Sunday, March 30, 2008
TONIGHT: NORTHEAST WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS...WITH BRIEF GUSTS TO GALE FORCE POSSIBLE. SEAS 5 TO 7 FEET. INLAND WATERS CHOPPY.SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS.
MONDAY: NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS BECOMING EAST IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET. INLAND WATERS CHOPPY. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
MONDAY NIGHT: SOUTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET. INLAND WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.
March, is blowing away. And I've rescheduled both today (Sunday) and Monday's charters.
Will I be able to get Tuesday & Wednesday's clients out? I hope so.
Between yesterday and today (Sunday), it's almost hard to believe that this is the same planet, huh? Saturday, no wind, sunny, clear skies, and 80 degrees. By Sunday morning; cold, gale force winds, overcast and dreary.
I found it really funny while out fishing both Friday and Saturday, that all my buddies I ran into out on the river asked, "so.....you been catchin' them?" And my response was, "well considering this is the first day I've been out, that it hasn't been blowing a gale. I guess not!"
The average weekend fisherman, probably doesn't keep up with every detail of the weather that I do, surely out of "survival instinct". I also reminded these same guys that just last week (Easter week, Spring break week....etc) It was blowing just about every single day, besides last Saturday. And of course, I had no reservations for Saturday.
If you are new here, or just found these daily single sided conversations. You may not realize I'm what some friends have called a micro-manager. I think that's a bit overboard. I just call it, easily obsessed.
Like Float-rig fishing, my new obsession has lots of detail and technique, a lot of fine-tune-ability, and parts and pieces. And besides being completely new to me. Which has a lot to do with the excitement.......I am just dieing to get out and do it.
I'm talking about vertical jigging!! Call it butterfly jigging or free style jigging, or whatever. It's my newest quest. I just can't wait till the next flat calm day, so I can get offshore over a reef and jig my arms off, again. I experimented last Wednesday. While attempting to multi-task my butt off; helping friend Nick who was also a sea sick offshore rookie, work on learning my GPS, finding a reef or two to actually catch some fish, and of course run the boat, and then try out my new sea anchor for drift fishing.
As you may recall, I never had a bite that I knew about while jigging to my best ability. But then again, I'm not sure if I want someone on the other side of the boat bombing cut pieces of Boston Mackerel to the bottom while I'm working for that one aggresive fish on the reef that might hit my metal jig.
Since today was pretty crappy outside, I've spent the whole day doing research. But not yet found anyone say Yeah or Neah, on sharing the boat with stinky bait going over the side.
On the Shimano videos they say, "Leave the bait at home", and that leads me to believe three things. #1 - You'll never catch a fish on a jig if you have bait on the boat. Kinda like a Fly Fisherman taking his spinning rod and some live bait with him on a so-called Fly fishing trip. Or #2 - that bait on the bottom or drifting around will not help that aggressive fish eat a jig, instead. Or #3 - taking just your jig rods and tackle bag full or expensive jigs, hooks and leaders, at least makes you feel like, "this was all worth it" somehow.
Either way, I'm hooked and will succeed.
I always do!
I'm really looking forward to a Kingfish, Cuda, Spanish Mackerel or Bonita, more than a Snapper or Grouper. Because I think Pelagic species are naturally the first fish in which to "cut my jigging teeth" on.
It's been a long time since I've been excited about going offshore for anything. And if it wasn't for getting interested in the whole jig concept, I'd probably never have the want to go offshore ever. I've happily worked and played in the river and at the inlet now exclusively for many, many years. And never gave one minutes thought to going out there again. It's not that I'm bored....it's all about mastering a technique that probably doesn't catch a ton of fish, especially here on our Party Grounds (local reefs within 8-25 miles). This isn't Key West by no means. I'm reminded of that almost daily, 12 months a year. So the challenge is....what the challenge is......No changing that.
And as far as offshore chartering this summer? The jury's still out on that. We'll see. And if so, it'll be via this Captains discretion.
If you've got an offshore jiggin' story, or have found a trick or two while doing the butterfly jigging offshore of the First Coast and don't mind sharing, (as I do each day). Send me an e-mail.
I always enjoy hearing from Blog readers. I have found out over the years, there's alot of you out there. So we might as well, network a little.
And hopefully the next time ya'll see jig photos, it'll be one of my new jigs hanging out of a fishes mouth.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I had to keep my cool as Nick was working on the fish and I had my eyes on figuring out all my Chart plotter/sounder/ GPS had to offer. Nothing like learning with no instruction manual, I left that at home! And cussing every time I hear Nick set the hook on another fish, even though the first spot didn't produce any keepers.
We didn't anchor, that would have just been more work, so we just drift fished. And as Nick said on the way out..."We may need the luck of the Irish" Being lucky and Irish, he ended up with a 21" Gag Grouper.
Nicks the drummer for the Celtic Rock Band, RATHKELTAIR, and originator of the now 2nd annual Jacksonville Irish Music Festival at the fair grounds down town April 26th. Here's the link to his band http://www.rathkeltair.com/ and the festival http://www.jaxirishfest.com/ I hope to See you there, if you're tired of what you hear on the radio these days.
