Monday, December 31, 2007

12/31/07 - Ate by the Alligator!

Holy Mother Of All Creatures, Big & Small !!!!

If only I had a crystal ball. Because today, out with Jeff and son Dillon, was like I was in Bazaro World. By no means was it the sweetest day of December weather-wise. But at least it would have been nice to give away a live river cricket to a gamefish or two, especially some nice Trout, like I had with 3 guys on the 27th.

Between myself and every other fisherman I talked too out there today. It was the same deal. Loads of bait, no fish to eat it.

We tried the jetties, the back waters, the river, under docks, along rocks, and back to the jetties again.

Also known as the "World Tour of fishing". I probably used more gas today, looking for fish than I have in the last 6 trips. We were all over the place. And when I change zip codes and there still isn't a change in the "bite"'s a "Here's yer sign" kinda day. Here come Mr. Alligator!

I even went and made the trip to my "double whammy secret winter trout creek". Totally reserved for deep winter, tough days. We did have a big fish hooked up, but Jeff had it break the line right at the hook. Something was funny about that whole deal too??

We did have one small Bluefish, and one small Speck, and this one Sheepshead Dillon caught along a breakwater wall on his shrimp and float-rig.

It wasn't a float fisherman's day. But I wasn't gonna sit and stare at a rod tip either and bottom fish. In the creeks at low tide it was bait stealers galore. Literally, every single shrimp was ate off the hook with out them hardly noticing.

Is the impending weather at fault?

It's gonna be really cold this week. Unlike last year the first week of January, where it was 80 degrees.

But according to my log book from January 2007,
by the middle of the month the Specks had about dropped off the face of the earth. And for two weeks, it was one hard day after another, till the end of January to find quality Specks.
I hope it's different this year. Because in one month, they'll be closed for harvest. (February)

I did all I could today, short of fishing my butt off. And doing what I see so many other guides do.....forget they have customers, and fish and fish away......

Instead I tried to work with Jeff and Dillons technique. I did the "10 drifts and we're outa here" deal, if no bites. I worked an area, start up here, then move back there.
Nothing worked.

Sometimes ya eat the Alligator, and sometimes the Alligator eats you!

I have to check the barometer. Something was funky today. It never got better, and never got worse. It just was dead slow all day.

Suppose to fish on Thursday. The forecast is for 25 degrees in the morning, and probably high winds. I suppose we'll be re-scheduling the first trip of 2008, and doing all I can to forget the last trip of 2007.


That huge fall, and then spike was TODAY.
(that can't be good)
hmmm, I think I found the Alligator that ate us!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

12/27 - Where was RED?

Happy to report, my idea of going back to "old School" jetty anchoring, with a 1/2 cinder block worked just fine today. And I got it back each time I retrieved it. And when it held....IT HELD!

I've been called "Captain Gadget" before by friends. Because I always have an eye out for the latest and greatest fishing/boating product improvement. Although, I don't fall for hype, I do give many items such as rods, reels, terminal tackle and yes, even anchors a fair shake and if it works in my world....I usually talk about it. (been there, done that with those Mighty-Mite aluminum anchors. If that's what your thinking....)

That's the reason I even mentioned the folding grapnel hook anchors. The problems I was having with my old jetty anchor in high winds, and basically getting fed up in the long run, in previous posts.

I ended up taking my large chain and looping it through one of the holes in the block. It did drag of course when it wasn't in the rocks. But if I placed it up in the jetty. It held tight.

And as with many days out there, I needed a good hold today. This morning at 8am it was pretty sloppy where I anchored. With the incoming tide pushing hard, a swell breaking on the tops of the jetty, and a serious chop on the surface. It was S.O.P in Dave's world. But it calmed to a tranquil slick sea as the day went on.

I had Bill N. and his two brother-in-laws out with me. I was supposed to have 2 kids and two adults. So when Bill's brother-in-laws walked up to me at the boat ramp. They weren't who I was looking for. I had my eye out for a few kids and dad's.

We soft peddled our way to the inlet, as we talked a bit. I wasn't in a huge hurry, for I know my tides and I didn't have to was incoming and I needed good current and it'll be there on my spot, no worries.

I went over all the details as usual, but was on the big danforth style "fluke" anchor out in the sand. And as I went over the fine art of mending your line, tackle handling, pinning on a live shrimp. I observed that "yes, it's gonna be a cinder block kinda day".

So I changed out the anchors and went to work getting us, Just Right. Remember, I had two new guys to this kinda of fishing, and one that was on top of this game. So positioning and having behind the boat being the "point of origin" in which the float-rig will drift from makes it easier for the new guys.

Bill, scored the first and second as we drifted back on the anchor "block". Two nice Yellowmouths. I had to get used to using a cinder block for an anchor's only been 18 years since I've used one.

Everyone ended up getting bit. We lost some and we caught some, and the cooler was starting to look pretty good. Especially as the nice Specks from 16 to over 20 inches started coming to the net.

The tide was getting really high, and we should start getting bit by a Redfish or two, and it never happened.

I was coaching the guys, they were running right through where they should be. Every thing looked really good. The current was perfect, the position I was in was perfect. The only thing that wasn't perfect, was the size of the shrimp.

They were really small.

I'm always thinking like a good lure angler or even a fly fisherman.....PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION!!

And you should be too, unless your just "bait-n-wait" fishing on the bottom. That still is about presentation, but not nearly as crucial. Bottom fishing is more about, LOCATION.

Bill did have a big fish hooked up, probably the big Red we were looking for, but it broke him off in the rocks. (a here's yer sign...It was an ass-hander!) And one his brother-in-laws also lost a bigger fish.

Bill then hooked the largest Speck of the day, and it fought so good I thought it was a small Redfish. I think Bill did too.

I think a congratulatory Beer was opened after that Trout!

The guys caught some more till the current completely faded......but still no Redfish!

