Tuesday, June 30, 2009

6/30 - Good bye June....you sure were hot!

But today, with overcast skies till at least 3:00 pm, Roger L. and I had a "cooler" day on the Big St. Johns River. We also had a good breeze from the SW which really had us basking in good fishing glory on my last stop of the day. Where we sat for hours wackin' and stackin', while also having our asses handed to us, also.

We started late this morning. Fishing the tides. No need to leave at the crack o' dawn.

We fished the river and it wasn't like we were burning down the house by no means. That last of the falling tide hasn't done me any super favors lately. Lots of bait stealing Croakers, Mangroves and pinfish, in the same spot where Chris and Zach and I caught several Trout on Saturday, while boxing 3-4 keepers. So instead of making a radical move, I made a 50 foot move and Roger was rewarded with this 21" Yellowmouth Trout, that was glowing it was so yellow from the brackish waters up river.

We had several good bites, and lost a few. But only boated this one. Time to make a move.

Next spot, two Specks with one 18 incher, and one
14-1/2 incher.

Again, today the falling tide was a real screamer, so we headed to the jetties for the flood tide and as scheduled when it got right it got nice and right!

Nice fat Mangrove Snapper's to 16", 6-Redbass from 16-22" boxing our two keepers. A few lost big Reds that smoked the drag and broke Roger off.

I told Roger that many times, people who fish once a year say to me, "Dave, all I want is BIG fish" as if I can order them up for the day like Cheeseburgers at Hardees. But the deal is, it's all relative, when fishing light tackle. Because if you hook a 33 inch Redbass up in the jetty rocks, let's see if a fish that size makes it to the boat first.

We kept hooking really good fish up in the jetties that would really stroke us. Have them coming to the boat, and then they'd get off. This happened at least 5-6 times. In between the Mangrove Snappers, Redbass, and even a Speckled Trout!!! Yeah, a Speck! Roger caught the first Speck caught at the jetties on my boat since May. A 15 incher.

I had out a brand spanking new Ugly Stik "inter-coastal" rod with a piece of cut Croaker for bait. I liked the rods, because of price and that they had a gimble on the butt for putting them in the rod holder. I've had at least 5 broke rods in that past year. So I've resorted to all Ugly Stiks, because people are so hard on my premium tackle.

Well, the rod went off, and I picked it up, reeled down, and lifted the rod, when it broke in half right in my face, while the fish was on the other end. HOLY.....&%&@#!!!!! This rod was brand new, never used except for today, and it broke as if snapping on command.

Between lost and bent anchors. Rods broke in half, I seem to not go a month without replacing one or the other. Needless to say, the fish was lost too.

The spot was really getting right and the bites were steady and the action between Reds, Mangroves, and that mystery fish that both Roger and I were hooking and loosing constantly.

Well, I was ready, and the next bite up tight in the rocks came and I got really ready and got the fish out of the rocks. I mean, these fish felt like Reds diving for the deep when you hooked one.

So I finally got one out of the rocks, and up to the boat and it again came off the hook. But this time I saw it! It was a monster sized Black Margate! Mystery solved. But still not one in the fish box, yet. Then, again we got real ready and the next bite, and here it comes to the boat.

YES....MONSTER BLACK MARGATES. The largest I have ever seen.

I've caught lots of Margates before, usually bottom fishing the end of the jetty rocks.

But let me tell ya, these fish were handing Roger and I our asses on a silver platter, on the float-rig! We'd hook them, they'd rip us down into the rocks while we were bowing the rods over trying to keep them moving towards the boat. Loosing all of them except this one. Keeping them hooked up, was the problem.

Even though...... it was FUN - FUN - FUN.

We easily went through 10 dozen live shrimp, and used ever single one. It was a really good day, not as hot and lots of action on the float-rig all day long. I loved it. And I think Roger had a really good time too. At days end he went home with a big bag of really nice fillets, ready for the pan.

Next up: Half day kids trip on 7/1.

Monday, June 29, 2009

6/28 - Changes today.

Had Chuck & Susanne B. aboard today. Following the same game plan as yesterday with Chris and Zach, we started in the river on the last of the falling tide. And again it was one heck of a belly washer of a ebb tide.
Big difference was the CHANGE in wind. I haven't seen wind that hard in a few weeks. Being from the west at what seemed to be 10-15 knots with the occasional 20 gust thrown in for good measure. It wreaked havoc for some people right off the "git-go" in the morning at the boat ramp.

WHY, you ask? Because the week end crowd is #1: impatient, and #2: it all ME, ME, ME.
Or they just don't pay attention to the conditions. The boat ramp(s) had not much water. The ebb tide, along with the west wind was pushing the water out the river hard. So instead of waiting their turn, I saw people using the side ramps.

