Friday, May 1, 2009

4/30 Good Bye April.....good bye early


Have some pre-booked trips coming up. So I went out and just wanted to check the "state of the Trout". Yeah, after today it's pretty much confirmed.

No more Trout fishing in Mayport.....they're GONE?
And man, was it fast and way too early.

If you don't know, here's the deal. On our coast it's Trout nearer the inlets in the cool water, and when the water warms up, the further away from the inlet's they go. That's the quick and dirty way of describing it. But, since this really isn't a massive freshwater river we have flowing through our coastal zone here in J-ville the Trout want some freshwater to spawn and follow the shrimp up river.

So I watch it like a hawk, waiting for when the disappear along the jetties and Mayport area, and head to places like down-town, or all the way to Orange Park, FL!!

Believe me, I'm not happy about it, either. I used twice to three times the fuel in the boat, and twice the bait, and need more hours in a charter day if that's what we have to do to catch'em.

But "IF" this was actually a big time freshwater flowing river......take the BIG Mississippi for example, with huge amounts of fresh water flowing 24 hrs a day. The fish (Trout and others included) would run to salty water, rather than what they do here. Which is run towards sweeter water.

Believe me, I'm amazed in the complete 180 it is here compared to other areas with big time rivers. Our St. Johns, really is like just one big salty path-way in the Jacksonville area. Not a river in the sense of the word. Or what rivers are to others in different parts of the country.

So with that said, I went to the jetties to really check. But first, I hit the rip line and looked for Tripletail outside the jetties on the last of the falling tide. It was sloppy and choppy, because of the high EAST winds the last few days. And of course, I'm always doing this by myself. Which couldn't be any harder. Run the boat, watch the ripline, be ready to cast. All while slopping around bobbin' and weaving through the rip.

RIPLINE; defined as the last of the falling tide coming out the inlet, where the dark river water meets the clean green ocean water. Different temps, clarity, salinity, current. Basically, to the fish, "it's structure".

Here's the color change line, aka: RIP.

See the color change on the right side of the photo?
The rip is where all kinds of junk collects. Weed, trash, foam, you name it, collects on the Rip.

But most importantly.....BAIT. And I sure saw bait. Threadfin Herring love the Ripline. And so do Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Cobia, King Mackerel, Tarpon, Redfish, and Tripletail. That's what I was looking for.
Here's the first one I ever caught sight casting from the Rip, back on March 12th.

An odd looking fish that is GREAT EATS!
Notice that it looks to have 3 tails, hence it's name.

They lay on their sides and float along, looking like a piece of debris. Which attracts small bait fish, seeking protection. Which in turn, they eat those bait fish!

Dark gray, to almost black makes them easy to spot along the Rip line.

So as I slopped around along the Rip. That's what I was looking for. And I saw two of them.

One was about 18" and another was over two feet long! I use a small cork above a stout hook, where I pin a live shrimp. When I see one, I try and judge the current, and make a cast near the Tripletail, so the live shrimp drifts right up to it. They are quite aggressive, and if they don't get spooked by a slapping boat hull or engine noise, they suck up that live shrimp like a fun size Snickers bar!!

Well, I made a cast to each one I saw. But like I said, in the choppy sea and alone it's not the easiest thing to do. The boat scared the smaller fish. And the big Tripletail I saw I don't believe even saw my live shrimp pass by it, before it moved away down deeper.

You can spend literally hours doing this, and I did. And only got two chances at casting to the the Tripltails I saw. I milled around till the green water come up on the south jetty as the tide rose.

And another sign of some seriously EARLY activity was the 3 foot long Barracuda I witnessed stalking mullet on the end of the south jetty. Holy crap....It's not even May and the cuda's are at the rocks already!!!!!

The end of the south jetty was crashing with monster swells and was down right nasty. Consecutive days of high East winds really messes things up, let me tell ya!

EAST winds.... I really hate!

I anchored up as the tide flooded and tried my hand at some float-rigging down the rocks. Yellowmouth Trout and Speckled Trout....I've caught them here right into May in the past.

But I never lost a single Shrimp. No Trout, they're probably gone already I said to myself.

Yeah, this certainly isn't my favorite time of year,. let just tell ya'll that!! Heat of summer, and having to travel so far to my favorite fish, if I can find them in good numbers at all, is not something I relish and dream about.

So I left the jetties and traveled up river.....on the incoming tide. Which was as much fun as a slap to the face everywhere I went. Undesirables, on ever single stop. From Jacks to Blues to small Spanish Mackerel. (well, undesirable to me, when I want Trout.)

I finally ended up about 12 miles west of the boat ramp on a favorite dock of mine. And here is where the "ass handings" took place. The wind was blowing "EASTERLY", and was a genuine pain, but I got anchored up good. I sent my float-rig and live shrimp into the depths of this dock and had 3 fish I couldn't pull from underneath it. I had them on and heading my way. But man were they strong and the pilings sharp. I believe at least one of them to be a really big Trout!! I got a glimpse of it, as the fish made its way across the top of the water around a piling. The other two fish, could have been Reds, or Jacks. And now after seeing DOA Rob's huge Snook....ya never know. I could be loosing a Snook on docks like this one. Really out of the way, hidden, and full of fish sometimes.

I did pull 3 Ladyfish and 5 Trout from this dock, but only two of the trout were keepers.

So I moved on, as the tide started to turn. I hit a really old spot, that I never see anyone fishing anymore that's always been a Trout on a lure spot for me. And here is where I finally caught my (5) Trout limit, a few on a MirrOlure, and the rest of live shrimp. And had to work through 20 small 14 inchers to get the keepers.

Take this into consideration when booking a charter, (I know ya won't, but I hope....)
If we have to fish the river, we'll need a falling tide, period!!! I've been out doing R&D twice now in the last week or so on an incoming tide and didn't catch what I was targeting on the incoming. And as my dad always says, "if you aren't catching them, how am I supposed too....." And he's right! I know exactly what I'm doing, compared to a "learner".

Coming up this week:

Saturday: solo'ist, one man charter. We'll be staying coastal.....Spinners & Blacktip Sharks? Yeah! I wanna do it so badly.

Next Tuesday: 2 guys, on a falling tide. I believe we may mix it up a bit. Some river, some beach fishing.

Next Friday: 2 guys, incoming full moon tide. Beach fishing...Pogy pods, shrimp boats? If there's no EAST WINDS!

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