Two Jakes and a Jack Hit the Indian River
Mud Hole’s own Jake Hutcheson, Jake Harris, and Jack Conrad hit the water with their custom fishing rods with word that a favorite target fish was pushing the flats. Jack heard that there was an enormous school of black drum stirring up an Indian River flat on the Space Coast. With visions of a football field sized schools of tailing drum in their minds and a general idea of where the fish were, they set out to find them.
Equipped with Custom Built Rods
The three Js came prepared with a custom 7’6’’ Medium Heavy MHX CB905 built for inshore fishing, a TFO TF8904P2 9’0’’ 8 wt. fly rod, and a Point Blank PB761MHF, also built for inshore. The parking lot was empty when they arrived that morning. It was foggy, cold, and windy. The kind of foreboding weather that hung a cloud of the unknown for what was to come.
However, Jake Harris was confident as he remembered a great day in the recent past with these same unfavorable, to non-fisherman at least, conditions. After a 10-minute initial run, they came off plane next to a small indent in the shoreline. Both Jakes immediately hooked trout on topwater and redfish on an artificial shrimp - while Jack poled them from the back of the boat. There was a trough that ran through the indent that provided deeper water and proved to hold a few fish. All of the fish were under or lower slot, but still a great start to the morning.
Redfish & Trout
After a few more smaller reds and a decent trout, the guys went to a flat where they saw a small school of redfish pushing. Although they weren’t skittish, they wouldn’t eat. Shortly after, they poled to a barely trickling culvert where Jake Harris had caught fish before. Sure enough, they caught 2 redfish and 2 trout quickly.
On colder days, fish can pile up in front of culverts, as there is usually a deep hole outside of the mouth. In addition, culvert pipes supply predatory fish with a seemingly endless supply of bait fish with the flowing water. Jack pushed the two Jakes a few hundred yards further while they blind casted Savage Gear Shrimp and D.O.A. Cal Paddle Tails until they came up to a small creek finger. They had almost passed it when Jake saw two fish tailing towards the back. Jack quietly turned the boat into the creek mouth, barely avoiding noisy branches by inches. Jake locked his eyes on both fish, one close, and one further back.
He pulled the fly rod out of the gunnel and laid a perfect cast two feet away from the closer fish. He let his crab fly sink, stripped it once, stripped again, and set the hook! The redfish had nosed down on the fly, turned its orange body, nearly blinding them with a bright flash of pumpkin and crunched the fly.
The fish immediately took off towards the back of the creek, where it opened up into a 20 x 20 shallow circular pond. The fish went back and forth, around and even under the boat before giving in. Jack carefully pulled out a beautiful upper slot fish, about 25 inches.
They took a few pictures, released the fish and poled out of the creek, as they had already spooked out the second fish during the fight. After about a hundred yards and a few bends in the river later they came up on a wider creek that opened up into a good sized pond. There were fish moving everywhere, but they couldn’t physically see a fish, due to the cloudy conditions. Jack was on the bow throwing a fly as far as he could towards what looked to be fish. Jake Harris was on the platform, CB905 in hand, in case any fish decided to push out towards the main river. As luck had it, a school of 5 to 7 mid-slot redfish did and Jake threw a Savage Gear shrimp directly in their path. The lead fish ate before he could even close his bail. He fought the fish as it departed from the school and it ended up being a hearty 24 inch fish.
Elusive Black Drum
As they ventured further into the creek there were redfish popping shrimp out of the water where the mangroves met the mud. After a few failed sight casting attempts at them they poled out of the creek. They trimmed down and motored out to the main river in search of the school of black drum that had eluded them thus far. Jack found a clear flat with grass scattered through it. It wasn’t the same grass that filled the river years before, but they would take what they could get. When they finally found a smaller school of about 20 drum, they were 10 feet away by the time they could see them. They followed the fish and saw them twice more, both times spooking them. The day of drum they’d dreamt of was quickly turning into a delusional daydream. Though they did have a great day filled with redfish and trout thus far.
J, J, and J still had plenty of fishing left in them and kept casting. Jake Harris pointed out a hidden culvert. They came off plane, idled, then poled until they got close. All three casted their respective baits toward the metal pipe. As he turned to Jack to complain about his bad cast, Jake Hutcheson felt his line move. He set the hook towards 2 o’clock off the bow of the boat and the fish was at 11 o’clock within a second. After an incredible fight, they landed a beautifully orange top slot redfish. His MHX CB905 gave him the perfect amount of sensitivity to feel a slight line movement and enough backbone to go to battle with a 27” fish in the mangroves.Jake had one last culvert, that is overlooked by most, but almost always produces for him. Before they could get close they saw the water flowing, with protein bubbles littering the surface. The guys immediately doubled up on a redfish and trout. Left and right they were catching fish and even tripled up 3 times. After 45 minutes with the push pole stuck in the mud, they totaled 24 redfish and 32 trout.
That was the last spot before trailering the skiff. The guys never got into the massive school of tailing black drum that called them to the Indian River, but their day was an abundant adventure for sure!
However, the day didn’t end when the boat hit the bunks. A proper day of fishing in Florida is not complete without a Publix trip either before or after. While Jack sat watch in the parking lot with the boat, the Jakes went inside to get what we all crave after a day on the water, Publix Subs.
Back to Jack’s house in Oviedo they went. What would’ve seemed like an unfavorable day to most, turned into a mess of fish, big and small.