Thursday, September 27, 2007

9/27 - Wading thru the HIGH water in search of "tailing" Reds.

As I said in yesterdays Blog Entry. I was invited by my friend Mike to go with him in his skiff boat, in search of the illusive "tailing Redfish" in the high tide water that spills over the banks of the IntraCoastal Waterway. Due to it being the first week of fall and the very full moon.
"Tailing Redfish", are the fish that get outside the regular banks of the river etc. and go up into areas normally dry, to root around like hogs in the knee deep water. In search of crabs. So tailing is what they do when they are head down and tail up in the shallow water, all you'll see is a tip of their tails sticking out up. Hence the term "tailing". It might have been months since they've been able to swim up into those food rich areas. Dining on the fiddler crabs, that inhabit these hard compacted mud and sandy bottoms that normally are dry'ish. But when given the chance and all things are right, they head up into the newly flooded prairie of marsh grass.

Mike and I were early, we left at 6:30am as the sun was coming up. We were where Mike saw some fish yesterday but caught the ones he did along the banks of the ICW not up in the flooded marsh grass. So that's what we wanted to do today.
And as the water flooded into the areas filled with fiddler crabs, a Redfishes favorite snack food. We couldn't believe that no fish were up in shallows after looking around.
So we stood in almost waist deep and caught some fish on the edge of the ICW instead. Mike was the first to connect, with a few Jacks, and then a pup Black Drum. All the while seeing Redfish cruising the edge. Behind us was the newly flooded area. And we both kept a watch to see if we saw any wakes, tails, or thrashing reds in there. And we couldn't believe the fish were staying in the deep. Mike even had a Redfish brush by his leg as he stood waist deep in the clear incoming water. I saw 3 good sized Redfish too, swimming through the marsh grass, but out in 5-6 feet of water. And then I finally connected with a small 17" Red on my Texas style rattling float and a live shrimp under it.

In this photo you can see what I mean. I took the photo from way up in the flood areas, and that's Mike and the boat on the bank of the intracoastal waterway, with even a tug boat passing by. I was 200 feet from Mike in knee deep water looking around for a fish wallering around, or a tail sticking out of the water.
We were prepared to pitch live shrimp to a red, with a small weight above the hook, so not to get too tangled in the marsh grass. You have to be stealthy. And the Fly rodders love this kind of fishing.....if there's fish up in there to catch.
So eventually we moved on and got in the boat and looked around a while. Seeing no fish anywhere up in the flooded hard bottomed areas as we patroled around.

We did go over to a Redfish hiway in my spot called October Cove, and Mike caught a small Red and so did I. And as I was reeling my rig back to the boat a really big Red followed my popping cork and shrimp all the way to the side of the boat, before seeing us. Man, that was a big beautiful fish.
Now the tide was falling and Mike said he caught some Reds up in a creek yesterday afternoon, so he wanted to take me there. One small Red and a large creek Croaker later, the spot wasn't panning out so good.
So we headed out the creek and hit a bank that I've always fished with a dock that always seems to produce. And we both landed two good keeper Reds.

So we ended up with a handful of "pup" Reds
a "pup" Drum, a few Jacks, a Croaker and two good keeper Redfish. I didn't have to play fishing coach, tour guide or even do anything if I didn't feel like it. Which was nice for me. I was just along
for the ride, and to do a kind of fishing in a kind
of small boat, in some very shallow water,
that I haven't done in a very long time.

I did learn though that given a big time high Tide like these we're experiencing this week, I have many options even in my big boat. I can easily get out and wade, or even slid on up into the shallows and wait for a passing fish on the edge of the bank like we did today.

If you go out with someone else and NOT learn a decent thing, than you just need to take up more time on the Sony Play Station and stay home. Because that is really what it's all about. Talking over situations, working together, telling stories, and being in a different type of boat, doing something different that you may not often do.

I used to have a pretty regular fishing partner, that I did that with and he was even my co-host when we did the "All ABOUT FISHING" radio show on ESPN 1460am on Saturday mornings. And for some reason, he fell of the Earth and I never hear from him or see him either....don't even know if he fishes anymore. So today was a great day in my book.

Because I was invited by Mike to just go, have some fun!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

9/26 - A Full Moon and a mystery up north

Headed north up the ditch today and at the last of the 6.5' full moon high tide, I slid the big 26 footer up into October Cove (the name I gave to this spot probably 10 years ago) because it normally has no water in it, but on these fall Full moon tides, I had a comfortable 5 feet under the plate alloy.

Lot's of memories from this spot, that's for sure. It has everything I want. A long shell bar, and oysters, tufts of grass here and there, a Redfish highway where fish travel back and forth, and a big flat expanse where the schools of mullet frolic. And best of all 90% of the time no one bothers me when I'm there.

I was actually waiting for the tide to turn so I could head to Nassau Sound and get me some big bull Whiting for Frying and some Black Drum for least that was the master plan.

I set the anchor up on the shell bar of October Cove, and broke out my Texas style "Alameda rattlin cork", on my 8'2" G. Loomis green water rod and my new Shimano Curado 300 DSV low profile casting reel. I had the float about 20" above the hook, but on top of the hook I used a tiny bullet weight to keep Mr. shrimp in the strike zone, but still able to swim around. On my second cast (the first cast was to just play with my new rattlin' cork) I watched the cork disappear....I did a double, because it just slipped under the water so easy, so I reeled up and lifted the long rod and OFF TO THE RACES the fish went. I didn't even know what I had. The fish fought so damn hard, I was hoping it wasn't a lost Bonnethead shark or something like that, because it fought as hard as a big brown bonnet!
(I say Bonnethead shark because I have caught them up in Nassau River on these super high tides along the grass lined oyster banks)
As the battle ended I finally saw I had a nice big Redbass....was it a keeper size though??

In the net and on the measuring board, 26-3/4 inches. I was on a "subsistence mission", so this baby went straight into the fish box. Usually, I don't keep Reds. But this fat 9 spotter was caught on the wrong day.

