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Mosquito Lagoon

The Mosquito Lagoon is located in the northern reaches of the Indian River Lagoon system. Extending north to south from Ponce de Leon Inlet at New Smyrna Beach to the northern end of Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center, the 40 mile long 21,000 acre Mosquito Lagoon is listed by the US Federal Government as a Lagoon of National Significance.  As the least developed coastal estuaries in North America, nearly two thirds of the original aquatic preserve boundary is now part of the Cape Canaveral National Seashore and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The entire lagoon is bordered on the east side by the Cape Canaveral National Seashore’s Playalinda and Apollo Beaches separating the lagoon from the Atlantic Ocean with one of the longest undeveloped and unspoiled natural dune lines in Florida.

Because the Mosquito Lagoon is primarily located within the boundaries of the Nation Park, special fishing rules apply to all anglers.  All anglers fishing within the boundaries of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Canaveral National Seashore are required to have possession of a fishing permit which can be obtained for free from their websites.  All professional fishing guides operating within the National Park boundary are required to have an Incidental Business Permit (IBP) to conduct fishing charter, so if you are fishing with a permitted guide an individual fishing permit is not required.

Along with its many unique features, most of the Mosquito Lagoon remains non-tidal for the most part with salinity levels comparable to ocean (32-34 ppt) allowing several fish species like redfish and black drum to spawn in the lagoon instead of the ocean where normal populations of sexually mature breeder redfish exist. These features allow for resident adult populations of redfish and black drum to remain in the lagoon providing year-round inshore trophy redfish opportunities.

The non-tidal feature creates an environment where our style of fishing (sight fishing) is more like hunting.Without an established tidal influence it is difficult to predict where the fish will be located at any given time, so hunting and stocking fish is large part of the experience.  Sight fishing also requires a certain degree of casting ability as a quick and actuate presentation is required for a successful hook-up.   Another unique feature is the geographic position on the Mosquito Lagoon placing it at the northern most extent of red and black mangrove habitat, low marsh and high marsh habitats, extensive oyster bars, and tidal flats at the north end near New Smyrna.

The Mosquito Lagoon itself is littered with numerous significant sandy shoals or sandbars scattered throughout the estuary in no particular pattern, It is extremely challenging for boaters new to the lagoon to safely navigate its shallows, so until you learn the waters, please be safe and do your best not to damage sea grasses with your engine.  One theory is at one time thousands of years ago, several inlet passes opened into the Mosquito Lagoon from the ocean during hurricanes and then closed up naturally leaving the sandy tidal shoals behind.  Some of the significant shoals in the mosquito lagoon from north to south are: Georges Bar, Tiger Shoals (Poll and Troll Zone), North-South Bar, Turtle Pen, and Whale tail. Like most of the lagoons in the Indian River Lagoon system, with the exception of manmade dredge holes and the Intracoastal Waterway passing through it, the Mosquito Lagoon features an average depth of 3 to 4 feet, so if you happen to fall in, just stand up.

The Mosquito Lagoon is a confined inshore saltwater estuary receiving considerable angling pressure, so in agreement with other fishing guides and charter captains I have elected to provide only catch and release fishing charters in the Mosquito Lagoon.  On my charters anglers are permitted to keep fish within the established limits set forth by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in other nearby bodies of water within the Indian River Lagoon system.


North Mosquito Lagoon from New Smyrna Beach to Oak Hill

The northern Mosquito Lagoon between Ponce de Leon Inlet in New Smyrna Beach and Oak Hill is filled with winding waterways and backwater creeks, sandbars, oyster bars, troughs and holes. All influenced by ebbs and flows of its tidal currents moving in and out of Ponce de Leon Inlet every six hours creating tidal currents throughout this portion of the Mosquito Lagoon. Remember fish react differently at different tidal phases, so angling tactics should be adjusted accordingly. On incoming or rising tides anglers should generally target seatrout and pods of redfish feeding along oyster bars mangrove shorelines, flooded backwater creeks and drop-offs. On the out-going or falling tide, the fish move back out to deeper water ambush locations.  In Ponce de Leon Inlet a flushing or outgoing tide set the stage for breeder redfish year-round and snook and tarpon from spring, summer and fall ambushing baitfish as the flush out with the tide.  During the spring through summer near-shore fishing opportunities present cobia and tripletail during March and April and mid-summer when the cold water ocean upwelling arrives and large tarpon, sharks and kingfish in June July and August. Located at the southern end of this section, Oak Hill serves as the funnel point between the narrow winding creeks and channels to the open expanses of the Mosquito Lagoon and features the exact opposite tide of Ponce de Leon Inlet.  If you are a paddle angler, this section features so exclusive backwater opportunities and is one of the areas I take my paddle fishing clients. These backwater creeks create a maze of cannels, islands and passes, so if you venture into this area, bring a hand held GPS with you to assist in finding your way out.

