Friday, January 29, 2010

1/29 - and you think you have a tough job?

I've had the pleasure lately of being the transport boat for a few of the preliminary surveying duties for the rebuilding of the Sister's Creek Bridge on Hecksher Drive. Can ya believe it? The stimulus package has actually trickled down to a fishing guide.....well it's about time!!

Yes, I do just about any "boat for hire, with Captain" duty there is, out there. I do leisurely river tours, burials at sea, I can legally be a tow boat, I've had boy friends propose to their girlfriends on Bird Island in Nassua Sound after taking them there. I've transported survey crews into distant shallow waters, for depth measurements, you name it.  It's why I own the boat I have. A bump into a concrete piling, or crushing some barnacles with the bow of the boat, or pulling up on a rocky shoreline doesn't mean I'm having to run to the fiberglass repair shop. We in the alloy boat world call it, earning a merit badge. And in 3-1/2 years of ownership. I have my share of merit badges so far.

Today, was one of those days under the Sisters Creek bridge. One of many so far. But, today was different.
I had a commercial diver aboard...a couple of them.

When you think your job is a tough, as you sit in the air conditioned office or heated cubical. Think about what this fella did, for a second.

The water temp was 53 on the first of the incoming tide. Yes, the water was moving a decent clip, and the pilings were covered in razor blades that resemble dead barnacles and oysters. I had to hold the boat in one position, as he went over and then down, to survey the piling, all the way to the bottom.....all the while, he had a line connected to him, with Chris the contractor holding it. I'm so surprised how well my boat can just sit in the current and wind without getting all wacky and moving around alot. It has a predictable movement. Holding position under the bridge with a guy on a line...not something I do every day. But it was fun, sort of. In it's own way.
Myself, like many people, I'm sure have not really fished around the Sisters creek bridge much. Yeah, I have float rigged it a few times over on the east end, and even caught a few small trout, many moons ago. But after spending so much time in the last few months under the bridge. With the help of all the guys I've had aboard, plus a diver. I should be fishing it more! The structure and  holes under that 55 year old bridge are, unbelievable. Plus, I now know all the depths and ever drop off, too! 

Even though the diver had a wet suit on, he said, "It's not so cold. At least it doesn't feel that cold anymore after my face went numb!"  

These guys are usually in a dive helmet. With the air pumped into it. Wearing a sort of "diving armor", steel toed boots, and protective gloves, and lots of weight belts. So getting back into the spider-man suit and a mask with a vest full of tanks was so...1990's, for them. But a job had to be done and these guys bid on doing it. They'll be doing much more when construction begins in the spring. 's just not all, "fishing and games!"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1/28 - only two days left.

January 28th.....and only two days left to catch all the big fattie Speckled Trout you can, before February's closure on them. Yeah right!

I've been hunting them big fatties, that's for sure. And my hunts have been quite futile in this ice cube water. Boy, I remember years when it was all ya' wanted. Even in through February. So much that me and my ole buddy Pelican would go to the jetties and pitch D.O.A. Shrimp lures and MirrOlures, just so we could save on bait. And whacked 'em so good it was legendary for this part of Florida, these days.

All I have to do to remind myself is look at the old photos. But being nostalgic does nothing but depress me.
Because I l;ove Trout catching, so damn much.

But that wasn't after a bout with record breaking cold for two weeks. Simply put, I wouldn't have minded if that weather hit us in February. Because it's the month that's kinda book marked to be "the pits", of the whole year, anyhow. I always say to myself "make it through another February and you'll have it made....."

Today, I had John B. aboard the Jettywolf. John was from visiting jacksonville from Wisconsin. And it was amazing how he ended up getting a gorgeous day for his trip. Ninety nine percent of the time, my luck is that I have someone who booked well ahead of time as did John. And the day turns out to be very weather problematic, with the day before or the day after being near perfect. But we had none of that today.
The problem is just finding enough bites. I'm sure we're all finding fish. They haven't all gone to south Florida for warmer water's.

Being a Trout-man, and being that there's only 2 days left to box 'em. What do you think we'd diffinately fish for during at least half of our day?  It's getting personal, at this point. And one of my big time rules is not to second guess myself. Always go with what you know. But right now, going with what you know can also, be thrown out the window.

We started out at the jetties. John and I pitched jig-n-shrimp combo meals. Three eighths ounce jigs, with LIVE fresh shrimp pinned on them up to the rocks. Yeah, last time I was out I had to use dead shrimp two days in a row. It was so cold there was no live shrimp to be had. So, I was thinking maybe the fresh stuff would work better and it least the head of the shrimp stayed on the hook this time. We fished the same tides I fish those last two days I was there. But that was 12 days ago, and the water was no warmer today. And we caught even less. Time isn't healing this wound very fast. And we boxed a decent sized Sheepshead. The only true bite to be had.

The fish was a "sandbagger" and never even fought at first. To only come alive on the hook after it was yanked out of the jetty rocks.

I thought things may turn on a bit after this fish. But as we moved around a little, sticking to the same general area. I was wrong. We were wearin' out our jigging arms. And still had much more to do, today. Because no matter what the day or month or year. Especially, when I have a single passenger charter that's a fisherman. We're going to school. My customers are going to do alot and learn alot. I believe that's as important as actually reeling in fish, because first you have to learn "why", you caught that fish.

The Ring-tailed Porgies, a winter cold water jetty rock hugger. Were biting on the opposite side of the jetty from where we were, where the river current was pouring through. But it's a fatal place to anchor. And with the damn Navy ship sea tractor tug boats going in and out. Has me no longer risking dropping my anchor over there with a customer. Can you just imagine how nice the jetties would be with no; Navy ships, Tugs, Freightors, or Pilot boat wakes?  We can all dream, can't we?

Saving our casts for new ground, John and I moved on up river. The full moon tide had the banks exposed so much that a place I fish up in a creek almost looked foreign. And the low tide was only a (negative) -.06'. I bet in all reality it was much more than that, being a blue bird high pressure looking day.