They should have seen the boat ramp before the new one was built. We used to have to get in line and wait your turn. We all have it made now compared to back then. Even though the new ramp gets all sanded in on the sides and IS NOT the 6 boat boat ramp they intended it to be, it's only a two boat boat ramp with all the sand. But people back down o0n the sand anyhow, and then get stuck. They should know better by now.

Trucks stuck in the sand, trailers falling into holes, it was a real cinematic moment.

Boats running down the side of mine....not a fiberglass friendly maneuver. People pushing the boat off their trailer without starting the motor first, and boats being blow up onto the concrete
because of the wind. Really fun stuff to watch.

We departed at 8am, that's why I got to see so much of the follies.
Of course because it was a weekend. I pulled up to where I wanted to go over float-rig fishing with my crew out of the wind and there was already a boat there, bottom fishing. If we could have gotten in there we could have caught some Trout, like yesterday.
So I opted for another area where the current was a bit too strong, but a good acclimation spot, to show them what to do. Susanne was new to the fishing game. So I wanted to go over everything. Chuck, he fished with me once before last year.
The wind was a bit of a bear. But after awhile she got the hang of it. So we moved on. Next spot
way too windy, but lets give it a try. And that's where Susanne caught her first small Trout.

The bites were very lean. Something (the wind I believe) had really changed the whole attitude of the day compared to yesterday.

So we headed to the jetties.

Anchoring on a dime, like I usually do was really hard. I was getting blown all over the place. The wind out in the open was unruly and making it very difficult for me to position the boat just right, seeing I had a beginner bait caster on board. So pitchin' flipping and putting the float 25 feet away from the boat was something that wasn't going to happen. Boat placement becomes very important.

We got bites, but they were Mangrove Snapper bites, blenny bites and basically Lil' fish bites. The current pushed by the breeze was roaring. I certainly wasn't going to give up though. This is the spot, and we're gonna fish it. So after one attempt after another I kept working on getting the boat positioned where I needed it. And the tide got high and slowed down.
First came some of those big Mangrove Snappers, 12-15 inches.....and if you can hook them, you can catch anything. So we were doing good. A small Redbass or two. But still there really wasn't much action at all. The tattle-tale fish, like Jacks and Ladyfish weren't even here. Saw maybe one or two small Tarpon, and no schools of mullet, like yesterday.
So we just kept working the are hard. I had confidence something would turn around. Putting in your time and being patient, is all we could do. A few good fish were hooked and lost. But as conditions improved is when a few bites came from decent fish.

A 4 pound Black Drum. Was added to the fish box along with the Mangrove Snappers.
This was Susanne's largest fish ever.

Then, I a few more large Mangroves, again. One hooked Cow nosed Ray foul hooked, and then the fish we were looking for.

A 27 inch Redbass! This one kinda whooped her, and good!
By now live shrimp were getting mighty lean out of our 10 dozen, so we used up the rest of the shrimp Chuck hooked a big fish that got off, I boxed a Mangrove, then Chuck boxed a Mangrove and we headed in to clean the catch.

We ended up with 5 Mangroves, the Red, and the Black Drum, tossing back a small Red or two and a small Trout. Whewwwww....I was whooped! Each day has it's challenges, but today really took it out of me. And the wind was to blame.

Next up: A one person trip on Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday. No one around, back to my my kind of day. Then, a kids trip on Wednesday, then a whole family on Thursday.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/26 & 6/27 - ITS HOT!

On the 26th I had Richard, Ryan & 10 year old Jude, aboard. We started in the river float rig fishing and caught some Jacks, and one keeper Trout.

Then on to the jetties we headed. The tide started to flood and the green water was getting just right. Ryan got his butt handed to him by a big Jack that caused all kinds of problems in which I do not have time enough to describe, but let me just say, "it was like Chinese yellow mustard.....not hot, it's just exciting".

Then Jude got seasick. It wasn't like it was sporty at the jetties, by no means. The tide was getting really right for some Redfish. We moved on into the river, but that didn't do it. So we went back and called it a day.

Then on the 27th I had Chris and Zach S. aboard. Just one look at this father and son team and I knew we would have a exciting day. Zach reminded me of myself at 14 years old. Pitching and flipping with the low pro bait casting reel like he was Bill Dance or Roland Martin. Yeah, me too...When I was a kid I used only bait casting equipment because that's what the "pros" used.

