Wednesday, September 30, 2009

9/28 - River update and rant.......

Time to gear up for fall. The mullet are everywhere at the inlet and especially at the north jetty of the St. Johns River. The Tarpon/Cudas and Sharks are going nuts on them, as well as the birds.

The top of the St. Johns River is basically "FRESH WATER".....has the orange tinge to it. Watch out for your live shrimp!! Don't recirculate the water in your bait well. Unless you go get clean green Ocean water. Your shrimp can die.

After what seemed like weeks of due east winds and astronomically strong tides, we had yesterday a decent west wind. Which pushed along with the falling tide enough Fresh Water that the surface of the river in the Ft. Caroline/Blount Island/Dames Point bridge area, that the salinity on the surface was 2 parts out of a possible 40 parts per thousand on my salinity gauge. And a back up test is "just taste it". I can just look at the water's color and know what's going on. The usual dark tannin, looked lighter and more tea color. Along the part of the river I fish.

Fresh water lays on the surface of saltwater, since saltwater is heavier. Just be aware of your water clarity, saltiness and temperature, in your bait well. If you want your live shrimp to stay fish'able. With river and ocean temps still at 80 degrees or better, it may seem like fall because of all that's going on in the fish world. But you still have to pay close attention to the environment that you're fishing in.

Especially us Float-rigger's"aka: Float Freaks" I'm personally keeping close tabs on when my favorites really start showing up east of the Mayport Boat Ramp. And NO, my favorites aren't Flounder although I catch mine on the float-rig 90% of the time. Or just by taking a break and pitching a jig-n-shrimp combo, bumping it along the bottom.

Since just after 9/11 and all the "knee jerk re-actions" of our law enforcement agencies. I have lost at least 5 prime, Trout spots and now some primo flattie haunts. Last week, I was told that I can't be where I just pulled 5 Flounder and one Sheepshead out of. It's off limits now......"didn't YOU see the sign". "ya mean, the one hidden way up on the bank in the trees?", I replied.

Really.....does two guys in a boat in the river obviously fishing a certain rock pile or point, pose any National Security Threat to an area already equipped with a fence, probably with motion detectors on it, and with surveillance camera's on top of high poles, with patrolling security guards.....with binoculars? I'd love to take a Washington politician fishing just so he/she could see how utterly un-common sense this really is.

I can anchor within a BB gun range of a Naval Ship docked in Mayport N.S. But cannot anchor and fish, 200 yards from the closest Jeep, parked in a lot??

Who are these idiots, who make up these rules? Post a few signs, and become the Gestapos of the land? The land that I couldn't care less about, as a Tax paying, Jacksonville resident who's only interest is what's laying by that rock or point "UNDER WATER"! Use your head, folks. Or is the security so lame, you're scared of us?

I know we're living in a total "militaristic" country now. Let alone this city!



If I look/act like I'm a terrorist, I probably am. Just like the "Osama" they just caught putting a plan together in Colorado. BTW.....Why is that dude even here in my USA? A full-time fishing guide, just trying to make a living with a customer. Isn't your biggest problem. As we can see on the nightly news.

I can too. I can tell if a caller or someone who emails me is really interested in a fishing charter, or if they are just out on a info hunt or tire kicking session. Car salesman do it. They steer you in the right direction to get that sale. They quickly profile your needs.

What's this country come too? I've had multiple background checks, have been finger printed I don't know how many times, have to buy a so called, security card (which is another fancy word for taxing me to pay for this "homeland security".) And still am considered a potential Terrorist?
NOW, is stereo typically in my mind the Big Bull Redfish time of the year. Ahh, October is almost here. Not August or even the beginning of Sept. And the funny thing is I hear about all these MONSTER REDS...and how big they are.

It's funny, I'm anchored 100 feet away from someone who's catching only monster reds, while we are catching the average sized fish, 20-30 pounds. Boy, can some guides really "pump up" a story. I guess that's why they're fisherman. If they weren't fisherman, they maybe "sci-fi writers".

I've caught numerous 50 plus pound Reds. But I can tell ya honestly, I don't really care if they're 20 or 40 pounds, they're all fun for the person who hasn't ever caught a big'un. The school that comes through is the school that comes through...No one's catching just 40-50 pound Reds, while everyone else is catching 20-30's. It is what it is, folks.

No one's blue crab sitting on the bottom is that special.....just the stories you'll hear afterwards are "special".......special hype!

Have fun with them, make sure you get a good healthy release, take a picture and be happy they haven't outlawed the catch & release of a big Redbass, yet.

We can all learn a lesson from what the offshore charters and headboats are facing today. The fight to not have the entire "bottom fishing" industry shut down. Starting with the closure of Geniune Red Snapper, then the entire Grouper/Snapper Complex to follow?

Jerry Sienfeld put it into perspective, when he said. "Parents for Adults is what government agencies are. As a kid you never understood why your parents had such rules. And as an adult you don't know why the government it constantly telling you what you can and can't do."