I figured a lot that I didn't know about my RayMarine electronics pretty quickly. Learned I probably wasn't gonna catch any Snapper or Grouper like Capt Jose Wejebe in Key West on my economy versions of the butterfly jig. So we moved on to another reef area that I always fished with success back in my offshore days.
So after a quick 5 mile run in now almost slick calm seas, I ran over a big ledge on the way to a spot I had punched in to the GPS. I quickly stopped, spun around and went to take a look.
"Ahhhh, this has to be the south breaks", I told Nick. Every since going to GPS latitude and longitude, I have no real waypoints. I never converted all my 1000 offshore fishing spots over from LORAN numbers. So we were kinda flying by the seat of my pants today. But this 10' relief lime rock ledge had to be my old Snapper spot. I baited up and played "catch up". And they were home. I got slammed on my first drop. And caught the first legal Red Snapper.
It's been a long, long time since I had caught a Snapper, let alone a legal over 20 incher. It wasn't much over 20 inches, but I didn't care. We had a Snapper in the fish box!We end up fishing this spot for hours, and I even
got to mark the whole length of the ledge on my GPS. My own spots, on my own plotter! I believe this is the same area I fished for years. And have pulled a thousand pounds of Snapper off of years ago. So I was excited.
Nick and I caught a bunch of small Seabass, 3- Sharks, and probably 10 Snapper off these set of ledges, and caught 5 keepers. Which we could keep 2 each, for supper.
We finished up the day, that had us drifting really fast all the time due to the ground swell and breeze, using my big parachute sea-anchor, which I was dieing to try. And it worked like a dream slowing our drift, which led to easier catching, of more Snapper.
I can't even remember when my last offshore trip was. It should be memorable, but isn't. I vowed to not mix inshore and offshore trips while doing charters. It's too much work doing one day offshore, and then the next in the river. Especially when I have day after day reserved.
But this summer I may do some mixed trips, for King Mackerel, Cuda's, and whatever bites. As long as I have my electronics mastered, working flawlessly and can remember what button to push to do what!
I never caught anything on my jig rod and nock-off butterfly jigs. But I think when summer gets here, I'll get my chance then.
Snapper dinner tomorrow, and then time to get ready for Friday through Monday charters. Good reports came from the Trout chasers today, even though I heard the current was very weak. Yep, don't expect any incoming tide current this weekend. Check your tide books...after the full moon is over, comes really weak tides. Believe me, all it's gonna do is make my job harder this weekend.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
The reason for the late departure with Jack Neal, his son Bruce and daughter Alexandria? It was the full moon, forecast was for EAST winds over 15 knots, and an incoming tide. It had me a little spooked. Plus, I think they appreciated the fact they didn't have to get up at the crack o' dawn.
I wanted a falling tide. But even at 11am we were about at slack water when we left.
Come to find out that the East winds were holding the tide up in the river, and if we did leave at the crack o' dawn, the wind was a lot less. Per my buddy Jeff S. who fished the jetties for Sheepshead (of course) and told me that it wasn't all that bad out there, until 11am or so when he packed it in.
So as we left, I went left out of the boat ramp, rather than right towards the jetties. The wind was strong enough that Float-rig fishing was pretty much out of the question, as it's been all week long.
On spot #2 after the tide finally started to fall, we picked up one Sheepshead. "Targeted species" in the boat! The lines were going one way, the boat was laying another, and the current was going another. As the EAST wind whipped around. Unfortunately, it was a spot where we were also waked every 5 minutes too. We fed our bottom lines back to an under water ledge covered with an sunken oyster bar. And this was the only decent fish we pulled out of there.
Presentation, even when bottom fishing is important I told them. And we were barely doing that. The same spot can be float-rig fished, but the wind kept us from attempting that, too.
I think the group (from the Chesapeake bay area) thought that it was going to be a all out fish fest. And it might have been, if I could have fished the jetties and the wind was absent! And quickly were ready to bag the day, just a few hours into the trip. We just started to get some good current at this time. I said, "C'mon, let's give it a chance!"
So I made a move down towards the Dames Point bridge....the "wind tunnel". I dropped anchor and saw a bunch of what was probably Croakers piled up on the bottom. The tide wasn't even close top low yet. And I explained that on a full moon, 90% of the time we'll get bit by a big Red or Drum, when the tide is really low. Although the East wind was really pushing against the tide, which and was the monkey wrench thrown in to the equation. (the same monkey wrench I've had on every trip this week.)
We were getting bit by the Croakers, and if I was alone on this spot I would have just sat through the tide the best I could and worked all three rods, keeping bait on them till I hopefully a good fish....the same thing we did on this trip ( photo of 4 guys) the first week of April a few years ago on a very similar day. When we caught this 45 pound Redfish, and a few Black Drum.
It was all about
Although we didn't have 20 knot east winds this day. We did have to wait out the full moon falling tide.
We were anchored up and all was fine, and we just had to work the low water, but Jack said they'd had enough and were ready to go.....
Alexandria said, "you get to go home early today." But if she knew me better she would know, I don't give up so easily.
