Friday, May 30, 2008

5/29 - Little Differences...?

Had Dale H. aboard for a day of school....mixed with fish catching. Dale is a fellow aluminum boat brother (17' - G3) It may not be big heavy metal, but at least he's on the right track. I started out with a 1974 14' Aluma-Craft, myself. So right off, we think alike.

Dale always says, "Dave the weather will be perfect, don't worry." When he picks a day to go fishing with me. And he's basically right, each time. Last trip was back on April 11th. It was cool, foggy, and then the afternoon was beautiful. And we did well on big Trout then, when they were at the inlet. But that trip was "introduction to Float-rig fishing". Today was also beautiful, almost to beautiful (and I'll discuss that as I go along). And was "the finer points of Float-rig fishing" 101.

We left out good and early, prior to 7am. The plan was to casually hop from spot to spot. No high stress, no frantic fishing, just two guys out enjoying a day of hunting big Specks.

I had Tuesday still fresh in my mind. Which turned out to be almost the opposite of today.


Tuesday, (my previous report to this one) was one of those days that I will not forget anytime soon. Cool, overcast, with storm clouds imminent almost all day. And with probably a serious barometer fluctuation...ALONG WITH SO MANY BIG TROUT (over 20"), IT WAS RIDICULES!
Today, was standard summer time kind of weather. Very warm, humid as hell, nice blue sky, no high winds, basically a Bluebird. On any given charter, the kind of weather we dream about.

Dale and I soft peddled our way around the river. Going by my gut instinct's. Which I go by 95% of the time. Because I know which spots should yield what, and when they don't we move on quickly. It's what I call the "ten minute rule"....give or take a few minutes.

Spot #2......"ah, this was nice." Dale set his depth flipped his float out behind the boat made a perfect drift and was rewarded with an over 20" Trout. A fat 22 incher to be exact, the first Trout of the morning. I.G. - instantaneous gratification! Which was nice. Because spot #1, let us down big time!!

And that's the way the day went. We had to work our tails off to find Specks under 20", for the fish box. Because I flipped my float out, and was also rewarded with an over 20" trout too.

"A bird in hand is always better than two in the bush", is an ole saying I'll always go by. Because you never know what the rest of the day could be like. So put those in the fish box, and if bigger ones come, just release them for next time.

That's the way the day went, after catching most of our fish at spot #2. We did real well there, considering it was a falling tide, really getting hot now, and my favorite tide to fish this spot is normally on the flood incoming tide. Go figure, go with the flow.

The spots that I thought won't produce, produced. And the spots I thought would, didn't.

Even though it was a really nice, hot humid day. Tuesday's weather was obviously perfect Trout weather. And I do find that when there is the slightest "bump" in the forecast, with out the day being a disaster weather wise, are great fishing days. And Tuesday's cloud cover, rain threat, and coolness was the difference between an all out waylay, and having to work a bit harder.

The day with Dale was a school day, and we caught really beautiful Trout, and released really beautiful Trout, with the emphasis on techniques and where to execute them. But the majority of the fish were caught just before the afternoon, and on the first of the falling tide.

I wanted Dale to get the BIGGEST ONE. So even though the best part of the bite was seemingly over, we continued our hunt. And while working a double whammy secret spot, I caught the largest Trout of the day a 24 inch 5 pounder. I love it and I hate it. I wanted Dale to get that fish! Just like when I caught the 10 pounder, I would have loved Dave Cohen who was with me that day to catch that fish, too. But they want me to I easily oblige.

Most of the Trout today were 17 to 24", and as hard as we tried to catch smaller fish, boxed 4 shy of our 2 person limit. We also had the "summer river variety package" too, a small Black Drum, Bluefish, Mangrove Snappers, a Toadfish, a Needlefish, Jacks, and Pinfish.

Our next scheduled trip is in June. We just may head to the jetties for a serious whopper; big Red, Tarpon or blacktip Shark or maybe even to the near-shore reefs for some butterfly jigging, in search of; Snapper, Grouper, Cuda's, King and Spanish Mackerel, what ever will eat a properly presented jig.

Back at the boat ramp, my friendly Egret showed up again. Along with many other marine foul.
But if this is the same Egret every time, it sure knows there's a softy on that Big Metal Boat. Because this bird always gets nice pieces of trout belly from me till it's completely full. And then just stands there watching me.

The time is now if you'd like a nice box of fat Speckled Trout. I'd get while the getting is REAL
good. Plus I need someone to break in some new reels that should be here any day.
If you have a small group, and would like to go butterfly jigging, on a drift fishing charter on the near-shore reefs. Call for details.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

5/27 - Settled waters, boat traffic over, it's Tueday!

I'll wait my turn. Because I can. I fished Friday and Sunday over the windy Memorial day holiday. Not as much as I'd liked. But we got out there, so what more could I ask for?

Dave's turn, that's what! So, even though Tuesday's weather was "iffy", I went. Leaving the dock at 0530 hrs. to go have me some fun.

This is a "classic" time of year, the end of I stated in my last report, it's all about same places, same time of year. Gone from the inlet are the big Specks. Believe me I've tried to find them there. But here's the kicker..."they are all over the surf". Yep, they are running the beach but can't be caught at the jetties?? That's a real perplexing situation, I know. Structure like the Jax Beach Pier is where you can find them on certain conditions. And they'll be big fat roe laden females, too. I've always put them into groups in the summer. Half the fish, will be on the beach, and the other half are in the river. And the river half are on the move. And by the time July is here, the river half will be as far as Orange Park or Green Cove Springs. Depending on how much rain fall we get in the summer months. Because the Shrimp, and bait are that far south.