See ya out there......

Sunday, September 27, 2009

9/26 - Short Saturday Trip

Had the pleasure of having Dr. Rodney and his daughter Tara aboard for a Saturday morning. They were in town for a wedding, and after fishing is when the wedding was. So we departed at 7am.

I decided to keep everything close. So we went over by the Navy base and did some float-rig fishing. But only caught Jacks and Ladyfish on the last of the falling tide. I'm going to mark it down in my log book this year, the day that good amounts of Specks show up along that bank. I just want to see how late it will be. Good number's of Trout. Not just a fish here and there.

I'll do an "educated guess", and say.....November. Because right now the water temp is still 80 degrees plus. Yeah, "PLUS" according to my calibrated temp gauge. There's been loads of food in that area. Especially on the incoming tide. Lots of glass minnow schools. Always pay attention to what kinds of birds are working the area, and what they're doing. On the falling tide this morning of course there's some smaller mullet jumping right up against the rocks. And "yep", we saw either Jacks or Redbass, popping the surface, 6" off the rocks, water busting, and what looked like tail splashes. But getting super tight to them is tough. Especially with one boat wake after another on a Saturday morning. You'll end up on or in the rocks after being waked. I've been there, done that. Looking to hook up on those reds that patrol the absolute edge of the those small boulders. And of course with a float on the line, because it's mighty snaggy fishing.

But like in the past, it's hard to ignore "TAILING" Redbass in close and tight. And don't forget your top water plugs, or un-weighted soft plastics. Right along that edge!

After some okay action on the float-rigs, you wouldn't have believed Tara. She was pitching and flipping like Bill Dance and Roland Martin. Bait casting tackle didn't scare her! She said, "I don't know the difference, so I have no reason to be afraid of the reels". Smart gal!

Sometimes people ask me, what would be my perfect charter......and I usually reply, "Two smart gals who haven't been fishing before. Because I have a clean slate. And of course I always enjoy having the woman aboard. It's a departure from the norm."

Keeping to our tight time line, I decided to go try some "Bait & Wait", for the bull Reds. Again, keeping our travel time to a minimum (damn, ya gotta love river fishing, just for that fact) I pulled up across from the Coastie station and anchored up. And set out two rods with crab baits. What seemed like a long time to me as a I.G. - instantaneous gratification, angler. One of the rods went off......A burning run, smokin' line off my mini Accurate twin drag reel. I called for Tara who was relaxing on the bow, she sprung up and after looking at the rod, said "Dad you take it." She was just a itty-bitty gal, and I wanted to see her tangle with the junk yard dog on the end of the line. But Rodney took the rod and was now in a heated battle.

And a few minutes later the line went limp. The line broke, the 50 pound super braid line! The fish was pulling so hard, I'm sure a weakness in the braid was found. It gets nicked too. And 50 pound no stretch line turns into 20, easily. Oh well. So I grabbed more crabs and another rod and we sat waiting again. Every few minutes I re-baited, keeping fresh crab (stink bombs) on the bottom. It's all about the smell down in the darkness of the 38 feet of water. Keep baits changed, and rolling out the crab scent. So if you're not staying very busy, re-baiting. You're probably not keeping fresh stink bombs on the hook. That's the difference between using cut bait and crabs.

Cut Croaker, Bluefish, Ladyfish, Mullet, Pogies, have a longer shelf life on the bottom. And when the lil' peckers are chewing on a large chunk of cut bait, I just refer to them as "scent dispersing devices". Because too many times, they'll be nipping at the cut bait and all of a sudden. Brutus T. Redbass will come on the scene.

We got bit again, and this time it was a fish with not as much "spit and vinegar". So it makes me wonder "how big was the one we lost?" (if you catch a big mean Red with a Eagle Claw 7/0 circle hook in it's mouth trailing a leader and a bunch of Berkley 50# super braid. You'll know where that fish has been) Rodney fought and fought. Arms getting tired, feeling the burn in the forearm, when finally the big Red appeared.

A super light colored fish.....In, from the Ocean??
A nice 25 pounder. Tara, reminded dad and I that she didn't sleep well the night before in the hotel, had to take a nap, and get "dolled up" for this evening festivities. So we gave it a few more minutes, didn't get any bites right away. So we called it a morning, and made the short ride back to the dock.
On a short time line, we caught fish. And had some excitement.
I had some live shrimp left in the bait well. So I took off down river, pulled up at a spot and caught, 5 Speckled trout, and only two were keepers at 15-17". Then ended up at the jetties, where it was sloppy as all hell. Big swells, crashing the end of the rocks. I stuck one good drag burning fish and it broke me off on the float-rig. And caught one 13" Mangrove Snapper. Then packed it in, cleaned the fish at the dock. And went home. Cleaned up the boat good, after 3 trips in a row, and went in and made Cheezy Pasta with veggies and fried Trout and Mangrove Snapper for supper. Watched some TV and was sound asleep by 9pm.
Next up;
Pre-booked in advance charters with regulars October 2nd and 6th and 7th.

