Monday, October 29, 2007


Yes folks, and I have a charterThursday with some of my favorite regulars all the way from California. I hope stuff goes away. Gale force winds......sustained. Not just gusting.
Winds: 25-30++ knots from the North East

I think winter is here, finally. I love the fishing now, but of course can do without a week of fronts.

Either way, if you live on the coast here in J-ville you've seen the super high water at high tide maybe. It's mega-high-water!! I live with my backyard facing and not far from Chico-pit bay (at the ICW and river crossing) I drive over the Wonderwood and Mt. Pleasant creek bridges daily. And I almost stopped to take some photos today at high tide......but instead I figured you'd be better off checking out how the real folks with real daily tides live.

Yeah our tides maybe 7' plus right now, with the wind helping the tide push up the river. But how would ya like to live where the tide is 35 plus feet yearly, day-in, day out?

A different kinda life style, I'd say. You better be close so you can check those dock lines. And of course the boat ramp is probably only crowded a few hours each day.

I think I'd fit right in. And aluminum boats would be popular, here.
(I think they are)
I'd probably forget to lift up my engine though!
And I hear people say they can't get used to fishing our tides and current??
The current here is
On the east coast we have 2 high tides and 2 low tides per day, so can you imagine fishing in all that water leaving twice a day?
I wonder if people ask those goofy questions here....."what tide is better, the falling or the incoming?"
According to the fella who lives there and took the photos say.."you never fight the current, always fish and boat with it."
Have ya guessed where this is yet?


Saturday, October 27, 2007

10/27 - First real day of winter on the water.

Ahhhhh....Cool weather! It started a few days ago, I guess. But today was winter on the water for myself and Nick. And at the same time, unfortunately it was a wet first day.

I met to go on Nicks boat, (his 17 Seachaser) at B&M Bait and Tackle at 8am. Where it looked like rain, and by the time we got our ice and shrimp and were ready to head to the boat ramp, it was raining.

No big deal, I brought a light rain jacket, a really old rain jacket that leaks, and was in shorts wearing of course, my Crocs. Nick was in full Frogg Toggs rain gear. The tide was high as we left with some serious rise still to come. A 6.3' High Tide, which meant a lot of fooling around till it turned, and a lot of Dave getting really wet and cold as the wind blew.

It was actually very cold out on the water. So much that through my leaky jacket, wet shorts and Crocs I needed to do something about this situation. So we headed back to the boat ramp, so I could run home real quick and get my full weather gear, and a fleece shirt for me and one for Nick...and to put on my winter Crocs. As we got to the ramp there was others there who were calling it quits, already.

Home and back in exactly 14 minutes, I was decked out in my serious winter wear, and Nick was warmer in a fleece shirt too. So off to any where different than the first two places we tried at the super flood tide. Although a few bait stealer's, one catfish and one small Trout were caught. So as we headed north from the Oak Harbor boat ramp on our second half of the day, I suggested a spot.

And for the next several hours we sat there having a great time. I mean, ya know it's a good spot when "yours truly" flips out my first live river cricket (shrimp) on the Float-rig and it drifts 10 feet and I have a 4 pound Trout hooked up. That's a "here's yer sign" situation!
(also know as Instantaneous Gratification)

So we got real busy fishing all angles possible, and started hooking up Trout after Trout.

Some were just under 15", but most weren't.

And then of course here comes the FWC. And picking the lowest fruit on the tree is always how they conduct business. Even though just 30 minutes before we watched multitudes of "Ghetto Cruisers" (giant boats that throw enormous wakes) run full speed ahead through the "Minimal Wake Zone" behind the Little Jetties. So we had to go through that routine before commencing our Trout Wackage.

I did get out of one Officer, "Holy Cow, that's a nice Trout"....I told him that's why I fish here.
Back on track now, Nick started to wack'em damn good. Then he caught a Bluefish we thought was another big Trout, then he caught a "chipper" Flounder.....Hmmm, variety?? But as the tide got low in a real hurry. More variety came, as in the Mangrove Snapper, juvenile Grouper category. I said to Nick, "before this current gone we ought to catch a few more Trout", and he caught 2 more, and I caught one.

Expectations Exceeded!

What more could two guys in full winter fishing out wear ask for?

It was a good day as long as the tide was falling.
Because all it took was to choose a good spot, get a little lucky and we were quickly forgetting about the weather.

It's funny how accustomed one can get to having endless amounts of room in a boat. Nick 17' Seachaser is a nice little boat. But as he said, "It sure is different huh? Your always running into something." That maybe, but I have to remember how good I have it when it's just a few of us on my boat. It's all the room you want. I saw a boat ad for a bay boat the other day, that had a slogan, "EVERY THING YOU NEED, AND NOTHING YOU DON'T" Which perfectly describes my boat, I feel. We went no where today in Nick's 17 footer that I couldn't have gone in my 26 footer. And even though it was a tide with 2 feet higher water than normal....shallow was a relative term, today. We tried it, but really didn't catch what we wanted till we got into the main part of the river.

We end up with our Trout limit easily and threw back a few small ones and keepers, kept a big Croaker, and a Bluefish for Redfish cut bait on a later trip.....and I was loving it. And will love these eats, too.

It maybe Flounder time for many, but I'm not gonna throw the cast net for hours at high tide for Mullet. My bait is Live Shrimps! And B&M had some super sweet ones today.

And those lil' bait stealing sand perch in the creeks at high tide convinced me you don't need to bitch if you get bit by a Mangrove Snapper in a creek! The Sand Perch were everywhere in the creeks we fished.

It felt 100% different on the water compared to on land. And that's a sure sign of a wintery type day. But hold on to your hats folks, because the difference "on Land" versus "on the water" for the next few days is gonna be dramatic! We're in for a Big Blow. This time of year the fronts, or Noreasters will start to pass through way more frequently. And even though it's a real pain, when they land on the days I have people reserved for, or on every single weekend. Just don't forget about how hot and miserable it was in July. Unless you like catching more Needlefish than Trout, and more Jacks and Ladyfish than Redfish, in the river around Mayport.

I know I don't. We're finally getting into "MY" time of year. And it spells, T-R-O-U-T !

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

10/23 - Octobers warm, but FISHEY!

Wow....It was way too warm today! Setting heat records in Late October???

Yeah, and climate change doesn't exist? I felt as if it did today. The only thing that keep it in the "okay" level was the 20 knot south winds that were said to be 10 knots on every single weather report I heard or saw. Dang weather guessers!
Had Keith C. and 3 of his friends out today. And with 4 people the best thing to do to keep down the Fubar's is just do some bottom fishing for the big Reds. No float-rigging today.
It's way too hard to have 4 people all trying to keep their floats from tangling behind the boat. Plus the winds would have made it even worse.