So we packed it up, called it a half day and I took off towards the boat ramp against the 20 knot east wind, falling tide white capping and choppy river "seas"...blasting along in water that has my METAL really shining, in it's element. No turning away or slowing down in the super slop, just straight into the soup sandwich. Damn, I love it when it's that rough!
Next up: Monday, a rescheduled trip that we were supposed to go on back on Thursday. Forecast is for N.E. 15 knots of wind. I'll take N.E. over due East, any day.
I'm really aching to do some Float-rig fishing. Since I've gone a whole week with out being able to do it.......properly.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Had Robby and Steve on the boat today from Rome, Georgia. And they wanted a BIG FISH, or as many as we could catch. But I just had to go to the jetties after yesterday's high winds and see what it looked like. So we anchored up in the soup sandwich and float rigged a little. Steve caught a Trout, and a Bluefish right off the bat. (never got a photo....it was too rough)
It doesn't look all that bad, but the swell was tight and the water was all stirred up.
After working two areas, with no more bites we went back down river and stopped by a buddy who was Sheepsherding.
Sheepshead fishing with his folks, he said he had a bunch. I'm not a rock dabber, so we moved on. The swell was against the wind and so was the current, and as I tried to anchor I could see this would be a nightmare.
We float fished a really good spring time spot for Trout, but as most over cast nasty low pressure days, we never even had a trout bite. This was a run about 5 miles from the boat ramp, and the only place we could seek relief from the SE wind. So as the guys drifted their floats down the bank I pitched out a shrimp on a bottom rod and was immediately hit by a good sized Croaker on a shrimp. This same place I've caught Black Drum, and Sheepshead while bottom fishing, besides some of the largest Trout I've ever caught on a float-rig. So we all grabbed bottom rods and even baited up with strips of clam.
We put a few good sized and spunky Croakers in the fish box. But never had the first Sheepshead or Drum bite. I moved around the area, and then moved around the area some more.
But as soon as the Croaker bites came they were gone and we never caught any more of the big ones.
An exercise in FUTILITY is what the last three charters have been for me in this wind. Half the places I want to fish, I can't. And the other places I can't even get anchored up on. Float fishing for Trout is out of the question, and if I'm going to the bottom, I'd really like some Big Drum or Reds.
Robby and Steve really wanted a big fish. And there was no lack of trying going on today. These guys were fisherman!
So with that said; Tomorrow's forecast is for 20-30 knots of south wind, Small Craft Caution - http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/data/Forecasts/FZUS52.KJAX.html so I called Wednesday's customers and re-scheduled for 2 weeks from now.
This is how well I keep records?
Last Year, during this EXACT same week I was booked from the 16th through 22nd. And there was huge wind every single day, starting on the 17th it was gale force, then had to make adjustments and the wind continued to be stiff from the EAST every day then on Friday the March 22nd of 2006, it finally laid down. And we caught the first Jack Crevalle of the season. At 5 pounds. This Friday the wind is supposed to finally lay down too! How 'bout that?
Do you need tools to learn the weather patterns? Then this blog you're reading right here can be a tool, if you know how to use it. All I have to do is click on the "ARCHIVES", on the right side bar and can see what March of 2006:
http://captdaves.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html was all about. Then easily track the conditions. In conjunction with my Florida Sportsman Tide Planner book, and the info here that I log. I can almost see the furure. And friends call me a micro-manager. Naw, I'm just informed!
Whewwww...all I can say is, "why don't I ever get a weeks worth of charters on weeks when it's actually fishable?
Rescheduled Wednesday, and Thursday. Maybe I can go on Friday.
Monday, March 17, 2008
SMALL CRAFT EXERCISE CAUTION:
(I'll highlight the not good, in yellow)
*TONIGHT EAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET. INLAND WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.
*TUESDAY SOUTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET. INLAND WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.
*WEDNESDAY SOUTHWEST WINDS 20 KNOTS...SHIFTING WEST. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET. INLAND WATERS CHOPPY. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS.
*THURSDAY NORTHWEST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 4 FEET.INLAND WATERS A MODERATE CHOP. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
*FRIDAY EAST WINDS 10 KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 3 FEET. INLAND WATERS A LIGHT CHOP.
Well, we sat through some seriously heinous wind today, let me tell ya. If you think the wind was bad walking outside at the office at lunch time on the west side of town, I don't have to tell you what I was encountering outside of my office!!
Had three Joe Rudy and his dad and uncle on the boat today. They were good sports. Of course I left out early, because that's when you'd think the wind would be the slowest. No not really, it was windy right off the bat.
We tried it all, float-rig fishing, bottom fishing, and that new sport.
attempting to get the anchor hung. It's a game I played problem over a dozen times at various places.
Remember this, due West winds and due East winds "OVER" 15 knots is pure hell in the St. Johns river. Especially if you're fishing in and around Mayport. Because the river runs West to East. So on those two wind directions, there's no place to hide.
Oh, your probably wondering about the fishing???????
1- Bluefish on a float-rig at too high of tide.
8 or 10 - small Yellowmouth Trout
10 - 3" Seabass
Ahhh, just a killer day. Makes me want to pinch myself when I get to sit at the jetties on a beautiful day, catching Reds and Sheepshead or a Drum bottom fishing on the falling tide, then move and get limits of Trout on the incoming tide, with just a solo customer.