So, I headed to a new spot and it was time to do some Jiggin'. I busted out my "meat mover" rods, and tied on fresh 1/2 oz jigs and pinned the tiny shrimp on them. And the first fish was a monster Ring-tailed Porgy. (a true's really winter)

Then it was Bill's turn. I said we were here to catch a damn Redfish, but we could catch a Redfishes UGLY cousin, a Black Drum.

And what does Bill immediately hook-up with? A perfect sized eater, Black Drum. Was Bill the groups "ringer". I think so.

We worked the area hard, pitchin and jigging, till the current again on this spot, went slack.

And not a single Red. Hmm, that's really something. I usually don't mind, because if the Trout are chewing really great and we hook some Reds while working the specks. All is great.

But the Trout had to be worked at to get them too. At least that's the way it seemed, to me while observing /coaching/ anchoring and tying hooks and leaders.

We headed in to clean fish, and we had way more Trout than I thought as I filled a bag with prime boneless, skinless ready to fry fillets.

It was one heck of beautiful day, that's for sure. And it got warm, really fast.

Next up: 12/31 with 2-3 anglers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

12/26 - I'm goin' back to old school

Well, if you've been keeping up. (kinda hard with all the Holiday BS going on I'm sure) You know that I've been trying my best to work out my Jetty Anchor woes. I usually have no problems at the jetties unless the winds blowing 15 knots or better, with my jetty anchor.

But, are those days in the winter time far and few between? NOPE. The wind is always up along the inlet in the winter it seems, or at least when I'm there.

If there's one place in all of Florida that can be an anchoring nightmare, it's here in J-ville. From up in the river in deep swift currents, to out at the jetties in swells and currents. Not to forget the ever "CONSTANT" wakes from Pilot boats, Ships, US Navy contracted sea tractor tugs, and just plain other boats.

So taking into account that I sometimes don't know what I'm getting myself into when I head to
the inlets jetty rocks in the winter, I'm going back to "OLD SCHOOL" anchoring.

Yes, I remember the days in my old 1970's something AlumaCraft 14 footer. That had limited space to stow multiple anchors. But I was a jetty-guy! So the best anchor was a "BRICK".
I could carry 3-4 of them. If it got so stuck in the rocks.......SO WHAT! I'd just break it, or just loose it and tie on another one and be on my way.

Ahhh, things were so simple back then.

Well that was a 14' boat.
Today's aluminum craft
that I fish from is
substantially heftier.

And btw....that's the reason I LOVE ALUMINUM!

It was the 14' foot AlumaCraft's fault. That lil boat was 3 plies of thick aluminum, sandwiched together, and then riveted, and was tough as hell.

Today, I wouldn't even think of having a the same AlumaCraft....they ain't built like they used to be. Their thinner today, then back in the "ole days". And welded is the way to go in the saltwater world.

So as I was welding supports on my old jetty anchors, trying to beef them up, since they bend too easy. I just said "hell with all this mess!" I jumped in my truck Christmas eve afternoon, and went to the Home Depot!

They have lots of cheap jetty anchors there!

$1.50 a piece! And I left out with (5) - "1/2" blocks. Yep, a cheap, who cares jetty anchor. That given the nature of this material, I bet I can break it if I have too. With cleats WELDED to the boat, I can really get some serious tuggin' going on. If I have too. Wrap a piece of chain through the holes in the block and I can snap it like a twig. Grab another and re-anchor!

Sounds all good in theory right? We'll see. But you're saying....."where the hell do you keep these cinder blocks in your boat?

Hmmm, that's the big difference between YOU and ME. I have a monster anchor locker, with lots of room. And rubber tiles on the deck to store them on. Plus a boat, that a few weighty 10 pound blocks won't bother. Hell my ole jetty anchor weighed in at 10 pounds. My weight carrying capacity is 4600 pounds. Almost twice of a comparable sized Fiberglass boat.

I'll probably get to try it all out tomorrow, with a FULL boat. I have a family trip and there will be 5 of us on board, including me. So, I'll be carrying a lot of weight! And that's when the jetty anchor really bends out of the jetty rocks, when a swell or wake comes.

Damn, I hope this works!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

12/23 - I MADE IT

Wow, I made it......through this week, and three days were absolutely heinous! (4) scheduled trips in (7) days. One cancellation due to the bad weather and people not wanting to fish in it. But like an "even Steven", this whole week worked out after all.

Today was not perfect by no means. But I had two guys that were fun to have on board, and eager to learn and were interesting too.

Left out about 9:30am, and met up with Manny & Dan. Headed up into the backwaters, to where Kirk and I had a ton of action yesterday. But, we were pushing the tide, (being a tad too early) but at least the tide was falling.....I mean more like screamin'. A good acclimation spot seeing Dan from N.Y. never Float-rigged before, but Manny had. So I had time to really go over the in's and out's. Dan of course was the first to hook a few, some small Trout, Redfish and Bluefish. Then, Manny scored a Flounder.

But like most of my favorite spots, as the tide got right I could just tell something wasn't right.

We did have what felt like a hard south wind, maybe that was it, because the amount of Reds or Trout and size just wasn't coming. Even after a slight anchor adjustment.

The current was so screamin' fast with the wind behind it, I had the guys using my heavier float-rig rods, that could hold a two ounce Trout lead, and larger Float. So our presentation would be better. A bit of over-kill for the small Reds and Trout that usually are the first to bite on this spot. But I'll take presenting the bait right, to get the bite over battling the current and having a bad presentation, any day. I personally will use my heavy duty float rig tackle even for small fish, many times. Because it's all about catchin', not feeling good.

Dis-appointed, I headed on to the jetties. I surely had no reason, as I did yesterday in the nasty weather to put all my time into just one spot, especially if I could tell something was goofy.

I choose the south Jetty. And HOLY CRAP, was it a washing machine. I told Manny and Dan, "Its gonna be rock & roll boys!" But, they didn't mind if it meant bending a rod.

