Had Dave H. and his two sons aboard, and glad I did. I remembered the name, but couldn't remember when we were out last. So I looked through my log books and found it. April 8th of 2004, is the last time Dave and sons fished with me. I even wrote down that we had 5 Reds, 3 Sheepshead, and 15 Trout, all at the Jetties and all on Float-rigs and live shrimp.
Can ya do that at the Jetties this year?
The Jetties have been completely invaded by the 6" Bluefish, that eat everything that moves, which includes all the shrimp in my livewell. And could I take them there and produce a day like we had back in 2004 with even Sheepshead or Reds on the float-rig. No way. This history making N.E. Florida winter we just had, altered everything about float-rig fishing those rocks. Everything I do there in the spring, isn't working. Does it really upset me......hell yeah. But there isn't a damn thing I can do about it, either. I just hope that someday which I thought maybe by April, comes back to normal. But that has not even come close yet.
So since the only alternative is hitting the bottom, that's what we did. I had a burlap sack full of giant chowder clams, and a coffee can full of well seasoned frozen shrimp. The perfect cocktail for a lingering smell, down deep on the bottom. With a long shanked 11/0 circle pro-baiter hook, and heavy metal to keep it in one place, on heavy tackle. I'm not a huge fan of the "bait-n-wait" game, but whatcha gonna do? The Black Drum are around and quite hefty. Plus, it's time for the Jettywolf boat to try and catch one the size of a Army foot locker, anyhow.
So with aquired 4 days earlier and kept cool, we headed out at 7am. I thought the river might just be a real zoo, but it wasn't too bad. Guess everyone wore themselves out on Friday and Saturday. Oh, by the way I remember a few Easter Sunday's when I had 4 and 5 person limits of Specks, before 1pm. Damn those were the days, huh? That was in the back of my mind all day long as I cracked clams shells, and had clam juice running down my arms and fragments of shells all over the boat by the end of the day. One thing float-rigging is, it's clean fishing for sure.
The tide was low at 7:30am at the inlet. So I ran down river. No sooner got anchored up, and was prepared for a wait till the tide slacked before we'd get the first Drum. But that didn't happen. The current was smoking as usual. And the rod bumped. And we got the first drum of the morning. And then got chased out of where we were by the all mighty not having a clue Marine Corps Police. Yep. The rules change along Blount Island weekly. As the first drum was being reeled in. We had to move. Last week, last year, the rules were along Blount island were different.......the security zone is on my chart plotter even and wasn't the same as what these dudes were barking at us. Then, they said they checked their chart and they were wrong. We could be on a different imaginary line. Key word: some ones imaginary "LINE". Via my charter plotters red line, I was just fine.
Nice Black Drum in the 12 pounder range. Just like last Friday when I was out doing some R&D. We eventually moved on and out to the Jetties. The tide was so weak that the same place I caught Drum on Friday was now nothing more than a slice of moving water on the south tip. But one thing is for sure, the spawning Whiting sure are fired up. So I broke out some lighter tackle and the guys used dead shrimp pieces and caught about a dozen nice friers while we kept a 1/2 dozen. Many went back that should have ended up in the fish box. But my crew didn't know these fish lil' fish, don't have to be big to be super tastey, fried up in some Zaterains.
The south tip of the rocks was just not happening for us. So I made a move and there we found Reds. No keepers of course (under 27 inches) But nice fish none the less.
WANT T-U-F-F? TRY OUT A SHAKESPEARE UGLY STIK CHARTER BOAT SERIES ROD.
http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_-1_10001_103334 - BPS has them, all. The true test was today. My crew reeled up these fish, straight off the bottom, while using heavy lead to keep the baits in position. Yes, the rods are my "meat-movers" and yes, that's why I'm using them. 6'6" heavy action. Because ya never know when we'll hook the VW beetle sized Black Drum. And Cappy Dave want to be prepared for TROPHIES! No room for error, then.
Then, another big Black Drum for the fish box. (they sure are a Redfishes ugly cousin aren't they?)
Then, we finished the day with another big Red. And headed on back to the dock to clean Drum and Whiting.
There was parts of the day where we had to wait on the right current of course. Not every minute is packed with action. That's the nature of the game. And having the right bait and lots of it really helps.
Advanced reservations is the only way for me to have adequate time to get the proper amounts of the right bait. The bait that catches Drum and Reds like these. Always call, as far in advance as you can. Less than 72 hours notice many times, is not enough time, to get what I want and you'll want. The old saying is, "good bait ain't cheap and cheap bait isn't any good."
4/5 - Back to Float-rigging, with Tim from St. Pete
Got a call from Tim a regular aboard the Jettywolf. To confirm he would be in town on Monday. It was short notice, but if it's Tim it's okay in my book. I was hoping to get back on the Trout and at least find some, where maybe the Bluefish aren't.
Well, spot one had no Trout on it at all. Spot two was perfection as far as the tide was concerned. But we only got a good sized Yellowmouth.
A 14-1/2 inch Speck and a small Flounder. And it was a world tour of the St. Johns river, too. We hit alot of spots, from the Damnes Point area all the way to the south & north jetty. It was DEAD. And so was my my quest to get back on the Trout. Tim and I have had days together that were absolutely EPIC! Like last Summer, when we did 2 days in a row of nothing but float-rigging the jetties and had over 50 Reds of all sizes, monster Mangrove Snappers, Jacks, Tarpon hook-ups and a tackle testing two days I'll never forget.
That is what I wanted for Tim, today. Or at least some thing near it. But we ended the day just catching one bluefish after another. And I guess that'll be the theme for awhile now. So I guess no light tackle drifting the perverbial live shrimp......? No, not till I see a change. And for me it'll be like quitting smoking. De-Toxing myself for just a week or so from having my float rig rod in my hand, will be tough.