Friday, September 25, 2009

9/25 - Multi-species day in Mayport.

Had Don M. aboard again, with his sister Lindsey. Don's a regular customer and he'll be back next Friday again, with his dad visiting from Pa.

We stopped in along a rock bank this morning. And I did a survey drift with my float-rig. And on the first shrimp of the morning I had a big Trout hooked up. Head shaking, pulling drag, and then the fish busted the surface, I saw it....then it got off. Damn!

This was after we tried outside the jetties along the rip line for big Reds with crab baits. We soon left to go float-rig fishing instead, because there wasn't a bit out there. My buddy Capt Randal was also out there trying it. And the same thing for him, so he left for up in the river.

I decided to hang out east of the boat ramp all day long. The river and the jetties haven't had my full attention lately. But it's about time, it did.

No Trout....but believe there could have been if we caught more of the falling tide. But Don's sister wasn't feeling good, so we took her back to the dock and Don took her home then we re-started our day, over again afterwards.

We re-tried the absolute last few mintes of the falling tide inside the jetties bottom fishing. And again came up with no Big Reds. So right there we decided, it was Float-rig fishing the rest of the day.....forget those crabs, and the heavier tackle. Let's put something in the "BOX".

So we worked the jetties.....

BIG, Mangrove Snappers....but no Reds. It was sloppy as all hell, as the incoming tide flooded in, bringing crashing waves and white water. Then, Black Margate's, with the distinct "golden eye". A Funny fish, a member of the Grunt family, I believe. But you'll never hear me "grunt" about them. Large ones in the 3-5 pound catagory will kick some butt on light tackle. I've been so into them in the past that out of 15 hook-up's have only got a handful out of the deep rocks. They clean easy and taste just fine yielding a very nice fillet.

Still no Redbass! But I have to say the fishing was tough. Even the Mangrove Snapper bite was hard to stay on. As we bounced like weebles around the boat deck. So after getting fish in the box, we moved on. I was the Ring-tail Porgie king. While Don caught the good fish.

But I quickly caught up....with the non-eaters. Because the next stop was, one small Redfish, Jacks, and Ladyfish action on the high tide. Birds diving all around us on schools of glass minnows. The tell-tale sign, teeth were below.

And every other drift of the float had our live shrimp being stolen with hardly a noticable bump.
But Don finally figured it out catching a "fall" Spanish Mackerel.

I hooked a few finally, but they ate the hook off my light 15 pound mono leader. It was really hot and the sun had scorched both Don and I. So after boxing one more Mangrove Snapper we headed back to clean all the fish.. And not one was a Redfish or a Trout. But Don still headed home with a big bag of fish fry fillets.
It was fun, and we get to do it all over again with a full days falling tide, next Friday. I'm looking forward to it.
Thanks again Don.

9/24 - Curt from London

Had Curtis from London England, and step father Ed from Jax beach (I think) aboard, for a day of hunting Big Bull Redbass. Curtis was all for it.

Well, we fished and fished....using one live Blue Crab after another. Then, finally we got bit. But lost it to a "hook-set" on a 7/0 circle hook. Remember, never set the hook when using a circle hook. Just let the fish pull against it. AND START REELING!

So we moved away from the crowd anchored up on the first of the incoming tide, all alone. I pitched out a few fresh crab chunks. And a rod went off. Finally, crazy, wacky, super excitable. let alone entertaining, Curtis was hooked up and freaking out!

They don't have fish like this in the Theme's river, he let me know. And Curtis got what he wanted. A big fat "brood stock" Redfish, out of the St. Johns River. Ed has a boat, but it was down so they called me. So Curtis has fished the river before in past visits.

Man that took long enough....I went from a zero to a hero, finally! Curtis was whooping and hollering and just plain ecstatic. And he had the right to be. The fishing in London, just isn't the same.

Next up was Ed. Not long after Curt's fish. And being a local angler handled it like a pro.

The tide was ripping and the water was green. And no more bites, so I kept hunting. But we only ended up with 3 Bluefish and a Croaker for all our efforts. Basically a pretty tough day.
But Curtis was happy. I was frustrated, and Ed was tired. So we packed it in, and headed back to the dock.
Maybe Curtis will give it another chance his next time visit in. I'd love to have him out again, because this guy was into it!
Thanks fellas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

9/23 - and ya think our tides are extreme??

Try living with this every day!

and we're bitchin and moaning about our tides???

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Don't have ALLOY? Oh well, then ya better be tough.

Monday, September 21, 2009

9/21 - These tides.......

If you are a frequent visitor here, you know I tell it the way I see it. I call a day when there's a really high incoming tide and a N.E. or East wind. A "K.O.D." day. Not very conducive for river float-rig fishing for Speckled Trout, less alone anything else. So what's the best thing to do? Hit the bottom. And this morning we had really no alternative.

