On Saturday I had aboard the Jettywolf, Tony and Maria. And it was also the 400 boat Redfish "spots" tournament. It was a calm morning. A bit too calm (weather wise). I guess you could say that the "clues" were in the sky, at sun rise. As boats gathered for a shot gun start to the "spots" tournament.
Red skies in the morning mariner's take warning......Red skies at night, are a mariners delight.
Yep, it stayed calm for a few hours. And as the afternoon wore on. Here came the N.E. winds.
I had plans on keeping it real simple. With a forecast of NE breezes, a front approaching, and with a tournament going on. Keeping it simple I thought would be a good idea. Really I just wanted to do the same thing I did last Saturday with the Hamrock crew, and that was catch Black Drum and Big Redbass on the bottom along the channnel edges of the river.
Well, the approaching weather front shut down ALL the bites. Big fat juicey clam on the bottom along hard ledges, topped with a succulent piece of smelly shrimp rigged on long shank pro baiter hooks. Four rods out at all times. Usually a NO fail situation.
And from 7:30am to 4:30pm we had ONE, bite from a targeted fish!!!!!!!!
Yes, I said one bite from a decent fish. Oh we had plenty of bait pecker bites, of course. But targeted species; Big Redbass, Sheepshead, Black Drum. I COULD NOT BELIEVE HOW DEAD IT WAS.
The one throbbing, rod bouncing bite we did had was this 10 pound and some change on my boga-grip Sheepshead that Maria effortlessly reeled up from the deep on the heavy duty meat mover tackle.
Yeah, the was a big sow Sheepshead that the herders missed during February 27th's 10th annual El Cheapo Sheepshead tournament. And if we were in the Sheepshead tournament, I wouldn't have minded one bite all day. But I was still pumped after last Saturday's big fish trip, and so badly wanted a day like that again. We did catch a Whiting on the big circle hooks intended for nothing but big fish. So we did catch two fish.
Bazzarro world strikes again! Hardly ever around here can you actually duplicate a day. It's the nature of fishing the St. Johns in Jacksonville. And after 14 years as a full-time guide you'd think I'd be used to it by now. But I'm not.
4/11 - with "Joebagel"
A member of my Jax Trout Trackers message board/ forum, Joe W. aka: "Joebagel" and I talked about his wanting to do a few instructional charters. Emphasis on getting some pointers, learning some techniques, and N.E. Florida tide information. So we planned on doing two trips. On on Sunday and one on a weekday in the near future. I wanted to do just weekdays. But Joe said that maybe kinda hard for him. So I said, "okay, let's try this Sunday."
After yesterday's bottom fishing foray. I opted to start Joe out on jigging, and float-rigs. We both arrived at the boat ramp minutes apart, and the morning winds were honkin'! And this was now the big wind after yesterday's initial push. The sky was dark, and the wind was a good 20 knots out of the E.N.E. Not the best day to learn all the in's & out's of float-rig fishing. But we tried anyhow.
After showing Joe how important tides are, and showing him how much I depend on the Florida Sportsman Tide Planner books, for not only accurate local tidal information. But how I use the book to reserve all my charters and make notations in. We started going through Why and How of the float-rig and live shrimp. Joe was a bait caster, so that was a relief. It was dead high tide. But I picked a spot where the wind was at least broke up and wasn't all that bad in the ICW.
First fish, was my first 2010 Spanish Mackerel on a float-rig. "Hmm, you'd think that would happen at the jetties instead of the south intra-coastal waterway. Then the tide started to fall, so I adjusted the boat position, and before ya know it, Joe has a fish hooked up and it was peeling a little drag.
A 21 inch Redbass, right after I told Joe, I seem to catch Reds usually too big to keep, or too small to keep, especially up in the ICW like this. So that fish hit the cooler after this photo! I believe Joe has this float-rig thing figured out. But we needed a Trout really. So he can start posting reports on Jax Trout Trackers. We moved around a bit, but didn't stray from this calm area.
Next fish which came off a Jig-N-Shrimp combo meal was a nice Flounder. While we dropped out some clam baits on the bottom near some pilings.
Nothing came from the clam baits out behind the boat on the bottom, probably because the tide was really hauling butt, so we decided to go look around. Joe wanted to know where the Sisters Creek boat ramp was and White shell rocks. So we traversed the SEAS in the middle of the river. YEAH, seas! The falling tide against the ENE 20 knots of wind had the river looking and feeling as if we were offshore somewhere. 2-3 foot roolers white capping made the river a total wash board. So with hardly a spot to fish without being in the heavy winds we headed back to wherew we started so we could fish a bit more.
Joe asked a good question, "what wind is really bad for fishing?" My answer was one that didn't take much thought....."any wind over 15 knots with the word East in it. Southeast, Northeast, or East over 15 knots is not fun to fish in. Especially for the Trout fishing float-rigger."
I think Joe was liking the "thinking man's" fishing technique. So we went back to fishing the floats and live shrimp. And we needed a Trout. At least one to make a inshore slam and at least one to accomplish what we were out here for. And that's when Joe's float went down and he caught a nice keeper Speck.
Not long after the ICW traffic got rediculas as usual on a weekend, that's why I don't fish it very often. There's just not enough water between us and all those boats passing by. And the tide died out so we packed it in on day one of Joe's instructional trips. And we headed back through heinous seas in the river. It was all out rough as a cob right in front of the Coast Guard station in Mayport. And we felt like I was in the General Lee on Dukes of Hazard as the Jettywolf flew over the white water. Back at the ramp I quickly took the sides off our inshore slam, and Joe and I agreed that instructional trip #2 is going to be a weekday and at the jetties.....and won't be a day when the winds 20 knots with east in the direction.