So since Keith and the guys had a big night at the Jags game on Monday night ( they said it wasn't a game but rather a slaughter care of the Colts) We didn't leave till after 8:30am. Hell, I didn't watch. Ball sports don't do much for me. And I'm, sound asleep at 9 or 10pm.

And off to the jetties we went. And the south 10 knots was HONKIN'. And the seas were sloppy and AGAIN... I couldn't anchor for if I did, the lines would have been over the bow again. So we made one drift. But not after looking around a bit. I wanted to see BAIT. And if I did I would have felt a lot more confident. Pogies, those threadfins, something. But as we cruised from behind the surf and out to 20 feet, there was hardly anything on my scope compared to my last trip out there. So I reluctantly went and made a controlled drift with two lines out. And we had just one lil' shark bite, that mutilated a piece of cut Croaker.

So we headed back in the river and went to the Navy Base area. It took a little while but as the tide started to really get going (the current is always goofy there, because of the way the water pours out of the basin) But we got some Reds. And not big ones. The first two were 12 and 15 pounds. So after a short bite we moved on up river.
Picking some fish off at almost every spot, but not all. Because the current was so bad at a few I choose, that my anchor couldn't hold all of us and add in that wind. It was a lot to ask of my JettyWolf anchor. But heck, I don't usually park it in 38-44 feet when float-rigging! So doing a few deep water Bull Red trips, I'll guess I'll just have to fish some less deep spots. So that's what I did. And it worked.

The guys ended up with Reds from 12 pounds to 30 far the largest. With those 20-24 pounders in between. Which for this year seems to be the norm. Hmmm, why is it I remember fishing these same spots years ago and the average Bull Red was 28-32 pounds, and some in the high 40's? I guess it doesn't matter, these are still some big ass fish for folks that don't get to do this all the time.
No keepers, and didn't even really try to fish any spots for smaller ones. Because I was on a mission by the mid-day. To just find a place where the wind was blocked a bit and the current was running good. And to keep getting some bites.

We finished up along a spot that's really shallow, maybe 16-18 feet. But had produced Bull Reds for me in the past up to 50 pounds, with a lot of 40 pounders. Not a big time known spot. But if you have longevity around here, you'd know that it does produce. And we hit 3 right away on this spot and that's where the largest one came it's real easy to fish.
I'm sort of ready to go back to some serious float-rig fishing, already. A true addicted Float Freak like me can only "bait-n-wait" so much, before the staring at rod tips becomes sort of "been there done that", and now it's time to go back to highly inter-active fishing with light tackle.
I have the start of some heavier grade Float-rigging rods (G. Loomis Bucara's) and reels (Shimano Tekoka 300's). I'm attempting to get ready for big 30+ inch reds along the jetty rocks along with heavy weight Sheepshead and Drum in the deep winter months. Because you just can't fish the float the way I do with the same light rods everywhere.
I like lighter trout leads in some instances, and 2+ ounce trout leads other areas, it's all about presentation, water depth and current speed. Yes, I'm ate up with these small details, even though it probably doesn't matter to anyone on my boat. It matters to me! I can't believe some of the tackle I see on some of my competitors, cheap, cheap stuff.

HERE'S A PHOTO THAT'S A BLAST FROM THE PAST. REMEMBER WHEN? (Jan. 18 2006) It was of course winter....and we had 25 Reds like this in a matter of an hour and a half as fast as you could get your float and live shrimp up on the rocks. Dang it was cold that day. But the float-rigging was HOT! (we also caught limits of fat Trout)

Here's all of today's photo's on my recent catch page link:

Monday, October 22, 2007

10/22 - The weather almost won.

Had Mike and Gary with me today. And as soon as I arrived at the dock I felt it. And when Mike & Gary pulled up, I said "do ya feel could mean trouble!" Hard south "EAST" winds were blowing. South wouldn't have been a big deal, but add in that EAST equation and that's where the nasty part comes in. And up in the river and at the jetties it might as well been east due east. Cause against a falling tide the jetties were a soup sandwich....Minestrone between Rye bread! Wind blowing every wave we hit into the boat, too.

But we headed out there in my metal monster, anyhow. Ain't no thang. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.....actually I 've been fishing in this crap for what seems like almost every trip out there. The southside of the south jetty was a mess, but I anchored up anyhow in 18' of water.

I had Croaka' and Mullet for cut bait. And pinned on some chunks and pitched them out on the "L.T." (light tackle). Almost immediately, it was ANOTHER day where the bow laid the complete opposite of the way the current was running. So I did my anchor dragging trick so lines weren't stretched over the bow. I hate bow fishing, unless I have pole holders that face to the bow....And I don't! We drifted very slowly as the wind bucked the current and we barely crept along, dragging our 4 oz bank sinkers across the bottom.
But Mike on the second drift wasn't feeling all that good about it. Gary his dad was fine. But it didn't take a floggin' to get me to get the hell outa Dodge. It was just a bit sporty, and hard to fish. So we headed in the river. Man, the ends of the jetties were a washing machine, and the swells were large. So I ran in towards the Navy Base and re-anchored.
The current was nearly perfect and all looked good, and Mike felt a lot better. He better have because a rod double over in the shape of horse shoe and Mike was holding on as a big Red burned line off my mini Accurate reel.

Look at how dark it was in this photo of Mike in the battle mode. Yep, right from the start of the day it wasn't what anyone would call Chamber of Commerce weather. (like Saturday and Sunday) But I wanted to go on Monday because of the weekend crowds, that I really like to avoid. MY FAULT, I guess.

Mike and Gary have fished with me for years up to twice yearly. And this is the first time Mike's been here when the big Redbass have been going off.
So there was NO way, we weren't gonna bottom fish for them. I want Mike to go back to Minnesota and spread the good word about Jacksonville's big River Reds, and how this is the best time of the year to go fishing for them.......instead of the middle of July which seems to be when everyone wants to fish for them. Heck, that's what I call Garbage can and dumpster lid, time when any bait on the bottom of this river becomes a Stingray meal.
But then again, the weather didn't stay all too fishable for us. Mike pulled on heavy weights in the 22-24 pound class. But at the same time, where are the 30-50 pounders. Maybe that's a Spring time thing.

Because every single Red we've caught in the last few weeks has been exactly in the same size range. Not looking a gift horse (fish) in the mouth, but I should have stumbled on some larger ones.