But be prepared this weekend....if the weather doesn't keep you off the water. The low tides going to be a (negative) -1.2 to -1.5 feet. Isn't that the kind of low tide that has the Mayport boat ramp docks are sitting on the bottom? I guess we'll see.

Needless to say, we were in there for a bit but there was zero current, and we pitched a jig or two, without a single sniff. Time to go Float-rig fishing. And I had a spot right around the corner. The tide was perfect for this spot, and we caught one keeper Speck there. Before the tide got to low and the drift of the floats changed.

It was just a 15 incher. But a keeper Speck. So I was happy. John wanted to hit Singleton's Seafood Shack in Mayport before going back to his hotel. So we at least had him some "vittles" for supper now, along with his Sheepshead. (Eating "your fish" just hours after catching them and relaxing with a cold sweet tea or cold beer, while someone else does the cooking. Is a perfect ending to a big day of adventure, I always say.)

We worked the spot hard. But it was time to move on. The next spot was almost perfection, too. If the water temp was 67 and we had a day like today I could have seen G-A-T-O-R Trout coming for our position, easily. Our drift was perfection. Only I wondered where the hell is that NW breeze that was predicted?
It was East Noreast all day, everywhere I was. Instead of gator size Trout, all that ate our shrimp was one lil' yellowmouth and one lil' Speck. And then, of course a giant barge came by with two tugs and ruined this spot, making me have to pull off in preparation for big wakes. Yes, the spot's a bit precarious, even in a 1/4" thick plate alloy hull. I have enough bangs and scratches in the Jettywolf, already. So we moved off once again......

I was heading for the docks, when I passed by an area that looked promising. As a float-rigging Trout fisherman. A spot doesn't look good to me because of; mass amounts of boats, I remember catching a fish there back in 1994, I was told last week there was fish there, none of the that. More like, it's all about tide/current. I'm always hunting in the St. Johns River for what I call "Trout tide". Water moving, not to fast, not too slow.....ALONG structure, mostly.  Be it structure above and below the water. Below meaning drops, ledges, edges, and HARD BOTTOM. IE: scattered shell, old oysterbeds, submerged rock.

So I told John, "hey let's give it 5 minutes, here".  So I anchored up and it was perfect. And BAM, float down and John brings in a nice fish. The drag was pulling and the rod tip was throbbing. And I'm not even sure we were there five minutes yet... probably 3 minutes! Turns out to be a 19-1/2 inch Trout. The kind of fish I've been looking for, for the last two weeks, """in the river""".

And guess what? After catcdhing this nice fattie. A tug came by towing another monster barge! Go figure, huh. Tugs and barges in the St. Johns, where did these come from? And right then, the tide died out and the floats started drifting the wrong way. Then the tide turned.

I swear, that every time a big ship or tug and barge comes by that it has such an effect on the water movement, that it actually helps the tide change. Call me nuts, call me sick and tired of ships and tugs. But I maybe on to something. If the tide/current (same thing, many more times than not) is working on it's own, it usually hints to ya and takes awhile to completely turn the other way. But if the area you are fishing is on the "verge" of changing over. And a ship/barge/tug passes that point in the river. It does something that has the water turn, faster. The displacement of said ship/barge/tug helps the tide/current change over much quickly.  "Did ya get all that?" If you didn't you don't fish the St. Johns River enough.

While we were trying for a Trout here, there also was a Black Drum bit going on behind us. Two guys in a small boat were casting "up" current with egg sinkers and dead shrimp. First off, I never cast up current on an anchored boat. It's un-natural. But it didn't matter what I thought. And of course do ya think the Drum cared?
But I guess today they wanted to chase a dead shrimp along the bottom as the incoming tide dragged there sinkers across the bottom(?)  So as John worked his float-rig, I dropped a few light bottom rigs BEHIND THE BOAT on 4 oz leads. And could barely hold bottom at this point. SOOO, that's why these guys were casting against the tide/current? Cause there was no way in hell they were using 4 oz. egg sinkers.

When we swung with the tide and tug wakes, we ended up right in front of them. I knew because of the bottom my anchor wasn't going to hold here forever, and it didn't. We ended up sliding back toward them.
So we bagged it all, and headed for the hill, so I could be attacked by the Pelicans as I cleaned our catch. On my customized mobile fish cleaning station, located on the Jettywolf. I keep hoping that "OUR" tax dollars could find there way to a sperate fish cleaning dock someday with a fillet table, lights and running water. But you may only find that luxury, in some other distant county.....not Duval!

John went over to Singleton's to have his fish cooked. I hope he enjoyed it. Even though it wasn't a fish fest, we both enjoyed eachothers company, and enjoyed the beautiful day.

-ONLY TWO MORE DAYS. For me it might as well be, 31.
Because next up on Friday is my gig with the Sisters Creek bridge repair crew. This time I'm the boat that'll drop off divers to swim down to inspect the piling of the 55 year old bridge, that's getting a face lift starting somewhere around March, through the summer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1/26 - Winter Winds and tid-bits

Yeah, I'd love to be out there on the water. Was going to head out for a bit of R&D today, for Wednesday & Thursday charter's. But is it really worth my while when there's a "lake wind advisory, and small craft caution, to include gusting west winds to 33 mph?" Not really. I have to select my days too, right now. Because believe me. I'm not wasting $2.75 a gallon fuel either. Looks like Wednesday is going to be much better, with less wind.

(DOA Rob went and was back before noon...he said, "I was at the North Jetty this morning, and it wasn't bad at all. Then, I went to the Lil' Jetties and holy _ _ _ _, that's when it got really ugly.")


( Notice the color codes? Red = stop. Green = Go?? ...wind many times "drops" when there's a switch in direction.)

Read an interesting article on the Lousiana Sportsman web site. Even though it didn't mean much. Every coastal state is being pounded to jump on the band wagon I guess, for more fishing regs. I know the Gulf is different than here. But it's one of them, "Gee wizz", articles?

LWFC to feds: Kiss off!