I kept trying for a few more of anything. But now the tide movement had stopped in October Cove, and with no wind the cove was dead still. I saw a whole group of guys out wading the hard bottom areas that were completely flooded, they were stalking the "tailing Redbass" up there.
Kind of a novelty fishing method. Wading in to the knee deep water, looking for the tail of a red sticking up out of the water as it hunts for food head down, usually unaware of a fisherman standing there motionless watching, and waiting for that perfect time to make a cast in it's direction with lure fly or bait.

(I'm going tomorrow morning with friend Mike in his 17' skiff to do some of the wade fishing. I might actually catch another red in less than 2 feet of water, again!)

As the water started moving again, it was time to head on, but not after catching 2 small Trout and two small Jacks while up in October Cove on my Alameda rattlin cork.
Ran straight to where all the action was on Sunday, for my buddy DOA Rob. The water in the sound was dirty as hell, and for some reason the tide was filled with dead mullet, pinfish, and assorted other fish. Looked like some serious shrimp boat Bycatch floating by, but for HOURS??
I didn't know what to think of it, but I kept fishing. The current was strong, and the sand was blowing around on the bottom really bad, so to say the water was sandy looking would be an understatement. I fished 3 spots and never had a single bite far out in the sound. And the dead fish just kept coming......decomposed fish. Not recently deceased, fish. Hmmmmm....??
So I ran back to the bridge, and anchored up and immediately caught my Black Drum, but only boated 3, 16 inchers. I lost two at the boat. One while on the phone, and the other because I didn't use the net.....Dammit! With no Whiting, I needed my limit at least. And screwed myself by being impatient. Because as soon as the falling tide slowed down, the bite turned off as fast as it was on. So I moved on....and headed back to the ICW and headed south to the ship yard.
I was thinking, "wow, I didn't catch a single bait stealer or Mangrove Snapper while fishing the bridge at Nassau Sound....did that rain finally send the bait snatchers packing".
At the the ship yard I fished my favorite pilings and had my azz handed to me twice with big fish that broke me off around the pilings, and caught two Jacks before the anchor started slipping from a passing Ghetto Cruiser, and had me back too close to the dock I was pitching too. So I moved on, and went to the lil' Jetties.
Uh Ha......Finally, a Pinfish and a Mangrove Snapper. I said to myself "leave it too the good ole St. Johns River to give me my only two bait snatchers of the whole day!" It was getting late so I went back to the dock to clean my 3 Drum and the Redbass.

After cleaning my fish, I saw Guy Morrison from Consignment boat sales, next door. I told him about my day and all the dead fish up in the sound. He said there was an article in the newspaper about that area and they said something about Red Tide, but weren't sure what it was that killed all those bait fish and Mullet around Amelia Island or the Nassau River areas.

That explains it...."I guess I should stay home and read the paper instead of going fishing, NOT!" But it also explains no Whiting, no bites in the sound, and no bait stealers at the bridge. Most of the time a Red Tide (aka: a Algae Bloom that occures in natures world, but mostly happens in the Gulf of Mexico) usually affects the smaller bait fish first, that's why I still caught a few Black Drum. I need to keep up with what they find up there, supposedly the area is under investigation from some state agency.
Not exactly the day I was wanting. I was bit in the ass by Nassau Sound again, but maybe it really wasn't it's fault. Usually, that area takes no prisoners.
But at least I got some subsistence fishing in before this weekends big blow that's coming (?)
I have a Saturday charter, and it'll be incoming tide the whole time, and is fore casted to be 15-20 knots from the North East on top of it.
Talk about challenging!!
The news on TV just said, Hugonaut Park north to Nassau County (Amelia Island and Nassau River) is having a Red Tide, and mentioned all the dead fish, I saw.
They said they're going to test the St. Johns River too.
Maybe that means no more Mangrove Snappers, I'm up for that. I can't stand them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

9/25 - I'd not even need a fishing rod...

I'm Bored. You can tell that when I post video's of far away lands.

I have plans to go get me some of those Drum and Whiting I talked about in my last report, tommarrow. Inbetween the rain and winds.....why ain't that wind blowing in some cool air?

Either way, here's my favorite Youtube video again. If you're a long time regular, you'll remember this one.

It's why aluminum boats are superior. And I'd pay good money for a ride like this.

This just looks like too much fun to me.
Just don't try this in a f'glass boat and leave the outboard motor at home, too.

I can just imagine the fun we could have at LOW TIDE!

Monday, September 24, 2007

9/23 - a 2 hr trip, then the lure of a full cooler

Was up walking the isles again of the new Gander Mountain Store on the Northside Saturday morning, when I got a call for a Sunday 2 hour trip.
My Saturday's charter got rescheduled so I went window shopping. They thought it was gonna be too rough after the big blow. Not was nice Saturday morning.

So, Sunday's charter ended up being one of my 2 hours trips, that I do. This time it was, Andy from Washington D.C. and his Mother from Atlantic Beach. Andy's Mother was celebrating her birthday, she was a spry 83. And wanted to just go on a boat ride, and maybe drop a line over for a few.

We left at 8:40am and headed towards the jetties. I had Andy's momma in one of my nice big deck chairs behind the leaning post. I've always wanted to have enough room for a chair or two, just for this reason.

I soft peddled my way out to the crowded rocks on the southside. There was boats everywhere. I anchored up and tossed out some simple rigs with a shrimp on them, so to see if we could catch anything. Of course the bait stealers were relentless. Crowds of boats were sitting in the current off the south jetty tip in hopes for big Reds, but I never saw anyone catch anything from where I was at. Just a buddy Mike, came out and tossed a jig at the jetty and caught a red and a Jack.

The birthday girl, said "girl" didn't fit her anymore, "that was too many years ago". But she had a nice time seeing all the activity and going for a boat ride.