And easterly swell, and I'm talking 4 foot or larger. With a nasty wind chop from the south west on top of it all. So I ran out and dropped anchor way far away and made sure I had enough scope out to really hold us. The seas rolled over the tip of the jetty in true winter form. Helped along with the surging falling tide, that was ripping between the North and South Jetty.

We set the H.D. Float rig rods relatively deep because there was no backing up on anchor to get close to the way. Not near the tip where we were. So the guys set out and made some drifts. Dan, the rookie float fisherman hit the first few. And they were small Yellowmouth Trout. The bites were pretty steady, and the fish were only 12-15". So the larger they were, the quicker they headed into the fish box. Then Dan scored a good size Sheepshead.

I had a good feeling we should catch a big Redfish, and maybe a few big Specks. But Yellowmouths it was, and only the one Sheepshead. And I gave it plenty of time, as we sat fumbling all over the boat, in the washing machine seas. We left out of there with 12 Yellowmouths and a 5 pound Sheepshead.

No photos. Sorry, I could hardly stand up. So taking pictures was out of the question.

So we headed over to the North Jetty.'s actually calmer!! But it also had a evil side too. I anchored up and it ended being all wrong, but I quickly pointed out too Manny & Dan, they'll be into a whole new set of challenges.

It was Jigging Time!

So I showed them what to do, and made a cast up to the rocks. And of course as I showed them how to feel the rocks, and work the jig-n-shrimp combo meal I felt.....tick,tick!

I dropped my rod tip, took a reel, and set the hook and handed Manny the rod. ZZZZZ.... goes the drag and Manny's hooked up on the first cast to a 25" Redfish.

But as I said, we were anchored all wrong. The sea was sucking us into the jetty rocks, and we were really close. One rouge swell or weird gust of wind and we would be eating granite. So I pulled anchor and attempted to get it right. The wind was bucking the current, the end of the jetties was crashing with monster swells, but we were just going up and down and in and out with the sea....right into the jetty rocks!

The second time I went to pull anchor, the seas dragged the anchor (not a jetty anchor) into the rocks, and I couldn't get the anchor out. It's been a long time since I lost an anchor out there. And I could just feel "today was my day!"

So before the guys could really fish the spot, I had to cut the anchor line and leave an anchor, a swivel, and an 8' piece of chain in the rocks. Damn, I hate that!!

So we headed in to clean our catch.
12 - Yellow-mouths
1- 25" Red
1-5# Sheepshead

So in the last week, I sat through 29 degree bone chilling freezing 20 knot winds, then gale force west winds and burning cold. 20-25 knots N.E. winds and dreary moist cold, and then today that started off as sunny and breezy, and ended up cool, windy, rough as a cob and then loosing all my ground tackle to the rocks.

Whewww...I caught fish in the 29 degree weather, and I couldn't believe we did as good as we did, I cancelled one trip and 30 minutes later, gained another. Caught hardly no fish on Friday in the gale, then had a blast catching a whole bunch in the crappiest weather Saturday. Then had decent weather today, but lost $50 worth of anchor equipment, but did catch some fish, just not enough.

And it's all in a weeks work, in the winter time.

And just think every stuck in an office employee who owns a boat and thinks he knows how to fish real good wants to take my job, or ever retired executive with too much time on his hands want to take my job from me. If this was really easy........Everyone could and would do it. It certainly isn't no walk in the park that's for sure. I earned ever penny this week.

Have a happy Holiday......I'm here for all your Sport fishing needs.

Next up pre-scheduled: 28th & 31st

12/22 -

Had trip planned for a long time this morning with a fellow float freak, Dr. Dick and his family.
But the 20-25 knots winds and cold, wet weather at 7:30am wasn't looking like it was gonna be their kind of day. So we decided not to go. And then 30 minutes later, ole Kirk calls me. (the fella from N. Dakota) and he says, "hey, I'll go", after I told him that we decided not to do today's trip. I said, "heck the boats hitched, the rods are in the boat, I guess if ya want to brave it we could go" . Kirk's from the serious north country. He said, "Dave, I'm looking for a serious challenge", So I met him at the boat ramp, and it was really CRAPPY....with a capital "C".

Winds were N.E. and the tide was high as all hell, so we went and hit the backwaters.

At first it didn't look all that promising. But as the tide fell, I made a 100 foot move, and we found what we came for.

First it was a few small Trout, then came Reds of all sizes. Pups first, then keepers, then an over sized Red, then a few Blues. For 4 hours straight we worked a shell bar, and had some fun just plain catching fish against the odds. The wind was whipping, it was cold, dreary, and foggy. But as the tide fell, we just kept working the shell bar and hooking Reds.

Overall, it was a great morning. In at 9am, and out at 1pm, and burned at least 6 dozen shrimp, put two Reds in the box 22" & 24", released at least 12 pupper Reds, and pulled a 28 incher off the shell bar. Kirk wanted a challenge and the weather gave us one....but we only had to fish 2 spots all day.


That was a good thing. And made the day a whole lot more bearable for me! And as you can see, I was quite bundled up. And Kirk, Mr. "N. Dakota", looked like it was a fall day, and just another walk in the park.

Looks like Sunday's gonna be pretty nice, too.
Report to follow!

Friday, December 21, 2007

12/21- Gale Force winds, Cold, Rainy, lets go fishin'!

Whewwwww........Today compared to last Monday when it was 30 degrees, and windy.... was a cake walk. The forecast switched from not good to absolutely pitiful, late last night. But what do you do when you've had a trip planned for over a month. You go and make the best of it.

GALE FORCE WINDS, RAIN, AND COLD is what it was when we left the dock, and being that it was a full moon rising, the falling tide current being pushed along by a heinous gale force wind sucked the water out of the river down to dead low tide, really fast.

Didn't want to get too close while taking this picture and make the poor sap feel too bad, but look hard and you'll see that Flats boats need water too. Understanding the tides, especially when there's a full moon, a 30 kt west wind, and taking a 26' deep V-boat up in creeks myself, has me on my toes so that kind of 4 hour wait doesn't happen.

