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 flash-back...no 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
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
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!
"Tiger lite" rods can take, along with the
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.