Back at the dock before Andy and his mother arrived, I saw my good buddy D.O.A. Rob come by the dock. He said he was heading north up the beach. I told him I've heard some reports of Black Drum from a certain spot up there. We discussed the details and Rob said, "I'll let ya know what I get into and if I get some Drum or not from there."
Well I about forgot about all that, and as I was heading in from our 2- hour trip, Rob called me on my Nextel.

"Remember what you said this morning?" said Rob. "THEY'RE HERE!!" he exclaimed next.
Plus a whole bunch of big fat Whiting and Pompano too.

I said, "as soon as I'm done here, I'll see ya there!", taking back Andy and his mom.

We bid our farewells, and I headed out the inlet at mach 5! I was racingas fast as I could because I knew itwas all about the tide where Rob was fishing. Rob called me again. He was still knee deep in fish. But it could be over by the time I got there. The beach wasn't all that flat, but the ride was okay, as I barrelled along heading to where Rob was.

As I came off plane I saw Rob, he was reeling in a big Pompano. Not wanting to disturb his spot, I anchored just north of him. He said, "I've been sitting here about the whole time. It's been a fish riot!" But the Drum haven't bit in a while. I think they just came by in a huge wave."

Man, I was wanting to get into the Drum. I love to Blacken them. But as I talked to Rob, he said it was all Whiting and Pompano, that he was catching now .

Where I anchored, I caught two big Whiting up to 15", and two Jacks. I was souped up. And ready to rumble. But the longer Rob and I sat there, the more the bite tapered off as the falling tide died to a stand still. (it wasn't like today's falling tide was a strong one anyhow, 3.2 feet of falling water with a stiff Easterly breeze by the time the tide was low.)

Dammit! I missed it.....

All I wanted to do is get a few Drum and Whiting for a few dinners. But as I talked back and forth to Rob, he said "looks like it's all over".

His 72 quart cooler was packed with fish, I mean PACKED. He limited on Pompano, and Drum.

So I stayed with it as Rob left to head back in the nasty wind. I stayed for about 2 more hours and there was NO current at all. The boat whipped in the wind in circles. I managed a few trash can slam's, catching sharks, sailcats, and jack's. The sharks were fun on my super fairy wand rods, but provided no "SUBSISTENCE" for me. I wanted FILLETS! And lots of them.

So the morale of this story is.............YA HAVE TO FISH THE RIGHT TIDES!
I tried like hell to get there as fast as I could, doing a good offshore test of my boat, through the nasty seas and winds to get to where the fish were.
But I was too late.

This always happens to me. When I have a short charter day and then try to make something out of the rest of the day.

And you'd think I would have learned by now...... N-O-T!
But the LURE of lots of fish in a small spot, that are easy to catch, is a hard one..... not to bite!

Friday, September 21, 2007

9/21 - 1st Day After

Whewwww....that was one heck of a good storm we had this week. I loved it, and hoped more rain would fall. I was glad to see so much rain coming down along the St. Johns River, rather that somewhere way west.

Yesterday I guess was actually day one after the storm. It was really nice as Dad and I worked on doing some videoing. Plans are to have a video on the home page of my web site. Giving people from afar an idea of what the area looks like, along with some fishing footage. So I guess today's trip with Dan McCreary and his buddy Jason was the 2nd day after the rains and big winds.
Dan reserved this trip with lots of good advanced notice weeks and weeks ago. But the day had a bit of problem when I looked in my tide book.

The tide was a falling one at 4.4 feet from 5am to 11am. But the low tide height was 1.7 feet over mean low tide. So we had "statistically" 2.7 feet of water movement in the St. Johns River.

Or did we?

Then, last Monday here came the high winds (up to 50 MPH) and 10-12" of rain, which continued through till Wednesday.
So, here we went. Into the aftermath. And personally, I had not a clue of what to expect.
Turned out we had about all the current any Float Freak could wish throw that watching the tide height's out the window. So I hit the places I was catching Trout before the storm.
And the bait stealer's (the meek) inherited these areas. In between, Dan & Jason caught some small Trout, only one keeper at 16", and two small Flounder keeping one about 14".
The Mangrove Snappers, Small Groupers, Croakers, Pinfish, Puffers, and Needlefish, were absolutely ferocious!
And on top of all that, the 8 dozen live shrimp I bought we not living, and dozen after dozen were dieing. All while in the same exact water that came from the bait shop tanks. I think the shrimp were "tanked". Meaning that they've been in the bait tanks too the rest of us they had to live through the Storm also. It's not like the shrimp man was out catching bait for us in that weather either.

And don't count him being able to just resume catching buckets of premium size live shrimp, right off the "git-go". Because like our fishing. Local Bait Shrimping is going to be tough too.

And on that same note, if the Gulf Coast is getting this same weather system as the one we just got. That means the "west Coast" Shrimp man will have the same problem.

That's life in the fishing biz. Be it shrimp or fish.
Dan and Jason were great guys to have aboard. Patient and hard working too. I think they learned a lot, despite the slow bite.
It wasn't from a lack of trying today. We float-rigged our way up river, and ended up all the way up by Trout River.

And around Blount Island I pulled out the salinity gauge. And was completely blow away.
Zero being completely fresh water, and 40 being hyper saline water. I stuck the gauge into the water expecting to see a number less than what I saw before the all the monster rains.


The exact number I had last week.

I think that all that east wind blew that Ocean water all the way up the river.

What else could it be. I was hoping to see a number in the "teens", at least.
(I can wish, can't I)
But hope is not dead. Next week is the Full Moon. And on the 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th of Sept we will have some NEGATIVE low tides. And I'm hoping those heavy duty 6.2 foot falling will suck the fresh water, shrimp, and fish from up river towards my stomping grounds.

