Saturday, May 24, 2008

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:
SUNDAY: NORTHEAST WINDS 20 KNOTS. SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET. INLANDWATERS CHOPPY.
"They should have booked Saturday......"

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