But for now, I know where they are at. And if you want to have some classic warm weather Trout mornings. It's time to get on the stick, and call me. Not next month, or in two weeks. But RIGHT NOW!

It was dark as I headed to the first spot. Nothing like watching the sunrise as your first drift of the float-rig goes behind the boat, then disappears. Yes, I had a Trout on my first drift. (I.G. - instantaneous gratification.)

I'm not gonna go into massive detail about the day, other than saying; by 11:00 am I had between 35-40 Specks, half the trout were OVER 20 inches!
1-small Redfish, 1- small black Drum, and a keeper Flounder at 15".

"How can that be?", you ask? Well, I came prepared. I had at least 15 dozen live shrimp in the well, and left the house with 6 rods. Two deep water float-rigs, two jig rods, a top water casting rod, and my light action float rod. And all day to fish, hard!

I fished a total of four spots. And on area #2 and #3 the Trout were insane. So insane that I caught one on damn near ever drift of the float. Even lost another monster Speck. That pushed my live shrimp to the surface, and then sky-rocketed on it coming out of the water. It looked to be a monster Trout in that 10 pound category again. I pulled on my fairy wand rod to get the fish out from under a dock. and it came. But lost it right behind the boat as the hook pulled. After closer inspection, the owner hook was even bent a little. "Oh, what a sight that was." In shallow water.

I even caught a spinning rod and reel on one spot, complete with a lure attached. I could have cleaned it up....but I'm not a "spinner" guy and brought it back and left it at the boat ramp for someone else to mess with.

I started counting the "over" twenty inch Trout, but figured out that I'd be doing a lot of photo's and didn't have enough fingers to hold up.

So I quit at the 4th Speck. The action was so good, and how many pictures do I need to take of the same size fish, 20" to 24 inches.

Each year around this time, I get several chances to go do this by myself. This year it's fuel prices that will limit my FUN days alone.

So I kept telling myself, "get it, while the getting is good", so even though I had my measly Speck limit, I kept hopping around trying different spots. Not to beat up the same area, like some people I know who don't find any good spots on their own. But take from others instead. I call them the "shadows". We all know a few.

It wasn't like it was the best looking morning. After sun-up it really looked as if I picked a wet day to fish. But I never got rained on a single drop. The fish gods were with me.

Back at the boat ramp, I was greeted by what I think is the same White Egret that always comes to visit, because it knows I'm a "softy". I can literally hand feed this bird small cut pieces of Trout belly, off the end of my knife.
DO NOT use your'll stab you with it's beak!

This is the most polite bird. Patient and it doesn't take much to get it so full it won't even take a hand-out after awhile. But still hangs around on my boat.

I have Dale H. on board Thursday, so we'll be going full bore. I mentioned to him that the Tarpon are at the jetties and he said, he'd love to catch one of them. But since jetty tarpon are a snipe-hunt, when you'd actually like to target them. And most are caught/hooked inadvertently.....I think we'll opt for Speck limits instead. Specks fit on my jumbo fish cleaning table a lot better.....
Get while the getting is good. Call me for your personal "Trout-Tour". NOW.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

5/25 - Trout Galore...same place, same time, same channel

Been at this for quite some time. It's painful to realize these days, that I'm totally not-fit to do much else. And as a real good friend and mentor said to me one time, "Dave, as you go along you'll find you're un-trainable. And then you're stuck". These were the words of retired 35 year commercial fisherman. Which, I don't separate him from me. We're both in the same boat, doing the same kind of thing. Just doing it a bit differently.
The reason I'm saying this is because as I look through lists of photo's, it's good to see that the fish are right where they are supposed to be over another Memorial day weekend holiday, for the books.

I sift through all the photos in my computer files and see all the faces and beautiful fish caught from years past during this same time of month. And it just had me thinking, about all the people and the fish during this time of year.

Right now, can be classic Trout fishing along the banks of the St. Johns River. From lot's of small ones to some big momma's, fat with roe.

Here's a few caught during this same time of month from years past:

Although I've fished in better weather on other Memorial Day holidays. So far it's been rain and N.E. winds at 20 kts. But we caught fish either way in the same ole spots.

Today, I had a farewell trip. With Joe Eulberg, and his wife Judy and daughter Rachel.

Joe's been out with me several times. Once with Rachel. And never with Judy. But since they are moving to Ohio, from Jacksonville. It was the last salty trip. And Joe will become a Walleye Great Lakes fisherman, now.
We departed at o700 hrs. and it's so funny how the weather guessers on the 'local yokal' News refer to a 20 kt. N.E. wind..."oh, it's gonna be a little breezy, on Sunday", the weather girl said last night at 11:00. Yeah...a little breezy. Right.

So we took off down river. Eastward today was out of the question.

Even though the wind was howling, I'll take a N.E. wind and incoming tide any day over an west wind and incoming tide.

Joe, Judy and Rachel caught a whole bunch of really nice Specks, a few Bluefish and Jacks, and only one Ladyfish, and only 3 Mangrove Snappers. I don't know what is worse, a Bluefish's teeth or the Mangroves ability to shuck the meat out of a shrimp in a nano second. Either way, both are not targeted species. They just come with the territory this time of year.

Industrial area's. I love fishing them. Crusty dock pilings. I just love float-rig fishing them. It's probably, the fact that there's a target to drift to and around. And you just never know how big the Speck will be that's hiding behind them.

We really had fun fishing these areas today. And the worst thing was I could only squeeze three photos out of my camera, before the batteries died.