If your a "practicing" Float Freak. I hope this discussion isn't over your head. Because this is the technical stuff you should be familiar with. Just like having calculus in college, even though your going to sell real estate. It could come in handy. (even though that's probably a bad example)
As I think about all of momma nature, "as I study to learn more, the more I learn there is to know". Which in my book is FISHING, in a nut shell. And especially here in the wild, wild west of inshore fishing. Along the banks of the St. Johns River.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

9/18 - finally hitting the map

Today was the opening of the Gander Mountain mega-sporting goods store up by the airport. (13075 City Square Drive Jacksonville , FL 32218 904-714-3557)

It's all Hunting & Fishing! No soccer, no Foosball, no 'street' games, thank goodness. But the GRAND OPENING is supposed to be on Sept 28th.

This is the 2nd one in our area. The first opened in St. Augustine. I think FINALLY after years and years of endless rumors that Bass Pro Shop is coming here to N.E. Florida, can now quietly go away. Until we have something actually going for us, that draws tourists here to J-ville, I don't think we were ever on their list of cities.
Look at most BPS locales, and you'll notice a trend, they're mostly at some kind of tourist destination, so it seems to me. Until then, they probably won't be coming here. I'd say they'll study the Gander Mountain's, and watch how they do.
Here's the news brief from the Jacksonville Business Journal:

Two Jacksonville area stores are among
Gander Mountain Co.'s 13 new locations in 2007.
The first location, at 550 Belz Outlet Blvd. in St. Augustine, had a grand opening May 19 and 20. The second, at the River City Market Place near Jacksonville International Airport, is one of nine locations nationwide expected to open in September or October.

St. Paul, Minn.-based Gander Mountain is the nation's largest retail network of stores for hunting, fishing, boating, camping, marine and outdoor lifestyle products and services. The St. Augustine location is the company's second in Florida. The first Florida location was Lake Mary in Central Florida. The new locations scheduled to open by the end of the year will bring the number of Gander Mountain locations to 115.
The other eight locations slated to open this fall are Waukesha, Wis.; Jackson, Tenn.; Rochester, Minn.; Lubbock, Texas; Evansville, Ind.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Richmond, Va. and Bowling Green, Ky.
"It's great to move into new territories, but equally satisfying to continue to bring great outdoor experiences to our long-standing customers throughout the country," said president and CEO Mark Baker.


Either way, we finally have a mega super store here for fisherman and hunters. Although Gander Mountain isn't as lavish as a South Florida or Dallas, Texas Bass Pro Shop. In my opinion it will suffice, and I was impressed. This is the first time I've been to one. After hearing about the stores for many years.

I walked the isles and saw areas of products missing that I commonly use, such as VMC fish hooks. But hell, I give them a chance to expand. The rod racks had some empty spaces. And I'm sure that will change with time, as product comes in. The amount of reels was sufficient, but of course I'm a bit demanding for special purpose tackle, and didn't see a few of my favorites.

The new staff was very friendly...almost overly friendly.
Gander Mountain has it's own store brands. Just as Cabelas and BPS. And that's where the deals seem to be. Myself and a friend saw rods we'd use with our customers for Float-rigging, that seemed like a good value priced at a whopping $29.00! Xtra-Long, slender and a tad whippy perfect for a inexpensive Trout rod.

For $25 an hour, and a $50 minimum. I will help you shop for your tackle. Just as a Interior Designer shops and helps design the look of a house for a customer. ( My aunt is I hear what she does for people) I've done it all, but count me out when it comes to Fly Fishing. From Offshore to Inshore, I have very good tastes. But it's your budget, and I can help.
From Internet deals, online line tackle shops, to places like Gander Mountain, I am a shopper and spend thousands of dollars a year on my own tackle. (always looking for better) I can also help with boats too. And from what I see it, a lot of people should have used my service. Don't be one of those people out at the jetties fishing a 6/0 Penn Senator rod and reel matching combo dropping to the bottom for Sheepshead!! Get the right stuff. I have the T.O.W (time on the water) to prove my tackle talents. Why is it acceptable for some one to help design a houses interior, but wrong to help someone pick the right boat or tackle? With big or small budgets, for the beginner wanting to get started. Just like charters are a good idea, to get the lay of the land, so to speak. All the while avoiding mistakes that cost.

.....Back to my Gander Mountain 3 hour shopping tour. (yes, 3 hrs. I studied this store.)

I also saw many items that are completely void on shelves of other J-ville fishing and hunting stores. Like the McGill-Wright (the Eagle Claw hook people) Blair Wiggins "Addictive Fishing" series rods. Pretty nice. Had some very nice features. Plus, I saw many other items I just don't get to buy off a shelf in this town, like the H&H tackle rattling floats I've been wanting to try. (AKA: the Almedena rattling float) used in Texas shallow water Trout and Red fishing. I bought 4, in two different sizes.

And as I was standing there looking at the rods, I looked up at a large flat screen TV hanging from the ceiling above the "fly fishing shop" and saw someone I recognized, ME!

Yeah, I did a double take! I saw myself up on the big screen TV catching, Reds.

They were running my videos up there on that screen. Wow, I remember when my Dad and I would go to BPS in Dania on the way to the Miami Boat Show and be walking around watching the videos on the numerous TV's there and we'd say, "Why can't our video's be up there playing? And for sale in those racks?"

So I called Dad to give him the news. Since he and I worked long and hard on putting together some non-commercialized, home town instructional videos, for a whole year. To get the two we marketed. And as I walked out of the store after checking out with the friendly gal at the register, I saw them!

There was 15 of my DVD's about fishing right here in the J-ville area in the rack, along with others. WOW, I called Dad back to tell him. Our hopes came true. WE have our DVDs in a big chain store. All of this is because of who we used as a duplicator and marketing company, Bennett Marine Video. My dad was wondering why the last royalty check he recieved was nice and fat. They're still selling!

And BTW, here's another story on those same lines. I was in B&M bait and tackle one day and an old acquittance walks in. He says, "hey Capt Dave, I saw your video's." I replied to him, "did ya buy some?" He said, "naw, a buddy ordered them on NETFLIX and we watched them."

