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!

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