And as the Eulbergs left with a big bag of beautiful Speck fillets for dinner tonight, and I bid Joe good luck in Ohio. I was so glad we got to go even though the weather wasn't like last year's Memorial day holiday

Next up:
Dale Houck...."the weather man", no he's not actually a weatherman, I just refer to him as that because he always insists, "Dave, don't worry, it's gonna be nice." Just him and I, two guys out chasing "GATORS".

Saturday, May 24, 2008

5/24 -Wanted and For Sale:

I'll start off with something I'm looking for an what I'm willing to do.

I'm in need of a person who is a legitimate aluminum alloy welder. Has the equipment and know how to do a simple job for me. I'll supply materials. I have a small project that I've designed, but do not own a welder and do not know how to "lay a perfect stack of dimes". Either come to my house, or willing to bring project to you within the Jacksonville area.

I'M WILLING TO: Give a one day charter for two passengers. For a few hours work. It's a value of $400+. Please contact me at: or call (904) 642-9546 if you are this person and possess the skill level and equipment to do basically (3) perfect welds.

For Sale:

3- Okuma Guide Select 7'6" heavy action split cork grip, Alconite guides, casting rods. 1-5 oz. capability. Brand new in March! List for: $109.00 Selling for $50 each.

2- SEEKER rods, premium quality made in California. All Black with blue threading, Composite Fiberglass/graphite rods. Very sweet action. Perfect for trolling for King Mackerel, casting, bottom fishing.

Brand new in April maybe used 3 times. Zirconia Guides, the hardest guide material used today–offers resistance to nicks, dings or wearing marks from the new super lines. The handles are EVA–a material that feels like hypalon but is made of advanced material resistant to UV damage and much lighter than cork. These new EVA handles, reel seat hoods and rings in the guides are made in lightning blue to maintain the Blue Lightning theme.

8 foot Model # BSCW-807-8, see here: at $193.00, Selling for $100....that's a steal!

5/23 - Different in a new way......

As I pulled into the boat ramp this morning very early. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Here's what I saw, as the sun rose and revealed. DEAD-CALM waters. Can this be for real, is this imaginary? After I tied off to the dock, and parked my truck. It sunk in that, "yes, this is what it's like here on the river with no wind."

As I waited for Jake & Doug, my customers to arrive, I quickly realized there's always a give and take. As the Gnats ate on me. And must have been attracted to the Bull Frog sunscreen I had all over myself.

But sunscreen was just a habit to put on if I have time. Because as it turned out. There was no real sun, just lots of cloud cover. With possible rain clouds over head in the west.

I have not seen such a slick calm river since April. That's why I'm so shocked. It was like the warm summer morning's, rememeber from years past.

Jake & Doug arrived at 7am. And because of the bugs, I was quick to leave. We headed out the jetties and I told them I'd like to get some Pogies and bottomfish this morning. Of course, Jake wants TROUT.

So we head down the outside of the south rocks.
And what do I see everywhere???

My arch enemies. Tiny Bluefish popping the surface all over. At first they looked just like Pogies. But upon further examination of their "flipping the surface" they weren't. Too fast, and jumpy. Rather than the clumbsy "flip & splat" of a Pogie.

Lately, "If I had no bad luck, I'd have no luck at all....." (yeah, sing it with me....the ole Hey Haw song) "gloom dispair and agony on me......." Because, I've had to spend some big dollars at the house, I hurt my ankle, been to the doctor and he can't tell me what's wrong. You know, it all comes in 3's.

So as I head toward the beach, and look in my scope. I see no signs of life. All the way to the Jax. Beach Pier we ride.......Gulp, Gulp, Gulp, goes the fuel. On a 40 minutes search for zero. We ride all the way back to the north jetty. And the tides just starting to pour in the rocks, which for me means "Greenies" .

I break out the bait rod, and start casting and I'm catching good ole "jetty bait". Pogies....hell with them, till I need chum. Especially if I can catch me Greenies, from now on. The jumbo sized Spanish Mackerel were all over the place too. Which would have meant instant hook-ups, but I usually don't carry any casting rods, since not many people I take can cast. But I'm certainly thinking, jigging rods instead, next time.

I anchor up right next to the jetty and cut some Greenies and pitch them out on my bottom rods, thinking there could be a big Redfish lurking under all that baitfish. And right away, we get two sharks. The agressive "lurkers" are there and if I stayed we'd probably be knee deep in shark bites the whole tide. So we move and break out the float-rig rods, and drift down the face of the north jetty. Jake's having a time getting used to it all...he's the begginer on the boat. And needs my undivided attention, every single minute. Doug is pretty experienced, so that was good. He could get along on his own. But was getting eaten alive by bait-stealers. So we moved from the jetties.

I had enough...I could just imagine getting setup on a good spot, and then have the tiny blues come in and give us grief. But before we left, I peered into the water along the rocks that was super clean and clear, and saw one 4' wide Stingray after another passing by. Oh, ya gotta love summer huh? Not me, I like winter around here. Less of the unfavorable fish species around, like stingers.

So this was the writing on the wall. Sharks, Sting Rays, tiny Blues, slashing Spanish Mackerel teeth everywhere, and little baitstealers up in the rocks. And then I looked on the tip of the jetty. And saw the first TARPON of the year roll on the surface with tail completely out of the water. Alrighty then....I have a targeted species to fish for out here when I get that one die hard angler on board!!

And I mean die hard! One that can operate the tackle with no problems, wants to pursue a species, and can adequately take fishing my 9' Loomis Pelagic series rods, Accurate twin drag reels, with a big float and jumbo shrimp or mullet/pogie/greenie, on the hook and work it properly. As I reported a few weeks ago, I'm all geared up. Because last year I hooked 5 Tarpon in one morning, on just live shrimp!

It'll take a special angler........ "DALE HOUCK", I hope your listening....reading and ready.