NETFLIX?? Holy____ , I thought to myself. I guess Bennett Marine video, sold a bunch to NetFlix, and they're on the ordering list for subscribers now. That was GREAT news, too.

It's hard to discribe how good all that feels after how long it took two complete rookies to film and make two video's. So now the big question is, when am I gonna do one on local Float-rig fishing techniques? Believe me, it's in discussion.

Monday, September 17, 2007

9/17 ~ Noreaster blast

This ain't no Nor'easter out there, it's a nor'blaster!! Just got ran off my back porch while petting the dog & drinkin' my morning java.

09/17 ~ 7:42 am, NE 22.9 knot sustained winds // 27.0 knot gusting winds!

Thank goodness there's RAIN with it!

Bring on the showers. It can only help the lower river areas. We're so behind in rain that every drop can help.

My next "pre" scheduled charters are not till Friday & Saturday.

I'm ready for fall Specks!

UPDATE 9/18:

The numbers are in from yesterday.
From 5 to 8+ inches of rain in one day. we need more...more...more.

Your FISHING depends on it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

9/14 - A World Tour

Had Billy and Gus on the boat today. We departed right at sun-up.
Had plans to do a little bottom fishing for a big Red, because that was a request of Gus'. Then do some Trout fishing.
Well, I went to go catch some Mullet for live or cut bait, and couldn't find any that weren't over net ruining oysters. So with an incoming tide all day, not even close to my favorite bottom fishing for Big Reds, kinda tide I opted to reverse the plan and go to where I've been catching the nice sized Trout, I caught on Monday and Tuesday.
ZIPPPPPPPPP...nothing but Mangrove Snappers, and baby Gag Grouper, and only one gill hooked small 14" Trout. COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE OF TUESDAY!
So I decided what could be worse, Bait'n & Wait'n? So I went to a spot close made two casts with my net and about 100 4" mullet. So I headed to where you can actually have a chance at Reds versus Stingrays and anchored up. Problem is, I never fish the spot on a incoming tide, just a I said, "lets give it a try." It was all W-R-O-N-G. It just felt that way. The current, the way the boat laid, the whole thing felt weird. And since I have about as much patience for bottom fishing as a 2 year old, we picked up and left for the south side of the south jetty, on the incoming tide.

If some one told me, "You will not catch a Redbass out there or catch nothing, on the incoming tide backed up towards the rocks with 4" live Mullet, I would have told them they don't know what their talking about."
So we sat, and sat, and sat, and sat some more WAITING, the key ingredient to Bait & Wait!With two mullet firmly planted on the bottom, just outside the edge of the rocks off the tip.
And we ended up with....You guessed it, A STINGRAY! A Brown garbage can lid!
So we left. Then hit the rocks along the Navy Base point. The current sucked there, and had two marauders come and kill the Mullet. (small Jacks)

Bottom fishing. Now, mid-morning at least. Incoming tide = kiss of death, in my book. I couldn't stand it any more. So we left and we back float rig fishing with those expensive live shrimp I had.
And when I arrived at this spot the current acted like a falling tide and probably was by now although in the middle of the channel the tide was still coming in. That's the St. Johns for ya'.
Billy and Gus finally caught some Trout. All keepers and decent size fish too, along with a Mangrove snapper, two Jacks and a Ladyfish. By now it's after noon. And finally the tide turned and we have a fish in the box.

They used every single shrimp and the die off rate was pretty high. I had those west coast shrimp rather than the locals. I'll take locals instead, until I can't get them any more, that's for sure.
So they had 5 Trout now and the shrimp were gone. So we packed it in.

I had a GUT feeling that bottom fishing the incoming tide wasn't gonna be all that great, especially since I had to catch some bait first. I always catch my own Mullet. I never buy Mullet, and if I could go out in the river in Mayport right now and catch my own 10 dozen shrimp I would. It's just how I feel, about it. Or hell a cut Ladyfish would have worked if we could have caught 3 or 4 Early this morning. I should use Mangrove Snappers as cut bait. There's no lack of those bait stealing bastards around!
The fellas took their 12 fillets to Singletons Seafood and had a fresh fried Trout dinners made for them. Which is a nice way to unwind after a long hot and hard day on the St. Johns.

And BTW here's a REALITY check.
Last Mid October was the UUCA tournament ( under ground utilities contractors assoc.)The fishing was great. And that morning it was absolutely freezing cold as I rode down the river to pick up my entrants in the tourney. That same Tournament is Oct. 13th this year. My question to you is: "do you think it'll be really cold the morning on that date or even during that week? I'll bet NOT. That's only 30 days away. And I predict a very long hot summer well into October. Let's see, if I'm wrong or not. Believe me, I hope that by October 13th it's cold. Because we need a change. Hell, I need a change.
Tomorrow: NO BOTTOM FISHING....10 dozen live local shrimp. Fish hard, Float Hard, that's it!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9/13 - Customer service....

Customer service. It's funny, I go places and receive the worst customer service. And think, "man, I'd never get away with this in my business." But some business' seem to just not get it, do they? They stay in business, by sheer volume and necessity, I guess.

Which brings me to my favorite show, and my favorite scene, and my favorite comic.

When I really need some good humor, there's always one person I can count on to give it to me, and that's my man JERRY.

Below is about my favorite scene of all time. I like any scene or stand up he does when he mocks how stupid daily life, can really be.

Enjoy the Master!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/12 - Clearing out some tackle.....

If you don't know or not, I used to have a complete tackle shop full of all kinds of "LOCALLY USED" tackle items for sale. My tackle shop page is still on my web site, but right now I just have my DVD's and VHS fishing tapes on it. I had the whole Kazoo....I had where you could order items, put them in your shopping cart and buy them. Just like any "on-line" store.

Well, I still have some things like JIGS, that are left over from back in those days. I've had a few sales here and there, and still have stuff left over.