There's no way of targeting what size fish you'll catch. Or at least not that I have ever found. Except maybe Location.....maybe.
Along the Navy base, soon got crazy. As the current started whipping the boat all over the place, and the big surge came rolling down the river. So we moved on in search of maybe a keeper or two Redbass for the fish box.
So I hit the lil Jetties. And we had a really weird bite from a fish there. Who swam dragging the sinker for a long distance but never had the hook. And that was it. So we went Float-rigging. Or so we thought. But by now the wind was really stinkin', and every where I went we had hardly any current. Except one spot, that had great current but was literally a spot that we could not pass a live shrimp through without a Mangrove Snapper bite. And Gary caught one big Croaker.

Again, this too warm of water is playing hell on my float fishing spots. Those nuisance fish make it so you cannot fish a live shrimp.
So we kept moving around. There was current in the middle of the river but none along the banks on many of my favorite spots. All because of the wind blowing in, was my educated opinion.

So we went back to bottom fishing, on a Croaker and Drum spot. But again the wind played holy hell with staying on the spot. And about that time the clouds looked really dark again and the thunder started to sound in the distance and Mike said, "lets pack this in before it's too late".

I was also getting very very frustrated. Damn, I have to learn to chill out and just go with the flow sometimes. The only problem is, I know what the fishing can be like when the conditions, water temp, and wind is right. So I'm always working hard to find, "my fish". But Mike's a sensible guy and not a rookie fisherman. So we went back to the boat ramp. By then the current and wind had the water really standing up in all the usual spots.
The weather may have won on the long run, be Mike won this morning!
Today's recent catch pics:

Sunday, October 21, 2007


It seems that the fall invasion of Croakers seems to be a really good one up in the river.
Boats are lined up daily on some of the gathering spots where the Croakers seem to like to hang out.

And the best part is they are bigger than what we've seem to have in past years.

Another thing is that the Croak's seem to be all over. Usually all you have to do is anchor up along a spot with good current in relatively deep water that has some good hard bottom (IE: shell, rocks, docks, ledges and edges) and you'll find the fish. But this year I've fished some of my Trout spots up in shallow water (3-10 feet) and have caught some real whoppers. Well, whoppers for NE Florida standards. Meaning a 14-16" Croaker.

Talk about a trip to take the Kids on. These nice pan sized fish, can be instantaneous gratification for the less patient younger anglers........and adults for that matter. And the cool thing about the whole deal is you can also catch pup Black Drum in the 14" to 4-5 pound range.

Experimenting at various locales, and anchoring skills is about the only prerequisite for Croaker hunting. Because tackle, bait and techniques are pretty straight forward. Find them, anchor on them, and bait up and drop down to them, and set the hook. I find the bigger Croakers will kinda "sand bag" ya......hanging on the hook for a second or two. Which means really easy fishing. The same way a good size Seabass does offshore.

Small Croakers make great Redfish bait too. And many times I'll anchor up and have my folks catchin Croakers up on the bow, while I drop a few lil' Croaks off the stern on heavier tackle, pinned to large cricle hooks (5/0-8/0) and all we have to do is watch for the tell tale bounce, bounce, and then the rod double over.......Brutus T. Redbass, ON!

Big Red's seem to hang near the schools of Croak's, so don't go out unprepared to do battle with a bull Red, either. I usually do Croak fishing when I have people looking for a fish fry afterwards this time of year. Croak's can be cleaned either by filleting or just headed, skinned, gutted, and finned and fried whole in a deep fryer. Coolers full of these "cousins to the Redfish" have no size or bag limits in Florida, so they make for a great way to feed the neighborhood family, or folks at a company or club outing.

I just don't like being the one that gets stuck cleaning 80 pounds of Croak's. So if that's the intent, we'll talk prior, and you may have to bring a larger cooler than normal for transporting your Croakers home.

Right when you think you've caught the Croaker of all time, just remember that up near the Chesapeake Bay area, Croaker's are KING. And you probably won't have caught a world Record.

The largest I have ever caught was at the Navy Base Basin. Back when you could poke your stern in there with out having .50 caliber machine guns pointed at ya. And I caught back to back two, 3 pounders......and that was it. Just two. I threw them in the box, not thinking much of it. Only after I started cleaning all my fish afterwards did I say to myself "I better weigh these babies...cuz they're monsters!"

Just so ya know what a really big Croak'a looks like, here's a photo of a real Monster Croaker that could easily be mistaken for a nice Redbass.

This Croaker had
Champion status.

I certainly wish I could convince all the people who had their kids out with me on every other trip I did this summer in the blazing heat, and busy waterways, that NOW is the time to get your kids out fishing.

Instead of when it's 99 degrees at 10am and over the 4th of July week!

Which is WHY I do almost 1200 words a day here on this blog, attempting to inform and educate my clientele. Kids are only allowed to go fishing in the summer???

I have a few days coming up that will have a good full moon falling tide most of the day. And I plan on giving some Croakers a try, intentionally......if I can break away from the addiction of float-rig fishing. Although they sure are fun on the Float-rig too. We've been picking up some big Croaks while float-rigging dock piling in not so deep of water. And on a light rod these fish are fun to catch. A lot better than those locusts, the Mangrove snappers!

Why don't we trade a few Croakers with S. Florida and they can take back all their tiny bait stealing Mango's? We have no Mangrove Trees for these fish to hide under, so I think the fish themselves would be alot happier if they could hang around and bother anglers that fish their name sake.

Bait and Tackle: Pieces of dead shrimp, ya just can't get no easier than that, when it comes to catching Croakers. And I'm sure you can even get away with some of the fake junk too, like Fish-Bites. I use what I call the standard St. Johns bottom rig when fishing for Croakers, Drum, Reds, Whiting and Pompano. I just use a hook that fits the task. I like the Nylon sinker slides, that have a dou-lock snap to put on a bank sinker. The sinker slides are black tubes that go on your line, and then you can change sinkers per the current, then to a swivel and leader. My favorite hooks are VMC or Owner small 1/0 or 2/0 circle hooks. I hopefully want to be able to release any smaller fish with out gut hooking them, so many times I use the circles versus a straight hook.
Leader length is about 14 inches. And have various size weights with you too. From 2 ounce to 6 ounce bank sinkers.....if I have to use more than 6 ounces to reach and STAY PUT on the bottom for Croakers, the currents too fast for me. And I'll look for a different area.

If you are reading this and want to have a big ole southern style fish fry, have a son or daughter that loves catching fish, or just want to spend the day bottom fishing a lot of action. This is YOUR time of year. Don't wait till January. And don't expect the same kind of trip in July.
Call NOW, and lets go have some fun in the cooler temps, no stress, relaxing type fishing.
I even have two fat cushioned deck chairs for two people to relax in as they set the hook on these fun fish, that we have plenty of right now.


Friday, October 19, 2007

10/19 - We ended up really WET.