Getting fed up, I really needed an easier place for Jake to fish. He's got limited mobility, and I wasn't seeing a quick skill improvement, that's necessary for fishing the big water. So GULP,GULP,GULP, I went down the river towards the White Shell area. Looking for a spot with adequate current so he could just drop his float behind the boat and hook a fish.

It took a few spots, but I found one. And instead, Doug caught Grouper, and I caught a Grouper. Blacks and Gags. There's so many juvenile Grouper in the river it's amazing. My Black was probably 16" or better. It was the last of the incoming tide, and certain docks really had no current pushing around them. So we sat in this one spot that did for awhile as it poured rain on us. But never caught a single Trout. And Jake was doing well here, as was Doug.

Then, as I rifled through all my easy spots to fish on a high tide in my head and remembered a place called the Magnet...Haven't been there in a long while. But since Jake wanted Trout, that's usually all this spot is. So now good and wet, we headed further down river.

I don't know what got into me. I made such a mistake of heading east first thing on a pogie hunt, and then to the big rocks. I should have just headed this way right off as we left the boat ramp, and hunted up an easy spot for Jake to fish. Doug, is easily adaptable. Don't have to worry about him.

We arrived at the magnet spot, and the current was perfect. Just drop your float behind the boat and let it go....Jake had the first bite, and reeled in the first Trout, which was a first. A decent keeper about 16-17". He was happy! He's usually not first. We sat there for a few hours, but only picked 3 keepers out of probably 10 or more Trout. As always, I was sort of amazed, because the magnet spot in the past has produced for me some seriously big Trout. But not today. That may only happen when I fish there alone. Ya' know, I have the gift, sometimes.

We left as the tide slowed. Jake was happy and tired. But Doug and I tried a few other neighboring areas. With only Mangrove Snapper bites on the first of the falling tide current. So we headed in. I cleaned up Jake's Trout and he was happier still. He was going to have Trout supper!

I left the boat ramp and headed with my charter cash in my pocket and spent nearly all of it, putting fuel in the boat. The gas station was an absolute nightmare of people at 3:00 pm.
All fueling up for the big weekend. They say on the news people aren't going anywhere or doing any travelling. But not by the looks of what I saw. I was one of 5 boats that pulled in here, also.
As I filled the boats tank, Jake called me and said, he really had a lot of fun today, and his back wasn't hurting, and he was glad he went. Jake doesn't get out much due to his health.

I have not a clue of what I'll be doing when fuel is $5-$6.00++ a gallon...possible charters no further than a few miles from the boat ramp? How can I go any further and do the traveling I did today? And not charge $600 a day? I have to live, buy tackle, fuel, pay insurance, pull the boat to the ramp, fill up the truck, maintain the boat and the truck, buy bait and ice, and pay the ever growing taxes on a simple business like mine. Fishing licenses, Business Licenses, the new Tax hidden in a fee called the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWICS) that the feds are making us have (because Captains License holders are possible terrorist too, ya know.) I just don't know what the future holds for us. Maybe that's the reason my blood pressure is through the roof! And my doctor wants to see me all the time. I told him it's stress!

I didn't get any photos, because it I was kept pretty damn busy all day. And never really thought of it.

It's Saturday morning right now. And I just scrolled down to the "Mayport weather gauges" I have at the bottom of this Blog, and the wind is dead calm. Could this be a new trend? What makes a trend, how many days is a weather trend?

Because I'm not fishing till Sunday morning at 0700 hrs. Wonder if dead calm winds will "trend" there way that far? NOPE!!!!!!! (remember the Hee Haww song?) I have a family of (3) one is 9 yrs old.

Here's the forecast:
"They should have booked Saturday......"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

5/21 - The Wrath of Weather

Yep, had a trip scheduled for Wednesday. And the WRATH of FLORIDA WEATHER was in full glory. Got to the boat ramp and my god was in heinous. West winds just ripping across the river. With no place to hide. The sky was dark, and as far as having the ability to actually fish properly, well that was out of the question. So to make a long story short. We didn't go. And of course it was one of these "budget charters", that could only be done on one day.


How the hell are people supposed to pick'em? The wrath has been the winds. No matter what day I'm out there.

Okay, if you don't know why I'm not an offshore fisherman anymore. Here's the story plain and simple.

First, the weather. You can not survive doing offshore charters here in N.E. Florida in a small boat. The Jodie Lynn in St. Augustine might be able too. Because she's what....a 60' Sport fish?

Then, I quit bottom fishing when Gag Grouper went from 20" minimum fish to 24" minimum fish.

At the height of my business I ran three boats. My ole 23' MayCraft, a 22' Seachaser bay boat, and a 17' Carolina Skiff. Commonly referred to as; MY THREE WIVES. That was the fleets unofficial name. I had about every base covered. And those were good years, back then. Compared to today's world.

I'd love to see some years like those again someday. But I truly believe, I never will.
Offshore species such as Grouper, Snapper, Vermilion Snapper, are constantly under attack by the "watchers".

And again, these fisherman are bracing for the 10th round, with new rulings that are scheduled to impact anyone who is a die-hard offshore bottom fisherman from the Gulf of Mexico, to off the coast of J-ville, Florida.

Here's a link to my friend Ron Brooks' "ABOUT" Blog where he explains it briefly with a link to the amendment - try and make heads or tails out of amendment 16, it's written in their code lingo.