By Todd Masson

November 25, 2009

Kudos to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
The seven-member regulatory body voted unanimously last month to reject resolutions that would have conformed Louisiana’s regulations with those of the federal government for several offshore species of fish.

It’s about time.

Until the November vote, the commission had been a dutiful foot soldier, always marching in lock-step with the feds, despite the latter’s abysmal track record in Gulf fisheries management.
But that changed when the commission refused to follow federal regulations for grouper, red snapper and amberjack in state waters.
You might think the commission’s actions would have been blasted by conservation organizations, but quite the opposite occurred.
“I was thrilled with the unanimous vote of the commission,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “When the states stand up to federal mismanagement, that’s a good thing.”

The Coastal Conservation Association also heralded the move.

The problem is that the numbers the federal government is using to dictate its regulations are bogus.
"The data is laughably bad,” Angers said. “The National Research Council called it ‘fatally flawed.’”
Yet that very data is being used to destroy offshore fishing. It’s getting to where you have to be either independently wealthy or mentally challenged to fill your boat with fuel and run to the big water to catch what? An ice chest full of triggerfish and dozens of snapper and grouper that you have to throw back? No thank you.
Now, if the fisheries were really in danger, the commission’s action would be short-sighted and reckless. But no legitimate science exists that suggests red snapper, grouper and amberjack are on the brink of collapse.
It’s always dangerous to rely on anecdotal evidence for fisheries management, but offshore anglers are routinely reporting more red snapper than they’ve ever seen.
Even so, the garbage data being entered into federal formulas keeps spitting out decreased season lengths and bag limits.
The state has proven itself far more adept at managing fisheries, and the commission proclaimed that from the rooftops with its November vote.
It’s just a shame its jurisdiction extends only three miles out.

Found this while surfing the world wide web the other day. Is it time for your monthly installment of "ALLOY BOAT KNOWLEDGE"?

I thinks so!

The really neat thing about aluminum is that so much can be made out of it. Some of the most ingenious boats, are made from welded alloy plate.

Ya just gotta see this!!  Seems really crazy. But when ya think about it. WHY NOT? It's the affordable dream boat......

Watch the video's! -

Now this is a chandelier for a true "FLOAT - FREAK" !
(Ya' think your wife would mind this hanging over the dining room table?)
But I'm not seeing any poppin' corks?


The 10th annual EL CHEAPO-SHEEPSHEAD TOURNAMENT sign-up sheets are out and about, now.
Scheduled for Feb. 27th 2010.

Wow, the 10 year Anniversary, already? 
(I'm open for hire for the tournament,
and I'm also a "GOLD" Sponsor.
I placed in the top 10 one year..... with a 9 pounder.)

Join the J.O.S.F.C (Jacksonville Offshore Sport Fishing Club)  
membership form:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/19 - Recovering..... s-l-o-w-l-y

As I said in yesterday's non-fishing report post (I got a wild hair) I was heading out with DOA Rob today on his boat. Don't believe Rob had the same thing I had in mind, as today's goal. Because he went and "stuck it too me". Yeah, what a bud. Let me explain.....

As you may know I'm a serious R & D'er. I like to take a day and go throw a lure, try a different spot, play with a new reel, etc. Today, I had plans on trying a HOT new lure, I got my hands on.  Problem was Rob just had to have one. So I gave him a sample. And what does he do? He goes out yesterday in his Kayak and catches 30 Trout (boxes a limit) and a few Reds on them. "Hey, it wasn't official but Tuesday was suppose to be the R&D day." I said.

So either way, he wasn't using the lure for it's actual intended purpose any way. Remember, he's a caster, a caster of the DOA shrimp. So what ever he did, didn't matter to me. So I said, let's try float-rig fishing the _______ area, and then we can go and check out the ______ afterwards, with the new lure. B&M bait and tackle had plenty of live shrimp this morning. So we were all set.

First spot, not a Trout to be had. Never lost a single shrimp,either of us. And just on the 7th of the month me and Dave R. caught real nice Trout here. Oh well, I'm used to the inconsistancy.....hell, it's Jacksonville. So we moved on up into a creek area, as the tide continued to flood in.

The catching at first was tough. As we buzzed around on the trolling motor. But we finally did stop, anchored up and fished. According to Rob, it was to appease me. And because I was catching a few Trout on a popping cork and my new lure.

CLICK HERE, for referance article on popping corks.
The Trout were all small. So we again, moved on. As we moved on the trolling motor we were still catching small Trout.

Then, I pitched up to a nice looking bank with the current pushing against it. Popped my cork twice and it went under with authority. I said to Rob, "Damn, now this is a better fish". Rob replies, "ya got a Red!"  The water's barely 50 degrees, and no fish seems to be fighting at their best, but this wasn't a 14 inch Trout either.

(Make your own "click n'popper" that can be cast really far, it's EZ.)

It turned out to be my first ever popping cork, with a lure, Sheepshead!

As we got way, way back in this creek the tide turned. And we did a loop and came back to the main creek and stopped and anchored on the bank with all the Trout. And I caught four in a row. Rob was catching them too. But no Reds......"Hell, I'll take a pup even", I said to Rob. So we both broke out the live shrimp and float-rigs and worked the shell bank. And can ya believe, not a bite. I picked back up my popping cork and lure and caught a Trout right away. Rob put away his float-rig and grabbed a jig and finally caught a Red. Then another, then another......and so on. All small puppers. But something different on the hook at least. I kept on pitching and popping. No Reds for Dave. Just Trout.

Rob really wanted to get out here, and head straight to where he caught his Trout yesterday. And then we had the discussion about; challenges, different areas, and new scenery, versus going to the same ole places all the time. Fish or no fish. Personally, I get so damn bored fishing the same places, same town, same state. Most people I know don't think like I do. For me it's all about business, learning ways to get others on fish, places to go, etc. And I was kinda having a good time. Rob was kinda bent out of shape. He'll thank me one day.

A saying I always go by is; "don't leave fish to go find fish." The exception is Jacks, Ladyfish, Toadfish....ya get my drift.