So I knew we were gonna catch some good fish today. Half of the hitch in light tackle inshore fishing is using the equipment and knowing how to handle your fish, big or small. When I go Golfing, I know what I'm in for. I just don't Golf enough. So it's O.J.T. - "on the job training". And I like Golf!!

We started in the river this morning catching about 10 Trout, boxing only 3-4, and a small Redbass. Most of the Trout were 14" males. But Chris and Zach also wanted to learn some techniques. And catching on to Float-rigging was easy for them.
The tide was a real screamer. And about everywhere I wanted to go the water was ripping eastward way to fast. So we headed eastward to the jetties.
Yesterday, after I dropped off Richard and his crew I went back out and caught a 26" Redbass, and a 16" Mangrove Snapper, and 4 Jacks, right where we were, when Jude got seasick.

I looked out into the ocean and the Pogies were everywhere, and the Tarpon were everywhere too.

I just couldn't stand it. I had to go for it. So I pulled anchor and went to the Pogie pods and cast a Pogie on a leader with a 2 oz. sinker into the pod. And no sooner the Pogie hit the bottom, and I was hooked up to a Tarpon. All I saw was the rear-end of the Tarpon flying through the air twice away from me as I held on. My leader was only a 25# piece of mono that was already rigged up on a light rod. And the Tarpon broke off after the second jump.

So this is what I wanted to try with Chris and Zach. But here in bazaaro world, where no single day is ever the same. Today the Pogies didn't come down the jetty rocks, and the Tarpon were no where around the same area of the jetty. Today we had a stiff breeze from the west. And that's all it may take to have everything 180 degrees from yesterday.

So today on the incoming tide, I had to go hunt up some Pogies, way down the beach, near the end of Hanna park. Severely scattered and most likely tossed on all day long. They were a pain to catch. I had to make at least 5 tosses of the cast net before we had enough to chum-fish with.

We headed back to the jetties and anchored up. I tossed out a chum bag, plus we cut dead Pogies and dropped them out the stern while fishing to big rods with dead Pogies on the bottom.
I saw one Tarpon the whole time. And yesterday I saw 100 Tarpon!!

We ended up catching two sharks. And one got tangled up in something on the bottom and I had to jiggle and jerk on the line for Chris because the fish wouldn't budge off the bottom. Never had this happen before, and probably may never have such a weird thing happen ever again. But the shark got loose, and we got it to the boat. (I was leadering the fish so I got no photos)

With no signs of Tarpon in our future I kept looking over at the jetty rocks and was seeing nice green water. So we packed up the chum fishing and went back to float-rigging.

No sooner did we get on the spot, and Chris hooks a good sized Redbass, that lays the wood to him and got him down in the jetties and broke him off. Then on his next drift he catches a small 18.5 inch Red. Then, came all the Mangrove Snappers.

And good sized ones up to 16". Now that's a Mangrove worth boxing!! 10 Mangroves later, from 12 to 16", a 25" Redbass, and a few more 17 inchers. We were about out of 10 dozen shrimp. The action on the high clean water was gang-busters. And the fish box was filling up.

So it was time to head in and clean the fish.

And feed my Egret buddy who comes and stands on my boat every day. Never have I seen a Egret as tame. And today we even had a rare Wood Stork come and get in on the free fish trimmings.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

6/25 - Fishing is good for America!


With the current state of our economy, it’s interesting to note the positive effects of unlikely activities, such as commercial and recreational saltwater fishing.

According to a recent economic report released by NOAA’s Fisheries Service, commercial and recreational fishing generated $185 billion in sales for the U.S. economy and supported more than two million jobs in 2006, the latest statistics available. “Managing fisheries sustainably is good for the environment and the economy,” said Jim Balsiger, NOAA acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service.

“Fishing helps create a substantial number of jobs around the nation.” The peaceful pastime of fishing involves a few more expenses than some would imagine. Saltwater anglers are estimated to have spent $5.8 billion on trip-based expenses, such as bait and fuel, and another $25.6 billion on fishing equipment like fishing rods, tackle, and boats.

Not only does buying fishing gear boost local economies, the fees from fishing licenses provide states with significant funds to improve fish resources. North Carolina was the most recent state to implement a saltwater fishing license.

From January through August 2007, the North Carolina committee in charge of the fishing licenses collected about $7.9 million. Once obligations and other expenses were paid, the committee was able to fund several projects to promote and improve fishing, including:

Take a Kid Fishing Foundation
Take Boys and Girls Club kids fishing
Recreational fishing data collection program
Multiple other fishing beneficial campaigns
Multiple professions are involved in the process of delivering the fish from the ocean to the dining room table.