But you know me, I never leave the house without my float rods rigged and a bait well full of live shrimp.

Had Mike D. and his wife aboard today. So I had to scramble a bit to get some live fresh crabs, because I just talked to Mike the day before. So with everything in place, we left the dock around 7:30am. First thing, get to where I've been starting days like today, and get some baits out ASAP. The first push of the incoming tide has been the ticket. No sooner we got there and a few other boats that left before us were already hooked up. But our first taker didn't take long, but we sort of lost it. The fish ate the crab off the hook while giving us a sort of false hook-up.

No biggy, I had about a dozen crabs just enough to get some Reds as the incoming tide rumbled under us. Mike is an avid Texas Gulf coast angler, that had us swapping info back and forth like to kids trading baseball cards. Which made for a fun day.

It didn't take long and Mike got his chance on a big Redbass and so did his wife, pretty much a double header. The bite came just minutes after he showed me a big Red on his cellphone camera. I said while he held his fish for the camera, "Damn Mike, is that just like the ones in Texas?" We had them from 19 to 24 pounds. Then the bite just went away. So we moved around, looking for the perfect current, along with everyone else.

Mike's wife had a Red with probably 100 spots. A really beautiful fish, but in all the confusion of taking photos, I failed to take a photo of her with "my " camera!

We only caught a large river Seabass, and I had only a crab or two left. So after a quick pit-stop for a ladies room break. We were on our way to the jetties. I'm a float-rigger, and love teaching and showing people the techniques and in's and out's that make it so fun and interactive.

With all the chit chat about it there was no way Mike was going home with out giving it a try.

We ended up fishing the start of the falling tide out there. It was "sporty" just getting to the jetty tips. East Nor-east wind at around 15 kts. and the start of a falling tide bucking the wind. A Kowa-bunga ride on out, but not all that bad once we were anchored up in my "jetty fishing sled". I had this boat built with the lay out designed for one thing. Fishing the Big Jetties, no matter what the weather brings. Always safe, and no one's going to feel like they're gonna fly out of it. Compared to low sided inshore boats, with limited deck space.

Mike and his wife were set up and floating a live shrimp down the rocks at first. But as the tide fell the floats would come off the rocks and hover where there was no washing current. Not perfect. But, Mike's wife was first up with a jetty sized Mangrove Snapper. We boxed 3 or 4 decent Mangroves, and Mike caught two Jacks.

Eastward, the clouds were dark, and we could see sheets of rain falling from the sky. "Hmmm, time to make a decision??" Mike said, "it's all cool Dave, we can head back in."
So I drug up the anchor as the rain approached and followed us in the jetties....which now were, EXTRA SPORTE!

Peaks of 5 foot tall waves, rolling over at the mouth had me slowly slogging through, doing my best Tug Boat imitation. But no worse for the wear. And when we got back to the dock the rain was just drizzling, and headed south of the boat ramp.

Let's see.... the tides have been well over 5 feet tall at high tide, with an East wind blowing the water in the river now for the last 7-10 days. I haven't seen a "genuine" dead low tide since.

As I said, certainly not all that conducive for perfect Trout fishing. Thank goodness, the big Reds are biting, if not real good, at least enough.

Personally, I like to split the day up. I don't want to bottom fish for the same fish, over and over again. All day long. Been there, done that. Each day, I hope to be able to mix it up a bit. And today even though conditions were far from perfect, I'm really glad I got to share a bit of it with Mike.

Next "pre-booked" day is Friday, with an old client looking at Saturday with friends as of right now.

Plan, Plan, Plan. I know what the weather's doing, I know the tides. Get the best out of you day on the water. Please give me some notice.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9/17 - Rain, Wind, Current, OH NO!

Had the pleasure of having Doug W. back aboard the Jettywolf again today. His last trip was probably early 2007. So it's been a little while. Doug's a good angler, and I found that out after our first trip. So I was excited about today's well planned trip.

A bit of history first. Last Saturday the bite was slow on the Speckled Trout and float-rig fishing in general. But Nick W. and I pulled it out and put some hard earned fish in the box. Monday, I tried some float rig fishing with John H. and there was NO bite. After trying 5 different areas, we gave way and hit the bottom with heavy lead and pulled on 4 big Reds from 5 blue crabs, in the 20 knot east winds and wacky high and strong tides.

Then there was today with Doug. It was a matter where we went and what we did, there was no bite on the float-rig. We even left out at 10am, so to have a few hours of tide change going before we left the dock. So I thought.
We turned left out of the dock and headed down river a piece. And there wasn't any current. But we tried a spot, anyhow. Have you ever headed out, with a time line to find out that during the whole day, you just knew you were fishing each spot "hours" too early? That was me, today. With the astronomically high tides right now, every where we tried had us there hours early for the "right" time of the tide.