(see perfect day here: http://captdaves.blogspot.com/2008/03/312-fishing-with-don.html )
And the cool thing as you can see by the wind speed and direction, I get to do the same thing the rest of the week....or at least I hope not.
I get a real chuckle when when all is going right and someone on my boat says, "Damn, Capt Dave, this must be so great. You get to fish all the time, be out here on the water, catching fish....."
I usually respond with a famous line from the movie "SOMETHING ABOUT MARY". When the character Whoogy, played by Chris Elliott says to Ben Stiller,"Each day is worse then the next".
Confusing reply, huh? That makes no sense at all, right? Kinda like the statement/question that I was just asked.
Have not a clue what Tuesday will bring. But right now it's 7:15 pm on Monday. And the wind is still blowing very hard at my house. Over 20 knots!
Here's another helpful business clue: If ya wanna make a million dollars in the fishing business, first start with 2 million.
OVER & OUT!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Myself and Capt Bryan were there at the dock at 0630 hrs in the water and ready to go. Bryan said, he was up this morning at 0430 hrs....I wasn't that un-sleepy. I was up and ready at 0530 hrs. Figuring that was early enough to get all ready and to the bait shop, and then to the ramp in case there was massive crowds, being it was a SATURDAY.
So as we sat waiting, I get the call....."Dave we won't be there till 8am." Bryan gave me the look, as I told him the news. "well, I guess their eating into their fishing time, Dave" he said.
It was planned to just be a 1/2 day charter. (remember that)
So the guys pull up and come down to the dock. And I get my three fellas and take off. We were not only on a time line as it was just a 4 hr trip, but we were also on a "tide" time line also.
Having the falling tide till about 10am. And the higher the water, as it fell the better for float-rig fishing. That's what I've done with Mike and one of his buddies in the past......many years ago with great success.
So I anchor up fast and go through the details, Bryan falls in behind me. Now my plans were to bottom fish that falling tide, since I've had such good BIG FISH success lately.
The other boat immediately starts catching Bluefish, And Yellowmouth trout. We, on the other hand never loose a bait from less than 50 yards away. I try it for a 1/2 hr and then say, "Lets go try and catch a bigger fish." My guys seem willing. And we move to "NEAR" where I sat on Friday, but of course our late departure now has people out there and on the spot already.
EARLINESS, to the dock will always have you in a better position with your guide and possibly because if it's a weekend the ability to get on a spot before it's covered up with everyone else.
So we anchor as close as I could to the area while not doing what others do to me.
The current is running hard, and we catch some whiting, and Seabass....basically small bothersome fish, but do manage a 14" Seabass, then here comes the clear-nosed Rays. The ultimate in junk. We lost our only big fish as it comes to the boat, probably a whopper Sheepshead, like I caught the day before. I helped by setting the hook on it and the fish was ripping drag. But somehow as Bob reeled it in, it came off the hook.
The guys had a rough night last night, and were all sitting around and laying on the bow deck. But Bob was attentive and as we caught the second junker ray, and said "shouldn't we move." So I re-anchored and it didn't matter, because the SW wind was now honking about 15 with 20 knot gusts. And let me tell ya, it wasn't 80 degrees as they said it would be, where we were.
Feeling the HEAT, I pulled up and moved away from the jetties,. and shouldn't have. Bryan came by earlier and said all had stopped where he was but they ended up with a bunch of Yellowmouths, one Speck and one Sheepshead and Blues. Obviously, they weren't where I was when I tried float-rigging. Or I wouldn't have tried to bottom fish for a big fish.
The whole day now was a wash....
I tried an ole spot that used to be a big time Sheepshead spawning area a few years ago. Then moved and watched some guys dabbing some rocks and catching Sheepshead on lite rigs and fiddlers. But for bottom fishing, the tide had now changed, out deep and was coming in on the bottom.
We agreed to try for a few more hours, past the 4 hour limit. But it really didn't make it any better, for Bryan and his guys or me and my guys. So at 5-1/2 hrs we were back at the dock.
The group seemed to be all excited that they could have a fish fry with the yellowmouth they had caught. Which was not something I was aware of. If I was I wouldn't have went and bottom fished looking for a big fish, and would have adjusted my float fishing area instead.
So, now we have a 1/2 day charter extended a few hours, on my boat we caught just a few small bait stealer type fish. Kept a few Whiting and the big Seabass. By the time we left it was an hour after we were supposed too, then the wind started, and just one of us got a small window where the yellowmouth were.
Always make your INTENT obvious to your fishing guide. If you want to catch enough fish for a fish fry, even if they are small fish, make that known. DO NOT be late! Always show up early, because I'll leave at safe light and you may get extra time. I'm not talking be an hours early and stand and stare at me as I launch the boat. But 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time is perfect. Make the Captain Happy, by letting him know what your intent is. I know I'm so early to the dock sometimes friends say, "So your charter's late huh?" And I say, "No, I'm always early!"
Saturday was a prime example of getting the most out of the tide, and day before the weather came through.