The 1.5 million jobs supported by the commercial fishing industry did not just involve restaurant employees and commercial fishermen but also, seafood processors and dealers, seafood wholesalers and seafood retailers.

Saltwater recreational fishing was a close second, supporting more than 500,000 jobs, including fishing guides, equipment retailers, and many other service jobs that support anglers.

If you’re angling for ways to help the economy, grab a rod, your favorite bait, and head out to the nearest pier for a little saltwater fishing… or simply head down to your local seafood market and buy some fish for dinner.

Let NOAA’s Fishwatch be your guide to a healthy choice.

Friday, June 19, 2009

6/19 - Beach, Jetties, River......oh no!!

Had Dave C. from Virginia out with me again. Dave always fishes as a solo person. And we always have fun. He enjoys the water and the pursuit of the fish as much as catching.

Thought I'd mix it up a bit. So I took the Kingfish rods with me today. Here's what I figured....

First thing this morning, get some Pogies and run out to the S.E. Hole/Spoil Area/Chum hole and do some of that "el boro" live bait going really slow, trolling. Hey, but it's a change!!

So as we passed the old Sea Turtle Inn from behind the breakers with out seeing a single "flip-n -splat" of a single Pogie, right then were at the extent of my chase for live baits. I usually will not waste any more time. PERIOD. But heck, we were going "slow trolling".....

So we ended up at the Red Tops. Still no Pogies! Yep, good ole Bazaaro World Florida is at it again. How do people put up with this all summer long?? I just do not know.

I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE STOPPED AT THE NORTH JETTY AND JUST JIGGED UP SOME GREENIES (threadfin herrring). I could have just kicked my own ass at this point, but my stubby legs don't go that way.

At the Redtops, I came off plane and rigged up my flimsy King rods with Drone spoons and a 4 oz. trolling lead. On top of it all, I am experimenting with "lead core" line spooled up on Shimano Tekota 500 level wind reels. For the non-down-rigger, trout fisherman (me) I was really wanting to see how well it would work getting the Pogie down deeper. Now you know, the cats outa the bag. I believe it would work great, too bad we had no live baits to try.

So over the side and into my TGT rodriggers (see mine and others here: http://www.tgttackle.com/photo_gallery.php ) the two rigs went, as I bumped the throttle up to about 5 knots.

I pointed the bow back north and away we went, passing plenty of boats that probably were pulling ribbonfish, in the Fernandina Kingfish tournament.

Believe it or not, we received 4 strikes, two were hook-ups and stroked the rods over, buzzed the reel clickers, one was a wimpy bite, and one was a Spanish Mackerel hook-up. The Spanish were chasing small minnows on the surface all over the place.

We got between Hanna Park and the jetties and gave up, packed it in and got up on plane....."the lure of the float-rig was calling this Float-Freak, as it was calling Dave too."

We tried the falling tide dead jetties, with nothing caught. Then tried along the Navy base. Every single live shrimp we drifted on the float-rigs were eaten by a 4" Mangrove Snapper!! This, again

was absolutely futile. Up into the river further. Next spot, Mangrove Snapper futile fishing once again. Then another move, and the game was on......FINALLY!

First drift, 23 inch Speck at 4+ pounds.

Then, an 18 incher!

Then, some smaller Specks at 15-17 inches. Then, I had my hook completely crushed, and lost a good bite. I told Dave, "see this, it's what a Sheepshead can do with those snarly teeth, it happens all the time."

Then, ten minutes later Dave catches the hook crusher!

The current about quit on this spot, and we had 2-3 Ladyfish.
Damn that was some fast and furious action. I know I loved it.

As we call it in the biz, "zero to a hero" real quick.

Dave is so laid back, he's an angler and knows I was trying to do something different with him this time, when looking for the Pogies. We've float-rigged fish many, many times together. And he was with me when I caught my first 10 pound Speckled Trout, April 28th of 2008 near the jetties. We'll always have this day in the record books.

With a slack tide in the river, we headed back to go clean the fish.

Today's take ready for the knife:

Dave says, he'll be back in August and will be bringing a friend with him from Virginia.

I'll have the ole float rig rods rigged and ready, Dave!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6/16 - Multi-fishing

Had Bob, Matt, and Micheal H. aboard today. Originally, I thought we might be able to get on those reds at the jetties like I did with Tim from the Tampa area, on Wednesday and Thursday.

But as usual.....that was a summer time "fluke". I know, because DOA Rob and myself went out yesterday and fished the same tide, and same place, and NEVER CAUGHT A SINGLE FISH!!!! The Tarpon that were everywhere were gone. It went from absolute gang-busters to ZERO. And we know what we're doing out there!