We were easily over 20 Trout, and at least 10 pupper Reds. And still just the "one" Sheepshead in the fish box. As we worked our way out of the creek and went back to the morning spot on the falling tide to try our hand at float-rig fishing it again......and again, No luck.

Rob thought he knew all about the area, but the low tide helped him learn where the literal in's and out's of the creek were, because at low tide, there's hardly any water. Heck, I'm in a 26 footer and I go in and out of this creek. Today, we were in a 17 footer! Don't believe we'll really have a problem. But Rob's other craft is a Hobie Kayak. So he thinks his 17 footer draws alot of water.

I was happy though. My Hot new lure was, HOT! And my own hand made clicking-popping corks that are for long distance casting worked great. (versus those "cajun thunder" light weight clickin floats) That's what I do for YOU my customers. I go do, "Research and Development".

Yeah, this creek we were in isn't the last word in fish filled creeks, by any means. There was fish. But fish too small.

The water temp rose as the tide fell a solid 4 degrees according to our constant montoring. And at dead low it was 54-55, compared to the 50 in the morning on the surface.

I still have plenty of R&D to do with my new lure, before I let the cat outa the bag. But it looks to have huge potential for what I have planned for it. Yes, I have a lot more plans than what we did today.

Hold on. I'll tell ya about it all in good time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1/18 - "This Anglers code lingo"

I've had from time to time, emails asking what something I said in a fishing reports, actually means.  Here's my attempt to explain some of the "verbiage", that I use. I remember doing an article a long time ago in the Jacksonville Fisherman Magazine, about the same thing. But since then, my own vernacular has also expanded.....with age.

Recently, Chris M. a blog reader asked, "what is K.O.D. Dave?"

-Well, maybe you have to be someone fishing a given day and only that day, to come up with a saying like K.O.D. Chris. Ya know I don't pick the days. Other's do. And many times I know ahead of time what the given day will be like, because of the weather properties. And when I depart the dock and there's a due EAST blowin wind, and a high rising tide at the same time. I refer to this situation as a, K.O.D.  Defined as; KISS OF DEATH!   The hard East wind is tough enough to get away from in the Mayport area, let alone with the wind pushing a high tide in with it. And I know before we even depart the dock, "this is gonna be, kiss of death for the fishing."  

Chris' email gave me an idea. Why not go over some of my more common fishing code lingo.
Please remember. I'm a humorous kinda guy. I like to laugh at a alot of things. Rather than cry or get mad. So many of my terms that I'll discribe here, were either learned from others. Or ones that I came up with while playing wordsmith, for fun. Many are true Capt Dave original's though.

One of my favorite things in LIFE is an I.G. situation. As a fishing guide, I.G. is what I live for. I.G. makes my job easier. And as an angler myself, "all I ever want is I.G."  When you read in these reports, that we were in an I.G. situation, it means, "the anchor-line came tight on the first spot and the first cast, drift of the float, it was INSTANTANEOUS GRATIFICATION.  Fish-On!"

I hate the HUB. I only wish I could price charters to make it worth my while and my customer's while to get the hell outa the HUB, especially on holidays.  A Thesaurus will define a HUB as; A center of activity or interest; a focal point. And that's how I define it also. Where is the hub for a Mayport fisherman?  My definition of the HUB is: Tip of the Mayport Jetties, down river to the little jetties area, to included BOTH 'bogus' Manatee slow speed zones north & south.

Which brings me to my next definition of this Anglers code lingo. CAULDRON OF HELL. You may only here me discuss the cauldron if you're on the boat with me. Actually, I like the cauldron. But I'm wierd that way. Most don't. The cauldron of hell is at the Little Jetties at the cross of the ICW in the St. Johns River. When there's a big time full moon falling tide, pushing against a due East of even South East wind at 20 knots plus. This area of the river will chop up bigger than a water spout at the tip of the north jetty in February! Usually, it's at the end of a long fishing day as we head back from down river that I'll run into the cauldron. And I tell everyone to "hold on.....I'm throwin the Disney World ride in, for FREE!"  Because I'll lay on the throttle, and point the bow into it. We'll fly across the tops of the 4 foot folding white water chop as the ebb tide is bucked by the high easterly winds. You won't find a Carolina Skiff in the middle of all this enjoying the washboard thrill ride. But you'll find me there.

Let's throw in some fish species, to this Angler's code lingo:

- Brutus T.  or Brutus T. Redbass = Redfish, a big Redfish with a bad attitude. Usually because of light tackle.

- 7 Striped Jetty Snapper = Sheepshead, usually a big female spawner.

- A T-REX TROUT = although rarely found in these parts. Inhabit places like TEXAS. Yes, Dinosaur sized Trout! (photo care of

- A GATOR = Everyone has their own definition. But mine is a 6 to 10 pounder. A genuine GATOR TROUT. (can also be just a "T"-ROUT, "T" from Gator. It makes sense to me.)

- A King-pin = Is a Sheepshead that bit a few times, and ya finally caught the bastard on the float-rig. Not big enough to be a super sheeps of any kind, but just a larger version of a dang, Pinfish.

Other fish & boating code names:
Azz Hander =  A fish to big for you to handle.
Jack Crevalle = Yellow Submarine, when it comes to big ones.
Barracuda = Snaggle Toothed Ledge Trout.....or SATAN of the sea.
"your hooked to a jetty rock!" = Granite Grouper
Small King MackeralSnake
King Mackeral in general = Slimey's
Spanish Mackeral = Spaniards
200 pound Jetty StingRay = Alien Hovercraft
Flounder = Flattie
Small Seabass = Sea Buscuits
Weakfish = Yellowmouths
Black Drum = Redfishes Ugly Cousin
Mangrove Snapper = MANGO'S
Dolphins/bottlenose = "Flipper's"
The guy in the bass boat that just drove over your lines = Beldar Conehead, also: "CONER"
Plate Alloy = what the Jettywolf boat is built from. Thick 5083 marine grade alloy.
Bank Fisherman = LBA's...Land Based Anglers.
Any small fish that ate your bait = Baitstealers, bait snatchers, shit fish.
Porcupine = Fountain boat owners
Cuban Penis extender = GO FAST boats with loud exhaust pipes in S. Fla. Driven by a old white haired cuban guy w/ five girls in thongs on the bow. Also known as: the Strip club owner.
Ghetto Cruiser = big space ship looking, non fishing boat, C.A.D. designed to have the largest possible wake at any speed.