I look at the grass along the bank and know by heart that the best time is when I see the water out of the grass. I look over at a dock, and know by heart, that the best time to fish this dock is when I'm starting to see barnacles on the pilings.

You may say to yourself, then why are you there too early in the tide? Well, if we left the dock today at the right time, we probably would have left at 2pm and that was way to late. And I tried to pick a middle of the road time frame to depart. But it really didn't matter....

As my dad tells me when I take him fishing, "Dave, if you're not catching, how I am supposed too?" Being a very analytical guy. He's usually dead right. I know the spots, I know the fish, I know how to fish better. So yeah, if I'm not catching how is dad supposed to whack them. Since he fishes with me only once a year. That's why I love small group's aboard. I can get the time to at least survey an area every once in awhile myself, so I can see if they're home or not.

So after much struggling, Doug and I gave in and went to PLAN B. Bottom fish for big Reds.

Well.....a bit easier said, than done. The current in the deep water was smoking fast. We sat through a really good down pour, with stiff winds. While soaking wet, but with a squeaky clean boat. I ended up moved around hunting a bit less current, that had a few fish in it, hopefully.

Doug was thinking today just might have been the "Perfect Storm" and the cards just weren't laying right. He was about to say "let's call it a day". But I know better. And maybe it's just being a bit stubborn, but I was not about to succeed to these cards. So with Doug in agreement, we tried one last spot.

The current was perfect, the wind wasn't all that bad. And I've caught them here before, no problem.

So we anchored up and pitched two crabs out on the bottom. A boat near us was into a few "RB's" so they were obviously here. And after just a few minutes, Doug was hooked up!

And since Doug has never caught a really big Red before. I felt as if we were
accomp-lishing something!

It turned out to be a 16 pounder. Not a giant, but hell, we'll take it. A real good fighter. Running against the current and to the side of the boat.

As I was getting ready to take the hook out of this Red, I noticed some fishing line. And it was coming out of the Red's butt!

This fish broke someone off, and was poopin' out some green Berkley solar green line, and the entire leader and swivel. The hook was still in the fish, some where. I've seen this before, but it's still a sight, and a testament of how tough fish really are. I've caught Red Snapper and Grouper that had the same gastric strings.

The current started to slow down after the first Red, and the east winds started taking over. Having the lines and boat laying all kattywhompus. So we adjusted to it. And I started thinking, what else might be living down there on the bottom. Maybe some Yellowmouth
Trout, Croakers??

So I grabbed a light rod, one of my casting rods. A Shakespeare "Tiger Lite", with a small low profile Shimano Citica bait caster. The same reels I use for Float-rig fishing. I had it rigged with a one ounce egg sinker, and a leader with a 1/0 Wide Bend hook. I said to Doug, "let's see what's down there."
As Doug watched the heavier rods baited with crab. I pitched out, and let the light sinker hit the bottom. The current was just enough to hold the line behind the boat. And I hopped the shrimp baited rig back to the boat. I was just behind the boat when the line came taunt and just took off, up current. It was a massive fish, so I quickly handed Doug the rod.

Ain't that something.....a light rod, light reel, light hook, light leader, and now we have a massive fish hooked up, dumping the small reels spool. This was supposed to be just a "test" to see what was down there?

I was thinking a big Jack at first. But all clues pointed to BIG REDBASS?? Thirty eight feet of water, and yards of line were now between Doug and the big fish. It ran toward our anchor, so I pulled the anchor. It ran under the boat, so I lifted the engine. Now we were free drifting along, but still haven't seen the fish.

The Red popped to the surface the first time and now we were in 12 feet of water drifting towards a set of docks.

What a great "L.T." - light tackle battle!

Which almost made all our trials and tribulations earlier in the day fade completely away.

The Redbass weighed in at 24 pounds, and I'm sure Doug's arms were feeling the burn. But in my book, that's a good burn!

Well I now know what my Shakespeare
"Tiger lite" rods can take, along with the
Shimano Citica's.

If we didn't have to use such heavy lead to stay on the bottom around here, I'd like to do more "L.T." fishing for these fall brusiers. But we don't get the chance to do that much.
After landing this fish we packed it in, so Doug could head home back to St. Augustine. Just in time, because soon as Doug stepped on the dock, his wife called wondering where he was.......
"He was out on a day's adventure....with a guy that hates to give up to momma nature."
Thanks again, Doug.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This is your monthly installment of...."Damn I could of had a really tough ass boat".

Now, this baby has Jettywolf written all over it!

  • Make: Workboats Northwest, Seattle, WA. $7,900.00
  • 16' 6" Long, 7' 6" Wide.
  • Hull built from 3/16 inch aluminum.
  • 90 Horsepower outboard motor with new lower unit.
  • Less than 50 Hrs on motor.
  • Self bailing flush deck.
  • 100 gal. fuel tank in bottom.
  • Non-skid paint on rails and decks.
  • Center steering station.
  • Rubber rails all around.
  • Canvas cover.
  • New battery.
  • New hydraulic hoses.
  • New fuel hoses.
  • Towing hooks in stern and bow.
  • 4 lifting eyes inboard.
  • 4 tie down cleats.