I was in the jig business way before any of these other dudes were. Before the TBS, Lip Rippers, or Sure Catch.

I kept "tweeking" mine and by the time that sales were good, I had to get a commercially jig/sinker man to make them in massive bulk for me. I have some of that BULK left over and am willing to make some serious deals with someone who could use them. I'm not giving these away. But at the same time, as before on my tackle shop, I didn't deal in those 2 or 5 packs!

I deal in quantity.

Tell me of any person going fishing at the jetties, jigging for Sheepshead that uses 3 jigs?

Now, ya get the picture. Hell, on charters when jigging the jetties for "whatever", with three passengers aboard, I'd burn through 15-30 jigs easily. (remember, those rocks out there are hungry too)

I have unpainted Banana-heads just like these pictured in 1/4 oz with a stout bronze hook, 50 for $12.50

And I also have unpainted Banana-heads like the ones pictured but with a Mustad Black Chrome ULTRA-POINT hook in 1/8th oz. 25 for 12.50

These Banana-heads work great in about any location. They're weight forward type jigs. And I used them with super braid line, because they have a heavier hook. Remember, match your line to your hooks!

These are "Live Bait" jigs. Hence they have no barb/collar for soft plastics. And are fine wire Aberdeen hooks. Good for using 8-15 pound monofilament line. They work best when not using no stretch lines.
But at the jetties, in my videos... these were my go to Jigs.
They are about 3/8th's of an ounce, but believe me with out a heavy hook they fish just like a 1/4 oz jig.

Cabelas sells these.......(that's where I stole the picture from) for about $4.00 for 25, I'll do one better and sell the lot of them that I have for: $10.00 for 100!!!

You can either give me a call or e-mail me. Come on by, or I can meet ya' or mail them (with shipping included) I can do Paypal also, which is really easy.

I think you can look around a lot, but if your looking to go "burn" some lead at the rocks this fall and winter hunting those 7- striped jetty snappers, you'll be glad you stocked up, CHEAPLY!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 - Just the Opposite?

Got a late call yesterday, from Scott Jones. He has a boat, but had some trailer problems. Has a buddy, Bob coming into town. Wanted to take him fishing. But figured out that a charter would be probably work better.

I told him about how good we did on some nice Redbass yesterday, so he signed on for a trip.

BUT since the tide seemed to be an endless incoming in the river yesterday morning. I opted for a 10am departure, instead of a early departure as I usually do in the summer months.

(yes, it's still summer here) So at about 9am Scott met me at the boat ramp. I said, "You sure are early", as was I. But that was okay, we sat in the boat and bullshitted for a while, and found out via a phone call that Bob was running way behind schedule. So Scott and I took off and went fishing while Bob would call us when he got to the ramp, so we could pick him up.

Scott and I ran to a area I've fished since the first days I've lived in J-ville Florida, when I was straight out of the Air Force. And now that, I don't just stand on the dock and fish, have found it to be a great Trout and Flounder spot. I worked it with minimal success yesterday....but that was okay we did great on the Redfish afterwards. So with high hopes I ran Scott there so as to try our luck.

PAY DIRT...right off the "git-go". Five Specks within minutes of anchoring up, up to 5 pounds!

Between the Mangrove Snapper bites it was all about getting the bait past the hungry bait snatchers, and if ya did, Float down and big fat Trout hooked up. Then Bob called and said he was at the boat ramp. So I pulled anchor and we ran all the way back to get him, then back to the same spot again. Tide had changed that quick. So now I had to reposition.
INSTANT SPECKS. Bob and Scott were hooked up. A few shorts, but instead of all big fatties now they were schoolies, but alot of keepers. So It didn't matter. Within minutes it was 5 more good Specks in the box. And then they sort of just shut down.

Time to go bottom fishing for some of those Big Reds!

So we packed up and ran east. But today the wind was strong, about 15 knots from the South East. And that made it a tad more difficult to get on my Redfish hole. But I tried anyhow.

Big cut pieces of Mullet out on two rods with circle hooks. We were on the mark and ready.

And we sat waiting on a bite, and waiting and waiting. The wind was now gusting like crazy and the sky darkened to the west with a dark loop of clouds to the east too. I swear there was Gust of wind that had to push 25 knots at least as the dark skies approached. Still no Redfish bites.

Just hooked one MONSTER Stone Crab........Which is a "Here's yer sign", that this spot has some serious under water ledges and caverns below. Because that's where St. Johns River Stone Crabs lurk. I liked seeing that crab, it confirmed my suspicions, and feel I get of the bottom as I reel in my heavy weights used to fish the this spot.

The winds and approaching weather had me saying....."lets go before something kicks our asses, that is brewing above us."

So we headed to the boat ramp to clean the Trout and Mangrove Snappers we caught earlier.

And just getting to the ramp in that wind was a chore. Man, can the Mayport Boat Ramp be the Mother of all creatures big and small. If you can dock there in a gale, along with that whipping current you can dock anywhere. Scot and Bob were a huge help, too.

We ended up missing, all but the big winds. No rain, and no lightning. Although we saw some far off.

The opposite was that yesterday we caught hardly any Trout, not from a lack of trying though. And did great on the Reds. While today we did great on the Trout with 2 limits kept for supper and no Reds.
It was just the opposite!

Monday, September 10, 2007

9/10 - 1/2 and 1/2

Had Chris Justice and his father in-law Ken aboard today. Visiting from Georgia, at Amelia Island.........BUT fishing with the "Float Freak" out of Mayport!
Chris was a "BOAT" guy, and we had a good time talking about my Plate Alloy Fishing Machine.

So we left at high tide Mayport time. And attempted to float-rig for Trout up and down the river but only ended up with three. 2- 3 pounders, and one smaller one. Loosing a few fish along the way, and feeding the Croakers, Lizardfish, Mangrove Snappers, & Ladyfish. I didn't want to give up. I wanted these fellas to get some serious Trout. But as the tide turned to falling, I just could tell, it wasn't gonna happen.