Okay, let's talk some tackle.....

- A "FAIRY WAND". Well, it's a rod. And too light of a rod. Because you may loose a good fish using that fairy wand (used in a sentence) It's the rods that my Trout fishing buddy D.O.A. Rob uses, to toss his 1/4 oz.D.O.A. shrimp lures. Ya' know how most inshore rods will say on them, 10-20# line, 1/2 to 1-1/2 oz. Now that's a rod that'll put a bit of back bone into a battle with a big Redfish in 20 feet of least to me. Rob uses a rod that says; 7' 2-6# line 1/32 to 3/16ths oz. THAT'S A FAIRY WAND! He certainly won't be using that rod at the jetties, and if he does, he'll get his azz handed to him.(you learned above what azz handed meant.) And Rob's also a proud Spinner user, too. See below for Spinner definition.

- A "CORK".  The overall term for any float used while fishing. It could be made out of styrofoam, balsa wood, plastic, or foam. But it's still just a cork!

- A "STRAIGHT HOOK". Any hook that isn't a "circle hook" or "treble hook". Doesn't matter if it's a Japanese Ari Gato,  or Matzuo Ile Ezuto hook. It's a dang, straight hook.

- A "LEAD".  The weight used on a float rig, is called a Trout "lead". 

- A "SPINNER".  To me it's also an; "egg beater"....also known as a Spinning Reel. I don't like them thangs. Kinda ugly and oh so obtrusive rod and reel combos. That seem to adorn all the the rack space of the local Wally World fishing department. I guess makes them highly sought after? Giant gangly guides are part of the spinning rods physique, and that rotating egg beater on the reel that supposedly puts the line on the spool straight. Yeah, yeah, it has it's usage, not my useage, though. Was initially developed so the average fisherman could actually cast with not much practice. And only on Saturday's....hahahahah.

I could go on and on. But I think ya get the jist of it. If I use code lingo during these blog reports and you don't know what I mean, just email me like Chris did. Email me, and I'll let ya in on the "code lingo".

Fishing a new lure on Tuesday the 19th with DOA Rob in his boat. Big time R&D (research and development....there I go again) with a Southern Louisiana Bayou, favorite.
Let's see if it'll be my favorite too. Before I tell ya' about it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

1/14 & 1/15 - Warm-up days?

Was it 70 degrees over on the west side in a Walmart parking lot??

Amazingly, the weather was in a warming trend. But you really couldn't tell that from out where we were the last two days. Cuz, it was still cold. But with the winds down, it did make give me a chance to go to the jetties and do some jig fishing / bottom fishing.

I had too.

Keeping with the "go light tackle and keep it simple" theme, on Thursday I had Sue and Joe from Kentucky aboard.  There was no live shrimp to be had, because of the cold water temps. So we used my stores of dead shrimp I have collected. Certainly not as good as live, the freshest shrimp made, but it had to do. Never even bothered with float-rigging.

We pulled up to the jetties on a particular spot. Had the light N.E. wind to our backs, with the big boulders right behind the boat. Bottom, or jigging, bites were slow to say the least. But as the tide fell a few fish hung on the hooks.  Every single bite was nothing more than just a "sand bagging" feeling on the line.

But here's Sue, getting yanked while sitting on my livewell. Between her and Joe, the boat was still bobbing enough that they were feeling "wobbly" on their feet.

I told them that in the winter, this was "Mill Pond" conditions for me. But she did great and fought a somewhat lathargic Redbass up from the deep water, along the rocks. Water temps at this locale was still 48 degrees on the surface. And the Redbass turned out to be way too big to keep at 30 inches.

Sue looks like a "snow bunny", in this photo. But she was tough, and 100 % Lady Angler. I had her casting a bait casting reel with no problem, after just a few pointers......even with, "gloved fingers"!!!  I wished the Redbass was a keeper, because I had a feeling bites from quality fish maybe, far and few between.

Besides a few small Black Seabass, that were sucking the shrimp off the hooks the other fish I wanted to target on this spot was Black Drum, and we got one of them too. Just not enough of them, of course.

And they could  have been a bit larger, too. But we stayed in the same spot and just worked it as long as we could. If it was a 70 degree day, with 60 degree water at the inlet I may have opted to move around a lot more. But the name of the game here was to just keep lines wet as long as we could. I believe that was the best tactic. After the tide got low, we moved on and hit the boat ramp restrooms then went up in the river to another rock pile.

The current was running really strong at the next spot, and normally we don't get bit by Sheepshead or Yellowmouth Trout till the tide dies, on the spot. So, we were early. And we just stuck it out. There wasn't any Yellowmouths there today. But they did get a few Sheephead bites, and Joe landed this one.

I told Sue I sure would like to have them aboard again, on a warm spring day sometime. But Joe said this is the first time he's really went anywhere in the last 26 years. But they have a new grandbaby here in Jax now. So you never know. I'd love to get Sue on the float-rig when the Trout are chewing. She would have loved that.



Now today has been in the planning stages since before we had this cold weather. At first when Chris M. called and reserved his trip, we were actually banging some good Reds at the jetties on jigs, and Trout on the float-rigs.

Well, isn't it amazing how things change so quickly. Some times ya just have to make the leap of faith, and go for it anyhow. It's all FUN. And it's all just FISHIN'.

I met Chris and his brother Patrick at the dock around 9am. Since yesterday, we didn't leave till 10am. So I figured we try a bit more of the incoming tide. Same spot. Same conditions. Same, no live shrimp avalible.
Chris wanted a "jetty trip" all along. So this had to do, for today.

