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.