I took John and Dennis today. First off we went to the inlet, for some string stretching' Redbass. It didn't take long for my big mullet chunks to be sniffed out by those "noses with fins and a tail".

But before we threw out the first line, I just had to try and find out, "what is all that carpeting the bottom of the ocean". Remember, I thought they were Pogies in a recent report two days ago??

Well, if they were I probably would have caught some. Because I didn't, and it had me very curious. I threw my net dead on the schools of fish that were huggy the bottom, several times. But came in with an empty cast net. Usually when I put the A-Scope feature on my bottom machine and zoom in real good. I can cast my net dead-on what ever is right under the boat.

And the only thing I came up with was one small lil' Threadfin Herring, aka: "greenies".

Hmmm, is that what is carpeting the bottom out there......Redfish Candy???

So with a tight time line, with the falling tide running out quickly, I baited up one rod with the mini Greenie, and another with a big chunk of Mullet. The Greenie didn't last long at all, and was eaten up right away by a small Blacktip shark. Thank goodness those sharks are not the monster ones that do the arial spinning job on ya. Because I'd really be spending a lot of time re-rigging, not like I'm not doing that 1/2 the time anyhow. But there should be some of those big Sharks around, chasing these spawning Redbass out on the sand. I suppose the small sharks haven't earned their wings yet....they all stay water bound when reeling them in.
I guess since Greenies are fast and not seemingly as stupid and slow as Pogies, I'll have to take the "bait rod" out there with me and jig up some, since the cast net seems futile. Or what the heck just use the cut mullet that really seem to work just as good.

Dennis was on deck, and soon realized, this ain't no small shark! This time as the rod bowed in the shape of a horse shoe, and the circle hook grabbed tight.
I don't get on a soap box about quality tackle making fishing easier and with less headaches as I see other fishing guides do, but when your exited as I am about how good somethings work, you can excuse it a time or two. If you are looking for the Most Top Quality in "smallest reels" that can handle Big Reds, Tarpon, and even sharks, King Mackerel, and probably some bottom fish offshore. I'd HIGHLY reccomend ACCURATE twin Drag reels. In these photo's you can see how big these reels are. Not Very! It's a B-197 Accurate twin drag. Smaller than a Garcia Ambassador 6500, with 300 yard capacity of 50 pound Braided line. BUT...with twin drags. One on each side of the spool, like a brake caliper. They are lever drags on all Accurates. And this tiny reel can drop 20 to 30 pounds of drag pressure on a fish in a single throw of the lever! And do not be mistaken, no other reel made has a "twin drag". The tiny, light weight champion of reels can pack some serious punch. Operate flawlessly with silky smooth operation, year after year. I have owned mine for more than 5 years now and would not trade them for anything else. I have done zero maintenance on them, either. I like aluminum things that are bullet proof, and these reels are like my boat in many aspects. So they fit my style. Machined aluminum, and stainless steel through out. And with multitudes of stainless steel bearings, they cast like rockets and will make your thumb smoke, if your not careful on long high speed casts! Not comparable to any Shimano, Avet, or Penn. Huge amounts of fish-ability in a tiny little package, that kick fish ass. For all inshore species, including the big ones at the jetties. These Lil reels work. I have larger ones, one or two sizes bigger. And do not prefer them, over the versatile smaller ones. Go to: - or click on my Pro Staff site links on the upper side bar of this page. And look at what they have to offer if you're in the market for small reels for big fish with a flawless drag system. And tell 'em Capt Dave sent ya. Accurate is a great company and with exceptional products. Locally available at Strike Zone, ask Dave and he'll order them for ya.

You don't see many if any other inshore or offshore charter fishing boats around here using as fine as tackle as I do with my clients. I want them using the best I can obtain, period!

Back to fishin'.....we worked on some more Redfish, and shark bites. And even had a Chinese fire drill around the anchor line with one fish. And these fresh water fisherman, had a new found respect for Brutus T. Redbass!

And best of all, there was not a single other boat out there where we were fishing. We had the whole Ocean to ourselves. I think it was Dennis who said, "where are all the other boats, on a Friday?" I said, "it may actually be that time of year that not everyone is working a 4 day week."

But that all changed when we ran up into the
river to do some Float-rig fishing.
Holy Moly, there was boats all over the Croaker
holes. At the tip of Blount Island alone there
had to be 15 boats all anchored up.

But as we all know.......or do we? Fish don't attract boats, boats attract boats. Or at least that's how some people operate. Personally, I don't like any boats, anywhere near me....I enjoy complete solitude.
Unfortunately, I arrived on my spot and the falling tide was about dead. But as we sat there, it didn't seem to matter. Dennis and John hooked up on monster Croakers, Trout, Flounder and of course some Mangrove snappers and juvenile Grouper. The only part I don't like about "not" having enough current is having to do a crash course in "bait casting" with folks that have only used spinning reels their whole lives. But we worked thru that quickly. Spinning reels and Float-rigging is like oil and water, in my book.
We were busy enough. I got just one shot of our inshore/river fishing. I should have taken a few pics of the other fish, too.
We ended up moving and experimenting at
a spot that I know has some great pup Drum on
it as the tide pushes in and readily bite a shrimp on the float rigs. But the wind had picked up to a steady aggravating gale as dark clouds filled with rain headed our way. So after three leaping Ladyfish with only one making it to the boat. I made the decision that we better "beat feet" outa here, before we get hammered. So we took off to the ramp. Only to head right into a heavy rain storm that drenched us to the bone as everyone else too was heading to the dock.
It was a fun day, and every thing worked out great except the getting seriously wet and the blown around part.
Recent catch page from today:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

10/18 - 1 year anniversary of my Plate Alloy.

Today, one year ago I had a truck pull up to my house with two very tired guys in it, towing a trailer with my new boat on it. My life time boat. The love of my life, (besides my deaf, and partially blind 14+ year old dog)

It will never look that good again as it did in the picture. Because this baby is a work horse. No racing stripes, upholstery all over the place, or hatch lids for leaves and shrimp heads to hide in. But if you've ever fished with me in it. You walk away with the feeling that, "you liked what you felt and you'll want to go again" . Boats in my opinion say a lot about a fishing guide. When I browse a fishing guides web site, all I really wanna see is pictures of the B-O-A-T.

(photo is from exactly a year ago, on it's first launch)

Is it cramped with two many elbows, butt cheeks, and rods whipping by my face. Is it unsafe for old folks and young kids, is it all glitz, and will I have to fish like a butler, and be careful not to mess things up too much. And most of all is it all about how the guide looks, rather than how the guide fishes.

On that note, here's an observation I made today.....

