I grew up fishing off the coast of North Carolina and since then fished my way across the entire coast to Texas. One of the places I haven’t fished yet is down the east coast of Florida. I have always heard big fish stories and seen pictures that come from the Space Coast, but I’ve never experienced it myself until recently. The IFA Kayak Tour was headed to Titusville, FL so after talking with my fishing partner (girlfriend) it was time for me to learn something new. She is familiar the area, but I am a complete novice to shallow grass flats and couldn’t wait to learn new fishing techniques.
I rechecked all my gear making sure I have every possible speckled trout lure I can think of before setting off on the 9 hour drive. The anticipation of what could be was killing me. I had grand dreams of huge speckled trout hiding in the shallow grass and pot holes just waiting to ambush my lures. We made it into town right at sunset and just in time to set up camp for the long week.
There was a huge grass flat in front of our camp that was being beat by the West wind and it was everything I imagined! Everyone walking through the camp is sharing their own fish stories and its only making the anticipation worse. All the gear was ready for the first morning of fishing and we checked the weather report before heading to bed. The winds were supposed to strengthen over night making the morning difficult because it could have been blown out, but it might have given me a day to drive around and find new launch areas. Luckily, as with most all weather reports seem to always be wrong, the weather was in our favor!
We woke up to dead calm, glassy conditions! I don’t think I have ever seen two people scramble that fast to launch. First few baits in the water yielded average trout taking advantage of our baits, and puffer fish galore. We found schools of bull reds and big black drum that were all great fish, but not the big gator trout I was hoping for. We finished the day as the winds picked up and went back to the camp to study maps for a new game plan to find the big fish the next morning.
Mosquito Lagoon was the next stop. The winds were blowing strong out of the North making things particularly difficult. We tried launching in several different areas, but still had the same results. The last stop of the day looked the most promising when we found protection behind some islands that had a deeper cut running behind it. As I approached, I could see bait making the water nervous! A great sign compared to what I had been seeing. A suspending lure was my first choice working the drop offs while drifted down the bank. I was quickly rewarded with a couple of decent trout, but nothing to brag about. I said to myself, “There has to be better fish here.” I quickly ran back to the point and started another drift.
Swapping rods I moved to a loud top water lure slowed my presentation down making it an easier target. Then finally it was slurped under with some immediate drag running. I played the fish to the net and was happy to see my first decent trout from the area. It wasn’t the biggest, but an honest 24”. A few quick pictures were taken before she was released and then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye I could see splashing on the water. I moved in closer to investigate not having a clue as to what I was looking at. Crazy thoughts ran through my head trying to figure what I was looking at when the head came crashing out of the water shaking violently. It was by far the largest speckled trout I had even remotely seen. It was thrashing trying to dislodge a 14” mullet it had eaten earlier. If I hadn’t of seen it myself I wouldn’t have believed it.
I have been blessed over the years with some very nice speckled trout, but nothing compared to this. I fished this area the whole next day never catching another legal size trout. It left a deep impression on me with a new excitement for speckled trout fishing knowing that there are much greater fish than I imagined still out there to be caught.