Had Kirk and daughter Caitlin on board today from the Atlanta area. The last time we went it was 95 degrees, and Jack Crevalle was the big fish of the day. I told Kirk, "man, ya ought to fish in the fall or winter, it's soooo good then" . Well, it is! Except for today. But they were glad to just be out on a boat and doing some fishing.

We ended up leaving way later than initially planned, because of the weather. It was just so iffy this morning.

Of course, I wanted to fish the jetties. I wanted limits of those Speckled trout that chewed like it was their last meal yesterday instinctively knowing a meal in the next day of two would be hard to come by, obviously.

Caitlin was the first to hook up on something other that a creek Pinfish. And she caught a decent Trout. Net worthy and I was glad too because this guy was hangin on the hook by a thread.
Then Kirk caught a small trout we quickly let go.

As the current dropped and the boat swung on anchor sitting the bow up on the muddy creek bank, Caitlin hooked up something a bit scrappier, a small 7-striped Jetty Snapper, aka: Sheepshead. Then after that had a Needlefish hooked up. I haven't even seen one of them since the river was 80 degrees!

But then again Monday in the freezing wind a customer had a Jack. So the 62 degree water isn't phasing many species. A friend went on way back in one of those famous southerly Snook creeks we have here now, and caught 7 small Snook on Tuesday.

So, don't tell me that these fish are not
acclimating themselves, over the years.

That was about the end of our fish catching.

As we worked our way out into the ICW and into the 2-3 foot chop that was a whipping, frothing storm of whitecaps.

I was about to say, "well, lets bag this", but Caitlin was cheery and still fired up. So I headed to the back side of Ft. George to get out of the wind, and we found that anchoring was almost impossible, and the current had completely died.

Giving it a try for a moment, we headed back out of there, and headed for the little jetties to try a spot on the first of the incoming tide. But without any luck because my anchor wouldn't hold anywhere I wanted to be. So we finally bagged it and headed in. I cleaned Caitlin's Trout and Sheepshead for her, and bid them farewell till hopefully spring time.

I've been doing R&D with this style of anchor. A BIG one!
And found out today that there is no way it will hold my boat
in a gale of wind, of course. So there I am, back to the ole Fluke style. I'll stick to a small grapnel over a jetty anchor for fishing the rocks on windy days. Because my jetty anchors just bend out way to easily, and I've been needing a jetty anchor with 1/2" tines at least. So I'll see if a carefully placed 12 pound folding Grapnel will work.

It was one heck of a day. And as I sit here and watch the weathermen on TV that can't even imagine, can they? They talk about the wind as if it was just a disturbance to their hair-do's today. I'd love to take them out there and give them a real dose of wind, while trying to have them catch some fish.

The forecast is looking worse and worse for tomorrow, than just earlier today. Especially if catching a lot of fish is the concern, and I was told it was. So I doubt the bite will be hot and heavy in the N.E. 15-20 knot winds tomorrow, so as of right now I doubt I'll be going.
Another NON-Christmas for Cappy Dave. I'm sort of getting used to this holiday having zero meaning. Because how can ya enjoy them when you can't fish, and make some dough?

But I'm sure glad when they are over and life returns to normal.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

12/20 - If there ever was a day...

If there was ever a day to be out at the jetties 'wackin some fatties', it was today.
It was as perfect as the conditions in this photo.

This is an ole favorite photo of mine. Not because I'm an Ad for "ABT", but the position I'm in and where my float is behind the boat.
(can ya see that white speck?)

But of course, I was at the V.A. for a getting my "health care" enrolled from 7:30am till 12:30pm. It was something I could not miss, so I paid the price. Heard the Trout were off the chart, via my sources.

And of course here comes the weather...because I have the holiday rush.

Now the winds are supposed to pick up and as of this writing at 5pm Thursday they say its Small Craft Caution right now with 15-20 SE winds.

Here's the forecast I go by:



Sunday sure looks good, except that may not be 10 knots when I go, because we're not leaving till 10am. Need to fish just the falling tide because of that FULL MOON.

Not gonna make that mistake again of going on a Full or New Moon incoming or at high tide!

The JettyWolf howls at the moon, but only on a falling tide....Thank you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

12/19 - Changes and explosion

Made some slight changes to

From my web site's home page this report blog can now be directly accessed, by clicking on the BLUE button.....FISHING REPORT.

Believe it or not! I have people who couldn't find the Fishing report, the old way. Which was a report page with a link to the blog. (???)

Lost was my dissertation, about how TIDES are important to you, even if you have not a clue about them. I'm not going to worry about it, no one ever read that anyways.

And so was the WEATHER LINK to the Mayport boat ramp area. But since I look at that myself daily, it's now on my INSHORE-COASTAL TRIP page.

And look at this weather today? Holy smokes, 3 knots of West Nor-west wind? Beautiful sunny day. And of course, no one can go today. I'll go tomarrow after a very early Dr.'s appointment I can't to follow. So stand by.

Conditions right now at 9:11am:

Wind Direction (WDIR):
WNW ( 300 deg true )

Wind Speed (WSPD):
2.9 kts

Atmospheric Pressure (PRES):
30.27 in

Air Temperature (ATMP):
52.5 °F

Wind Chill (CHILL):
52.2 °F

Still a tad chilly for my liking, but I got some maintenance I need to do here at the 'Rancho Deluxe', Fish Camp.

Plus, I need a heavier duty jetty/all pupose anchor. It's when the winds are 15 kts. or better. I'm gonna try and have been R&D'ing this anchor :

Next days up to bat will be:
21st, 22nd and maybe the 23rd, then the 26th, 28th, and 31st.
Finally....gettin busy!

-Will it be sunny, warm with no wind? What does history tell me? Because they've been planned for awhile. But I hope it will be.

Not a single call for a Gift Certificate this year, really shows me what kind of "economic times" we're having in this country right now. It's okay, I usually give them a discount, and then they hold the certificate for almost a year and wanna use it on July 4th, anyhow! So maybe that's a good thing.
-non fishing related unless you were in a few of my "Trout drops" over there.....