But as we fished, it seemed like the New Moon rising tide wasn't where it was actually at. We went a long time, with only a few bait stealers, a Seabass or two, a lost hook-up on something good, and lots of jigs and sinkers lost to the jetty rocks. Way more than yesterday!!

Again, every bite was nothing more than the fish "sand bagging" on the hook. Which I have to say is kind of tough for someone who is "all knowing" about jig and shrimp fishing at the jetties. Let alone someone who doesn't do it all the time. So right off the bat, my anglers had the cards kinda stacked against them, in my "jetty fishing for decades" opinion.

First fish was of course caught by Patrick, and it was a Seabass. I had Patrick on the egg sinker rig, as Chris and myself worked some jigs and dead shrimp down the rocks. Again, I was looking for Reds and Drum, throw in a Sheepshead?? But if we were out here on this exact same spot the same week Chris called me, back on December 6th, there was decent sized Yellowmouth Trout, and Reds big and small stacked up, right where we were, today.

The Black Drum were larger than yesterday. Here's Patrick with the first one.

Here's Chris with another the same size. Perfect eaters, that's for sure. I like them just this size for blackening.

Then, came a Redfish. Probably the hardest biting fish of the last two days. It really ate the bait and moved off. Rather than, just giving a bit of "hang" on the bait. It was a 21 incher. Depending on who you are, I was glad to see a keeper size fish. Instead of a big, no keeper.

We ended up staying at the Jetties alot longer than we did yesterday. And made a move to a different spot also. But nothing really made a difference. And after my Danforth anchor getting stuck in something "out in the sand" and bring it it up for the hundredth time with a "pretzelized shank". (just another $40 thrown away.....) It was time to move on. I think I'm over these oh so bendable steel anchors. It's not like I'm pulling 15 foot of chain, and a 13 pound anchor up by hand......I mean, with my, back!!

We looked around a bit. And now the wind inshore of the jetties was starting to blow from the east. So we tried another Yellowmouth Trout spot along the little Jetties. The current was ripping, the jetty anchor was dragging, so I switched to heavier sinkers and caught a big silver Whiting and that was it. So we packed it in and headed back to clean the fish.

I told the guys to just go over to Singletons and have their fish cooked up. Some fried, some blackened, and warm up with a nice meal of the catch........"it's how I'd like to end my day, if I were them." 

Heck, I went home, cleaned up the tackle, the boat, and ate a half of Publix sub sandwich from the day before, in front of the heater!  Then nodded off, till 10pm.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1/12 - Feel the BURN, and redemption.

Told you in yesterday's report DOA Rob and I were heading out in the Jettywolf today. Looking for a bit of redemption, after yesterday's absence of all fish species, big or small in Rob's land of "plenty" , while being a foot from the water in kayaks.

So I backed the Jettywolf down  the ramp around 9am today. And since I always need to have some kind of plan, no matter what fishing I'm doing. My plan was to head North. And Rob agreed.

Yeah the air was still below freezing, probably. But the only actual temperature Rob and I were interested in was the 43.5 degree water temp!!  My Raymarine C-120 transducer temp gauge has never read so low in the three years I've owned it.......hell NO temp gauge on any machine I've ever owned has ever read a water temp as low.

But that wasn't stopping the Trout Trackers. We were on a fishin' mission. So we kinda figured if the Trout weren't in the creek we fished yesterday in the kayaks, maybe they're outside the creek we fished yesterday.

First stop, good falling tide, comotose shrimp, sun shining, slick calm water, bone chilling cold. Not one single bite. Keeping with the theme of today's "artic in Florida" fishing adventure phase two. We moved on to the next spot, on our path. First, we just drifted and pitched some jig and dead shrimp combo meals. And I butt hooked a really nasty looking stingray that had three tails, and all three were just "stubs". "Do we count that, Rob? If so, I caught the first fish in two days."  Rob replies....."if it isn't a Trout,  it doesn't count!"

The spot looked good, and would have looked better in t-shirts, shorts with Crocs. Instead we were triple layered, with gloved hands and teeth chattering. Feeling the burn of the cold with each passing minute. But we anchored up on the spot. I kept with the best survey system, that seemed to work good with the ugly stingray capture, a 3/8ths oz. jig and a comotose shrimp. Second cast, and I had the first Speckled Trout. Its as if I could feel the fish sniff my shrimp and then lick it to see if it was frozen or not, right before I set the hook. In laymens terms, "the bite was barely, a bite".

It may be small, but it has gills, specks, scales and is of the "Cynoscion nebulosus" family of fishes!!
Rob grabbed his float-rig and I put down the jigging rod and we went to town, seeing if these Speckled Trout were a reality or not on this spot.

And they were....We started catching them. Most were 14 to 14-1/2 inches. I have to admit, we were excited! You would have been too, after yesterdays communing with Mother Nature trip.

Rob was keeping tight track of how many Trout were actually caught, as I had friends, customers, and solicitor phone calls back to back. And let him reel in one of my fish.

The amazing thing was that our shrimp died two seconds after being pinned on the hook. They were of course stressed, cold and not really up to living to see another day, or another bait well. So 99% of every Trout caught was on a dead shrimp and a float-rig. What do I always say.....especially if you're on my boat and float-rig fishing, "If your shrimp isn't kickin' replace it. Dead shrimp don't catch T-Rex sized Trout."
That may not be entirely true, there is no absolutes in the fishing world. But all I know is that every single big fat gator Trout I have ever seen caught on a float-rig, by myself or by a customer or a friend. The shrimp was lively, and kicking. Why not have the best presentation ALWAYS. To insure catching the best fish.

Well, today these Trout were so hungry. It didn't matter if the shrimp was alive or not, let alone "sprightly" or not. Rob even took a 100% D-E-A-D, falling apart shrimp and hooked it on and sent it out. And it was ate by a small Trout.

