Thursday, January 10, 2008

Capt. John Kumiski: Banana River Lagoon Fishing Report

Banana River Lagoon Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 1/4/08

Photos this week worth seeing! Visit this link:
This is my first fishing report of 2008. The weather so far this year has been wintery, can you imagine? We actually had temperatures dip to the freezing mark, and I’ve heard some reports of fish kills from around the state. Being a totally acclimatized Floridian, I don’t like to go fishing when the high temperature for the day is in the 40’s or 50’s, especially with 20 knot plus winds. So, I only ventured out one day this week.

My friend Rick DePaiva has been threatening to come fish with me for black drum for years now. Since he has never actually done it I figured he was just talking. Yesterday, however, he actually showed up. His friend David McCleaf was with him. So around 830 AM we launched an Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 containing David and his stuff and an Old Town Camper containing Ricky and me and our stuff. Since the Camper’s crew was focused on getting Rick a black drum, I handled the push pole and Rick manned the fly rod.

We only saw one fish until about 1030. At that time we found a small pod of slot reds tailing. Ricky made several good casts that I thought should have worked, and one finally did. Good thing, skunk off boat. Not what we were looking for but no one complained. The fly was a black Redfish Worm.

I suppose I should have a digression here about the weather. When we started the wind was blowing about 12 out of the east and it was about 65 degrees. The sun shone when we cast off, but a bank of clouds quickly rolled in and we could see several showers off in the distance. So when Ricky got that first red it was windy and cloudy, which it mostly stayed all day. We also got rained on several times, and saw a few patches of sun, too. Not an ideal day, perhaps, but you make the best of what you get, especially when you’re paddling.

We went at least an hour before we got another bite, although we saw David get a slot red on a DOA Shrimp. He removes the supplied hook and rigs the shrimp “backwards,” using a plastic worm hook like you’d use in a jerk bait. Good idea, young man!

Rick and I finally found a single black drum tailing. When the tail wasn’t up we couldn’t see it at all (no sun) and after a few casts the fish disappeared, never to show itself again. As it turned out this was a recurring theme.

We found a small pod of slot reds working in shallow water and Rick got one the Redfish Worm. We saw David get another one not too far off from us. So fishing was slow but there were a few around and we were getting one once in a while. We’ve all had worse days, and no one was complaining.

David decided to do some solo exploration. We could see him, looking for fish about a half mile off. I kept waiting for my phone to ring so we could go and join him on the huge school of fish he found. The phone finally did ring, but it was Rodney, not David.

Rick and I were taking a break, snacking, when I saw a single tail come up and drop again. A minute or so went by and it came up again, closer this time. Then the sun broke through the clouds. We took advantage of the light and went looking for the fish. He helped us by tailing on a reasonably regular basis. Ricky got several good casts to the beast, and he finally took the fly. Black drum on! I called David, who immediately headed back over to our location.

It took Rick several minutes to subdue what turned out to be a drum of over 25 pounds. Mission accomplished! We spent some time taking pictures, then kissed the fish and released it.

We split up again, David working up in front of us a half mile or so. He went around a point and we couldn’t see him any more. We were seeing slot sized fish with reasonable frequency, and hooking one now and then. We finally got to the point and there was David, casting at fish.

We spotted a tailer and went after it. We could only see it when the tail was up, since it had clouded over again. We worked that fish for 10 or 15 minutes and never got a tap. But David finally ended it when he paddled over to us, telling us he needed a photographer. He had a 26 pound red in the water, tethered by a Boga Grip. The photos were made, the fish released. Both gentlemen now had a big fish under their belts. Life was good.

Our rough total for the day was eight reds between us, all in the slot except for David’s bull, and one black drum. The fish were equally split between the two of them. We capped off our most excellent day by having dinner at El Leoncito.

Life is short- GO FISHING!!!

Life is great and I love my work!

John Kumiski

member Florida Outdoor Writers Association (, Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (, Indian River Guides association (
Editor's Note: Capt. Kumiski is the author of several excellent books about fly fishing Florida's salt water including "Redfish On The Fly" to which we gave a thumbs up in the review section of

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