Seatrout marking this spot
Mosquito Lagoon has been hopping this summer with this special fishery.
August 02, 2007|By Rodney Smith, Special to the Sentinel
OAK HILL -- The predawn sky looks to be wrapped in pink and azure cotton-candy clouds, while in the distant east, towering gray thunderheads occasionally explode with flashes of lightning.
Mosquito Lagoon comes to life quickly in late July. Mullet jumping, brown pelicans crashing into schools of Spanish anchovies, a k a glass minnows, and small shallow-water skiffs buzzing north and south, east and west across this expansive lagoon are only a few of July's interesting sights.
Mosquito Lagoon is world famous among anglers that specialize in sight fishing. Redfish is their primary target. However, each summer, as things slow down a bit and the "Dog Days of Summer" come about, another special fishery develops: pigfish fishing for spotted seatrout
Fishing spotted seatrout with live bait may not be as visible or glamorous as sight fishing, but it certainly is an effective way to target and catch oversized spotted seatrout. In fact, it's so effective that there is a viable commercial fishery for a handful of anglers that trap and use pigfish for bait.
However, the majority of anglers fish this way recreationally.
"My fishing in the summer is done with artificial, fly or cut bait, mostly sight casting to a degree,'' longtime Mosquito Lagoon guide Brian Clancy said. "When I have customers that want to fish pigfish, I refer them to the experts, the guides who specialize in summer pigfish fishing for trout."
Because this type of fishing only happens a couple of months during the summer, not as many people specialize in it. Knowing when and where to catch pigfish and how to rig and use them takes a good bit of local knowledge and experience.
Randy Beach of Edgewater recently had an incredible day on Mosquito Lagoon with 6-year-old Cameron Eskew and her mom, Tracy, from Orange City.
They were fishing with pigfish so Cameron could try to break the current International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record for spotted seatrout in the female small-fry division.
"After fishing all morning and catching and releasing eight trout that were under the target weight, Cameron finally landed a 291/4-inch trout. We took it to the Fishin' Store where they have an IGFA certified scale, and the fish weighed in at 7.70 pounds," Beach said.
He describes his method: "We use a 3/0 bait hook with a 20-pound Momoi's fluorocarbon leader. I hook the pigfish next to the anal fin and use a float to keep them about a foot and a half above the bottom. This keeps them from getting in the grass. While fishing docks, I free-line them and work the bait really hard, popping the rod often to make them grunt more and keep them off the bottom. Doing that wears the bait out pretty quick, so I change the bait out often and put the used ones back in the live well.''
Beach says most fish love eating pigfish and he uses them often this time of year.