We ended up catching 20 Specks, according to Rob's precise Trout tracking. And we "boxed" three keepers up to 17 inches before the tide gave out on the spot, and the bite stopped. We hunted around a bit more, learned more about the topography of the area. Then, the afternoon winds that were forecasted started to blow. And our brief warm up, as we were catching quickly faded. It got down right cold as all hell so we headed back to Mayport.

Man, this is nothing short of "serious". The water's so damn cold, the Govenor should declare this area in a state of "emergency warm-up". Because this kind of cold weather is like nothing I've ever seen before. I don't know how long this will take to go away. But seeing that we still have to go through February and March still. It won't be better overnight, that's for sure.

All I can do is keep up with it, trying different areas, and different techniques and hope to never see cold like this in N.E. Florida, ever again.

It's supposed to get warmer by this weekend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

1/11 - Coldest day of the year? Who cares?

Headed out this morning with DOA Rob, in his other Hobie Kayak.

(D.O.A. Rob, in his Hobie "Mirage Drive" powered Kayak)

I just had to see what all the fuss was about. This was my second yak experience. The first one in a Hobie "peddle" powered yak.
The last time I went with Rob, was when  I used his big blue paddle yak. A super wide, super stable, customized one, that we installed a big boat seat in. Yeah a big, high backed, boat seat out of Rob's boat. Talk about comfortable!

To start I headed to Robs house at 6:30am. And we were headed out, truck loaded with two yaks, and all the tackle, paddles & peddles, and landing nets around 7:30am. We crossed the Mayport ferry
and were headed to the "holy grail" spot where Rob's been KILLIN' them. We get there, and there's a gate that was supposed to be open, that's closed. We sat around waiting and waiting for someone to show, and finally around 10:00am a park ranger shows up. He didn't even want to let us in yet, but he remembered Rob, and let us head on in.

We unpacked the truck, unloaded the yaks and took off into the creek. Right there and then, I could tell "this may not be for me."  The Hobie kayak was small, I had too many heavy clothes on and couldn't even move. The seat had to be adjusted, the peddles that propel the yak needed to be adjusted. And I couldn't even reach theadjustments......"ya mean I have to lean backwards, but bend over my knees, and then reach to my toes and then squeeze the adjuster, and then lean forward, turn around a bit, grab the seat straps, and then I'll be okay????" Kinda reminded me of when me and my whole family went "Grass Skiing" one summer. You think skiing on snow is hard? Try Grass Skiing. Where the ski's have tracks on them like a tank. Did you know ski slopes have tons of rocks under that snow?

Well folks, I couldn't even bend enough to get my peddles right. So Rob eased up to me and adjusted my peddles for me from his yak. I don't know how tall Rob is, but he's not, tall. And he's not all that bulky either. He's wirey, like a squirrel. Not a bear, like your's truely. But as we peddled our way against the creek current, 100 feet. I was already wore out.

These yak seats, are not like any seat in a boat. For me, it's more like sitting in a dragster cockpit, that could tip over. And then you have to either peddle or paddle. And the backrest? It's a skinny little pad with with some straps, and gave me no upper body support. Your butt, sits on a foam pad in molded area.

But I was okay, and getting along. As good as a human pretzel could.

I quickly realized as I peddled Hobie's propritary propulsion system,  that my knee muscles haven't seen this type of activity in about 25 years.

It took me about 300 feet away from our splash-in-point, till I could pick up a rod and start casting.

The water was crystal clear. I mean swimming pool chlorine clear. And shallow. As we worked our way around bends and twists. I saw not a single swirl, flash, or ripple on the surface. Rob pointed out all of his best spots....and they were maybe 2 feet deep. "You'd have to see something!" "Hell, a dang 5" mullet makes a wake in water this deep." Not a tiny little minnow, a shrimp or a crab was to be found.
That's wrong......I did see 3 dead crabs laying on the bottom.

And we never had a single bite, although Rob said he had a few? The water even at low tide, with the sun shining down on it was very cold. But ya know, in the sun with hardly any wind down below the marsh grass, I wasn't even cold. It was actually beautiful. A wonderful winter day, in D-E-A-D water.

But I have to hand it to Rob. He didn't give up. He worked the creek as he always does, sure and methodically. I anchored up and just pitched a jig and shrimp out into a deep hole in a bend in the creek. Right in the same spot where Rob caught Trout to 5 pounds and 7 pounds along with numerous Reds and Black Drum, just last week. That's why he wanted me to go with him, cause they were chewin so good.

Well, it didn't take an act of god to tell us we were just wasting time. So we headed back. Now, the tide was dead low and where we launched was solid mud. So we used a dock down the creek and then trudged all the yaks and equipment back to the truck. Kinda makes launching a boat at a boat ramp look like, childs play. The rods and tackle bags had to be unloaded, then the yak peddles and paddles, then the yaks had to be carried back to the truck.

Call me an ole dog....but man, what a ton of work, this kayaking was, for no fish. My knees popped back into position as Rob held the yak, and I flopped up on the dock., Then when standing up again, like a bi-ped. I could feel the tingle in my butt cheeks as they recieved a surge of warm circulated blood.

I gather, I'd need a bigger roomier kayak. I did like the comfiness of Robs other yak with the boat seat. Maybe that'll be the yak I use from now on.

(Last year in BIG BLUE the "Cozy Kayak", in Guana Lake in Ponte Vedra)

It all worked out. I've learned alot about kayaks, in my two trips.

I learned, I need a elevated boat seat in mine, and enough room to straighten my legs out. And paddling really isn't that bad.

Although we had this trip planned for awhile, even fishing guides, being guided by a yaking pro like DOA Rob, doesn't mean I'm going to fill my stringer with fish. Especially the one day out of 365, that I chose to go. Yeah, even fishing guides guided by experts, go skunked sometimes. 

We ended our day having lunch over on Hecksher Drive, before coming over the ferry back to Robs house in Atlantic beach. Even though we caught no fish and put a lot of time and effort into today's trip. As we crossed the river on the ferry, I asked Rob..... "Ya wanna go in my boat tomarrow?" He said, "yeah as long as we don't go at the crack of dawn." I replied, "Ya crazy, I want it to be at least 38 degrees before we leave the dock"

That's how it is, when you're a FISHIN' NUT.
And the two of us are "nuts", for sure. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

1/7 - This isn't good for anyone!