The furthest thing from being a "Caroline Skiffer" .........HUH?

-add some rod holders and now ya have a REAL COOL jetty boat!
-Do I hear Sheepherders.....Ahhhhing?
-But with a 100 gallons of fuel, it could also mean a Daytona Jetties and back too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/14 - BLUE MONDAY!!

Monday's at's usually my favorite time and day. A vacant boat ramp, a vacant river (to some extent). And if the fish are chewin', just a great way to start a week.

Except for this Monday. Something happened.

Had John H. aboard today for a solo angler's trip. Plans were to go do some float-rig fishing, then depending on the bite, possibly stop and get a few Bull Reds before heading back to the dock to clean fish. I like to mix it up. Don't really want to spend the whole day bottom fishing, but rather wait till the tides low, and then try it. So we left the dock this morning at 7am on a falling tide, with a East wind blowing between 15-20 knots.

Headed to the same area I fished on Saturday with Nick. The tide had just started to fall. John had never float-rig fished before. But was interested in learning a new technique, seeing he has his own boat, and lives further up river.

We fished and fished, and hit approx. 5-6 spots and only had one small 14" Trout, and a few Mangrove Snappers. At first I thought it had to be just the area that we were in, so I kept moving. But after hitting some of the better Trout areas in my available locale. We both started to realize. It wasn't us. They just weren't biting! But the funny thing was, the Mangroves sure were on the loose.

A few places, a shrimp couldn't make it 20 feet behind the boat. Along with Pinfish, we ran right through 6 dozen live shrimp with nothing to show for it except two 12" Mangrove Snappers in the box.

I can easily put 2 and 2 together. On Saturday, the Trout bite was almost non-existent. And we were seemingly lucky two get the ones we did catch.

How many days now has it been with the due East wind?? This isn't spring time. Because I blatantly remember many a March-April that had incessant east winds for weeks.

This weeks strong/high tides coupled with East winds holding back the water in the river made for no genuine LOW tides. Add up all these factors, and somewhere hidden in there was the lack of Trout I believe.

And as I told John, "Don't come out on this river anytime, without some kind of back-up plan, I don't care what time of year it is."

So we headed back towards the boat ramp. But we certainly weren't going to give up completely.

Could it have been that all morning long he had Bananas hidden in the cooler? I've had my situations with the yellow funny shaped fruit before. Too many times have Bananas appeared in the hands of my clients, to my dismay. Apparently a "fisherman's snack" for many. But also "bad luck", for those who are superstitious like me.....especially when we're already struggling. John quickly ate one, and disposed of the other.

I anchored up to try and catch a few bull Redbass. (the back-up plan). And no sooner were we one the spot with two rods out did we get two bites. Both rods started bouncing. But one was what we came looking for. John was quickly hooked up to a big Redbass. The other rod had a dang Toadfish on it. The fish peeled drag on the absolute last "puff" of falling tide, running due east.......then, POP. Broke off right above the hook. Huh? Wonder what happened there?

With the bananas now gone, and now getting bites, it sure seems like the superstition was real.

The tide quickly reversed being pushed by the 15 knot east wind. So I made a move even closer to the boat ramp. Looking to get wind and tide going all the same direction. We had five frozen Blue Crabs left. If we're lucky, just enough to catch a Big Red. Even though not a "Box" fish, it would be redemption for our whole morning spent traveling, fishing hard, and coming up with no trout.

Blame it on the bananas, or just changing tactics (Trout can be way more finicky then Red's on the bottom) But we easily got bit, and John like so many other people I take, caught his largest Brutus T. Redbass, of his angling career. We ended up with three all in the same area. From 20-30 pounds.

It was a long, long day. But John learned a new fishing technique, saw how the tide and wind effects each spot, saw how aggravating small Mangrove Snappers can be to the Trout fisherman, and also caught his largest ever Redbass. So even though we never filled the box with Trout and Flounder. I believe he got his time and monies worth.

Now, I have to start thinking toward Thursday's charter. Wonder what the deal will be then?

-See ya on the river.

Vienna Sausages, and a pack a crackers, have never brought me bad luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

9/12 - In between the rain

Had Nick W. aboard today. Nick and I haven't fished together in a while. The weather was mighty iffy, but you certainly couldn't tell that from the amount of boats on the river. Yeah, instead of offshore, I guess. Because the east winds blew, and the dark clouds passed over all day long.

But that didn't matter. Nick got to wet a line. And together, we always have fun!