So, I used to do a lot of offshore fishing. And when I did bottom fish, I used to say "let's go Seabass fishing, and whatever else we get is just gravy on top of biscuit." I never took it all that seriously. But then again, this was back when there was no Seabass limit either. I remember spending some really fun, slick calm foggy December days close-in on hard bottom areas, dropping cuttlefish on river rods with 6500 Ambassadors and filling a 186 Qt. cooler with the tasty fish. Was I to blame for the reduction in bag and size limit of Seabass too? Maybe, but then again I was just going for what was fun, easy and good eating fish. If I was a meat fisherman, then I was a Seabass meat fisherman and that was about all.

Now, I'd love to go offshore. And since I still can't take bottom fishing all that serious. Because if you don't make it your backyard and frequent it all the time, how can you expect to go out and fill the cooler these days. So, I'd like to just go play. And by "play" I mean, JIG FISH, for the fun of it and try and catch anything. But I sure did pick a hell of a time to want to get out there and jig, huh? With fuel at an all time record high, and possible $200 a barrel of crude oil looming in our near future. Which equates to $7.00 for a gallon of unleaded??

My prediction is, that if we see $200 a barrel, and $7.00 for a gallon of gas. This country as we once knew it is going to end. I'm talking Armageddon in the USA. There will be no fishing. So the fisheries people making all these new rules have nothing to worry about, and soon after their jobs won't even exist, along with anyone connected with fishing. And the fish populations will boom like they've never seen it before.

Just think about that for a moment.

I'm supposeed to go on Friday and Sunday....or at least that's the plan.

Just one last thing. Have you ever looked back in my "archieved Blog pages" just for the hell of it? And at least surfed through them just to look at the pictures? I do all the time. And have long realized that the best inshore/river fishing is when it's cold. Jacket weather, to serious fleece underwear weather! And it's usually when no one wants to go because it's too cold for them. (sissies) BUT......If I had my druthers, and I might just get exactly what I'm asking for in the near future, I'd fish here in November through April. And then go north for the rest of the year to pursue my wanting to learn to become a aluminum boat welder/fabricator the rest of the year.

Just a whacky thought, based on truth.

Monday, May 19, 2008

5/17 & 18 - The weekend...

If you've been following the weather saga, then you know how days got switched, because of supposed weather threats. (that never happened)

Well, we got out on Saturday versus Friday. Had Dan, Dan Jr. & Matt on board, for a 8 am Saturday departure. It was dark with ominous black low clouds hanging over Mayport as far as the eye could see. Winds and possible rain looked to be killing what seemed to be a busy Saturday at the boat ramp. I was there really early, and watched the boats come streaming in. Some folks just sat in the parking lot and stared at the sky, while some just loaded up and took off eastward offshore.

I sat waiting on my guys, thinking "damn, there was nothing wrong with Friday......"

They arrived and now my plans were really in a funk. Go up river? Go East?

What happens if all hell breaks loose? Those black clouds, and cold winds screwed me all up.
So I decided to stay relatively close just in case. And as we began fishing from spot to spot. It was quickly evident that something was wrong. No Trout.

The guys caught some fish, but of course not targeted fish. We worked areas in the river, then as the front lifted and just seem to move away. The sky cleared, and here came the sun. We even ran to the jetties for awhile and never lost a bait to a decent fish. That was really something!!!

We tried a lil' bottom fishing for a big Redfish for awhile. Using cut pieces of ladyfish, but only had the bluefish tearing at it. I think momma nature was saying to me; "HERE'S YER SIGN."

The guys ended up catching Jacks, Blues, Ladyfish, a Spanish Mackerel, and a big Croaker.
And as we pushed into the 7th and 8th hour of the day, I had to cry UNCLE! I had to go again on Sunday, and that's when Dan Jr. finally caught a 14" Trout.

It wasn't the easiest day of fishing. The wind was ever present as always, and turned to the East North East in the afternoon. Which made things tougher. Float fishing should have been really easy for them, but turned out to be a challenging. All in all a tough day, with not many keeper fish.

Thursday... was I believe the best day of the whole week. But of course I wasn't booked then.
I got home on Saturday pretty whooped, and called Adam my Sunday charter. The weather forecast seemed to be better. So I went over the plan of attack in my head that night.

Different zip code, earlier depart time. Adam and his dad arrived right on time at 7:00 am on Sunday. No way was I going to leave late. Not with the afternoon winds that we're experiencing each day.

So we headed off up river. A bit easier trip with just two guys. Both were locals and fish the river and offshore themselves.

But it's all a "give and take". A early start meant leaving just before high tide, and having to work through slack tide also. A ran straight to a spot that has produced some great Trout and Redfish before. A dock with loads of structure....but a tough place to get any current on a high tide.

As I showed them what we would be doing, I nailed a 19 inch Trout. "I.G." - instantaneous gratification! Okay, let's try here. Adam and his dad caught 2 or 3 Trout, and we tossed two more in the fish box. Then, the spot seemed to dry up. Plus, I had other places I just had to hit, if I wanted to fish with some current. And it's easy to just sit in one spot, and miss any tide for a later area that might be like any expedition. We have to stay mobile.

So we took off south again. Still on an incoming tide. We anchored no less than 4 times and on these super old, but proven Trout spots. One of them we never even had a bite! I think we had a few small Jacks and Bluefish, that was it.

Not nearly as many Jacks and Ladyfish as on Saturday. Probably because we were 12 miles up river.

I kept thinking of an ole rule of thumb I was always told by my mentors..."Incoming tide-Full moon, can mean the kiss of death for a float fisherman." But I hit my #1 incoming tide Trout spot and we never got bit. It may have been that the current was going on way, and the wind was blowing the opposite?? Rules of thumb like that are fine, but if someone has one day to fish. And we have to choose the best time of day. We just have to work with what we have. So I kept on the move.