Yeah, that's good ole summer in J-ville for ya. You can't count on what your doing now, to be what you'll be do, 2 days from now.

Exactly the opposite during my favorite time of year, November thru April 1st. You ask, "what are you doing?" And my answer will be, float-rig fishing for big Trout, toss in Redfish and Sheephead.

I get so damn mad when on this subject, that I don't even like discussing it. And it won't ever change, because every single summer it's exactly the same thing. No matter how much I despise it.

So we left out around 7:30am, and went in the river to where at low tide we had a 4 pound Trout last Monday, before the afternoon storms. There was a breeze blowing up the stern of the boat and bucking the water flow out of the spot. Which is the first no-no. The tide height was perfect, but between the three guys they mustered one small Trout, so we left. I wasn't surprised.

Jack Crevalle fishing, anyone? Next area is famous for Jacks of all sizes. But each time there, we usually get a decent Flounder too. Well today, Mike caught a Redbass, 22 inches instead of a flattie, which is better anyhow, because they actually fight.

The jacks were there and they were all sizes. But not any super strokers in the 10-15 pound class that I have had before, thank goodness because the young guys had a handful with what

They caught a good number of Jacks, a Ladyfish, the usual 6" Mangrove Snappers.

And an interesting thing....
I asked super "fishing" veteran, Capt. John Campbell this morning at B&M bait and tackle, if there was an infestation of 6" Mangrove Snappers in the St. Johns 30-40 years ago. Because John always mentions "back when" while talking to him. Not all that happy about the changes he's seen in the ocean and river. He's not one to hold back any comments. And his answer to my question was a resounding, "Nope!"

That's one fish that I'd like to see a price tag put on their head, at any size. That insures there won't be any of them around in the near future. Spring time 10" Bluefish don't even bother me as much as these mini-bait stealing snappers. I used to fish offshore almost every single trip I booked, years ago. Some of you may not know that. From trolling to bottom fishing, I was out there in a 23' center console day in day out. And from my experiences, if we have so many juvenile Mangrove's inshore, you'd think we'd have tons of larger ones offshore. But how many do you hear about? Next to none! It's Red Snapper, Red Snapper, Red Snapper....and that's it.

I can tell you that the offshore waters should be infested with Mangroves everywhere, for the amount of the small bastards that are in the St. Johns as of April 1 of every single year.

We left the Jacks and headed for the jetties. I wanted to try something real quick. I know some small Black Drum were caught on top of the end of the jetty, I saw them. So we gave it a quick try, with pieces of shrimp. MISTAKE....you cannot drop any shrimp to the bottom at the end of jetties. In a nano-second, your bait would vanish, there's so many bait-stealers down below.

Fiddler Crabs may work better, but I didn't bring any fiddlers, because I wasn't planning on doing much bottom fishing the jetties. This was just a "try" that's all. Not worth doing till mid to late October, for me.

The guys wanted big pullers, like sharks. But the skills to handle big fish just have not developed yet for the boys. Maybe in 10 years of fishing 10 times a year with me......LOL,LOL.

So I figured I'd give them some Nassau Sound Bonnethead sharks to play with. So we took off to the north.

The tide was a screaming falling at the jetties, it's not like other waterways. Because when we got to Nassau Sound the tide there was a screaming incoming. Isn't that funny? The St. Johns does play by the normal rules.

The guys caught Ladyfish at first. Then a few moves later we found a few Bonnethead sharks for them. It was all they could handle! And not a single one made it boat side. Every one broke off out away from the boat. Fighting a 20 pound Bonnethead for a beginner can be a daunting task. You learn "tackle handling" real quick like!

In between the Bonnets they caught a big beach Whiting, for the cooler.

They were getting tired, hungry ......or was that just Matt? Yeah, I think so. So very tired, that when the rod horseshoed over he'd knock ya out the way to get it!
So we packed it up and headed back via Lake Atlantic.
Next up: Friday with Dave from Virginia who's fished with me numerous times.
This next week coming is the "dark side of the moon", a New Moon. The ONLY time this month that we'll have BIG tides. Get the anchor ready!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6/11 - Redbass Redbass Redbass, Tarpon....

You may call'em Redfish or even Red Drum....and you are totally correct. But if you're a Jacksonville Cracka' they're Redbass! And Tim A. and I on our second trip together WORE THEM REDBASS, OUT. Is that, THEY WORE US OUT! (or was it the serious heat, that did that. YES, it was hot and humid and Tim and I were whooped.)

Granted, we fished the perfect tide for this type of fishing . Don't expect your day to be exactly like these two days with Tim, unless you planned ahead, and consulted with me about tides.