I met a friend down next to the ferry crossing, after running some errands this morning. He was wade fishing, and had already caught some Trout and a small Redfish on his float rig and bottom rig. So I of course arrived to waste some time and talk with him armed with my new Bucara series G. Loomis rod, that we'll be using for float-rigging heavier lead in deeper water. This gave me a reason to try it out. And while I was "bogarting" his bait, he caught a nice flounder. And the action went dead, so he said "I gotta go, the wife said she thought I was only gonna be a few minutes, a phone call ago", I replied, "who goes fishing for a few minutes?" So to avoid trouble back at the homestead, he took off with his fresh caught dinner. I slowly walked up to my truck and put my rod away. And as I made my way over to the drivers side door. A boat pulled up to right where we were just fishing.

I think I know who it was. So I sat in my truck and observed. Being in the biz myself, I think I can spot a guide and his 2 man charter pretty easily. So with that being said, my interest was peeked to see if they'd catch anything from a boat, on the same spot.

But soon my attention wasn't "if" they catch anything, but rather how the guide conducted himself.

And the first thing that clued me in to that it was a 2 man charter was one of the clients was attempting to scare the Pelicans on some pilings by waving his arms around and making noises. YEP, THAT'S A CHARTER ON THAT BOAT!

Next was the guide. He wasn't all into the "how to" concept. The topography or where the fish could be at, he just grabbed his own rod and ran up to the trolling motor and started casting. As if he was fishing all alone, out for fun?

The charter made some casts, and he'd just pull away from the spot they just pitched too, heading to the direction of his own casting direction. He hardly even looked back at his customers. They seemed to be "talking amongst themselves" attempting to keep up with the ever moving boat. They'd cast and the boat would drive away on the trolling motor, and then they'd reel in and have to switch side of the boat to keep up.

I was flabbergasted.

I believe they were "taking this fishing guide fishing" for the day. I see a lot of that. But never as blatant as I witnessed today.

Did you know that 90% of all fish usually caught are from the bow of a boat equipped with a trolling motor? I do. Been there, seen it, done it. That's why when I went on a charter down in Stuart, Florida one time, I stood on the bow, and I ran the trolling motor, when the guide bird nested his bait casting reel repeatedly, trying to keep up with me.

I my opinion. Trolling motors are not for charter least not for 90% of the fishing day. And if so. The guide needs not be casting his heart out. And "if" a trolling motor must be used a customer needs to be up on the bow, with the guide staying the hell out of the way!!! But instructing, where to make a cast and how to present the bait. Like a Fly Fishing guide. You don't see them rushing to grab their fly rod to make a cast before their customers. Although it word be good TV to see 3-4 people all fly casting from a 16' surf board boat.

I will not fish on a charter if the boat has a trolling motor. Not because I don't have one. But because I want the guide paying attention TO ME, not the trolling motor. And he better not be casting his ass off, either!

Customers probably don't even realize that it could be better. It's because they just don't know. Or don't read, the write articles. I mean........Blogs.

I find that coaching and helping my customers, describing the bottom contours, techniques specific to the area fished, makes for a better fishing day. And gives anglers on my boat a better insight to what we're doing. But that's just me. Everyone has there ways of conducting a fishing charter.

Some just astonish me.

And I never saw them catch a fish, either.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10/17 - "Regulars", the Brandts

Always look forward to the Brandts, Don and his parents. They've been fishing with me for years.And they reminded me of their first trip, today. And I almost was back when the Sheepshead used to spawn not far from the boat ramp, in the spring time. Man, we used to slay them at this one particular area, during March and April. And after a few years of serious action not 2 miles from the boat ramp, it all seemed to just go away like many other things in the St. Johns River.

And I blame the city or who ever decides where and when to dredge the river. Because that's just what happened. For a few years we were catching great big Sheeps and then one spring in came a dredge machine that vacuums the bottom of the river, and yep right where we were catching those fish is where that vacuum machine came across during one spring and ruined the habitat.

Just like right now! We have that dredge out there scooping part of the river deeper at every bend and inside the jetties. Probably for more big cruise ships. It's all about shipping $$$$. Not Fisherman. Or even the habitat. I have a very outspoken friend that is also an area historian, I guess you could say as a hobby. And he says it like this, "every time they dredge, they ruin the river a little bit more." Remember when Chicopit Bay was deep, and not filled with sand? And when getting into Greenfield Creek was no big deal at low tide?? I DO. Now Chicopit is all sanded in, and the folks who live up Greenfield Creek and have big boats in their back yards are needing their own dredging project. WHY IS IT LIKE THAT?? Because every time they dredge the river, it changes the river/creeks/or river bank somewhere else.

Did you know that when the French came here and settled that the "mean average depth" of the St. Johns through the Mayport area and beyond was a whopping nine foot deep? This river was never deep, until it became a port and shipping $$, were worth making.

Years ago they wanted to dredge Ft Pierce Inlet, down south. Probably for some gambling ship or somebody like that. But the citizens (fisherman and environmentalists) made a huge stink. Photos from divers told the whole story. Corals, Sea fans, marine vegetation, rocky ledges, was what the bottom was filled with, that gave structure to Snook, Sheepshead, Grouper, Snapper, Flounder, Lobster and the list goes on...

I don't know if they ever did dredge the inlet there. But was so happy to read how the fisherman banned together to say NO. We'll never stop progress and money making on our river, but think about these stories the next time you watch the bank falling into the water, or that "go-to" spot stops producing, or your favorite creek fills in.

Either way....The Brandt's and I hit the inlet this morning, to catch a Big Red. It was sloppy as all hell. Huge swells were rolling in directly from the east as the east wind blew on top of it. The tide was incoming as we rolled on out there, but ya' couldn't really tell from the way the wind and water movement was. I cut chunks of big Mullet and pinned them on some circle hooks with a 40 pound leader, pitched them out with my G. Loomis backbounce rods and mini-Accurate B-197 twin Drag reels. A very light set-up for really big fish so it looks, but looks can be decieving when it comes to these rods and reels. The current was running up into the wind so while anchored up, the lines ran over the bow.....damn I hate that, so I came up with a simple solution. Use the anchor as a sea-anchor (hanging it over the bow, but not letting dig into the bottom) and sort of drift beam to the wind. With the wind bucking the current, we certainly didn't go very, far very fast, and my idea worked great. The swell was at least 4 foot, and this way was not at all an un-pleasant way to fish.

The bluefish were the pests of the morning, not letting a single piece of cut bait go without a chomping. But as I always say...."I'll let them just be my scent dispersing devices" and it wasn't long before we had a Big Red hooked up and running eastward.