Now it looks like the whole rest of the week will have winds at or above 15 knots. And I have Monday through Friday reserved.....good gawd!
Day after day of windy conditions? Lucky me.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Left out this morning at 7:30am with Rick and Matthew Sawyer, it was Matt's Birthday fishing trip.
So when ya have the last of the falling tide in the morning, the Sheepshead spawn going on, a live well full of river crickets (shrimp), a light wind SW wind, and over cast skies. I decided to bottom fish. Because it sure worked on Wednesday when I had Don Zagorski on board. "If it ain't broke don't fix it", RIGHT?
Well, as we sat there anchored up in the river waiting for the bite, the wind would pick up, the skies would darken, and the air temp would grow cooler. Here comes a FRONT. I could just tell, this isn't like Wednesday, and it surely isn't Thursdays weather. So we sat patiently and waited.
Remember the only reason I'll "bait-n-wait" fish, is because it's been very worth it. And now I'm second guessing myself.....rule #1, go with the gut feeling, and never second guess the gut.
I knew something had to happen, and as I was checking one of the baits I felt a tug, and handed Matt the rod. SHEEPSHEAD, and it was a big momma!
(up to 9.5 pounds)
But the bites were far and few between, and the between were small whiting.
So we just stayed with the plan and kept waiting, changing out baits, paying attention to the current, talked on the phone, and watched Matt fight a queasy stomach. And like a real Trooper, he hung in there.
We then went and did some Float-rig fishing as the tide started to flood on the surface.
The water was choppy with the SW wind which is usually a good thing. And Rick hung the first nice Speck, but it came off at boat side.
And the little bitty Bluefish were everywhere, also know as the scourge of spring time. And were eating all the shrimp. But Rick ended up nailing a nice keeper Speckled Trout.
We kept at it, but the blues were incessant. And I went a pulled my anchor and bent the hell out of it, rendering it pretty useless. We looked around
in the river, and there was no current, and now
was high tide. So we headed in to clean fish.
This time of year, even on a kinda crappy weather day, there's still some whopper fish to be had.
And that's why I love the transitional times, Thanksgiving in the fall and Easter in the spring.
Those two holidays....(opps, can't forget good ole St. Patricks Day!) are my favorites.
Least favorite: July 4th, too hot, too many people around.
BTW....just what I thought. I'm checking my "poll" that I'm running on the top of the side bar, and can clearly see not many people use this BLOG report to choose their fishing charter. I cannot believe I have to "guide" people here on the phone, AFTER they've already visited my web site. Reports should be no less than the 3rd thing looked for on a charter service web site, in my opinion.
Here's the first thing I look at when I go to a charter service web site:
- the boat I'll be on. Size, roomyness, fishability in all weather.
- are all the photos of the guide himself, catching fish?. Are they him, in tournament photos? If so, I'm gone.
- Reports, and how recent?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Nick had the camera running...long before he got into position. We'll have to work on that next time. I tried editing it out but couldn't get the edited version to load up here on Blogger.
Either way, we tried. I don't see video's on any other local charter sites.
This could be, YOU !
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Of course, I couldn't have been any more WRONG. Most charters are not one person trips, and can be up to 4 passengers only because I limit them to 4 people. But then there's the rare days, when I have just one person on board. And if that person is a fisherman. It's magic!
And one of those days was today, with Don Zagorski.
We started out by catching the absolute last of the falling tide. But I told Don, as soon as the current subsides, it's gonna be game on. So we pitched out live shrimp on some bottom rigs, using my new Biscayne 8 foot rods. And about 40 minutes later the tide slowed and the first Redbass was causing Don to grunt and groan. Heck it was only a 10 pounder pulling from 50 feet below.
Then, came a 6.5 pound Sheepshead.....Don's dinner fish. Then, not long after came a 12 pounder. Right as the incoming tides current started to flow on the very bottom.
As the bottom current started to push harder and harder, I said to Don, "let's go float-rig fishing."
So we picked-up from our deep water fishing and went to a Trout spot. By now the tide was running really hard, and the North West wind was not helping us out. Remember, I was just out on Monday with Nick Watson, and we were knee deep in Trout and Reds at the same locale. So when it's wrong, it's all wrong. And I could tell.
The small Bluefish were also a nuisance, so after trying so hard to get it right, mother nature won. And we'll have to try this again later.
So I motored about 100 yards away out into the deep water again, Don and I pitched out the big bottom rods and live shrimp to the bottom and Don scored this 22 pound Redfish, within minutes. He thought the other Reds pulled!! This fish was twice them. We kept trying for more, but for some reason, that was it. So I made a move, as it was now High Tide. And all we had was
So, we went back for a look to see if it was worth Float-rig fishing again. The NW wind backed way off, and the water was clean and clear. First cast, Speck! And the yellowmouth Trout were also present and biting. But, the little Bluefish were not gone. And with just enough live shrimp left, Don and I worked over the spot, and caught (1) limit of Specks and (2) limits of Yellowmouth Trout, and tossed back many small ones.
We fished about every single useable shrimp in the well. And teased a brazen Pelican. Then headed back to the dock to clean the catch, or as I call it; "Time to make the donuts."