After yesterday's encounter with at least 17 Redbass up to 30 or so inches. Today, turned out to be even better. Tim bested himself early, and caught a 32 incher. Then, there's all those Tarpon out rolling around taunting us. Well, we just hoped to get a hook-up and maybe a catch yesterday. But today I had a plan. While we float-rigged with our live shrimp for the Reds, I would take a designated rod, with a fluorocarbon leader, a strong hook and have a big live shrimp under a small cork. I let it out, engaged the reel and stuck it in the rod holder and Tim and I just fished.

Well, I was walking to the back of the boat and the rod doubled over, so I was there and grabbed it. The "crowd pleaser" perfect size Tarpon launched airborne. Man, can them SOB's pull!!!!!!

Even a small 3-4 foot fish. When you enter into Tarpon land, be prepared to loose the fight due to fatigue, making a rookie mistake, or just being taken advantage of by these fish. I've caught plenty and lost plenty and had my back muscles feel as if they seized up, all because of these fish.

This one gave Tim and I two big tail over head jumps as it immediately attempted to round the jetty rocks. They just know what to do to take advantage of the situation. I have never seen many Tarpon who make mistakes around structure.....some do, and get caught. But then again when hooked next to a pile of 10 ton granite boulders, they have many chances to "go for it".

The hook pulled as the fish really went for the shallows of the end of the jetty....oh that was a sneaky tactic. No bent hook, not even a chafed leader. Just the thrown hook.

The red bite started early and ended kinda early compared to yesterdayon one spot. So we tried a few other locales. Then came back near spot number one and got into a slam fest of 18-22" Reds. It was great, Tim and I were just piling in the numbers as fast as we could. And at the same time caught two 14-16" Mangrove Snappers for the cooler.

What sticks in my mind is the word PLANNING. I know, not many come here to just fish. They fish, because they are here. But Tim came to fish, which he has done before. All the way from Tampa!

I get lots of emails. And I remember years ago I used to get lots of phone calls. I cannot tell you the details of a charter in an email. If you're looking for a date inside of two weeks, just call me, instead. Tim, calls and we talk, over the details.

I believe besides being two perfect weather days and fishing two good tides. The fresh water "Flush" (after our 5-days of heavy rain during Memorial day week) has finally pushed or brought these fish back to the jetties, in force. I thought it may never happen there for awhile.

As I was also hoping to not see America shut down again, but with $3.00 a gallon fuel that'll be here again by July 4th, and my prediction $4.00 a gallon by October......the rest of this summer is gonna have to be one where I stay real close to the river/inlet, as overhead goes through the roof.

But the Inlet did spring back, and we were there.

The jetties in the summer can be very hot-cold or in between. Inconsistency is very common, during the summer months. And now all the talk is a thermocline of cold water up on the beach to the south. Oh, that's all we need......last year we had 73-74 degree water, all summer. When July's water temps along the coast should have been 80-83.

"it's always something" Ya just got to roll with it.

Here's today's photo's, by no means photos of all the action:


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6/10 - Fishing in a Aquarium!

Had Tim A. from Tampa back on board the "JETTYWOLF" today, and he'll be back on board again Thursday too.

We have so much fun....it's almost like I thought this "guiding gig" was supposed to be. One angler and me, out huntin' them up, fishing together, learning and looking for that pattern. But solo passenger charters are not the norm.

Yes, I do a single passenger charter for those who really want to get versatile, flexible and experimental, or just learn one on one. I believe for what you get, my solo charter rate is really a good deal. And Tim always does two days!

We fished in an Aquarium today. Had Tarpon all around us for a few hours, Manatees, schools of big Jack Crevalle, Sea Turtles, bait fish galore, Cow nosed Rays, and Redfish under us, and the water was so clean and clear we could see most of them!

The Tarpon? Well, we hoped for this years first hook up. But being one of the finickiest fish that swim for us here in N.E. Florida. I just keep on float rig fishing and if we hooked one I'll deal with it when it happens. We weren't "chum fishing" or anything. Just plain ole Float-rig fishing with light tackle. I love it!! And today Tim even broke in a new rod for me. They handled the big Reds great. (Broke in.....not Broke in half. That's a change....)

The Redfish? How many did ya want to catch? Tim and I, caught our fair share from 21" to 30 inches. Tim had his butt handed to him a few times and then would bask in the glory when another one came to the net.

Other catches included; Monster Ring-tailed Porgy, Lookdown, baby turtles, big Jack hook-ups that broke off, a Ladyfish and a 16" Mangrove Snapper .