Then, it was the small 3 foot Blacktip Sharks. They caught at least 5. Fun, but nothing like the big ole nasty Reds out there. And yes, those Reds sure look Nasty. All beat up, and white from "not" being in the river, but rather the Ocean.

And then I saw them.....all over the bottom of my color bottom machine.....could it be? Was this for real? Or am I imagining this? POGIES?? From the 18 foot mark all the way in towards the beach. Laying low all over the bottom. I'm thinking they were POGIES....But I wasn't sure. It's been so long since I seen those images on my scope. I looked west toward the beach and saw Kirk Waltz sitting there for the longest time close to the beach. Was he cast netting POGIES? Holy stink bait Batman, maybe they were pogies, and he's castnetting some. Say it ain't so!

I had no need, I had cut Bluefish and Mullet and we weren't gonna be out here that much longer to break out the blasted net. I had 9 dozen live shrimp for Float-rig fishing later.
So up in the river later on the float-rigs and caught about everything, and a lot of not what I was wanting. But it didn't matter to the Brandts, they weren't planning on keeping any fish and were just out for the fun of it.
Mangrove Snappers, (the "locust plague" of the river this year) juvenile Gag Groupers, Croaker, Ladyfish, Jacks, Speckled Trout, Black Drum and Pinfish.......heck it was a hard east wind and an incoming tide all day, so I wasn't sweating it. They were catching, and I could hardly keep up. I always call this kind of day when the wind's East or Northeast of 15 knots and a incoming tide, a K.O.D day (kiss of death) for float rigging anyhow. But at least, we did catch some "gamefish species" inbetween all the baitstealers.

I truely believe, that the Mangrove Snappers this year are our on personal Locust plague. Because of the extended summer like conditions. There is almost no where I like to go that they are not infesting the entire area.
And for this, is why I carry A LOT of live shrimp. I need right off the git-go, 2-dozen for initial die off, and 3- dozen for Mangrove snapper bites, that's 5 dozen right there at a cost of over $13.00. So now you may understand that when the water temps drop and hopefully the lil bastards disappear, remind me of this if I bitch about it being too cold outside, or the water temp being too low. CUZ, I CAN'T WAIT!

Next up.... Friday. Another Incoming Tide Day with an East wind again, probably.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

10/13 - SATURDAY, or was in national boating day?

Had Don McCleary, his sister Lindsey, and buddy Eric out as the crew today. I told Don I wasn't all that thrilled with the forecast and tides, so we had a few options to try and make it better.

We could go early at sun-up, and fish all high water (bad), or leave at noon'ish and catch the falling tide seeing as the high tide was around noon (better). He opted to go with my recommendation so we departed at 11:30am. I also had a plan to go north for some Whiting, Pompano, and maybe some shark and Redbass action. But as I hear the reports from the offshore guys that the seas were pushing 4-6 feet and the wind was 15-20 knots. I quickly decided to stay put, rather than running off to some greener pastures that may not pan out, because of the conditions.

I arrived at the boat ramp at 11:00 am and HOLY, MOTHER OF WEEKENDS!!!!! THE PLACE WAS A ZOO. The river looked like I-95, with all the boat traffic. And of course the law enforcement was out doing what they do best, "picking the lowest fruit on the tree". I tied off the boat to the dock and parked the truck where ever I could find a spot. The wakes slammed my boat against the dock time after time so I just untied and went and waited for Don and Crew out in the river. I saw them, and I went over and picked them up a few minutes later and we headed up river.

I chanced the tide and ran to a great lil' spot where I've been catching some pup Black Drum. We were way too early, the tide was slack and the wind had the boat just flopping around in the wind. Not to forget the incessant boat wakes from the hundreds of cruiser boats out joy riding, and the boats from multiple tournaments going on. It was really frustrating. I have to admit, I'm not the most patient fisherman when all this busy'ness is going on all around me.

But we messed around and caught a few small bait stealers, and one massive Croaker before I couldn't take it anymore. As the tide started to fall and I repositioned myself on the patch of hard bottom all ready to get serious, the boat wakes were too much for me to handle so we bugged out of this spot and headed for a calmer place to actually have a chance at catching.

Ahhh.....I pulled up on a spot that's been very good to me. Back on September 10th we caught some really nice Reds on this spot. So I anchored up and we waited for the tide to get just right. While "NOT" getting waked. I could actually concentrate on what I was doing. First fish was a big long Eel, pulled from out of a deep under water rock pile. The same one that should have cruising Redbass as soon as the tide slows a bit. Then, I could feel and even hear it....the current slowed down on this spot, and not long after we had a double hook up on Reds.

Perfect sized "Keepers", just under the max slot size of 27", both were between 25-26 inch fish.
We stayed on the spot waiting for a few more, but only caught a jumbo Whiting and had a barrage of bait stealer bites as the current speed slowed on this particular area of the river........Time to move on.

So we headed east. With dinner in the fish box, it was time to get my crews arms stretched a little.

We hit the south jetty tip area. The seas were big, just a long deep ground swell. But it didn't seem to bother my crew so I was gonna fish it.

And it was really tough conditions. Anchoring one direction with the wind taking total control of the boat's lay, and the current going the complete opposite. Also know as; "fishing over the bow", not even close to what I was wanting. And at the same time my anchor kept dragging. I didn't have my heavy plow type with me, that's needed for these conditions out in the hard sand bottom. My Jetty Wolf anchor really didn't want to grab, seeing how it's made for rocks, not hard sand. But we made due, somehow.

I had to move around a few times to try and find the big Reds. But more like find some kind of rip line (where two waters converge) this is where they seems to really stack up on that last of the falling tide. Remember, these fish are in heavy duty spawning mode. They are also out where they feel it's best to be, to get their business done.

But in the mean time before finding the Reds we had on 3 two to the boat. No jumbo's but 3-4 foot Blacktips. Good training for when the Reds bite our mullet chunks.

Then with one simple move it was I.G. (instantaneous gratification) and we immediately were hooked up with three 20-25 pound class Redbass within minutes of each other. Everyone got their turn battling one and holding up the "milting males" for a photo, then afterwards a speedy
release. So they could go back to making lil' Reds for the future. That's one nasty fishery...those spawning male Reds sure do make a mess. Thank goodness for a heavy duty stream of raw water from my on-board wash down pump, to keep the boat floor clean.

That's all I wanted, because I still had fish to clean back at the dock before it got dark. Everyone got to reel on sharks and Reds. So we headed back to the boat ramp. Which was now damn near vacant. All the weekenders, had headed home. And not many were out rolling in the swell out where we were, there was just a handful of us out there in the Atlantic.

I was glad we left when we did. because there was some huge dark clouds rolling in, as the sun went down the sky looked kinda spooky.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

10/9 - A really nice day, with a price??