We pretty much were on the Trout search. But that was ending up being kinda slow. I caught a fattie that really was a true pig. As I was taking the hook out of it's mouth I noticed that it had a big fish tail sticking out of it's throat. Was either a large mullet or a yellow
mouth Trout. I had a customer catch a 7.5 pound Trout once that had three 8-1o inch yellow
mouth Trout in it's stomach. So I'm not all that surprised what these dudes can actually eat.

Here's that fat bellied Trout that also ate a 3" live shrimp.

Nick was catching some Mangrove Snappers, and as I fished along with him. I kept the Trout coming. But the bite was quite slow on trout.

Nick hasn't wetted a line since last Christmas.
So he may have been a bit rusty.

The first of the year "river" Grouper was also caught. By this time last year I believe many more were caught while float-rig fishing.

We then moved on and went and threw some jigs and shrimp. Caught 5 Flounder, not very big ones though, but keepers. A small Sheepshead, some Jacks, a few more Trout, but small. And by the time to tide had come up, went towards the ICW, to see if we could get a Redfish up in a very flooded bay. But only caught a small Trout.

Lot's of action. on and off rain. Lot's of boats around. But the east wind really didn't affect us much at all. We hit the dock and I cleaned the fish, long after the weather sent the crowds packin'. The boat ramp when we got back was nearly vacant!

Hmmm, reminiscent of a winter day, during football season? Yes, I think so. I'm really looking forward to when the weather turns a bit cooler. But with the inshore water temps still between 78 and 80 degrees......"that won't be for awhile, yet".

The pile of fish yielded a bag of fillets that weighed over 5 pounds. Which was great, because Nick didn't want it all. So when I got home I had me a nice dinner of fresh fried fish. Then hit the sack.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 - for your viewing pleasure.

Believe it or not.......look at the seas. Pretty calm I'd say.

3 People were thrown off their boat south of the stuart inlet. The "run-a-way" boat was head straight for our boat. Another boat picked up the boat owners and we rode along side, radioed coast guard...

I love it when they "hooted and hollered" when the impact was about to happen.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sept. 5,6,7.....

Whewww....Are you wore slap out after the labor day weekend?

Yeah, the river, ICW, everywhere but the jetties was "bank to bank" boats! The jetties weren't all that busy, because of N.E. winds and slight swells. But I did see some "free-jumping" spinner sharks, and there was lots of bait out there on Sunday.

Does this mean, like up north, that from here on out most everyone will start to pack up their boats, wrapping them in canvas and poly tarps, and store them in the back yard till next spring?

NOT LIKELY! But just let the football games begin. And right there goes a percentage of the weekend crowd.

I spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday out on the river. On the TOWBOAT/US boat. So I got to see it all!

At one point on Sunday, I had to wait, look both ways, and then cross the St. Johns River as if I was on foot attempting a crossing of Atlantic Blvd during rush hour! It was that bad. BIG DIFFERENCE between now and when fuel was $4.25 a gallon in the spring!!!!
That's why people like myself and my fellow big Trout Tracker buddy, D.O.A. Rob, love the winter time, so much. Less people. But then again, the biggest misconception of all Jacksonville fishing is, that during the winter fishing charter's must not be as good, as the summer. It's the direct opposite. During the hot summer, when most of the vacationers are here.
The worst areas to navigate over this past weekend was the "HUB" - the ICW and river intersection. North into Sister's Creek, all the way into Ft. George river, to the Ft. George bridge. I was up there 3 times.

Once for a battery jump, once to check-out how the sand bars have shifted from behind Ft. George Island to the bridge and out to the inlet, and then another battery jump call, on Monday morning.

The pristine area, that I know as a great Black Drum, deep winter Trout area was transformed into a 2 mile long parking lot of boats. From rubber dingies, to 50 foot ocean going Sportfish boats. With needless to say......"endless amounts of tinny winnie bikini's."

The Jet-ski's is what makes me nervous. Like flies around a dead fish. They are out of control. From every direction, going every speed. It just looks like disaster waiting to happen to me.

And then, there's the people pulling small kids on tubes behind boats. Not just in Ft. George, either. But in the middle of the St. Johns and all over the ICW. I'd NEVER EVER pull my kids behind the boat where I see these people doing so. I picture this; Kid falls off tube, boat traffic is all around, drunk "partier" runs over my kid in a speed boat or jet ski doing 50mph. All hell breaks loose!

I guess, as a fishing guide I make it my business to not be near boat traffic. And I can tell you the best place to pull your kids around on a tube, but no one will go there, because it's off the beaten path. Behind Blount Island, back between Clapboard and Browns Creek. Slower current, and zero ships, tugs, jet skies, boaters, fisherman, and partiers. I was truly amazed at what I saw.

These past three days has me longing for a quiet weekday along the jetty rocks, that's for sure.

If you can, and want the best possible fishing charter, and best fishing opportunities. I'll reiterate myself for the one thousandth time........

Pick a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. And with more "holidays" coming in the future, like Thanksgiving. It would be very wise to plan ahead, and plan for the week before a holiday.

