Had good ole Don M. aboard again. After a re-schedule from last weekends wind fest, when he wanted to get his sister who was visiting out on the river. Today he brought Will with him, his girlfriends brother. Will was a an alternate victim....a genuine first timer.
Who probably said to himself, "self, this is like no fishing I've ever done before." I'm sure.
Nope, we ain't going to park it and just drop a bait over the side, that's for sure. Don, says bottom fishing is boring. He enjoys the challenge of float rig fishing, as I do I.
After today, I'm not sure if Will would agree.
So off me go at 7:30am.
I did my best to get on a spot where Will could learn what we were going to do. Lobbing the float along some structure, letting go, mending the line, reeling and lifting the rod when the float goes down......ya' know, all that stuff we learn over the course of the years. Now jammed into one hours time. Don was pacing the deck as I got Will started fishing.
We caught a few small trout. But in no way were we "burning down the house".
I kept hunting for the easiest place for Will to catch some fish. Because instead of light winds, we had some hard west winds that made for some challenging fishing. We worked area after area. And only had one decent Trout in the cooler, that Don caught.
I kept attempting to drop a line out myself. To possibly help with the number of fish in the cooler, but every time I did, some one needed help. From backlashes to tangled lines like I haven't seen in years, to sinkers stuck in the bottom. At one point, I just started cutting......
Spots that should have produced bites, weren't. And I was starting to get really anxious.
I worked different spots, instead of going to the same ole places. Maybe that was the problem.
But everyone else in Jacksonville was sitting on those same ole places. Some spots were a parking lot at a boat show.
We caught some trout, but they were all small. Will was starting to catch on, but needed maybe another month of fishing days to hone his "thumb".
So I just gave up. I went to one of those areas that I frequent all too much. And low and behold the "corks" were going down, finally. Rather steady. And it wasn't Trout. But huge Croakers.
15 inchers! Fourteen inch Croakers have been the large of the large for me lately, when I have got into them. But these mothers, were Brood Stock size fish.
But for some reason, we had some of the worse tangles I have encountered in years, all while these T-rex sized Croak's were chewing. Which meant we lost some time on them.
ACTION. It's all I wanted. And I wanted Will to get the hang of this, while catching fish.
We were in the think of these fish, and the large ones were taking float-rigged live shrimp way better than a dead shrimp on the bottom, because that's what I was fishing.
I only caught smaller Croak's.
It was small Redbass revenge at it's finest. That's what I call it when you're catching monster Croakers on a Float-rig.
They're just like small Reds, but you can't keep the smaller Reds, but you can fill the box full of Croak's. IE: Redbass Revenge!
Will even caught his fare share for a few moments. And then came a few more tangled lines, and like a light switch the current quit and so did the big Croaker bite.
Would I have rather had Reds or Trout, yes of course. But at this point in the day I was happy to get a box of these fish.
So we moved on after the current on this spot quit. And headed back east.
The sustained west wind had stirred up the incoming tide green water into a sandy colored soup on my next spot. The same spot that yesterday yielded some good Trout action.
I wasn't smiling, as I had yesterday as I dropped anchor here. But it was worth a try.
The wind was relentless. And so were the backlashes as it was necessary to lob over to the jetty rocks to get bit. But we caught a few Trout, and one Yellowmouth Trout. With Will catching the largest Trout of the day, a 19 incher.
Guess what rolled up right next to the boat while I was checking the anchor, and pitching a line out myself?
A baby TARPON! Yep, right along the jetty rocks.
65 degree water, must plan on being a resident of N.E. Florida.
But, this isn't the latest I have seen them out there. About 4 years ago, I had 2 guys on the boat and we were fishing along the Navy base. When I had to do a double-take.
I saw two small Tarpon dorsal fins, ya know the thread fin and tips of two tails come up, right down the side of the boat.......Monster Ladyfish, no way! It was January 19th!!!!!
Well, one of the guys had his float go down side ways...and he reeled and set the hook. Out of the water comes flying a 30" Tarpon. He freaked out. Yelling Dave I have one!!
But, ya gotta love those Mini's. That fish did about 3 or 4 back flip jumps in what seemed like 3 seconds. And his light Trout leader popped. But it certainly was one hell of a thrill.
So the next time you're at the jetties, and think that silver scaled flash in the water was just a lost Ladyfish in the winter. Think again!
I think we'd all be amazed right out of our boats, if we could vacate all the water in an instant from the Mayport Boat ramp to the end of the jetties for a weekend. And just walk around and see all we're missing, all the anchors, all the unknown structure, and all the fish, we never knew where there.
That's why I love the place..."now only if we could get rid of those Navy Sea-tractor Tug boats!!"