Had Dave C. and friend Jay (from Michigan, I think) on board Saturday. Dave's local and fishes south of Jacksonville in the river. I always like having him on board, because he's excitable, like me. Jay a very accomplished angler was visiting, and came down from Amelia Island, where he was staying.
To start off, high tide was at 8am. Not exactly perfect for what I had planned. So we went to the jetties and anchored up on the south. It was a soup sandwich. Slop, choppy, and windy. From the S.E. But, they had their sea legs on and BIG METAL can handle it with no problems.
The bait stealers were so intense, it was one minute per shrimp. And the bait stealers were mangrove snappers, the most evil 4" fish we have. I wish they were worth $5.00 each and there was no limits at all on them. Then, there wouldn't be a single one left. They'd be fished out.
But, all of a sudden as I saw mullet spraying across the surface, then Dave hangs into a good fish that burned off drag. It was 5 pound Jacks. Then, Jay hooks up. The whole school's behind the boat and Dave and Jay catch two more.
Dave thinks like me. He says, "Two each, okay that's enough of them....let's go." All the while my hand was on the key switch, ready to start the engine myself and move on. We're on the smae page and in search for "boxers". (boxer's are fish that land in the fish box head first)
The tide was about dead high now, so I switched up gears and put a few jigs on some rods and went over to the north Jetty so the guys could pitch the ole Jig-N-Shrimp combo meals.
Not much was happening up in the rocks. But Jay hooks up a nice fat Black Margate. I should have taken a picture of it, but forgot. They're actually a really nice fish. Better than any Ringtailed Porgy, Croaker, or Jack. It was about 2 pounds or better. I said to Jay, "Now we need about a 5 gallon bucket of these and we'll have something." But as usual, we only catch one or two when they are around. Although I have seen folks catch a bucket full before.
The meat of Black Margate is similar to a Sheepshead or a small Drum...although it's a large Grunt. But desireable, for sure.
They have a gold eye, or could pass for a "pup" Drum to the unfamiliar.
There was plenty of small Croakers out in the sand off the rocks, and I was surprised the guys didn't score on a Red up in the rocks. Casting was tough though with 15 knots of S.E. winds blowing.
So we moved on because the tide finally turned.
Time to hunt TROUT!
Dave has all the Croakers you want just north of Green Cove Springs where he lives, so he didn't want any of those. And Jay was happy to hunt up anything. So we went and followed the same path I've been taking to intercept some GATOR sized Trout. Like yesterday's 6 pounder caught by Don M. from Pennsylvania.
But, it was a Saturday, the tide was and would be late.
Here's what I mean....
There's nothing like when I was out last Wednesday or even last Sunday. Low Water, was early in the morning. That's why we even struggled yesterday. The low water (low tide) was too late in the afternoon. I like leaving the dock, with slick water, nice and calm, and the tide low. Or will be low in an hour or so. That's how we catch them I.G. - GATOR Trout. (instantaneous gratification, I mean)
Those GATOR Trout in the first 5 minutes last week, we're on que. Because the water was quiet, and the light was low, and so is the water.
Saturday????? Well, the tide would be low late, like 3pm. The sun was high and HOT. And there was no such thing as the water being calm and quiet. The river traffic was very thick, if I was a giant Trout, I'd be waiting till midnight to go up along the banks to feed myself!!!
Weekends, what the hell can you do? Live with it in my case, I guess. And hope people understand what the deal is.
I've tried running way north, to an area where there's NO one anywhere. Yes, there is an area or two that even on a Saturday afternoon where there's no one around. I've seen it, yes.....it's like HEAVEN!!!!!!
But in today's world. No one will pay what it takes to fish there. Hell, no one wants to really pay for fishing the "hub" around Mayport on a Saturday. The fuel usage would be 3 times what I use now to go to this area I call "A weekend, Mecca". And I can't afford it myself to run up there and survey the areas and know it like I know my present area, I fish. It all comes down to economic factors, related to today's FUEL PRICES. I'd love to make twice what I do, and provide a weekend sanctuary charter. But that idea is just, "pie in the sky".
So, Dave, Jay and myself just worked along from spot to spot. Catching no Trout. I caught a small one, at one spot we tried. So about this time, the tide was finally getting LOW.
And when the going gets tough, the tough change Zip Codes! So I made a run. And when I get there, it was NO shock the places had 14 other boats fishing it. Croaker Strokers....or want to be's, it was hard to tell. Because I only saw the "regulars" catching. While the weekenders in the Ski boats just sat there.
Ya know, "boats attract boats.....Fish don't attract boats".
I moved on in to the mix and slid my anchor over. I surprised myself, how perfectly I anchored in amongst the crowd, right where I wanted to be. I told Dave and Jay, "up here is usually Specks, pointing ahead of us where another boat was staked out. And behind us is usually Yellowmouth Trout....but I have caught both here at the same time, also. And big Specks too! "
Actually, I don't want to give away the spot. Because in the spring, I have sat here and caught 20 Trout all 18" to 24" and could hardly box my own limit of 5 because they were mostly over 20 inches. But then again that was "me", fishing on the perfect weekday.
Dave and Jay pitched their floats out and let them drift back to a hump behind us, and I.G. - instantaneous gratification! Double headers on big fat Yellowmouth Trout.
"FINALLY", I yelled. And from here on out, it was a slaughter of Yellowmouths just like we get into at the jetties in the winter and spring time. We kept them at 15 to 16 inches and above. And the "above" was 21 to 22 inchers! In no time we had our boat limit. And as I stood with the net in hand, waiting for the next one, I started to see all the other boats start moving away. Usually it's the opposite. Usually they all come over and horn in on ya'. People leaving a perfect tide?
Dave and Jay fished every last live shrimp we had left and even used bits & pieces off the floor and at the bottom of the live well to catch a few more just for fun. These yellermouths, were on fire and BIG.
I'll admit, even though I love my Speckled Trout, especially for filleting and eating. The Yellowmouths (weakfish) sure do pull harder, and act like Piranha's when schooled up. Which sure makes for some fast and furious action.
We headed back against the wind, and through the slop and chop of boat and tug wakes to the boat ramp. And I'll tell you one more time. I'm sure glad I don't have a flat bottomed boat. Because we steamed full speed and never came off the throttle through it all for a solid 8 miles, till we reached the boat ramp. I love my boat, and you will too. It fishes us places no other 26 footer will, and at the same time no amount of sea or slop effects it.
I'm a "tide runner", one of the nick names for the fish I like to pursue is "tide runner". But then again when we left this morning I didn't think the box of Trout we'd have at the end of the day would have been Yellowmouth Trout.
But I'm glad they were there, chilly out. Waiting on us to arrive.
FOR THE BARGAIN HUNTER. I have (4) Abu Garcia 6500 "Chrome Rockets" for sale.
Very good condition. Level-wind reels, best Salt-Water Abu Garcia reel made. Chrome over all BRASS construction. HEAVY DUTY.
There's two kinds of Abu Garcia's, flat sides with double centrifical controls, and domed sides with one centrifical control. These are flat-sided reels. Way better than their domed counter parts. YOU WILL NOT find these reels in Walmart!
They MSRP for $214.00 each!!
Outfit yourself for 1 or 2 for less than half that. I have additional parts, tools, oil and schematics if you'd like them.Some of them are tweeked with better bearings, and a Stainless Steel spool "clutch" rather than weaker brass. I did the improvements, myself.
$90.00 EACH or $340 for all (4) OBO...lets talk.
Cash or Paypal transfer (+ fee charge.)
DO-ALL REELS. FOR INSHORE FISH.
Contact me at: 904-642-9546 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org