It was W-I-L-D, (and hot as hell!) One of those days that just makes ya feel good to be seeing all this abundant life. After having days of dirty, dark, fresh water. With gamefish species swimming in it, a luxury. From all the rain we've had.

I'll let all the photos tell the rest of the story:

Doing it all over again on Thursday 6/11.....I hope.

Monday, June 8, 2009

6/7 & 6/8 - lots of fish, challenges.

Had Felix T. and his son James out on Sunday. Felix and James were out to learn a few things. And this was just the beginning. They needed to learn the tackle, the rigs, casting, hook setting, and the fight. So we went over tides, seasons, and did a lot of discussing. Started at the jetties on the slow and low incoming tide.

The tide was so weak that the green water never came when we were on my favorite spot. I could see it, but it was far from pouring over the rocks where we were. During the summer months the "moon tides" make a big switch. The Full moon isn't a strong tide, at all. But rather the New moon will be the strong one towards the end of the month. So with barely 4 feet of difference between low and high, we worked on what we could, with what I had.

The bite was slow, since there wasn't any current. But James caught his first Redbass. It was small at 17", but he at least caught one and was proud of it.

After a bit of serious
"show and tell" on the float rigs
and a few fish caught.
I went to pull up stakes and
as I did, I saw a real nice
Tripletail drift right by the
boat. I had the anchor line in my hand, and there was nothing I could do. So we cruised the rip of black nasty river water and the gin clear and clean ocean green water. In hopes of spotting another
Tripletail I could hook the guys up with.

But we didn't see any more. Heading to the beach to see if there was any pogies real close, and along the navy base we saw none. So back to the jetties so I could jig up a few "greenies" for big bait for some bottom fishing class.

After catching a few greenies - aka: Threadfin Herring, we anchored up. You just know the action at the jetties is slow when on a falling tide you are one of three other boats on the inside fishing, on a Sunday!!
Well, it' been like this for awhile now. The fresh water just has flushed away the fish that were there before the big Memorial day week storm. Damn, was I into them before the storm. The fishing for big Reds was fun and really on, during the falling tide with a live pogie.

We hooked up one big fish that broke us off in the jetty rocks as the anchor was slipping on me, caught a big Sail Cat, and of course had a big Sting Ray. The big Cat, was a "here's yer sign" kinda fish, that the water is really stirred up......as if looking at it isn't telling you enough.

So we went back into the river and picked up the float rig rods and had fun catching the less glamorous species, Jack, Ladyfish and of course.....Mangrove Snappers. But the guys were catching, and learning. Mission accomplished, for Felix and James.

I timed it just perfectly! We headed in just in time. I no sooner got on the road leaving the boat ramp, and all hell broke loose as I backed the boat into it's house. Perfect timing, just missed another storm!

6/8 - Had good long time customers Don B. and his parents and this time his wife also.

We headed up river from the boat ramp. Worked a lot of spots on the incoming tide, with no current to speak of really. But what can you do. Don caught a Trout on spot #1, as the tide rose, but the top of the water headed eastward...real weird stuff.

After we moved on to an area I wanted to try and haven't in a long time. First drift of Don's float-rig and he hangs something really good, but lost it probably due to his left handed fishing technique even though he's right handed. He did the same thing with the first Trout of the morning too, but this fish was larger. I got a laugh out of his technique, that I certainly didn't teach him.....he came up with this one all on his own.

We caught a few small Trout and as we moved around Don's mom caught 3 - 12+" Mangrove snappers worth keeping, while everyone else just lost the tail off their live shrimp. She had the knack!!

Find a spot that no one fishes, that has rocks and you can actually find some good sized Mangroves in the river. This was one of those spots. So out of the way and kinda goofy, that who else would even try it......I did though. And the larger Mangroves are there.

As the tide turned Don figured out no one grabbed the bag with the cheeze and sandwiches in it. It was still in the car, on ice thankfully. So I went back to the boat ramp. I told Don's dad Bill, "I hate a to see a good sandwich go to waste." It was also a good time to take a restroom break for all, too.

Being close to the jetties we hit along the Navy base and they did well. Don's mom hooked a Jack that ran her around the boat, with me in chase with the net, and the rest of the crew all eye balls as she battled it.
But the real reason I went there was for the Flounder. And Don hooked one! But thought it was just a bait stealer....."no Don, that's dinner!"

A few more Jacks, a few Ladyfish later, then Bill was running his float right down the edge of the rocks on the base and had his float go down. And he hung into a super stud. Could have been a really big Jack, or maybe a Redbass. But we'll never know, because after it dumped half the spool on his reel, it broke the leader...."ya play with fire, you could get burnt".