From here on out, I have Friday, Saturday, then all of next week prebooked.
I'm interested in seeing actually how many days I'll either get off, or if I get to do all of these days, how many will be fish'able.
When I get a huge rush of people who want to go because it's a holiday, inevitably momma nature sometimes doesn't care about my financial welfare.
Monday, March 10, 2008
So Nick and I went out for some "Research and Development". As I like to refer to as "by the numbers" we left out at a perfect time, hit one spot, and began the assault on fishdom. I believe I had Trout #1 on cast #1....and when it was Redbass time, I had #1 Redbass on #1 cast! I was HOT!
That 40 MPH wind on Saturday, matched up to the new moon low tide, did me such a favor. On the falling tide, with a west gale wind behind it, flushed the river like an ole Ferguson toilet. So given the first opportunity to get out there, I was more than ready to take a big bite out of my favorite place....ya know, it's a Jettywolf thang.
I'll pretty much let the photos say a thousand words...
Nick and I wore out the Speckled Trout & Yellowmouth Trout. And had a whole bunch of small 14-1/2" Specks, while I was just waiting on that 7 or 8 pounder. But I never found any "Gators", just Specks to 19 inches. But, 2 weeks ago there wasn't any Specks around out here. So I was glad to get'em any size for the fish box. And the fat bellied Yellowmouth were ferocious!
Compared to our last trip to the jetties, today was very workable. The winds were light, and I had no plans of bottom fishing until low tide. And it was so nice only dropping anchor maybe 2-3 times. Once for all the trout, and the second for numerous Reds from 27" to 33". I said to Nick, "what will it take for me to put you on a Redfish , today?" , because I was ripping them and we were fishing in the exact same spot. And we figured it was the same reason that on our last trip he caught the big Reds, and I didn't!
I really wanted Nick to get a big Red, so I kept saying "I'll back off", so I'd pitch to a different area, but managed to keep on catching them! Like I said, I was hot, for some reason. But then again, I was feeling a little "wolfie".
The water temp was between 62 and 63 degrees, and I was hoping to see it warmer. But things are really starting to heat-up, anyhow. We saw small Sharks give the boat a swim by. And of course there's plenty of those Cow nosed Rays swimming the clean water.
Like many days I experience after a big weather event, if ya just let it settle you can bet the next clear day they'll be on the feed bag, big time.
After our tide was over and the bluefish took over we purposely caught some Blues for cut bait and ran up river and tried bottom fishing for a really Big Redbass, but ran out of time.
So we actually fished a normal day. Rather than our usual marathon. Which was good, Nick was feeling tired and I had things to take care of back at the Ranchero Delux. So we hit the dock and I cleaned all the fish....we had limits of Yellowmouths and Specks, one Sheepshead and one 27" Red. And we both went home with giant bags of fresh fillets.
It was one sweet day!
I'm jam-up from here on out till the 21st of the month. So lots of reports coming. I may combine days, if I'm whooped at 8:00pm. So multiple days maybe in one post. Either way, STAY TUNED!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
7 Bridges restaurant & brewery at 7:00pm rather than starting at 10:00pm when they're at Lynches Irish Pub in Jax beach. 10pm, is kinda late for me.
Yeah, I'm not a late night kinda guy. By 10pm, I'm usually falling asleep in my Lazyboy recliner.
Believe it or not, my mother and I went. We had a good dinner and a few beers, and then sat and listened to a few sets of Celtic rock sounds that has made Nick, Trevor, and Neil -"the Antipypr" famous. Mom loved it! I wish I brought my camera. so I could have taken a few pics.
You've never heard a Highland Bagpipe, till you listen to Neil Anderson!
I hope that more restaurants will hear about last nights show, and the band gets to perform at more places like the 7-Bridges.
Their web site: http://www.rathkeltair.com/ - "Winner of 2006 Celtic Music Awards."
And if you love this kind of sound, you can get to hear much more at the 2nd annual Jax Irish Music fest, at the Jax Fair grounds on April 26th.
Heard something else yesterday......My neighbor told me he took someone fishing on his companies boat. And this person said that they read a Reports BLOG everyday. He said, "WHO"? This person replied, Capt Dave's. My neighbor said, "hmmm...what's his last name?"
And this person replied, "don't know, be he has a big metal boat!"
He responded..."That's my neighbor, Dave!"
The moral of this story is, that ole subject that is dear to me. "The Power of Observation!"
I talk about it all the time. Being aware of your surroundings, especially as a fisherman.
What I found very funny, is that across the entire top of this BLOG is the "title"... CAPT. DAVE SIPLER'S SPORT FISHING BLOG.
It's okay though. I once had a call from a guy looking for a charter/guide. And happened upon this blog. Called me and everything. And had NO idea that I was in the charter business. And just thought that I was a "weekend enthusiast" that wrote alot, for my health. The funny thing about this story is, "what do people actually see and read?" I know Google has studied what and how people see when they read a search page. Talk about an interesting article. Google's got it going on!
I find myself practicing, memorization of small details, and the truly obscure. Because in my world. I find it helps me. But I'm sure even my attentiveness is very selective.