Had Dave R. out with me today. Dave's an avid fisherman from Maryland. So we hit the river with lots of confidence that as soon as the tide started falling I'd be having the net ready for Dave's Black Drum, catches.

There was no wind, it was a bright cloudless sky at 9am as we made our way to the same areas in the river that I've been having clients catching Black Drum, (perfect sized ones) since Saturday.

We arrived up river and the tide was still incoming a bit, so we passed the time drifting a few floats at a near by spot.....and caught no trout. By we tried. Dave caught a small baby Gag Grouper.

Then we went and anchored up when the tide turned, and pinned fiddler crabs on small Owner circle hooks and dropped them down on a big patch of hard bottom. Instantly, Dave lifted up and had a good fish on. A Sheepshead about 3 pounds. Then a few big Seabass, and a few Croakers.

But NO perfect pup Drum bites, like on Satuday & Sunday. And believe me, I wasn't giving up without a good try. But as time passed and the tide dropped, staring at the rod tips had me just chewing at the bit for some action.

So we moved around again, and as we went up river we arrived just before the tide turned there too.

So under a beautiful blue sky we did some more bottom fishing and float rigging along and under water rock pile. Without much action at all.

But for some reason, nothing seemed to "feel right", everywhere we tried we'd not receive the bites we should have, be it either Trout or Drum. So after many frustrating re-anchors, I was really getting pissed.

Was it the difference of the day? Was a "nice day" just too much to ask for with biting fish too, or at least some action.

Needless to say in the water that was 10 part per thousand of salt, the water looked like crap. Dark, dirty, and very stirred up, I was feeling as if we better make a radical change and head east....far east, from where we were.

And that's where Dave and I got into an absolute "Jack- fest". I have not caught any Jacks since the rains. But this was just what the doctor ordered.........ACTION, at least.

The water looked a lot better now too. And the Jacks were all over the bait fish in the area.

So Float-rigs with live shrimp were like candy to them. And the bites sure were better than what we were doing up river.

But what kicked my butt was the absence of Pup Drum on the spots where I had been catching them. They just moved on...and I was running out of time, trying to find them.

So as Dave played with the Jacks, and caught one after another. I was at least relieved.

Maybe it was too nice. Which in reality means the difference in "Barometric pressure". It was a nice day versus the overcast, rainy, windy day of this past weekend.

I told Dave that Jacksonville is consistent. Consistently inconsistent, and keeping up with what's going on here in this river is "my real job". The actual anchoring, running the boat, coaching the anglers, buying the bait, filling the coolers with ice, fueling the boat, keeping the tackle working, is the easy part!!

And then we found some Trout......AHH, my boys! And a big fat Mangrove snapper too.

One thing I did notice is that compared to Saturday and Sunday, today the Mangroves weren't as infesting as they had been. We really didn't catch or get bit by that many.

I believe that the fresh water is really on the move now. And after this summer's super saline river water, in the Mayport area. Things are changing daily now, probably because of it.

Dave went back home with a good bag of local fish fillets but of course, I always wanted more than we had.
We worked way too hard for what we had, that's for sure.

It was one killer day out there, it was just so nice I was shocked. Just goes to show you how easy it is to get used to crappy weather day in day out. The water's still a SOLID 80 degrees, though. And for me winter cannot come any faster. I say bring it on.

This time of year is usually the "Transitional" time of year. The time of year I look forward too, cool and with dropping water temps. Instead it just seems like it's an extended summer, just not as brutally hot. But were still too warm for mid October.

One thing that is Fall like, is the frequency of "Fronts". If I'm hearing right.....this weekend brings another NOREASTER??

Hmm... Its okay. I'm used to that.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

10/7 - Bottom Action

Awoke this morning to pouring what's new? Loaded up the boat with not a great feeling in my gut, because of the wet stuff. But as it got later the rain went away, and it was a fine morning with no one around on the river. A nice way to spend a Sunday in October.

Had The Mathy's on board from SW Florida.....Naples. Where the Snook and Goliath Grouper reign supreme. Had plans to hit some of the same spots as yesterday and get some Trout in the boat.
But as the day progressed, the action was on the bottom. They caught some Pup Drum, lots of Croakers, chunky Sea Bass, and a really nice Sheepshead. The first of the season.

Tried some Float rigging but where I was it seemed the Trout all disappeared, and where I wanted to Float-rig was windy as hell, so we ended up hiding on a spot way up river that was literally a Mangrove Snapper colony of colossal proportion! Every single drift of the float was nailed by this scourge fish... (it's 6" Bluefish in the spring, and now Mangrove Snappers in the fall) add in a few small Grouper of course.
Just like yesterday the wind started and got ferocious as the day progressed, so we went back to spot #1 and picked up another Drum to wrap up the day. A day that only included some small Yellowmouth Trout caught on the bottom, and of course some big Croakers.

I may be running past the Trout, while loosing track of them since the huge rains and wind had me stuck at home for days.
Either way a successful day, and everyone had fun. And they had some really nice fillets for a fish fry.

Next up for me is a Tuesday solo angler day. I may have to use that as a Hunt for the Speckley Bastards day, if the weather allows.
I know where I can catch some really nice ones on a low tide, but the problems is that the last few days low tide is when it's the windiest part of the day. If I had a low in the morning I could sit on that spot and probably get some big ones and make the fish box look really good.
But this 20 knot wind every single day at noon is getting old quick. Preventing me from using my Float rigging talents, effectively.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

10/6 - The APP "count the spots", tournament

How did that happen? I was really ready for an all out waylay of a weather day, and we never got rained on, and the winds held off till 11:00am. The Fore cast was for heinous winds and more rain....someone was smiling on us fishing the fun APP - "count the spots", fishing tournament put on by Haskell Construction.

Then talk about L-U-C-K-Y, I was supposed to have 4 guys, and ended up with just two really great and fun guys to be with.

I was armed with 12 dozen live local shrimp, knowing all well that the Mangrove Snappers have been eating this Float Freaks live well dry of bait in a half a day, if I don't come prepared.

Well, my two guys Jim and Stewart (and I from time to time) used up every single live river cricket (shrimp) in the well today. The fish were chewin'. Especially the small types; Mangroves, SeaBass, and Croakers. Besides those three we had Flounder, really nice Trout and perfect sized Black Drum.

The salinity is WAY, WAY down, and in my mind that's a good thang. (falling tide: 10-12 Part Per Thousand) But I'm waiting to see the Trout stack up like cord wood on some of my spots, still. Believe it or not the water temps I'm getting are still 78-79 degrees.......way too warm still.