That's fishing ROCKS for ya.....

A few more Mangroves with a large one that Don caught and his wife hangs into something, she has it coming to the boat but slowly. Then she's hung on a rock. Can ya believe even little Grouper will "ROCK YOU UP", if you don't keep them moving??

They will...

It's that time of year again!! Not only will you have the Lil' Mangrove snappers snapping up you live shrimp, but so will everyone else, including juvenile Grouper!

Okay, back towards the ICW. The falling tide was a screamer at the jetties.....only wish the incoming had half that force.

We hit a spring and winter spot I refer to as the funnel. And Don caught another trout.

But we were far from the area being right. Usually the tide has to be down lower. Then Don's mom catches a Flounder...a small potato chip, but worth keeping.

I sat there keenly aware of what could happen if those big black clouds came our way that we all could clearly see in the distance. A few small Trout, later and the tide got perfect.

That's when Bill who stayed with the game plan of the spot. "Drop float and lively shrimp out behind the boat, go out to the creek intersection and reel back a bit and repeat."

BAM......his float goes down with authority! And he comes tight quickly. The rod thumps, and I know exactly what this is. A Big Trout, the one we've been hunting all day long.

A nice fat 22 incher, for the fish box.
And believe it or not the spot was starting to really be getting hot, but those clouds kept getting closer too. So I side with caution, so we packed it up and high-tailed it to the boat ramp. I was the only one with a rain jacket, and possibly the only one who knows that some of these storms just ain't no fun.
I cleaned all the fish and the clouds, rain and I bet plenty of wind too passed just to the south of us. And we only got sprinkled on as I filleted the fish. But when I got home, it was plenty wet. Glad we avoided this one and it avoided us.
It's always fun with Don and his folks. I hope to see them again in October.

Friday, June 5, 2009

6/5 - Before the pour.

Had Greg G. aboard today with his brother-in-law and his daughter. When we talked the evening before I had just got done watching the weather, and the 60% chance of rain had me saying, "I hope we make our day......"

When I was on the phone with Greg it was also pouring buckets, but that was at 5:00pm. So naturally I thought, it might not cut loose till after our day is done.

We departed at 6:30am and I headed straight for the jetties. I had float-rig rods rigged and had plans to fish the last of the incoming tide there. The night before the wind was blowing pretty hard, and where I wanted to try first was not un-fishable in the Jettywolf, but after anchoring perfectly where I thought we'd be able to fish safely, we still rocked and rolled pretty good in a sloppy chop coming from the S.E. residual from over night.

Always plan or be aware that if we go to the jetties/inlet that it may be Ocean like. And let me remind all that the Ocean is not commonly a Mill pond in Apple Valley, Wisconsin.

First hook-up was a 18-1/2 inch Redbass, a true rarity. They normally are not that small.

But the next hook-up was a brute that acted as if it didn't know it was hooked at first then after getting closer to the boat, made a dash behind the boat into the jetty rocks and POP, went the leader.

A few small Jacks later, the high tide came and the current faded, so we moved on too calmer waters up in the river. Ladyfish, Jack, Ladyfish, Jack, more Ladyfish. Then a nice Flounder.

After the falling tide really got rolling and the current became stronger (full moon is on Sunday)
we moved on and further up river. I was hoping to get a few Trout on the spot but it was overrun with Mangrove Snappers......."What's new??"

I kept looking west, and the sky was getting darker and darker. One keeper sized Mangrove was caught about 12", then I had a charter call, and then all of a sudden the dark turned into a wall of rain, with a temperature drop, and gusty winds started. It was going to get us! The wall was a mere 1/4 mile away.

I said, "pack it up....we're outa here", and I drug up the anchor, pulled into the boat and hit 5200 rpm's back east toward the boat ramp. The rain was coming down at a 45 degree angle and was hitting the river creating a mist above the water. I call this "bouncing rain drops". Usually associated with high winds and big rain drops.

At the boat ramp Capt Kirk was there alone attempting to get away from the dock and on his trailer. So I opted for the next best thing.......a crash landing over at Mayport Marine next door.

Between the west wind at 40 MPH, and the river's ebbing tide, the marinas docks have soft bumpers, unlike the public docks that have hard nylon down the side. And it could have been a really rough landing. But not nearly as bad at the marina. We took cover inside the boat building till the storm passed.

I know I was wet down to the BVD's, and I'll assume my crew was too.
I cleaned up the fish we had, and we called it a day. A shorter day then what was planned.
I sat talking to a few friends at the boat ramp afterwards and it continued to rain even more.
It was a good idea to cut our losses.