Sunday, April 13, 2008

4/12 - For the birds....only.

Saturday's....gotta love 'em and hate 'em. Well compared to Friday, at least.
Worked my butt off, that's for sure. Had two half day trips. One at 7am and another at 12:30pm.

First off, I went and 'baited-up' after Friday's successful trip, because if I got my shrimp and ice the day before I wouldn't even have to go to the Bait Shop, Saturday morning. And deal with the possible crowds in the very limited parking lot of B&M bait and tackle......12 dozen new live shrimp, and a basket of ice. I was ready, for whatever Saturday threw my way. I thought.

Then I got home, checked the weather report for Saturday, and whewwww...the only preparation for what I read was MENTAL preparation. It's all mental-prep, when on Friday I had no wind, two good fisherman, and bountiful beautiful trout, and then a Saturday with winds projected to be over 20 knots, a boat load of kids in the morning, and then an afternoon mystery corporate charter, in over 20 knot winds.

Let's start with 7am Saturday. Had Eric Pipkorn from Georgia aboard. The game plan was a 1/2 day with himself, his wife, and two 5 & 6 year old's. That turned into, himself, the two 5 & 6 year old's, No wife, and a 11 year old, instead. Thank goodness the 4th member wasn't another 5 year old. But rather a quiet boy from Atlantic beach who never said a single word to anyone on board in 4 hours. He was able to float-rig fish, along with Eric. While the two younger kids, just played or threw-up over the side of the boat.

We were at the jetties, and did catch a few fish as the breeze got stronger and stronger. And the water rougher and rougher. Started out with some Jacks, and Bluefish. Then, Eric caught the first Spanish Mackerel of the year on my boat (on the float-rig), a healthy 26 inch fish! Not bad for the first one of the season.

Honestly, I was rethinking my child/adult policy as we went along. Thinking, I may want to go with one adult for each child under 10 must be present, and no more than 4 passengers, max.

It kept getting windier, and rougher and one of the boys wasn't fairing to well. I think I was the only one who cared.....Maybe no one else aboard has ever been seasick before??

(You can see him in the corner of
this photo with his head slumped
over the side.)

The trip was supposed to be all about the kids, and really should have been just a "2 hour kids trips", where we ride around awhile sight seeing and maybe do a few minutes of fishing. Because the day was deteriorating FAST!

We left the jetties and tried a few other areas, with no success. Pretty much because of the wind direction and strength. And the bite was about over, as the front moved in I guess. As soon as I can't get anchored up with my heavy chain, 14 pound Danforth style anchor, the wind is certainly a major factor in our day, then. The youngsters were getting really bored/and or rammy as my mom used to call it. And the older boy (the cousin) just put up with them, and lost interest in fishing too. So we eventually headed back to the ramp. Where I cleaned up that Spanish Mack for Eric, and it yielded some nice baking fillets.

Next up; a three boat, three passenger each, company charter. Arranged by a friend. The wind was at it's all time fury at this point. I think we could have caught just as many fish while tied off the the dock....is what I was thinking. But I had 3 really nice folks, two women and one guy.
As they loaded on the boat, I said. "were gonna go see if we can do anything, and I mean anything, in this wind." And I took off to the jetties!!

Yes, I was at least gonna go for the GUSTO! So as we got out there, we took a lot of spray over the side of the boat, as I gave her hell. (at least the ride would be an adventure, they could talk about back at the hotel) I looked around and it was all out mayhem....the SW 20 knot, gusting to 25 knot winds had us with no where to go.....except, the north jam of the jetties. Where the beach meets the jetties on the very north corner. I ran down the outside of the rocks all the way to the beach into 10' of water. There was a swell coming in. But if I could stay anchored. We may have a chance at a Jack, Bluefish, or whatever is swimming the beach....POMPANO?? Yeah in my dreams.....

I pitched the anchor, and we held. But the wind was whipping the boat all over. I cast out 3 float-rig rods to see where they would go...certainly not down along the rocks. But rather blown out into the Atlantic, with the SW wind.

We ended up with a few Bluefish, and Jacks as predicted, and one 16" Whiting. What a stud!
I kept having to cast their lines for them against the wind up to the jetty rocks, 3 at a time and in a NY minute their float rods would have massive belly in the line, and they'd miss one fish after another. NO GOOD. NOT FUN! But certainly worth a try on a day with lighter winds, I learned. Probably a good place to try for more jumbo Whiting, in the future....so I put that tidbit of info under my hat and we got the hell out of there.

They asked if the ride back in was gonna be like the ride out. "OH YEAH", I responded. Thinking to myself....probably a lot worse! Or more fun, depending on who you are. And that was ME.
With the incoming tide pushing against the SW gale gusts. I ran around the North tip of the jetty, flew through the air and barreled down the center of the channel. AHHHH, BIG METAL!

I actually took it a bit easy, for the sake of my passengers. But really wanted to see my BIG METAL shine. If I was by myself, I could have really smashed my way in the jetties. Because it was a soup sandwich. Seas from all directions with a frosting of wakes and froth tearing up the middle of the channel. I loved it. Water sprayed everywhere, the wind would just pick it up and send it airborne ...and I did all I could to not give here all out, hell. That's why "we" own boats like this. They don't creak and crack, they just go through whatever is in front of it.

Then there was the part of the river from the ferry slip, to the little jetties. Boats everywhere, bogging, bow up into the heinous winds and chop. I just slid the tabs down a bit and blew right on by them. Yeah, this was a Disney World ride, not in Orlando, but rather Mayport!

We slid in behind the Lil' Jetties and anchored up and caught a few more Bluefish, and a few small Speckled Trout, before it was time to head back to the dock.

But probably the best part of this charter was when the fella on my boat told me he's a real shutterbug, and just loves taking photos of different places and things. So on the way back to the dock he got a treat. We were slowly cruising just outside all the shrimp boats in Mayport when a big sail boat passed us heading inshore. They were tacking with the wind, and the whole sailboat was leaned completely over on it's side, and then they went for the tack. The crew turned into the wind, and the sails came snapping around, leaning the boat over on it's opposite side. This fella (Ron, I think) took a series of photo's straight out of Sailing Quarterly Magazine. Really cool stuff!

When we got back to the dock. I was mentally drained. And a bit physically drained too. It was almost 5pm, 12 hours from when my day started this morning. Twelve hours of no wind is tough enough, but twelve hours of hard fishing, wind blowing, two different groups, rammy kids, and rough seas. Hell, I feel I earned every nickel I made today....the hardest way.

It's good I had these trips, because as I write this report on Sunday morning with the cool winds and rain outside right now. I was supposed to be fishing in this too! But instead I cancelled today's charter with a husband and wife team, visiting Jacksonville. I told them last night, "Ya'll are not gonna have any fun.....I can about guarantee that!" So hopefully, my honesty will pay off with a re-booking with them again, another time.

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