Good thing I netted up and bunch of big Mullet at the boat ramp and dumped them on some ice, to be used for cut bait bottom fishing, if all else failed.

Ya' know I'm seriously "gun-shy" when it comes to serious bottom dropping when the water temps still 85 degrees, because I hate catching stingrays between the Redfish bite or two.

So I wrapped up the float-rig rods, and out came the G. Loomis back Bounce rods and my mini twin drag Accurate reels. Not the big ones I have, but rather the ones I call my "LT" bottom tackle, "LT" for light tackle. But capable of handling some seriously huge fish.

I cut the mullet into chunks, pinned to a small circle and we pitched back to an area I've always wanted to drop a heavy lead. So this was the first time I ever really fished this way at this spot. That's hard to believe, there's actually a spot where I haven't tried. A new "spot" to me can be right next to another "spot", I fish all the time. The break down is that close, in my mind.

We ended up with a 10 and 16 pound Redbass right away, and loosing one to those expensive Daichi brand hooks, because it broke right at the barb. And after we pulled the hook out of the 1o pound Red we found that this fish was caught on a broke Daichi hook, too! Holy Crap. $5.00 for 5 - 4/0 circle hooks, makes these some mighty expensive hooks to break. Hell with that Daichi bullshit! So I went back to good ole Eagle Claws, and my favorite's, VMC circle hooks.

(we did catch just one sting ray...only 1)

We were "light tackling" these fish with small hooks light leaders in a deep hole next to underwater ledges, and submerged rocks. The last thing I wanted was my damn hooks breaking!

We put in a lot of hours today, but it was worth it. Chris and Ken had fun, learned a lot. And had 2- gallon baggies of fish to take back to the condo for dinner
with the two Mrs. Fried Trout & Blackened Redbass.....C'C'mon!

Go see the rest of the photos from today at my Recent catch page #5, using this link below:

Saturday, September 8, 2007

9/8 - NEWS

2- trip OFFER:
Reserve two days of fishing in advance with deposits (for 2-3 anglers only) and receive $50.00 off your second day. The days reserved must be used prior to Nov. 17th, 2007. Go one one, give the other as a Gift to someone, and you get to go again!

Persons wanting to split a charter with another. I commonly have people retired or semi retired who have a relatively open schedule, and would like to split a charter with someone of the same. Basic cost: is about $200 for a regular day, 6 hrs of light tackle fishing. E-mail me at: or just call: 904-642-9546, if you are one of these people. And would find it easier to enjoy a day's adventure while sharing the expense with someone. I'm keeping a list.

There's fish where the F-O-O-D is:
As you may or may not know, the shrimp are way down the river. I'm talking Ortega River area all the way to Palatka! The shrimp are "Thick", and so are the fish. (Trout #1, Redfish, Drum, Yellowmouths, Croakers, etc.)

I'd like to do some charters down that way, although not my "home turf", I've fished there before and had some really great trips. But, it takes some travelling on my part....and that just means time.

-Departing boat ramps:

Lion Club Boat Ramp, top of University Blvd North. Easiest area to get too is the Ortega river area for me.

Goodbys Lake boat ramp, San Jose Blvd across from Hooters. Easiest to get to Buchman Bridge, Doctors Lake Inlet, for me.
Mandarin Park Boat Ramp, in Julington Creek. Further away for me for sure, but ya never know.......

the faux pau....We must have a decent tide to work with. Slow tides means no water movement "up" river. So it's essential to plan these days, and consult the old tide book.
Live bait, "shrimp" must be caught first. And there's some popular areas to do so. Then the fishing commences afterwards. Catching your own shrimp, "matches the hatch", a Ye Ole term for using indigenous baits for the area. And these shrimp are accustomed to the waters salinity which is very low up river. Which is something we do not have in the Mayport area.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

9/2 - Great Day....was this a "cold spell"??

I can't remember a single day this summer so far as pleasant as today was. Down right "chilly", I'd say. No, it wasn't cold at all, but so dang nice. It just made me feel really good.

See what a completely overcast day, light winds and a weather system of some sort over our neighbors in Georgia can do? Made for one hell of a nice day. Not to mention I had some really good company out there with me.

Thursday, when I went on my long journey north, far far away from the Mayport area to do some exploring and enjoy the serenity. I came back down the Intra-coastal water way and stopped by the ship yard at Sisters creek. In hopes of sending a float rigged with a big fat local river cricket (shrimp) up under the pier at the shipyard, so to catch some Trout. But the current wasn't running right and all I caught was more Jacks. And up on the pier walks Jason, a Captain of a 150 yacht that's up on the dry dock getting some work done. He asked how things were going and asked me what I've been catching. To make a long story short, he gave me a call and brought two crew members.......(Boy, I'm bad with names. Drew and Phil???? If I don't write names down I quickly forget)

I told him I had Sunday open, so he reserved Sunday at 0630 hrs, at the dock for a river charter.
He mentioned he'd like to Redbass and Trout fish. Perfect because that's what I like to do too.
We talked Tarpon, but with the chances of getting slim to no chum, or at least not enough to do the job. We settled on a river trip.

Armed with 120 live shrimp, and a dozen mullet we left the dock and headed west, then a bit south on the river.

We picked and poked (that's what I call it when we have to hunt up a good spot) But we ended up only fishing 3 spots all day. Catching some Trout, and battling through the too many Mangrove snapper bites as usual.

A big fish probably a large Drum was lost to the anchor line. Wish we could have seen that one. We had to settle for perfect eating size Black Drum rather than Redbass, because they were there and willing.

We went through all 120 shrimp, had maybe a 1/2 dozen or more die, that's all. Which is next to nothing compared to the fatalities I have been getting, because of the hot sun and hot water.

And on the last shrimp of the day, Jason hooked a big strong fish. Acted like a Redbass, and a big one......and even fooled me when it came up and was a about a 7 pound Jack Crevalle.