I found the Black Drum we caught right smack in front of one of my falling tide trout spots. We moved up from float-rigging about 50 feet, after attempting to find some Trout there on the high water early this morning. It was good action for hours. Big Croakers, SeaBass, and Grouper up to 14" were hammering our shrimp dropped to the bottom. Then Later it was Trout, all nice ones to 20 inches.

I swear over the years that there's more and more small Grouper and a lot more Mangrove Snapper's in the river than 20 years ago. I can't stand the "Mangos", they are a pest fish in my book, unless they're 14 inches of better. I can't wait till they are "outa here".

We only fished 3 spots today. Every time we went to move, someone hooked a nice fish. I live by the rule, "don't leave fish to go find fish". So we'd stay a while longer, and that while was hours.

It's the time of the year for some really good fishing. If the weather just straightens out. No more 15-20 knot weeks, and a back off of the torrential rains, and we may have a great fall season.

This time every year, I wait for the Trout to really go nuts. And patiently wait for no more 85 degree days. A good friend and knowledgeable fisherman, my "Sea Daddy" as I call him, always says, "Dave, it's all about the length of days", and he's right. That is the same thing that determines bird migrations, and dictates what's going on in the woods too. So I have to just be patient. And keep up with what's right in front of me instead of wishing for something else.

Today was a great time, with two guys that were very interested and willing to learn. I ended the day by driving a very very sharp fillet knife across the tip of my thumb while cleaning fish. Blood was everywhere in the boat before I could get a rag over my thumb and attempt to stop the bleeding. But not before retrieving my fish scaler that I dropped over board, when I cut my self. So while tied off to the Sisters Creek dock I had to chase my scaler down the line of boats that were all tied up after the tournament. Then, I figured I better take a break and went up and enjoyed the BBQ and sweet tea the tournament organizers had up on the boat ramp lawn.

After a quick lunch I went back and cleaned a mess of fish, with a rag taped around my thumb in a big bundle. Man, it made it tough to effectively clean all those fish.

I RECOMMEND ONE OF THOSE kEVLAR FILLET GLOVES!! I will have one by next week, because the wounds I give myself while cleaning fish after fish are getting really old. The last "bad one" was I drove a brand new surgically sharp blade right through the palm of my hand. It went damn near all the way through! I thought I was gonna pass out I lost so much blood from that one! When I'm in a hurry, is when this stuff happens. Dark clouds had me hurrying today. Because I still had to get back to Mayport from Sisters Creek boat ramp, make some return charter calls, and get ready for tomorrow's charter crew.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

10/4 - After a week of high winds & rain

Holy Trout! It sure felt good to be back on the river. I have been since the last report, but really had zero to report, so today was the real first day since my last report that we did anything.
No less than 5 days of rain...and I mean Forest Gump, BIG RAIN. If your not from here, then you won't realize that in the last 2 weeks or more we've had all the rain we were suppose to get "all" summer, in just as I said, the last few weeks.
If you're a regular visitor to the Blog, then you know how many times I've asked for some rain and you may have even seen me out in my boat doing a rain dance or two, this summer.
Either way, I was heading out "FRESH"....not having a clue of where my fishez may have been after all the wind, lightning, pressure drops, flooding, run-off, and since I couldn't be out there "keeping up", going back out Fresh is what it felt like.
Jake and Doug were with me, and we were suppose to go back on Sept. 22nd but back then was the day after the other week of rain and high winds we had. So we felt it was better to just try again later. And look, it turned out we went the 2nd day after the second week of storms. There's no winning with the weather calls we make, all anyone can do is make the best out of it.
Yesterday was GORGEOUS compared to today. Sunny no wind, no rain. But today was over cast, we had a red sky at sun up, and the wind blew good and hard this afternoon.
I started out trying to hunt some big 12" or better Mullet. I looked yesterday for 3 hours, and came up empty, and came up with none today either. I want to get some for cut bait, for big Redfish. For bottom fishing, I like a big piece of "FRESH" cut bait. I like to feed them a meal, not a snack. So we looked around and I caught some small ones in my cast net, so off we went to a few Redfish holes. No bites. 2nd spot, no bites......"Ah, the bait'n and wait'n was killing me", since we ended up not far from a good Float-rigging spot for Speckled Trout. So after too long of that, I said, "let's pack it up fellas and do some float-rigging."
Doug was into it, and started catching some keeper and throw back Trout right away, then he caught some very "chunky" Sea Bass, and a Black Grouper. Jake and I caught Mangrove Snappers, so we were glad Doug was on the boat. He hit them perfectly.

Man, it's so much better putting fish in the box than sitting there watching the rod tips waiting on a fish, we probably won't be able to box anyhow.
I like big Reds. But I like "ACTION" too.

We squeaked all the fish we could out this spot and put on and took off our rain Jackets 10 times, as the dark clouds passed over head. So off to the next spot, we went to spot number 2.

FINALLY.....Low Salinity!!
I said to Doug, "on this spot, if the salinity is low, we have the chance for a really big Trout!", and then I dipped my salinity gauge in the water, and came up and looked at it. It read a 12 PPT, that's 12 parts per thousand, and not all that far from Mayport, either! So finally that rain water is making it's way eastward.
Doug and Jake dropped their rigs in the water and let them drift toward the spot. Doug reared back and had, WHAT? A big TROUT! (I know my spots, huh?)

A beautiful 25 incher, with "yellow highlights", which means these Trout was way down there in that "brackish water", this summer. And we were glad to accept it in to our cooler.

We worked the absolute last of the falling tide, as hard as we could, and the wind started to get really blowy, right down the river in our faces.

The Mangrove Snappers were eating all our priceless live local shrimp. So we moved off and headed to a more protected area. But the current was slack....real slack.

Nothing but more Mangroves, so we packed it in and headed back to Mayport, where the tide was incoming. I stopped by a spot where a buddy said the big Sea Bass were thick. So we pitched shrimp on bottom rigs, and instead of catching big Sea Bass we caught CAT FISH, and one decent Croaker. Hmmm....I wonder where these fat Sea Bass are?? Well, I'll try that spot again, on another day on another tide. That maybe the ticket.

My regrets were that I wasted time looking for Mullet and bottom fishing for a Big Bull Redfish, instead of filling the box further with tasty Trout fillets. Just goes to show ya' I'm a Float-rigger at heart. And I think I may have a made Doug into the newest Float Freak.
I hope to get out this weekend, because there's another storm system out in the Atlantic, moving this way with more rain and possible high winds. I had charters on both days, and Saturday is a tournament with 4 guys aboard.
I won't be wasting valuable falling tide bait'n & wait'n, we'll be hunting in that low salinity with our Float rigs and live river crickets (shrimp).