Still no Trout, so I ended up back at the first spot, now on the falling tide...And the Trout were still there. They were smaller and sporadically biting. So we just laid back and enjoyed the bites that came every once in awhile. Adam and his dad who really were not bait caster people ended doing very well at it. Adam was really getting it.

Remember, it's not a cast, but rather a "lob".

I really do not like having to cast, but rather just flip the float-rig out behind the boat and let it drift. But unfortunately, this weekend wasn't much of that. Which again makes it tougher for folks.

Getting to the boat ramp dock was a chore at the end of the day. In high gusting winds from the west, a hauling butt falling tide. Which had to calculated, and looked at for a few minutes before attempting with out smashing the dock at 25 MPH!! Glad we got started early, because it was nice and windy in the afternoon, as I predicted it would be. And we even had a little bit of rain and thunder.

My next trip is on Wednesday.....check out this forecast! Sounds like I cannot win no matter what I do, huh?

Wednesday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8am. Partly cloudy, with a high near 90. Here's the neat part......."Breezy, with a west wind between 10 and 16 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph." WHAT??????????

Maybe they are completely wrong and that's actually Thursday's forecast. I'm pretty much gonna go by what Dave thinks, not what I read.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Dang, I want too so bad...and jigging too.

I have all the stuff, but only in a set of (2).
If you have yourself and one friend.

Call me to discuss (if you can operate a baitcasting reel)

"Hell, with all that sleepy, easy, sissy trolling crap."

By the way.......the "big rains" here today were nearly 12 hours late.

5/16 - Believe Nothing!

Believe nothing that you read or listen too about forecasting weather around here.

I could have been fishing today instead of tomorrow, SSSSSSSATURDAY!! (weekends are not my favorite times)

Zero rain, No high winds, no lightning, no nuthin.

Damn, I get sick of playing this game with the guessers. NO MORE am I paying attention to them. My neighbors offshore fishing today, no problem.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5/15 - Cut me a break!

Well, looks like I'll be moving Friday's charter to Saturday.
Friday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 84. Southwest wind between 11 and 14 mph.

So that means if I move them to Saturday, and I have a small group on Sunday too......Wow, I'll sort of feel busy.....yippee!

Have people coming from Tennessee tonight. Another planned well ahead trip, that given the odds that the weather turns to crap on just their day, is probably up in the tens of thousands!

And given that everything is "throwin' this dog a bone", every charter right now is a prized commodity. That's for sure.

Man, filled up my (4) - 5 gallon jerry cans yesterday at $3.80 a gallon!! And it cost me $93.83 for a whopping 24.69 gallons. So like I saw on the news yesterday when they talked to restaurant owners, they said they have to give small portions for a higher price now.

Why doesn't that work in the fishing biz? Well, it's gonna have too.....I can't be running all over hells half acre. Not that I run all over anyhow. But there's places I'd love to go. And now can't. Not if I have to reduce or keep prices the same. Having that "Wiggle Room", is what has me NOT minding making that 10 mile run to a special spot. So when you think about paying a little less, it means that you maybe giving up running to that killer spot on that perfect tide. In hopes of catching that giant Gator Trout, or filling the box with those perfect size Black Drum. So you may not want to cut into your "wiggle room".

These guys in Texas have it all figured out. They've been doing it for ever....Using the boat to run to where they fish, then get out and wade fish. But then again when the Trout are this size....and the charter costs $550 a day; bring your own waders and rods and reels. I guess they stay pretty damn busy, over there.

Wow, now that's a T-Rex Trout!!
And my next GOAL.
(I wonder how many
that size actual
exists in the
St. Johns River

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5/13 - Relentless winds....but fun none the less!

Had Scott & Markus aboard the "Big Metal" today. And I'm sure glad I have the boat I do. Because that river and inlet on windy days can be a real soup sandwich. It doesn't matter what the water's like....we go through it.

First off, we were supposed to go on the 12th. But the wind was just so bad. So I said, "since your here, lets just try Tuesday instead." When I was at the bait shop at 6am, I said to the guys there, "let's take bets now on when the wind's gonna blow....." Since I live in reality, not fairy dream land. So when Scott & Markus came down to the dock right on time. We left out for the inlet.

I was right. It was blowing pretty damn hard at 7:20am. I looked around for a few minutes for some Greenies (threadfin herring), then went over to the beach side of the jetties and looked around for some Pogies half hearted. If they were there and smacking me in the face, I'd get some and had plans to do some bottom fishing for big Reds or whatever, with them. All we saw were Jacks popping the surface eating tiny minnows.

The wind was constant, and I really felt that we'd be fighting a loosing battle. So I went west.

Tried a few spots, and the wind would just blow the boat in circles. So I picked up and headed west again. Pulling up to every spot I knew, and did a wind check. Needless to say we ended up further and further up river. Then I pulled up to a spot I haven't fished in years.

Markus and Scott drifted back their float-rigs and Markus started scoring on Specks. Not whoppers, but 14 and 15 inchers. While Scott caught the "exotics" as I called them (Jacks, Ladyfish, Mangrove Snappers) I pulled a Flounder out of the spot, not a biggy, but a keeper while trying my hand at it. The guys probably caught 8-10 Trout here. And I was very happy! Because the morning was wearing thin.

As the action slowed, we moved on to where I had plans of monster Trout, coming to the net.

But the first fish was a Sheepshead, Markus caught on his first drift of his float.

We sat there and sat there. Working the area every angle I could figure out.
When we finally started catching some Specks. Good Specks!

It's that time of year, that's for sure. For big fat specks, I mean. And obviously serious winds, too.