One of the guys caught a big Mangrove Snapper from under a dock....big figuratively speaking, about 15". Most are 3-4" and are nothing but bait stealers, which is their trade while growing up in the river, before heading offshore. The fella's caught about a dozen Trout, and keeping the solid 15" or better ones. Small Grouper, Ladyfish, Jacks, Needlefish, Pinfish, and a Skate. That's why I take 10 dozen live shrimp for 3 guys!! In December, all I'll need is 6 dozen because all the bait stealers will vacate the river. But the action was relatively constant.

And they went away with a nice big bag of fillets, which is number one in my book. I want to get plenty of "eaters", if I can.

While cleaning fish at the dock, I quickly realized what a zoo it was out there today. People everywhere. But since we started early and finished up early, and went far far away. We never had to deal with the holiday boat traffic.

If "labor day" is the un-official end to summer. I'm going to pay close attention to see if this applies here. Will the weekends get a bit less crowded, or will it stay the same. I always say when the official start of Football season begins is when crowds thin out....and that's just around the corner too.

See more of today's photo's on this link to Recent Catch Page #4:

Saturday, September 1, 2007

9/1 - End of Summer....good, because I'm ready.

Here is a little bit of info about Labor Day:

The holiday began in 1882, originating from a desire by the Central Labor Union to create a day off for the "working man". It is still celebrated mainly as a day of rest and marks the symbolic end of summer for many.
"Like sands through the hours glass, so are the lives of a N.E. Florida Trout" ......(a tutorial)
I know some of the best local Speckled Trout Fisherman in my area. We Talk. Me? Well, I can hold my own, when it comes to catching them. But take today for instance.
I was at my local bait shop, and in comes...(we'll call him Hank, to protect the innocent). Hank's been a trout fisherman his entire life. Like myself he finds Redbass fun, but not as good table fare as a big fat Speckley fish.

Hank has been catching his fare share in the SURF...yes, in the surf. Off the Pier. Conditions such as wind direction and water clarity have to be right, though.

So here's the question I posed to Hank, "so they're still out there huh? So why is it that all ya read about is that since they spawn all summer, they want "X" number of parts of saltwater, and "X" number of parts of freshwater, which they supposedly need for spawning. That's why there's so many Trout up river, near the fresher water."

"So why are you catching them in the surf?" And why is it that you can fish all day along the jetties....that are connected to the beach and not catch a single Speckled Trout, IN THE SUMMER? Wouldn't ya' think if they were hanging around the Pier they'd hang around the jetties? "

Hank looked at me with his years of experience and said, "you're absolutely right. And I've never been able to figure it out either."

I said,"I can understand that Trout being big time shrimp eaters follow the food chain, and go to where the shrimp are more plentiful. To find shrimp all you have to do is travel the local rivers and see where the shrimpers are working." There should be some trout in the area then, right?
Hank concured 100%.

I know he's not surprised that I think about stuff like that, because we've discussed Trout habits like this before.

"But the biggest question is WHY are they in the surf, and not along the St. Johns River jetties that are attached to the beach. Which are structure, alot better than the Pier huh Hank?", I said. And "I've caught a good amount in the surf. In the slews and around certain sand bar areas, but the big jetties......forget it. "

As most ole timers, Hank says, "Dave if we knew what they did every time we went, we'd be catching them every single time we went". " I've caught plenty in the surf over the years from boat and Pier. It used to be a lot better though, he said. "I went in the river just around the corner, and worked good areas for 4 hours, and never had a trout the othewr day. But then I go to the pier, and catch'em."

I felt really good hearing that. Because I've been catching them, but this summer has been a tough one so far. I told Hank, I've been picking a big one here and there too.

I don't consider myself and ole timer, just yet. But I've seen many a change since the 80's.

Stumped, neither one of us could answer the big question. I told Hank that I have searched the world wide web for information and found it hard to find any answers. Hank went to prepare his boat for a beach trip tomorrow.

I read a lot of reports and have quickly realized that around here, the St, Johns River out of Mayport, Florida, isn't the same as just north of us in S.E. Georgia. As another friend of mine says; "This river isn't really a River, but more like a big salty bay, especially in the summer."
The biology of a Speckled Trout seems to closely follow the same patterns as the local shrimp.
Trout are hatched up river and grow then work their way towards the ocean to complete the cycle. And a cycle I always think about is just this simple; SUMMER way up river, WINTER closer to the Ocean. And it seems true, but then throw-in the snag called trout in the surf in the middle of the summer....And big Female Trout too!

All of this may sound like micro-managing a subject to death to a non-fisherman or even someone who couldn't care less about Speckled Sea Trout. But as one who purses them, and they still are the #1 Game fish in the south east, I find it frustrating. Because as the saying goes; "THE MORE YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM. ONLY MAKES YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH MORE THERE STILL IS TO LEARN ABOUT THEM."

Some of the best days I've ever had fishing was when my customers caught limits of nice Speckled trout, and some other species to go along with them. And while easily filleting, de-boning, and skinning their fish........
"thank goodness that SHEEPSHEAD, are not my favorite species to go after!" (I hate cleaning them)
My lil' secret is that I just don't like Trout for the table, I like what it takes to catch them, I like that they are "not just another bottom feeder", and high on the list of "likes" is how easy they are to clean.
Since I do fish cleaning on a fillet table that mounts in a pole holder on my boat.
It's way to much to ask for the city of Jacksonville Florida to have fish cleaning tables at the local boat ramp docks. (we have NONE!!)
My newest thing is frying my Specks in Olive Oil. It's less fatty and I think they taste better too. Some Zaterains Country Style Fish Fry Mix, some steamed veggies, a tall glass of some of that new "green" iced Tea. That's about as healthy as I can cook. Really Monster Trout fillets I blacken, just like a Redbass.

I heard a good Trout report today. My charter cancelled on me, so I never got passed the boat ramp.