extreme care. Also, the mortality rate on catch and release seatrout is about 30 %, so mash the barbs on your hook, leave the fish in the water, and use a dehooking device. The less we touch these fish, the greater our chances we have to catch them again, and their offspring are the future of our fishery.

Spotted seatrout are opportunistic carnivores whose feeding habits vary with size. Small trout feed primarily on small crustaceans. Medium-size trout feed on shrimp and small fish. Large fish feed almost exclusively on other fish like mullet, pinfish, pigfish and menhaden. This preference for large fish makes large trout difficult to catch unless you target them using larger baits, both live and artificial, and that¿s where the top-water plug falls into place.

My preferred times to target seatrout is during periods of low light, and at night. I like to be on the flat ready to fish at first light. Focus your attention on areas of concentrated baitfish, especially if they are being harassed. And when you locate fish, stake out and concentrate on that location. It is also very important to approach the flat as stealth as possible, because these sows are extremely sensitive to sounds and motion in the water, and they are usually aware of your presence long before you ever see them.

In the spring during calm conditions I prefer casting spitting and chugging plugs like the Rip Roller or Storm Chug-Bug, and when water surface gets rough, I will switch to a walk-the-dog style like the High Roller, Florida Special color, a red and white Zara Spook, or Rapala Skitter Walk

Oh by the way, I did manage to get some cobia fishing in this week before the wind picked up. The cobia run continues, as I joined my good friends Scott Bradford and Mark Blythe aboard the Afternoon Delight. Scott is an excellent angler and Captain, and we located the cobia working a weed line in 60 feet of water. As we worked along the weedline, we had shots at seven fish, hooked three, and Mark successfully boated a nice 33-pound brown clown, for which we gladly took home for dinner.

I would also like to take this opportunity thank all who made the Hook Kids on Fishing event a tremendous success last week at the Mosquito Creek Outdoors Conservation Day event. Coastal Angler Magazine, along with its sponsors and volunteers guided 138 kids and their parents through the program, and each child left with a wealth of knowledge and a new fishing pole and tackle box, well done!

Additionally, mark your calendar for the Coastal Angler Magazine Boating and Fishing Expo scheduled for April 20th, 21st, and 22nd at the Melbourne Auditorium. Look for more information to come on exhibits, seminars, and clinics.

As always, if you have any question or need more information, please contact me.

Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn
Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
407-416-1187 on the water
407-366-8085 land line
866-790-8081 toll free