Sunday, January 27, 2008

1/27 - You would never have known....

Holy Ice sickles Batman! Was this morning cold. I mean, I've had to fish on cold morning before but for some reason it felt like death to me at 7am as I backed down the boat ramp and wetted the big Alloy machine.

You would have never have known it, by the looks of the weather report. And the way the afternoon turned out. But Jaclyn & Brian H. from Ft. Worth Texas showed up right on time.

Prepared? MMmm, personally I don't think so. Brian must have polar bear in his blood, because just looking at him made my heart skip a beat, the way he was dressed.

I gave fair warning over the phone twice. While they were still in Texas, and when they arrived in J-ville.

Another thing I had a bad feeling about was the FISHING! Being that we were all freezing. Can ya' just imagine how the fish feel? The Cold Blooded critters? Water temps were 54 degrees on my RayMarine C-120 machine as we headed to the first spot. That was the first thing, now for the second. INCOMING TIDE! All you're asking for then is more cold water to come flood the shallows. Not a favorite of mine by now means. Third thing, but not all that bad as forecasted, was the 15-20 kt. winds from the N.W. I have a good feeling that's why it felt so dang cold. All that fridged air blowing from over land, cold land! If the wind was N.E. or S.E. at least that's air that came across warmer waters.

One thing about water temps and fish species. Most of our local fish really seem to fade off, when the water temp drops below 60 degrees. Check a preference chart, sometime and see for yourself. It's just part of the burden we bare here in N.E. Florida in the deep winter. But on the bright side, thank goodness it's not below 60 very long.

Right off the "git-go" I handed Brian a rod and reel and got him used to Float-rigging, and casting my Chrome Rocket Abu's like an ole pro. I could tell he had some talent. Then, I went to give Jaclyn a rod and reel to get her going, and the reel was hanging up from the cold......yeah, like ice in your rod guides up in some "land of the Inuits", the chrome over brass Rocket reels do this from time to time. So 5 minutes into the morning here I am breaking out the leatherman, and taking the other float-rigged reel apart. And after a bit of man-handling it started working properly.

I told Jaclyn and Brian, "I hate a tackle failure, and if it fails just a few times, it's off to the auction block! I'll replace it in a heart beat"....yeah I get super pissed off when reels don't work right. But I guess, I'll be keeping this one. It was just hung-up.

Brian caught two micro yellowmouth Trout around 10 inches. Not a good start. Moved off to another spot where a likely larger Trout would "maybe" be.......ZIP.

So in the back of my head, I had an alternative plan. BAIT-N-WAIT, fishing on the bottom.
Oh yes.... the dreaded bait-n-wait, which on a morning like this equates too Bait -n- Freeze, starring at rod tips. So that's what we did, on a Sheepshead spot not all that far away in the ICW.

My mini-Accurate reels & Loomis Backbounce rods, were on a winter day mission. I practically had to blow the dust off them bastards this morning as I grabbed them off the rock and said, "boys, your going today!" (I know...only nuts talk to their tackle) Usually, these rigs don't see any action till at least April on the whopper sized Drum if they are biting well.

We moved around and tried a few more drops that had hard bottom, and submerged shell bars, And still came up with ZERO.

I really wanted Brian to get a decent sized fish at least. Instead of the imaginary T-shirt that said, "I went all the way to Florida, only too freeze may ass off and catch a 10" fish." (photo c/o, S. Conrad)

So, we packed it up and took a cold ride to the jetties. The south side of the south seemed really popular, since the North side of the north had white water crashing over it. So that's where we headed. At least 10 boats were there, and I never saw any catch a fish. I had Jaclyn Float-rigging deep and Brian was casting up shallow. And Brian got bit.......Wow, a BITE!
His float went down twice, but it was a 7-Striped Jetty Snapper, and when he reeled in he had a perfect tail-less Shrimp. And after close inspection, you could see the teeth marks practically.
Tip O' the Week: If you're Float -riggin, and want to have a "better" chance at hooking up with a sheepshead, as a variety fish. Use the smallest shrimp in the live well. You'll have a better chance at getting that sheepster to take the shrimp whole versus nipping off the same part we eat.

We left the jetties as did 90% of the other boats out there and headed to a spot in the river not far away. The tide was high, the current was zilch, but we still tried it as a last ditch effort.

I pitched out Brians float, and while he was taking a close-up photo of his lovely wife holding big fat Shrimp, I had my float do a lil dance, and I set the hook on a Flounder about 14". I handed Brian the rod and he reeled it in. (I have been called Capt. Magic before....)

So, there ya have it. Our one and only gamefish species. I tried to take a pic for today's blog, but my camera batteries were dead. Go figure.

Monday's charter (3) passengers, departs at noon........lets see if a falling tide makes any difference.