Huge explosion today at 1:30pm over near the Jax Electrical Authority plant. Not sure as of yet was the cause but it shook windows and rattled houses along the north bank to even in my area, the south bank of the river miles away.

This photo was taken from atop the Wonderwood Bridge.

It'll be on the local news, I'm sure.

Monday, December 17, 2007

12/17 - Freeze...or Fish?

Had Steve and Ron N. with me today. Steve's a marathon runner and was here in J-ville for a race. And since his dad is the "fisherman" they thought it would be nice to take in some salty air.
Well that was way over a months ago when I first talked to Steve and he reserved his day.
But all looked good for race day. He said, "damn it was humid running those 26.2 miles." He really did good finishing in the top 20 out of over 1200 runners! So then, there was the phone call I made to him yesterday evening. "Steve, ya'll have any really warm clothes with ya?"
He replied...."Ahhh, yeah we'll wear everything we have." So, as I told him the weather's going from warm all week to really cold. I was thinking, "I hope he's prepared!"

Hey, this is the way it always seems to work out. Have a great guy reserve way in advance, arrive when it's like summer all the way from Connecticut and then his day of fishing is like no kind of coldness we've felt in a long long time. He and his dad only had today. They were catching a plane back home at 6pm. So this was it!

I arrived at the ramp early as usual, and it was me and a few Mullet chasers in the parking lot. That was it. Yeah, the mullet fisherman. Another fish crazy bunch. So I sat in my truck and waited for the sun to come up, for our 7:30am departure. I had on so many jackets and fleece pants with Grundens foul weather slickers I could hardly move. As I stepped out of the truck for a brief moment in the dark, I could feel the wind blowing and it didn't feel good.

Conditions according to the Mayport Bar Pilot weather station were at 6am:
Temp: 36.5 degrees
Wind chill: 29.1 degrees
Wind speed: 12 knots
Barometer: 30.21"

I knew the minute I rounded the corner to head to the jetties, we were gonna have our world "rocked"....(no pun) I mean, wind and cold.

As I waited and Steve pulled up, I glanced at the flag standing atop the pilot station building, and it was at full attention, flapping good and steady. I walked over to greet Steve & Ron and said, "I'm here to do a toughness check!" They chuckled, and said they would suit up and could take it. Hey, they were from Connecticut. So they jumped in the boat after I put it in the water, and we headed East. I usually have the boat in the water already. But just in case they said "NO WAY", I figured it was best to wait.

Impressed, as most are with my boat. We idled towards the Navy Basin before I go the balls to get up on plane, it was so bone chilling. The river had "fog" coming off of it. Ya don't see that very often. From the cold air laying, and the 65 degree water. (it's hard to see in the photo, but it was there)

We worked a good spot, but of course the very apparent 20knots of wind out here had the boat jerking the anchor out of the rocks, every 5 minutes. We never had a bite, either on the last few minutes of falling tide current. Aggravated as usual with keeping the anchor holding in this wind (I need a larger jetty anchor) I said, "hell with this fellas, I have a plan, lets get outa here!"

So we ran up river to a spot I call my safe spot, an area that I can always catch some fish on a really bad weather day. That's got a little protection from the wind.

After I got the guys all situated, and familiar with the how's and why's of the spot, Steve the "non-fisherman" hooks up on the first fish. A 19" Trout....skinny but still 19 inches.

Then, he catches another one. His dad and I are looking at him, because he just got done telling us that he doesn't fish.

If these pictures don't scream COLD IN J-VILLE
nothing does. Glad there's no photo's of me, because I couldn't bend over to pick a shrimp off the deck, I had so many layers on.

So....we found some Trout! I was feeling a lot better now. Better, not warmer!

Then, right after I said "ya'll ought to pick up a few rat Reds, Steve sets the hook again and starts
reeling in a small Redfish.
He does it again, and again.

Ron, his dad had to be thinking,
"what the hell's wrong with my shrimp?"

He ended up with one pup Red, and a small Trout. But Steve "the rookie" was the one fish all the fish for the box.

The guys ended up with 4 Reds and 6 Trout, a Jack Crevalle... believe it not! Aren't these fish supposed to be down in Ft. Pierce by now?

Keeping the first two Trout and a 21" Red.

But what were they gonna do with the fish? So I suggested, cleaning them, and taking the fillets over to Singleton's Seafood Shack and having them cook them up for lunch.

A perfect way to end a frigid fishing trip, before heading to the airport to head back North.

The guys agreed and thought that was a great idea.

I tell many people who don't have the want or means to keep their fish to do that, because there's no better way to enjoy a fishing day then eats some of your catch, before catching a plane
home. I know that's what I'd like to do if I was
on a time line.

Steve and Ron were great sports. They told me that they really were impressed with my patience, instruction, and my boat. No matter how bad it was out there, at least they were comfortable and had some fish, laughs, fun and stories to tell back in Connecticut.

All I could think about as I talked to Steve was that he ran 26.2 miles yesterday, and was out fishing today in this cold weather. He said he was stiff and sore today, but was good enough to fish all day. What an athlete!

He told me, "that ain't nothing, back home I've run 100 mile races!"

Personally, I can't run around the boat ramp parking lot with being stiff the next day. But then again, there's no fish in the boat ramp parking lot!

I was supposed to take Kirk M. (from 12/14) tomorrow, but due to this cold weather we decided that because I'm a cold weather wussy, we'll try it again on the 23rd or 26th instead.

I'll sure be glad to see 80 degrees again!
After today, I'll take 65 and no wind.

Today wouldn't have been so brutal, if it wasn't for the wind.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12/14 - Catch'em on the FLY!

