Friday, October 31, 2008

10/31 - Full Blown Nor'easter & more

I pulled up at the bait shop walked in and stood at the counter and said....."I think I have all this figured out after 12 years." As if I had some kind of Revelation to share. They replied, "what do have ya figured out, Dave?"....."Being a fishing guide is no more than attempting to show people how to catch fish in high winds and bad conditions!!" Another Dave, a fellow fisherman was there too. And said, "ya got that right! Most of the time it's not the most optimal day, that people pick." I said, "yeah, and that's why they have me!"

So I bait the live well up, get my ice for the coolers, and head down the street to the boat ramp 40 minutes early, as usual. I drop the boat in the water and man...."this is really crap weather" I think to myself. Should I suit up in full winter attire or not? It's no less than 20 knots or more gusting, getting more overcast by the moment, and it's not gonna get any better. Definitely not t-shirt and flip-flop weather.

I sit in the boat passing the time till Don B. and his buddy Jeff arrive going over a game plan in my head. And watching the flag on the adjacent Pilot building flapping at full attention.

We were departing at a specific time, so to hit nothing but a good falling tide. But, the wind has the river water so pushed up inside that the tide isn't even close to low yet. Twenty fifth, chink in the plan....

We'll just have to tough this out. This trip is already a rescheduled trip from last month when the conditions were even worse.

Damn, I gotta figure out something...I kept thinking.

Don and Jeff show up and we take off up river.

Don's my kinda guy, a float-rigger from way back. And has fished with me at least twice before.

Soon as we were out and about I could tell, "this is gonna be a tougher day, than I thought."

We work one spot, and a few pinfish steal the baits, and Don catches a small Speck. But I can feel in my gut, that this is gonna be real wrong for a long time, till the tide falls at least half way or more....especially for us float-riggers.

We go up and down the ICW attempting to fish a few spots out of the wind. About every other spot, I keep checking the tide in the river for current by revisiting where I really want to fish. I had blinders on......we were going to fish a certain spot, no matter what!!

And it just wasn't right, yet. But on my last check of the day before almost running out of time, it was PERFECT. Time to rock & roll!

That wind held back the tide for hours. So while, in so many words....WE WAITED, the guys stayed with me though and didn't complain about not catching anything, as we tried for hours.

But that was going to end, RIGHT NOW!

So upon arriving on the tide I wanted, at the spot I wanted to fish. The worlds were aligned with Venus! Brown water, river water, moving fast, as the wind blew the boat forward on the anchor.

They tried the float-rigs and live shrimp, and I pitched out a "tight-lined" rig, 2 ounces barely on the bottom cross current bumping along. And I stroked 3 big fat Croakers, instantly.

I said to Don, "ya wanna try this?", he said, "I ain't that proud, sure!!" I knew the guys had to be chomping at the bit by now, after going hours without a fish.

It was one big hard hitting Croak after another. Then came some Yellowmouth Trout off the bottom. We were having a ball....but the day was getting late and fast. Jeff said, "heck I could do this all day long", as he set the hook on another fairy wand rod bender. I had both the guys tight-lining on the bottom by now, with the lightest rods I own. I refer to them as my "fairy wands".

Then I took another fairy wand rod and set out a big piece of cut Croaker on a small circle hook and set it on the other side of the boat. The Croak's would peck at it, but I told the guys "just don't worry about that rod till it doubles over. The best fisherman in the world is a circle hook and a rod holder."

And it wasn't but a few minutes till it did just what it was supposed to do....Bend over in the shape of a horse shoe!

And Jeff grabbed the rod. Yes, sir...this is your clock cleaning. Out with the dust bunnies. Jeff was in for a long fight on the light rod, light line, light hook and heavy current and gusting winds.

It took awhile, but Jeff landed a 10 pound, 31 incher.

Okay, back to the Croak's....

Next up was Don, and again it didn't take long and the chunk bait rod doubled over again.















Don's fish finally threw up a flag of surrender.

Thing were certainly looking a lot better than an hour ago when we were going from spot to spot looking for some kind of action. A box load of Trout and Croakers and two Reds in the first hour on this spot.....Now I called this ACTION!

But that's what a good ole N.E. Florida, Nor' easter can do to the St. Johns river. Your on Momma natures time. And without the proper tide, and current velocity you are not going to catch quality fish.

You have to be patient especially on days like this. As you can see in the photos, by now it was utterly gloomy as all hell looking out there.

Sticking to it, and never giving up also helps, while being rigidly flexible. One thing you can count on if your standing on the deck of my boat is that I DO NOT GIVE UP! My "stick to-it'ness", is about as hard as the bottom of my boat!

The yellowmouth trout and croak's kept coming over the side as I set out another big chunk of cut bait......and came a keeper at 27 inches.

Then, our last big Red on the fairy wands, especially if the guys wanted me to clean their fish for them.....it was nearing dark.
















Whewww...another great end to a really tough day. But I have to really thank Don and Jeff for hanging with me and being patient. Not all is lost on a blowing cold day when the only sun we see is a coming from a bright blue hole in the clouds. Attitude, and having the right one will effect your fishing guide. I know it effects me when people get all anxious and want to just give up. (which is putting it nicely) Don't harrass your guide, or me. Because I know what I'm looking for and I know what I want. Hang on, cause if I find it. You'll catch!

I cleaned a whole bunch of big Croakers, yellowmouth Trout and one keeper 27" Redbass. Don and Jeff split the catch and had more than they'll eat at one sitting, for sure.


Now....I have a trip on Saturday Nov. 1st, too. If it's worse wind and raining too, it just maybe better to try another day.

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