Flats Fishing in Florida

My brother Aaron loves to fish. He knows all sorts of things about fish and how to catch them. He told me being out on the flats restores his soul, which pretty much proves he is a true fisherman. The flats are an area of ocean where the water is 3 feet deep or less for miles. In many circles, Mosquito Lagoon (where we were) is referred to as the “Redfish Capital of the World”  Aaron has caught some big ones. He got this 42 inch guy (his personal best) in March. Needless to say, I had high hopes of breaking his record on my first trip out. 

On Tuesday morning we were out the door by 4:30am so we could be on the water before the sun came up. We stopped at a bait store to pick up a bucket of shrimp, the smell reminded me of the years I spent working at a Lunker’s when I was in high school. Aaron and Ryan launched the boat while Tracy and I loaded the gear and we were off to tail some redfish!

When Redfish eat off the bottom, their tails come up out of the water, which is why flats fisherman say they’re “tailing redfish”. You can spot a school of Reds when you see their wake or when you see their tails flipping out of the water… we didn’t see any, I think the sound of Space Shuttle Discovery Flying Over Our Boat might have spooked them.

It was incredible to be in such a serene place as the sun came up over the horizon. I haven’t seen a sunrise on purpose in awhile. (I’ve seen quite a few over the last 2 years from the nursery window while comforting babies… but those were accidental sunrise viewings.)

It was silent, other than the sound of birds chirping and an occasional manatee surfacing and snorting before meandering under the water again. Incredible.


Aaron used a paddle to push us around as we fished. After minimal success we moved into the channel and caught a few little tiny pin fish like this one. I would call it a “bluegill” but in Florida they’re called “pin fish”.

Then we caught a couple of sheeps head, which continually fooled me into thinking I was reeling in something massive… but once I got them to the boat they were just pretty little striped buddies. They had freaky teeth that look a tad too much like human teeth, which really weirded me out. Aaron’s phone has an app that tells him what the regulation sizes are for fish you can keep… mine were an inch too small to keep, so we just took pictures then set them free. “Swim home little fishys!”









Wildlife was everywhere! In addition to all the local birds like Blue Heron and Ibis we saw dolphins, gators, turtles, dozens of huge manatees, hundreds of jellyfish, and then a flock of wild pink flamingos flew over! PINK FLAMINGOS! Our day fishing might have been one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in Florida. I got to fish with my brother – something we used to do together all the time growing up. I loved it!