Central Mosquito Lagoon


The central section of the Mosquito Lagoon stretches from Georges Bar to the north to the Haulover Canal and is by far one of the most popular sections of the lagoon for sight fishing.

Georges Bar is about two miles long and runs east to west and serving as the northern boundary of the point where the lagoon transitions from tidal creeks to open estuary.  Like most of the major shoals in the Mosquito Lagoon, Georges Bar has a deeper edge on its south side and an expansive shallow flat to its north.

Further south, Tiger Shoals (Mosquito Lagoon Poll and Troll Zone, 3100 acres) stretches from the eastern shore near Apollo Beach in a southwest direction and then curves south for about five miles. In the case of the Tiger Shoals bar, the deeper edge is on the north and west edges of the sandbar and the shallow flats are south and east of the bar extending to the shore line.  Tiger Shoals Poll Troll Zone was established in cooperation with the National Park Service, US Coast Guard and local fishing guide as an exclusive fishing zone where anglers are only permitted to fish using a push pole or electric trolling motor.  The primary purpose of this collective effort was to establish sea grass protection from prop scarring, and establish a lush grass flat.  The PTZ has an average depth of 12 inches and is clearly marked by white post.  It also features a running lane traversing through it from north to south allowing boats to traverse it on a plane.  Once you leave the running lane, it is unlawful to operate your internal combustion engine. As a word of advice to boaters, review the rules before entering the zone and if your boat draws more than 12 inches, fish elsewhere.

West of Tiger Shoals on the opposing shore is the ICW and a series of spoil islands often referred to as the Clinkers. On windy days anglers often use these islands as refuge from a strong easterly fetch and often find their quarry there too. Between the Clinkers and the western shoreline is an extensive shallow flat popular to paddle anglers.


Haulover Canal

Constructed in the early 1940, the Haulover Canal is a one mile long manmade channel connecting the Mosquito Lagoon to the east with the North Indian River Lagoon to the west. At an average depth of 15 feet, the canal currently serves as part of the Intracoastal Coastal Waterway and supports resident schools of both redfish and black drum as well as pod Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and manatee. Historically, the Haulover served as a portage for supplies and produce where mule teams transported materials and people from steamboats across land between the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoons. Typically the current passing through the canal is wind driven from one lagoon to the other depending on which way the wind blows.  Located near the mid-way of the canal on the south side is the Bairs Cove launch facility which features only one boat ramp with deep-water access.  Because of its centralized location, Bairs Cove Ramp provides good access to both the Mosquito lagoons and North Indian River Lagoons. The Haulover Canal is also one of the few locations anglers can escape to during situation when wind and swell conditions make fishing in the open waters of the lagoon unsafe or unfishable.


South Mosquito Lagoon

The southern section of the Mosquito Lagoon stretches from the Haulover Canal on the western shoreline south to the Kennedy Space Center and is world renowned for its crystal clear water and quality fishing.  This section of the lagoon extends southward about ten miles and features extensive grass flats on both the eastern and western shorelines. As one of its most famous features, the Whale Tail shoal is positioned in the center of the lagoon on the very south end.  This shoal gets its name from the shape of the shoal which looks like a whale’s tail in a satellite image.  Other notable shoals south of Haulover Canal are the Cucumber Island and Turtle Pen areas.

Boat Ramps

Riverbreeze Park, Oak Hill

250 H H Burch Rd

Oak Hill, FL 32759

Bairs Cove Ramp, Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

GPS N 28 43.980 W 80 45.421

Email: mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com for directions.

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