Wednesday, November 14, 2007

11/14 - PERFECT IN EVERY WAY

Yep, compared to 4 days ago when the wind was HONKIN' 20 knots or better and the bite shut down to nearly nothing....here came the WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY. Some take it, some let it go by.
Who do you think I am??


And man was it a day that made ya feel good to be an avid angler in North Florida. Cool, light breeze if any, slick calm waters, perfect tides, and some of the best live shrimp I've seen in awhile filled my live well to the rim.

Good company, great conversation, loads of laughs, no bait stealers, perfect water temp, and fish after fish after QUALITY fish!

Nick Watson, Drummer and leader of the band RATHKELTAIR http://www.rathkeltair.com/ joined me today. Being the kinda of guy that has his days off, and bangs on the pots and pans at night. I've sort of taken him under my wing, and helped him learn the ropes. And he's become a "Float Freak", like me. I'm a fan of the his band, also. He has a boat too, a 17 footer and we swap trips back and forth. Sometimes a smaller boat is just what I need to do a little R&D in, and Nick's always ready to go.

I've been absolutely DIEING to get out to the "big rocks", because it's that time of year that a short drive 2.5 miles out to the inlet and 2.5 miles back can mean an all day adventure, without a long boat ride anywhere else. Plus, the weather had the inletlooking gorgeous today. And so was the ocean, because 90% of the boats at the ramp looked to be heading offshore. They too haven't had it all that easy. The bite is on out there also. And the weather only gives you a few days of window to take advantage this time of year. Unlike inshore fishing, I can go about anytime. But the bite on the other hand, maybe limited
when a "front" pushes through.

We started off on a spot that in my mind is FAMOUS when it
comes to float-rig fishing the jetties, with a live shrimp.
Year after year, this is the 'go to' spot for about all I'd ever want. And we sat there for FOUR hours having our float's first drug under by big fat Trout, then Redfish, then a few Sheepshead. Which by the way is a "here's yer sign" tell tale that it's now the best time of the year for this inshore fisherman. When I start catching Sheepshead on the float-rig and live shrimp....My heart starts to flutter, I get so damn excited. Because that means the water temp is perfect, and it's go time for gamefishing fun.

We fished on this spot all that time and NEVER caught a single junkfish.

To put it plainly, Nick and I put on a "clinic" for all the
"Sheepherder's" near by dabbing over the side with fiddler
crabs. We banged one fatty after another. And Nick learned how
important the tide was. Besides water clarity, and the water
movement around the jetty rocks. Which makes this area special to a float-rigger, like me. I know when it's right...I can just feel it.
After hours past and the tide slowed, the bites dropped off
and it was time to make a move. So I pulled anchor and headed
to the next spot.

A very short ride to spot #2, I anchored up, grabbed my jigging rod,
pinned on a live shrimp and made a cast up to the jetty rocks.
My jig sank for about 4 seconds and I felt the distinct tap, tap through my Loomis 8'2" Greenwater rod, and Stren super braid line. I lifted up and there it was another healthy Redfish burning line off my low profile Shimano Curado reel. I was "first cast" lucky all day long. Then it was Nick's turn....I.G. (instantaneous gratification) for him too! We both had Reds from 25-27" long.

"We're gonna be in a rally of fish here again",

I said to Nick, as I netted his fish then rebaited. It was CLINIC time again. Because on almost every single cast we caught a beautiful slot sized Redfish....many times we got our timing perfect
and had double headers, having both of us setting the hook at the exact same time. Then came the first Black Drum, because I let my jig fall a bit deeper. And that's all she wrote....we wanted the Drum for the fish box. So Redfish actually became the bycatch of the day.
We wanted freezer fish. We had our 1 per person per day Redfish limit hours ago. And it wasn't all that hard to entice a Black Drum to the fish box either. They were so schooled up that in a matter of an hour or so we had caught 10 or more Reds (released) and put 10 Black Drum in the fish box.

The Drum ranged from 18" to a hefty 7-8 pounds. I love 'em.
I like to Blacken "black" Drum on my iron skillet outside in my
summer kitchen. (actually it's my outdoor 12 month a year kitchen) I have not cooked a single meal inside the house since
I lived where I do. I have a porch and deck on the back of my
detached garage, where I have my double burner fish cooker, and stainless steel gas grill. As a bachelor, I can get away with doing things my way. And I cook outside.
After we boxed our 10th Drum, we pulled up anchor and went
in search of more Speckled Trout. And I found them, no problem.
But many were just 15 inches (the legal size limit) but Nick and
I decided to go ahead and only keep larger ones. So we hit the
last spot of the day and that's where we found some fatties
again and topped off the second 72 qt. cooler I had in the boat.
Plus, I caught the first Black Margate of the year too, on the float-rig.
We burned about 12 dozen live shrimp between the 2 of us. And the shrimp we got from B&M bait and tackle were superb today. "Wade the shrimp man", from Nassau County must have had a banner day shrimping, as we had fishing. Because these "river crickets" were super lively and fresh besides being the perfect size. It was just a perfect day all the way around.

At the dock, we took the time to take all the fish we kept (our limits of Reds, Drum, Trout, and the two Sheepshead, Margate, and Yellowmouth Trout) out of the cooler for an end of day photo. I put Nick in front of the fish, got ready to snap the picture and thought, "if they bit like this everyday, I'd really have my work cut out for me when it came to fish cleaning".

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