Day after day of freezing weather....."Literally" is no joke, in Florida. Got a call from Jeff "the magic" Wansor today and he said, "Scooped up a dead Snook from my canal this morning. Couldn't have been dead for long, it looked so fresh. Then, I was south on the ICW, and saw about a 20 pound Tarpon laying dead on the surface floating along......"

Yeah, that'll be me too. Because this cold isn't good for the fishing charter business either! Plus, I'm hating to look at my electric bill for this month. It's the kind of expense, that you really don't plan for.

Was out today because even the TV weathermen said, "If you're going to be outside, Thursday is your day."
Yeah, it was still chilly. But the bright sun, and lack of wind had it looking fantastic as myself and Dave from Gaff Magazine advertising sales pulled away from the dock. It was the kind of winter day that you just don't mind. Sunny and windless, two events we just don't get enough of.

We went east. And caught the absolute last few minutes of the falling tide out there alonmg the inside of the north jetty. Here's what I had in mind:

Because this photo is from one hour of fishing the same spot, last year on Jan 23rd.

It's not all that much to ask, is it?

Well, I pulled up and was "prepping" the anchor for deployment. When the FWC buttholes come racing across the river, three of them on the boat , with one of them being the same "super cop" who is the same one who checked me last time! We didn't have any fish, we never even wetted a line yet. But I had to go through the whole line of BS with them. Since the same exact Super Cop is the one that always stops me. Don't you think he'd get used to the fact that I'm not doing anything wrong? Next time, I'll be placing a call to his supervisor, and filing a complaint. It's not like there's hundreds of plate alloy 26 footers out there. He knows it's me.

So by the time all this BS was over. Me and Dave missed the current on the spot I wanted to float-rig fish. Thanks to the Super Cop. Our tax dollars, "are they protecting the resource from us or for us?" Think about that one for a minute. They protected the resource this time from us, because we never had a chance to even fish the last of the falling tide on this spot.

So, we moved on and tried a few other spots at the jetties. We were on a Trout hunt, and a Trout hunt only.
After trying a few other spots out there, in the 50 degree surface water, now on the incoming tide. It's apparent. This isn't going to be a Jetty Trout Winter. They've vacated, and I don't see them coming back any time soon. The large congregation that was east of the boat ramp, disappeared with the first cold snap which was between December 10th and 12th. And all my attempts so far have been, wasted shrimp and time.

December was on track to be business as usual. Last year, on December 4th and 5th of 2008, (yes 12.1 months ago it was 2008, and fuel was also only a $1.59 on Atlantic and Girvin Roads)  I waylayed the big Trout along the rocks, because I found a spot where I saw them driving shrimp to the surface. And both days had  limits of really big Trout. Here's one:

Well, this ain't December of 2008/January of 2009! The world is way different now. Fuel is heading to $3.00 again, and the climate has really changed. Depending on how you look at it, Momma Nature is "thinning the herd".

So, Dave and myself headed up river. And I hit a spot that if we didn't find Trout at today, I'd just have to plain pack it in. Because this spot, is a winter/spring spot for big Trout. I've had some unbelieveable days here. I've seen monster T-rex sized Trout in this area. Now, all we had to do is catch some. So after a significant run in the chilly air, we arrived. I of course with all the himmin' and haulin' around, missed the begginning of the tide here. But we had good water movement. And it looked like the spot should produce.
It's been two years since I've fished here. But the days of glory I've experienced on this spot are as vivid in my mind as if it was yesterday.

And Dave hooks the first fattie......a nice 18 incher.

Oh, how sweet it is! I told Dave, how absolutely nothing in the world makes me happier than having either someone on my boat, or myself catching nice box worthy Trout. And watching that float go down, and then the "throb" of the end of the rod, as they're eased to the boat, on light tackle. Redfish, bluefish, greenfish.....just don't do it for me, as much as the "speckley fish".

Then, it was my turn, then Dave's turn again. We were in them. But the bite was only gonna last as long as the current was pushing over the shell bar behind us.

We caught Trout from 16 to 19-1/2 inches, a small Sheepshead and a small Redbass. Before the tide's push, faded away. All too quick for us. I know it was way to short for me. I work way to hard to get on them and then have the bite end so quickly.

But we caught what I was looking for. And the cold water isn't making it any easier on me. With no current, and high water all around us we tried a few other spots, for the sake of trying. But it was time to go. I'd need some falling tide now. So I went on back and cleaned the fish and we headed home.

But, I had a few live shrimp left in the well. So I put a heating pad below the live well in the boat and covered up the bait well also. And yep, I headed out again.....SOLO on Friday morning. Overcast, windy, and bone chilling. But I had visions of catching more Trout. So I went to an area to wait for the falling tide to let off. And as soon as I felt incoming tide start to push I was going to head straight for where we were at on I thought.

It was absolutely heinous ou there on the river. And all my shrimp in the well went comatose on me. I made it for about 2 hrs. And couldn't take the cold any longer. Plus, I needed nice lively shrimp, if I was to catch a Trout. So I gave up and headed home. Yeah, I have a desease....Trout'itis!

See what being a Trout freak will do to ya? If only Friday was like Thursday. I would have boxed myself some more fatties.

Now, I have no idea if DOA Rob and I will make it out on Monday. He and I were gonna go kayak fishing. He was going to let me use one of his Hobie fishing yaks, and I was gonna finally (maybe) catch me a big fat yak Trout.

Last year in Feb. we tried it down in Guana Lake. But then too, it was a cold water situation. Guana Lake was below 60 degrees, and we never saw a fish that day either.  Any more these winters are getting to be brutal. And believe it or not November through April used to be my favorite months of all. And I'd just soon live else where, June through October when the heats so bad. Now, I'm re-thinking my favorite winter months. Are You?