I can remember other May's, when the winds were bad. So this isn't all that weird. I can easily look in my Florida Sportsman Tide planners, where I make detailed notes. And see the same thing we're experiencing right now. But I have to go way, way back to research an economy like this. Nothing like this recession has dealt a blow to me like what's going on right now. Not 9/11, a stock market crash, not hurricanes in 2005.......NOTHING!

I finally found a spot where we had everything in our favor. And the bites were good and constant and so were the fish.

Overall the guys probably had 20 Trout total up to 4 pounds, a few 3 pounders, and some other eater sizers. The Sheepshead, a Flounder and Mangroves. While releasing small Trout and a pup drum. And the fish box was looking pretty good, considering.

We laughed after Markus said, "hey should we move and find another spot, Dave""

I said, "yeah, that's what I want to do, leave fish to go find fish." Cardinal rule #1...never do that! Especially if you are happy, not getting blown around, the water's calm, the fish are there, and everything is just hunking dory.

I suppose he liked the "boat ride" version of the day. Heck they both did. Before we started catching, Scott & Markus both mentioned how they liked the cruising we did from spot to spot, in search of a less windy spot. Personally, I can done without the boat ride. But each day I'm out is totally different than the last. So, not every day can be; go to the jetties 2.5 miles away and get into an all out waylay.

We really had a great time. Laughing and cutting up. Markus was getting on Scott about his fish netting techniques. I asked Scott "what will it take for me to put you on a Speckled Trout, today?" Because at first it was all Markus, on the Trout. Teaching Scott the finer details of bait casting. Comparing Manatees to people and telling stories.

But the one thing we didn't encounter was a lot of people fishing. And that was a real pleasure. That's reserved for windy weekends!

The guys left out with a pretty damn big bag of fillets. And I told them as I do many visitors. They can take the fish right over to Singleton's Seafood Shack 200 yards away and for a couple bucks they'll cook them right up for you.

Scott and Markus had more than enough to take the girlfriends, back at the hotel out for a big fish fry dinner that night. Why not eat'em fresh. I would. Plenty of people keep just enough fish to do a lunch or dinner at Singleton's. Just tell 'em Capt Dave sent you.

Since Mayports future is up in the air, we have to keep it the best experience we can. And eating your catch, fresh that day is a good experience in my book. I love fried fish....but you can get baked too.

Next up for me is Friday, and the forecast really sucks. This trip has been in the planning for a long time. So we'll see what happens. Another front coming, with winds and rain. We have Saturday as a backup day.

What is killing me is the need for "backup" days in May! Just like with Scott and Markus, we had to use a backup day on this trip too.

Oh, by the way. It was actually cold this morning as we headed out. And was never hot at all. Just an FYI, we set a record for low temps and high temps all within a few days. Wow, this is some wacky weather!

Here's today photos on my recent catch pages:

Monday, May 12, 2008

5/12 - More beatings....from Momma Nature

Well, the wind seems to be again, relentless. What is it, the 5th day or so of 20 kt plus winds?

Was supposed to be out there today. But the Small Craft Advisory has me thinking Tuesday instead. It may not be SCA Tuesday, but just "a little less worse"....that's a cool term, huh?

One of my favorite saying is from the movie "Something about Mary", where Chris Elliott says to Ben Stiller, "yep, each day is worse than the next." Now that's funny!

A few people have called. Although after doing a few e-mailing with past customers I did have one fella reply with, "it costs too much to travel there for one day of fishing, Dave...."

I'm all switched in to a different gear. I have the Twin Drag Accurate reels on the heavy Biscayne rods. All ready for those Sharks and Tarpon along the rocks and beach. The mini -197 Accurate's are now on the 9' Loomis Pelagic series "whoop-ass" rods. For deep water float-rigging, with jumbo shrimp or pogies.

A few years ago, during one of the seasons first kingfish tournaments. I sat out on the south Jetty as the sun came up and watched all the 40 foot, 4 engine go-fast boats come out the inlet and run down the beach to find pogies. And the pogies were right there on the south jetty. If they just slowed down and opened their eyes, they would have seen them.

I pitched my net on a few, and stuck them in the livewell. Grabbed my mini Accurate and a heavy float-rigged rod and pinned on a pogie. I drifted the float behind the boat and in the next 2 hours hooked (and lost) 5 Tarpon. I knew they were there, because I could see them rolling in the swells. It was a really nasty day. Good for me, bad for a King fisherman.

It's fun to go 2.5 miles, get a few baits at boat side, drift them out, and hook up on fish that fly through the air. While being entertained by the boat show of go fasters, leaping the waves.

The Tarpon were all in the 50-80 pound range. I'd have a few on for awhile, drop off anchor and start the outboard and pull off the rocks giving a slow chase, as they sped eastward, "when they were in the water." But it's almost just as much fun getting hook-ups, and short battles over and over again. Especially when you're alone, fishing solo.

I really hope we get enough pogies around this year so it's easy to just go net some up and pull out to the chum hole area off the north rocks and start a drift. Better yet, would be pogies in the chum hole area itself, as I've seen it before. One bait on the bottom for a big Red, and two on the surface for a Tarpon, shark or Cobia. All the bait and fish in the same area sure does make it convenient.

Using the resources you have "close", is what the theme of this summer will be. As fuel prices reach record highs, I'm finding that I can't charge anymore. The public just won't pay it. Everything that's mandatory is going up, while fishing charters (not mandatory) can't go up....It's a luxury. They're not mandatory. Unless you are a die hard.

Hopefully I'll have a decent report in the making after tomorrow.
Here's a few pics from last May...dang these were some pretty fish. It was a banner day....look at the blue sky!

Friday, May 9, 2008

5/9 - Florida Alloy

Alloy brotheren, well someone was...and a Cobia Hunter too, so it looks. "Who's not a Ling chaser over on the pan handle?"