Had Kirk M. out today. We decided to go yesterday, because the weather has been so damn nice. And I told Kirk, "well, we have a high tide at noon, no sense going till then and just put with the high water, till the low tide late in the day." So we left at noon, one guy and me....."ah, a charter the way I always envisioned them". Instead of management fishing, it was so pleasant and relaxed to have Kirk a N. Dakota native on board. Who is also a Navy Officer, just back from Afghanistan. Which by the way said, "THIS BLOG KEPT HIM IN TOUCH AND SANE, WHILE OVER THERE!"

Can ya believe that? So he wanted to fish with the Float-Freak, ride on the metal monster, and catch himself some fish, with me! Which was well deserved!
Being from N. Dakota (C/O the USAF, I spent a decade there one year! hahahahahah.....) I learned his people are TUFF, and they are SPORTSMAN, too! So Kirk and I were already on the same page. But of course, I had plans laid out in my mind, and Kirks plan was just to "hang-out and kick back". Well, I can kick long as we're wackin' some fatties!

So we started by pitchin' some jigs-n-shrimp along the rocks. My first cast after showing him the finer points, connected me with our targeted species, a nice Black Drum.

In the box that Drum went, and we were on location maybe 4 minutes??
So now it was Kirks turn. He pitched his jig and
shrimp out, and there happened to be a Ocean Vulture - aka: Pelican, sitting between us and the jetties. I saw it all in slow-mo as it went down....
Kirks line passed over the bird, and it spooked and flew away. But not familiar with such obstacles, Kirk let his spool go and as the bird went airborne he caught the bird as it circles around us. "Nice going Kirk! Great Catch!!"

To make a long story short, (hell they taste like chicken not fish) he reeled the bird in and I un-hooked the Pelican and it took off, no worse the wear. We plan a day, he's been to "BFE" and back, we get out to the jetties, and on his first cast he hooks a Pelican!


I told him, "man this is gonna make great Blog material! Everyone's gonna read about this.....let me grab my camera, and capture your first cast catch!"

Notice he's looking UP in the photo?
That's where birds fly.

His second cast, thank goodness was something that had fins and scales. And was a fat Ring-tailed Porgie! Not the easiest fish to hook with their tiny mouths, and up tight inside the rocks. But it proved to me that at least he can feel a bite, and this man can cast a bait caster! My kinda guy.....except for the bird fishing incident! So we continued on. But caught not much else except a tiny bluefish or two. The tide was officially high. And whatever current we had was over.

So I pulled anchor, and we went to power drifting the north jetty. Our drifting was just from the slight breeze we had, but their ought to be at least some better action over here, I thought. YEP, more blues. But as we worked the area, here came the first wave of current and darker river water......perfect! And we scored 2- Reds, one 26" and another 28 incher and another Black Drum, and a few yellowmouth trout and blues drifting the area while pitching up to the rocks.

Easily done with the fuel efficiency of a HONDA outboard and the non-aggravating and silent PURRR of the engine. I told Kirk, "it's my 225 horse power trolling motor." And from the trolling motors that I've beat the hell outa, a whole lot more dependable, too.

Since this was just the prelude to what we were really going to do, it wasn't all that bad starting at the high tide with no current.

Our real plan was to do some Float-rig fishing at the jetties. Kirk said all he read about was how much I loved watching my float go down, so he was anxious to see how it was all done. And especially after Wednesday's Massacre (12/12) I had while fishing solo, Kirk would ask questions about float fishing as we were jig fishing. I said, "don't worry, you'll see because even though we'll be early for it, were gonna go do it in a little while".

I say, early for it because the tide works forward about 50 minutes each day, and the same exact tide I was on Wednesday at 3:30-4:00pm will be a 5:30pm-6:00pm today.

So "pushing it" we went to do some Float fishing.

I got on the spot, gave Kirk the finer points, and he pitched his float-rig behind the boat. Thinking it would take awhile to get bit, he looked away over at a passing boat and of course that's when his float went down! "DAMN....that fish almost yanked the rod outa my hand!" Not realizing this is I.G. style fishing, Kirk was shocked that his shrimp lasted 20 seconds out there, before reeling in his first Trout, a very spunky Yellowmouth.

The rally was ON! He and I caught, boxed or released full of "spit and vinegar" Specks and Yellowmouths for a few hours and never moved the boat. Never lost a rig, and caught one fish after another on the float rig. "This is what I wanted to see", Kirk said. I told him, "this is classic winter action. Don't think it's like this in July, it all about time of year and water temp. and it's full bore action at its finest!"

We ended up catching fish till we were out of Live Shrimp, the cooler was full and the sun set. So we headed back to the boat ramp. Where we planned on doing it all over again on Tuesday.

The weather guessers say all of this 80 degree
warmth is gonna stop this weekend as the
"front" that has slammed the rest of the
country heads south, and it's supposed to get cold and windy.

Kirk won't mind, he's up for the challenge! I hope my Monday trip is too, if indeed the weather does change. I have a Marathon Runner coming from New England to fish on Monday.

Kirk and I talked back at the boat ramp, and he said he'd never thought the action would be that good. And he's never caught so many fish.
I get call after call from people wanting to do a trip, who never even look at all the info I provide for them on my web site. It's all here! The good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly. Doing research pays HUGE dividends in the charter world!!!
This is what I live for all year!
Not the steamy, hot, miserable weeks around July 4th, that's for sure! It's just too bad that these Holidays also coincide with great fishing here in N.E. Florida. Because people's focus right now is not on how good the fishing is in J-ville, Florida. But it should be!

Ya' know if I had my druthers, I'd be here from Nov. 1 till June 1, and then move my whole operation to Maine, fish for Stripers and Bluefish in Maine with NY city vacationers all summer, and then come back to Florida for the winter/spring season. Ahhhh, would that be the ticket. I'd be one happy Float Freak....wonder if I could catch a Striper on a Float-rig in Maine??

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12/12 - ROCK RIOT!