C'C'mon....what are ya waiting for. Let's go fishing! We waited all of February to get to this point.
It's starting to really get HOT!
Next day up to bat for me is Saturday, with the Donelenko's.
Monday, March 3, 2008
DO NOT LET ANYONE KID YOU!
You don't have to hug a rock this time of year to catch plenty of Sheepshead. See that boat dwarfed by the ship passing under the Dames Point Bridge?
He was absolutely killing the Sheepshead, (toss in a few Drum) out there damn near in the channel.
Don't ask me how I know that.
In my opinion, the jetties get pummeled very hard. And like a reef offshore are only going to hold so many fish at a given time. Sure fish are constantly on the move, but if you could have seen the south tip of the jetty rocks on Saturday afternoon, and then again on Sunday afternoon, like I did you would have seen the same boats anchored there for the entire falling tide both days.
Do not think for a minute that this doesn't hurt the population there. And how about the constant traffic over head. I know for a fact I have had my Speckled Trout catches diminish rapidly between a Thursday and a Saturday. Do solely to incessant boat traffic, especially in the shallower areas.
Just like an offshore fisherman, the key is; "H-A-R-D = F-I-S-H". I've never heard of someone blasting offshore to spend $200 in fuel, $100 in bait, just to fish out in the middle of the desert over soft sand. Reefs, can be wrecks, ledges, concrete piles, barges, all with hardness that attracts organisms, soft corals, barnacles, and provides places for small little "food" critters a place to live.
Same goes for the river. About the only thing that "progress" has accomplished with all the river dredging, is that it has exposed the natural lime rock "hard bottom" areas. Especially on the edges of the channel. Along with the river's current, many of these places are no different than the jetty rocks when it comes to a big fat Sheepshead.
Then there's places that have hard shell bottom. Where are these places? Many of them are just historically good fishing spots, such as under the Dames Point Bridge. A really good sounder/bottom finder will point those areas out to you when you go over them. My machine is a 12" RayMarine color LCD. When I pass over a hard bottom area the bottom indicated in bright red will be very thick. And when I see a green fuzz just off the bottom I refer to that as just
"bio-mass". Be it shrimp, plankton, whatever...when I see that green fuzz, in conjunction with a deep red bottom, I'm looking at usually a good hard bottom spot.
That contains LIFE. Which in turn means food, which means FISH. And possibly Sheepshead!
I got to thinking yesterday that I NEVER fish vertically for Sheepshead up and down on the jetty rocks. I float-rig them, and I jig them. But I never sit and dab them. Maybe because I find it boring, I don't know. But I never do what I see hundreds doing.
But I do prefer to fish in good current, with several rods in the pole holders. Usually with just live shrimp. Getting the right size bank sinker to hold bottom, and utilize a sinker slider, and a short leader with either a small circle hook or something like a wide bend Eagle Claw 1/0. Now I find this enjoyable sometimes. You may have read that I don't like "bait-n- wait" fishing. But if there's something to actually catch, as in this time of year. I enjoy just kick'n back and watching a rod tip for a bounce.
There's no mangrove snappers yet, the pinfish have backed off a bit, there's no lil' croakers to eat everything in sight, and the Sheepshead and Drum are on the move.
The point is that you don't have to be in that crowd of bumper boats at the end of the rocks to catch some quality Sheepshead. Being that I fish the jetties alot, I could be at the bait shop and people ask me, "been catchin' the sheepshead out there huh?" And I usually respond, "No not really....."
You would be so surprised that there's an entire world of Sheepshead just along some hard bottom areas in the river. And no one fishes those areas. I have tried and still cannot hit all of them. Just as there's alot of Sheepshead up in the flooded grass at the excessive high tides.
Here's a spawning brood stock size 11 pounder that wasn't caught along the jetties but rather in the river, from deep water.
I use shrimp as bait, but do a few things to hopefully make my presentation a whole lot better. I take a big live shrimp. I cut off the tail fins. Clipping them off, not tearing them off.
I then thread my hook through the shrimp from the open tail end, like a rubber worm. Then half way through the shrimps body, I pull the hooks bend out, turn the hook and stick it in the walking legs of the shrimp.
This keeps the shrimp from spinning in the current. I've never seen a shrimp act like a Roland Martin as only seen on TV Helicopter lure! Shrimp lay on the bottom, they don't spin in the current. I think this matters, and never do it any other way.
Hooking the shrimp in this fashion makes the Sheepshead or any fish go through the hook to get the shrimp. And doubles the hook area to keep the shrimp from spinning. On my last charter with the Kossak family, I did this and each and every Sheepshead was hooked in the throat. Because it ate it's way up the shrimp and into the hook. Meaning a sure hook-up, for a guaranteed catch from the deep water.
Here's another definite
"spawning" size and colored Sheeps
that I caught no where near the jetty
rocks, but rather on some hard bottom
in the river. At 10 pounds in swift current,
in water from 35-50 feet, you can bet this
7-Striped Jetty Snappers, aren't necessarily caught this time of year just at the jetties or off piling. Hard bottom areas that may take just a little more time to find and fish, can be just as productive. And just think, if these areas aren't beat to death, can ya imagine the size of the "River mule" you could catch??