Friday, September 4, 2009

9/4 - Target species, Catch species

Had the pleasure of having Vic C. on board. He was an attendee of my Float-rig fishing seminar at Dicks Wings sports bar on Beach Blvd. a few weeks ago. And his buddy Mark.

Vic's an avid reader here, so he knows what makes me tick. He has his own boat and fishes with his wife in the creeks. Who couldn't attend our "on the water" Trout seminar today.

We left out this morning under dark skies patchy with plenty of clouds and a stiff N.E. breeze at the boat ramp. I pointed the Jettywolf westward, even though we had a great tide for some jetty fishing. I certainly wasn't up to fighting the waves and wind out there. (I'm getting older. I can tell.)

First spot was to teach Mark the way we where going to spend, at least half the day. What I call an acclimation area. Good current, no super challenges, and calm. So calm that the bugs were chewin' on us. Vic and Mark picked right up on the float-rig and we even caught a handful of small "buck" male Specks. I think they had it down. So we moved on.

The next spot should have been really hot, but wasn't. But we caught a few good keeper Trout up to 18" and a few small ones. But after a few adjustments on the spot. We just weren't into them steady. So we moved on once again.

No big deal. It was the incoming tide. And I had big plans to hit a hot spot once the tide turned.

Vic mentioned he'd love to try catching a Big Bull Redbass. So I told him we'd give it a try after we use up some of the 12 dozen live shrimp I had, and after the tide got low. We saw "the herd" of boats lined up in the river. But we substained. And I kept with my plan.

We took a break for a short while, and then the tide turned. I headed straight for where Kirk M. and I whooped up on the trout last week. It was a slow start, but in the end we caught some nice "box" specks, and a "mini-7 striped jetty snapper" - aka: Sheepshead. A Yellowmouth Trout and a few keeper Mangrove Snappers. With all but a few small shrimp left in the bait well. I asked the fellas, "Ya'll ready to go catch a big "RB" (Redbass)??" With a resounding, "Yes" we headed back eastward.

"Baiting and waiting", isn't always my favorite style of fishing. But I'm always willing to give it a try for a few really big ones. Since right now, we could catch the largest fish either one of the guys have ever caught. I like firsts!

It didn't take all that long, before we had a "bump, bump" on a bottom rod. And Vic took the rod.

The rod bowed, and spool emptied, and Vic was smiling ear to ear. As he struggled to put the breaks on the Bull Red. And thanks to my favorite reels of all time, my Accurate twin drags. Vic turned the fish and had it heading to the boat.
It was Mark's turn next, and after an adjustment of the anchor to get back in the ever changing river current. We sat BS'n for a while, when I saw the rod "bump, bump" again.

Mark was now hooked up to a Bull Red that was swimming under the boat. They will feed into the current and not always turn away and go, but rather eat the bait, and just keep swimming dragging the 6 oz sinker behind them.

Mark had to reel like his hand was a Black & Decker, but finally came tight and had a close quarters battle.

It was getting late. So we packed it in to go clean Trout. There's no disputing that the time is now to get your personal private day of adventure.

They're all biting.
"Isn't it time to...get you some!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sad Day.....

To all Capt Dave's Fishin' Report Blog Readers,

I have received horrible and shocking news from home. My faithful companion for the last 26+ years is gone. Her passing was unexpected and occurred sometime earlier today. I have endless memories of the nights we’ve spent together…(Sorry, I’m trying to hold back the tears as I type this)

It’s just such sad, sad news knowing I will never be able to be with her again.
I was so looking forward to being with her tonight.

She’s going to be impossible to replace. But I guess Monday I will start looking.

Anyone have any ideas as to how much a new Lazy Boy recliner costs these days?


9/1 - George's Hunt for Big Fish

George M. has fished with me several times. All in the hunt for "BIG FISH". His biggest Redbass was around 15 pounds prior to today, from back in the spring. We've tried Tarpon and Shark fishing, caught no Tarpon, but did catch sharks...."just not the super big ones, that I wanted".

So with the Reds starting to fire up in the river, we gave it a try on a quickly deteriorating day, that started out really nice. But as you can see, got nastier as the day went on. That's okay. Because we actually avoided the weather, as the storms passed all around us.

At one point it was raining about 500 yards in front of us, lightning a few miles from us. And all we received was a very light sprinkle that cooled us off nicely.

George wanted to at least double his "best" Redbass, and he did. The "RB's" ranged from 22 pounds to 30 pounds.

The big Reds out in the deep water are something.....But one about 33" hooked up on really light tackle, on a 15# light leader, and a tiny hook burning down the knife edge encrusted jetty rocks is really a thrill. So keep practicing George!

Solo, personal, private, "one-on-one" charters are reasonably priced for the avid angler. As you can see in the last few reports here on my blog. Many of these trips, set personal records for the anglers as well as records for even my boat. It's two guys, on the hunt!!