If you read Monday's report (12/10/07) things looked rather dim at the jetties for a float rig freak like me. Yeah, I was all upset, and could tell I was kinda pissy. But as an update to that report, I'd like to add...."I really think the moon had a lot to do with the bite." And since I'm up at 5am-6am, and usually start my fishing days early. I may have not given Monday a full chance. And got disgusted and went home too early.....actually started too early, and gave up too early, is what it was.

I live and breath the tides. Which in turn is also the current. As a float-rig fisherman. Tossing a jig or lure can have its good and bad tides. But basically, you can cast a jig or lure any ole time on any ole tide. But as a float man, I pay close attention to the details of the tide, like current speed, tide height: how low is the low tide, how high is the high? Because I'm kinda locked in to the current flow, even when jetty fishing.

So now that today was 3 days after the New moon, "I saw the tiny sliver of white on the moon tonight". It only made sense to me that when I went out early this morning, that I'd be cussing and moaning till low tide, that seemed to take forever to come. And I caught damn near zero all day n the incoming, and only got into fish, as the tide got really low.....just like I always do on a full moon too.

So I didn't even pay attention to my "own" Full & New Moon rule, these last few days!!
-Only fish the last 4 hours or so of the low tide!!
Why do I forget my own rules? I'll tell ya why.....I go too early, because I like being out there in my boat, but end up kicking myself in the pants, because at the jetties it's all about that low tide on the New & Full moons. And today the tide got really low!

So, I arrived to find a buddy sitting along the rocks after I went and jigged a spot with not a single bite, except Bluefish. I couldn't believe it. But he said he was getting some Yellowmouth trout, so I'll try that too. It was pretty much "I.G." - (Instantaneous Gratification) as I tossed my shrimp up to the jetty rocks. "Okay, things are looking up!" Then came the Speckled Trout.
And this one, too. That had not a spot on its body, just on its fins.

As the tide got lower and lower, I started catching either a Speck or a Yellowmouth on every single pitch up to the rocks!

So I tried, looking for bigger fish. And casting out deeper. BINGO.....bigger Specks out deeper.
And Yellowmouths up tight to the rocks!

By now, I had my limit of yellowmouths 15-18"and 4 Specks from 15-18". And was waiting for a bigger Speck.....and my float went down! The drag peeled, and this fish was what I was hunting for, and it came from out deeper. BIG SPECK....I could see it, so I grabbed the net. Looks to be a 5 pounder at least! pulled off the hook right as I was reaching down to dip it up in the net! So, my largest Trout ended up being this exact 20 incher.

Okay....the Trout fishing is on fire. I have my limit. So what do I do now? Go in? NOT!

After Monday's disgusting trip. I'm catching me a lot of fish. So I continued to catch some Trout behind the boat. But things were looking kinda sweet in front of where I was anchored, now.

The rocks were all exposed, and I was learning something very valuable about the Jetty rocks where I was parked, in relation to where the fish were. I could find a distinct edge! Up in too tight, no bites, just outside a bit, a lot of bites, out deeper yet, bigger Trout. Now let's see if the proven area in front of my boat has the same thing going on??

So I jumped up on my bow deck, and made a long bomb cast, right on that same edge. SLAM DUNK!!!!!!! Wheww, my float went down instantly and I just had my name engraved on a silver platter! "That was a BIG fish!"....And it broke me off in the rocks. So I tied on another hook, and made a pitch right to the same spot with a fresh shrimp. Again....INSTANT HOOK-UP! And I'm not using my bigger fish float-rig rod and reel. A long battle gave up a nice big 31" Redbass! Then another, then another, then another.....Can ya see where I'm going with this?

I had Reds, back to back, taking a breather about every two Reds, to catch a Trout off the stern of the boat, till I had caught (15) Reds from 27" to 33". IT WAS A LIGHT-TACKLE FISH RIOT!

And a classic Full or New moon kind of bite. I've been here before and had the same thing happen. ( I had so many I tried holding up the number of fingers of how many fish, I caught)

These weren't lil pup reds either, they were all brusiers, with one that measured 27" exactly., That went in the fish box. And it never entered my mind that I had a heavier rod and reel sitting in my rod rack, that I bought just for these big mean jetty Reds.

I was using a set-up that is really addictive for Float-rig fishing. Its a G. Loomis 8'2" Greenwater rod, matched up with a Shimano Curado DSV 300, a "low profile reel" that has a 6.3:1 gear ratio but holds well over 190 yards of 50# super braid line, if the diameter is that of 14# mono. No other light weight, low profile reel holds that much line. And let me tell ya, this ain't no wimpy Bass reel. It man handles these big Reds as well or better than a Abu Garcia 6500. If I can some day afford more, there will be 4 more in my reel arsenal. I'm that impressed!

I first heard of this high line capacity saltwater/freshwater low profile Shimano reel on my favorite fishing show, Larry Dalhberg's 'Hunt For Big Fish' Where Larry and a Shimano guy where using them for Golden Dorado below a damn in Venezuela. And these fish are a combination of as Redfish, Snook, and Tarpon all rolled into one, and weigh 50-7o pounds! Of course, I fell for the shows "objective", when I had to get me no less than two of them, ASAP. And I'm glad I did. I've fished them now for 6 months without doing a damn thing to either of them....just a wipe with a clean wet rag.

The lightness of my entire Float-rig setup is so nice to fish with all day long. Now, I wish Shimano would come out with a BIG game version, of this reel, just a tad larger, larger counter-balanced handle, and even more line capacity.

As I continued catching these Reds, taking out revenge for having such a crappy day on Monday
it started to take it's toll. I was getting tired!

Can ya believe that. But really the rod was a little light for all this pulling and tugging. But the "burn" did feel good, I'll admit.

As you can see, just holding the fish up like I did in the first few photos wasn't working out as planned. And I was hurrying. But, I wanted some good Reports Blog material, for ya'll.

People ask me all the time, "If your alone, how do you get those pictures?" Never buy a Camera that doesn't come with a timer, if your a fisherman, I tell them. I set the timer and jump in front of the camera. I learned this trick off an ole friend, who always fished alone and always had plenty of self portraits.