Here's a link to a used 23' Plate Alloy like mine full of serious toughness: (YOU DO NOT FIND THESE USED VERY OFTEN!)

Worth every dime in the long run.
Awesome Live well set up!

Here's my new Sea-Trial page which is linked off my NEWS PAGE, where I talk about BlackLab Marine boats.

No fishing still, so no reports.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Great site with loads of local info.....Serious history!

Especially, the Mayport Time Line:


NO FISHING, means no want reports? Then, let's go fishing.
It's not that bad, C'mon!
It's $5.00 a gallon in Alaska and the charter boats are rolling out of the docks daily.
This is FLORIDA!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

5/3 - a test of patience

Had my first trip of the month, (I mean customer). Glen Teague from Georgia, here for a Navy retirement party for his brother in law. But Glen had one thing on his mind. And that was fishing. Excited wasn't the term to describe Glen.

ECSTATIC, was more a proper description of Glen. As we talked while heading to a few spots on the high tide this morning.

Between the jetties that was a soup sandwich already, and gonna get really worse as the sun grew warmer and the S.E. winds blew harder. Then, add the tide change shortly. Wheww, that's not going to be pretty.

We ventured our way there, of course. And watched friends head out past the rocks, that were fishing an Offshore Club Tournament. Glad, I'm not them. It looked to be a slow and gas sucking trip all the way offshore.

We worked a few spots at the high tide with zero success, waiting on the tide to change. And when it did, I immediately headed to a BIG trout spot for Glen.

I'm talking about a fella who's a fisherman. And ever since he booked his trip back in February has utilized the tools I provide on my web site. So he became a regular BLOG reader. Learning about what his trip would be like. So he's read about bad days, good days, and big Trout days.

I was gonna work my tail off for him. And we were going to fish as hard as we could together as a team.

I anchored on a spot that as soon as the tide starts ebbing, we have a chance at scoring a BIG Trout. And the longer we worked the rocks, the more it looked like it wasn't going to happen. How long do you wait? That's the question that's in my mind. Shrimp after shrimp went drifting down the jetty rocks. Trout up to 9 pounds have been caught here, by a friend and up to 6 pounders just as of two Monday's ago for me. It's not a quantity spot, but rather a quality spot.

I think we had a few Jacks, and that was it.

Right about then, I was feeling the tone of the day. If I come here and it's balls to the wall, it's going to be a good day. If not, I guess we'll struggle.....for a big jetty Trout.

With the New Moon and a front approaching, Saturday boat traffic, S.E. winds 15+ knots, and no Trout at my big fish spot at the prime tide stage. It's easy to get discouraged fast. But I don't. I'll stick with it till that last shrimp is gone from the live well.

We worked every spot hard, and Glen was really working his float-rig well. We even went outside the jetties and sat in the soup for awhile, never hardly getting a bite even at another "go to" spot. And as we returned inside the jetties......wheww....the seas were really up then. Between the jetty rocks the river current against the hard E.S.E. 15 knot winds had the swells folding overinto white water, as we climbed the 5 footers to get in the river again. All, not a good sign. And the "gut" feeling I had wasn't getting any better.

So we changed zip codes. I really hate having to make drastic changes, and make runs up river. Not at these fuel prices. And the prices I have to charge to still get any charters. There really isn't much wiggle room anymore. In reality, If I charged another $100 I wouldn't feel taxed to run anywhere if I had too, I'd run to Amelia Island if I had too then. But not now. But the public won't handle it. So it's a Captain can loose situation these days. If you want to catch fish.

My charter started on Friday evening actually. When the prospect of a busy morning at the bait shop had me getting my shrimp and ice the day before. Then, I was up at 5am loading the boat, for a 7am departure. By noon, we ended up fishing no where near where I had anticipated going. And then the bites were so slow that we stayed out to fish the low tide, and use the rest of the 9 dozen shrimp up. Which put us over two hours past, when we were supposed to be finished up and back at the dock. A 6 hr. charter turned out to be a 14 hour day for me, with the time I got bait and ice. Then on Saturday by the time I was home and done putting the boat and tackle away. I went way further, and fished way longer. I guess I don't mind if I have just one person aboard. But today was a test of patience when it came to the fishing.

We ended up with Jacks to 4 pounds and Ladyfish of course, 2-Reds (16 to 21"), 4-Trout - (two keepers at 16") a 5 pound Sheepshead, several Mangrove Snappers and a 2- baby Grouper. From the jetties all the way towards Blount Island.

Versus; a good limit or two of Trout, add in a BIG one, a few larger Reds, no Ladyfish would be nice, and no Mangrove Snappers would be even better. All with in the Mayport area and jetties would have been nicer too.

You read me saying here sometimes that it was a 25-anchor day...well today was one. Glen and I laughed that in the first hour of the day I anchored and re-anchored 4 times.

And Glen got to Float-fish his butt off, that's for sure. He reiterated my sentiments exactly at days end to his wife, "We worked our tails off today." And he wanted some take home fillets, so we at least had that.

It was my pleasure to have another good fisherman aboard. And I'd love to have Glen back on the boat again sometime. We worked well together. He's a bait casting fool, like me. And has a never give up attitude. He told me a story about him and a friend back home in Georgia doing a all night, and then all the next morning fishing trip to two different lakes. Telling his wife that night, "I'll see you sometime tomorrow morning." Now that's a die-hard!

As always we had a good time. And once out of the wind it was a beautiful day for us.
I hope I gained another Georgia Float-rigging convert. Seeing Glen was pretty dang good at it.
Thanks Glen.