You’ve got to love Central Florida fishing in January. That’s right, I said fishing in January. Oh by the way, the average high temperature this past week in Central Florida was 75 degrees. Sorry about rubbing it in for my northern friends.
For those of you who follow my blog about my life and my fishing adventures, you know I’ve been taking my angling experiences to a new level by learning to build my own custom fishing rods specifically designed for the type of fish I target and style of fishing I enjoy. Utilizing state-of-the-art blanks (MHX Blanks) from Mud Hole Custom Tackle and American Tackle Air Wave guides and components I’m slowly replacing my current fishing rod arsenal with rods matching the length, speed and actions I desire. Well, this week’s episode of my fishing adventures include the inauguration of two different rods built for different Central Florida fishing applications.
As you all know, I’m extremely passionate about my super light tackle freshwater fishing during the winter here in Central Florida targeting the American shad on their spawning run, crappie, and largemouth bass on the St Johns River and its connecting waterways. Although these species are smaller than their saltwater cousins, they are a blast to catch on super light tackle and on those windy winter days you can still enjoy a great day of fishing. When I build rods, I build them in pairs as I typically facilitate two anglers on my charters. For this style of angling, I chose to design and build a six foot fast action ultralight rod utilizing the newly designed Air Wave guides. The Air Waves are the same design and the Micro Wave guides, only lighter and without guide inserts. I the reason I chose the Air Waves is as a fishing guide my tackle is exposed to heavy client use and I’m constantly replacing guides with broken inserts. This rod’s specifications call for 2 to 6-pound test line which I’ve stepped up to 10-pound Courtland Master Braid on a 2000 Daiwa Exceler reel . Although this is a heavier line size than specified, it cast great with light lures and gives the rod a greater angling range.
Well last week after completing my first of the two rods in my ultralight series I was dying to give it a test, and seeing it was my day to exercise, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by riding my bike off road to the mouth of the Econ Creek through the Little Big Econ State Forest. This decision turned out to be very enjoyable and quite an adventure as I had never tried to reach this part of the Econ before by land, and you guessed it, fishing was involved. The area of the State Forest I entered from dose have equestrian and hiking trails (Florida Trail) passing through it, but it’s typically closed during active hunting sessions and it also includes active cattle leases. After strapping my new rod to by bike at the trailhead at the end Brumly Road in Chuluota, I continued heading east in the direction of the river and I slowly found my way though some of the most scenic hardwood forest and swamps to the banks of the Econ. Although no shad were caught, I did manage to break my new rod in on some very respectable crappie throwing a tandem shad rig and a TTI Blakemore Roadrunner.
My next adventure included fishing from my skiff instead of by bike with a newly built 7’6” medium light MHX Rod with Air Wave guides on the Mosquito Lagoon with my good friend Captain Pat Murphy. The excursion was a guide’s day off event, and Captain Pat inaugurated my new rod on a very respectable 18-pound black drum on the flats throwing a 4-inch DOA jerk bait.
Water clarity on the Lagoon has shown considerable improvement this month, as we were actually able to sight fish these drum. Water levels on the other hand were low, which also helped us see fish.
Water conditions on the St Johns River near Lake Harney show current, water levels and water temperature dropping (https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?site_no=02234000), so be careful when operating in this area. Additionally good report of American shad have been surfacing on social media platforms, so the catching should be improving this week on the river.
As always, if you need more information, have any questions or would like to book a charter, reply to this blog or contact me.
Good luck and good fishing,
Captain Tom van Horn