I tried to give a "sign" after I took a picture of number 5 because there was no way to hold up 6 or 7 fingers and the fish at the same time.

I certainly hope that potential clients find all this hard work, informative (yeah, it's work doing these reports after fishing all day.) Because I certainly do not see anything nearly as thorough on any other fishing guides web sites. I've tried it all. Doing magazine articles (Jax Fisherman Magazine for 6 years), my own fishing videos (which can be found at the local Gander Mountain and on my tackle shop web page) and Saturday morning radio shows (WNNR AM 970 & WNZS/ESPN SPORTS 1460 AM) I have to say, this daily reports blog is cheapest to do, by far.

I had about a 1/2 dozen shrimp left and could have kept on going.....but after (30-40) Trout, and the (15) big Reds , I felt that enough revenge was sought, so I pitched the shrimp over the side, packed everything up, and headed back to the boat ramp. Feeling like, I never come out here without learning something new, or at least reminded of how I sometimes don't even take my own advise. Which is; "fish the right tides and save yourself a lot of frustration and time" But it was another beautiful day out there. Makes me feel good to be able to appreciate it, even though things are slow now right before Christmas.

Hey, treat yourself! Give me a call and we'll go try and get you into a fish riot of your own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12/10 - After weekend whoa's

Holy, blank fish finders Batman! What a crappy day I had today. And I was so looking forward to a Monday, when the river isn't like I-95 before Thanksgiving.
All ya had to do is go to B&M bait and tackle and observe the traffic going through there to realize, EVERYONE WHO OWNED A BOAT WAS GOING, this weekend. Due to the flat calm conditions.

So I laid back, held on and waited my turn....till Monday, after the crazy weekend blitz of people. I had such "high hopes", because the tide was in my favor on a favorite spot(s), where in the winter I wackz them good and hard 99.95% of the time. Last day I caught the tide perfectly on this same spot(s) was November 14th and here was the outcome:

Not too shabby, huh?

Yeah it was a calm cool day, a Wednesday. No one around, just me and Nick out filling two 72 qt coolers, plus releasing just as many!

Well, today I never had a bite at the same places on the exact same kind of tide. Except from Bluefish and a few other assorted bait snatchers.

There's the ole saying, "sometimes you eat the Alligator, and sometimes the Alligator eats YOU!

Or when I have a charter, they always say; "that's why they call it fishing, huh?" And of course I know, they just picked a really lousy day, out of 365!!

Well, I don't believe in such theories, really. Those un-scientific ones, like an ole "saying". I work triple hard and stick it out to the very end and do all I can to make it turn around till I'm totally beat, and mentally FRIED! And this is what I did today, and eventually caught one 19" Trout, some Bluefish, a puffer on a MirrOlure, and of course the Mangos are still out in force on ever single rock in the river. (our now resident Mango's)

I truly believe and from my experience, which I have no technical data to back up except for a lot of days in pursuit of Trout alone, that when we have a seriously wacky Barometer, the fish that swim up in the water column, turn off FIRST. Unlike the bottom dwellers, IE: Flounder, Reds, Drum, etc. But I couldn't catch any of those either!! I tried.

The first thing I did notice is my live shrimp. Usually they are in up the bucket swimming around when I get them from the bait shop and are putting them in my live well. Today they weren't. They, all 6 dozen of them were laying in a pile on the bottom of the bucket not moving. I had to stick my hand in there and move them around to check if they were alive!

Then in my live well, they are usually up and swimming around, again......laying on the bottom. Hmmmmmm.....things that make ya think a bit.

Another thing I noticed is that I saw no "fuzz" on my screen anywhere I went. Fuzz is defined as "bio-mass" aka: "Life on the bottom". I fished my spots hard and tried everything, while looking at a blank "12 inch screen" with a single red line as the bottom, on my color sounder. No schools of bait, no fuzz, no piles of Croakers, no glass minnows.......nothing.

But the funny thing is that the bait-stealers are still out in force, although they could have been worse. Nothing turns them off. As I made casts with a jig-n-shrimp up to the jetty rocks, and had zero bites I'd end up sticking the rod in the holder and letting it sit on the bottom, eventually they'd find it and tiny lil snatchers would eat the shrimp off the hook. If I was a beer drinker still, it would have been a good day to sit back, watch the rod jiggle while the snatchers got a free meal and ate a bag of Ruffles potato chips!

Here's a chart of the Barometer from 12/7-12/11 on the bottom and the pressure along the side. Look at the barometer between 12/10 at 00 hrs and 12/10 1200 hrs ....."up and down up and down".

So if the "general rule" is :

*Rising Barometer: Fishing is Best
*Rapidly Fluctuating: Indication of good fishing (regardless of fluctuating up or down).
*Static Barometer: Fishing is poor
*Falling Barometer: First part of fall is good fishing. After the fall continues for several hours, the more the it goes down the poorer fishing will be.
*Unusually Low Barometer: Don't bother as there is no fishing.

Where the heck does today fit into this scenario?

Was it that today was the day after the new moon?

Certainly the last few days would be refered to as "bluebird" days. Blue skies, no winds, sunny, and oh so calm, and 75 degrees in December. Just the kinda day that makes you run out with a big bucket of shrimp, wack some fatties, have a ball and go home oh so satisfied, that your a fisherman in Florida and not in Michigan, right?

Well, since I can't figure any of it out. I'll just go with the saying "sometimes you eat the Alligator, and sometimes the Alligator eats you", because after 6 hrs and a lot of running around and hard work on my part catching nothing.....and couldn't give away a live shrimp to a GAME FISH, I'll just wait till it starts blowing and gets cold, the jetties are rough as a cob again, because that's when I do my best most of the time.

I wasn't alone either. One of the better Trout fisherman I know was struggling hard, also and had several friends out there not having as much fun as they had planned, too.

C'C'mon wind and big swells.....looks like you're my best "Jetty" friend.
(see the White Water behind me??)