I was sitting along the jetties yesterday catching me some yellermouth Trout, and having my hook crushed by Sheepshead bites, after my morning charter with the Kossak Family, when I looked over and saw something that was interesting.
Being a serious G. Loomis guy.....a Pro-staff member for many, many years now. (BTW, ya can't go wrong with a Loomis rod)
And one who is always looking for an edge in my float-rig fishing. Being a long-time user of Premier plastic inc. "Salmon Stalker" EVA floats.
I see a boat pull up along the jetties, just one guy and a kid. First, I notice that there's a rod rigged up with a Salmon Stalker float! Only a few that I know of use these....they are not something the average joe uses. Unless they've seen mine or maybe even been with me on a trip.
Then the guy starts casting his float out. And I see he is using what looks like a G. Loomis "Greenwater" long rod, maybe a 8'2 incher????
Hmmmmm......that interesting. That's the rod I use. It's a $250 rod. And one fine float-rigging rod too.
I strained my eyes looking to see if he had a Shimano Curado 300DSV on the rod, but could not tell......because if so. That's what I use!!!!
So, what's the deal?
This isn't like you can go to Wally's World and buy a long Loomis "greenwater" rod and a pack of Salmon Stalker 1 oz. EVA floats. I told Sam the fishing dept. manager at Gander Mountain about them, but doubt they'll carry them either.
It's takes a bit of...in my case "tweeking", or in his case OBSERVING??? (maybe we've talked??)
But, just by seeing what he was using I can tell this fella has fine taste. Not that any ole rod and reel can't catch a Trout, Sheepshead, or a Redfish. But there's those of us who enjoy some of the finer things in life. I don't do fine dining, vacations to Maui, or live in an exclusive area. It's all about nice tackle, boats, and having fun fishing to me.
Either way, I was the observer. And can't say I recognized the fella, or the boat.
Maybe he's a blog reader?
Here's links to what I'm talking about. If anyone is "EVER" interested in any tackle that I discuss, please contact me first. I have ideas on where to find it the cheapest, if that interests you.
It's just stuff that works for me, and that I like.
Here's a "must read" if your into the Shimano Curado's, as I am:
- http://www.tackletour.com/reviewshimanocurado300dhsv.html - notice they are using a butter fly jigging rod. Yep, that's next up for me. Light duty butterfly jigging offshore for Kings, Seabass, Snapper...and whatever else this summer.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Is it that I am an anti-socialist, I guess so. I really like people, hell I'm in the people business! But what's that ole saying one is fine two is okay, and three's a crowd....Now try that with waking boats and people who just don't care about you, times 1000!!!
But, it's a tradition. I have to go fishing on the first day of Trout opening. Most of the time I know what to expect. I've stood in the wind and rain, been freezing, and due to Small Craft Advisories never made March 1st's opening day. But this was one for the records books, being it fell on a Saturday. And was damn near if not 80 degree's on land....a tad cooler on the water. And if they owned a boat, they (Jacksonville) was out fishing.
I gave the opening day a half heart try. I asked a few friends and couldn't even get anyone to go with me. I went to basically one spot where I thought maybe I'd hit a few Specks. But only caught Bluefish. Watched the lure tossers working the same area and they came up empty too. The tide really sucked. Water movement in the river was really slow on the falling tide with only 2.9 feet of water movement, and the incoming tide was a whopping 2.3 feet. Not what I'd consider being an Epic Trout tide, for what I do and where I fish.
So I went to the jetties and found I couldn't get near any of my spots there. So I just pulled out my big deck chair, dropped over the 1/2 cider block anchor chucked out a piece of cut bluefish, and drifted off the beach all the out to the green buoy on the south jetty catching whiting.
Then, finally saw and opening and went for it!
I pulled in dropped anchor an in 5 casts of the float-rig had 5 Yellowmouth Trout, and lost a Sheepshead behind the boat. Packed it up and went to the boat ramp.
That was my whole Saturday.
3/2 - Had Dave Kossak and family out for a morning half day trip. With his 11 yr. old son, and 7 year old daughter and wife. I saw some good things as I explored around on Saturday afternoon waiting my turn to get a anchoring permit to fish my spot. So I had a good game plan for the kids. BOTTOM FISH!
Real easy, but where to do it was the best decision. We left out about 7:30am on another CRAZY DAY, just like Saturday. We went to one spot, anchored up, and was incessantly waked, but the fish were there. And it was I.G. - (instaneous gratification)
I no sooner pitched out a 6oz. bank sinker with a short leadered hook and an impaled live shrimp and we were onto the first Sheepshead. She worked hard on this fish in 50 feet of water (with help from her dad of course) and here hair kept getting caught in the reel as she turned the reel handle.
I never seen that happen before....but she never gave up, and caught the largest Sheepshead at 6.5 pounds. They caught more Sheepshead and even a Black Drum, and a few healthy deep water Seabass that would have been legal a year ago. Mmmm, even 11-1/2" Seabass have some nice white fillets.
It was tough staying anchored as the inconsiderate's run down the side of my boat and between us and the jetties. But the kids had a ball I think. And that's all that mattered to me.