Tuesday, June 29, 2010

6/28 - Not new...for summer

Had Richard H. from Japan along with his 11 yr old son Ryan, his dad Richard Sr. and Richard's niece Sarah aboard on Monday. I've been taking Richard his dad and his son for years. They've caught big reds, big Trout, drum, Ladyfish, Jacks, and even a really nice Flounder. Usually Float-rig fishing in the river.

But since it's been so hot, and this year the river just hasn't been producing like years before we headed offshore for Kingfish. I picked them up on the northside, and we ran out to (MR) - Montgomery's Reef.
I started out just surveying the area by pulling some Russelures, in HOT pink..

Eleven year old Ryan, wanted a BIG FISH, as all kids (and Dad's too) even though Ryan has caught some big fish before, I figured a Cuda on my really big heavy rods would put different thoughts in his head. So we trolled and trollled. The surface water temp was 74 degrees out there! Was it from the big belly washer rain we had last night, we all thought?

We even saw huge schools of small cigar minnows. I circled them, and circled them. "Man, you'd think a Cuda attack would be forth coming."

But we had not one strike. So we beat ourselves against a really close swell as we made a move to (BB) - Busy's Bonanza Reef. More bait schools, so I rigged up my go-to baits. Dead Cigar minnows, rigged for a quick 3 knot troll with a 6 oz. trolling lead, to get it down. And more nothing.

Finally as I rounded another school of bait, a rod went off. Sarah was up and she's never caught a fish before so she had plenty of instructors aboard telling her what to do. It turned out to be about a 8-10 pound Bonita.

(NO PHOTOS......broke camera)

We continued on and even trolled  from BB to Nine Mile Reef. Like most kids, Ryan was laying on the deck, head down. Sarah was laying up on the bow casting platform. Richard Sr. was sitting up front on the cooler, and Richard Jr. and I were the only two really paying attention to what was going on.

I checked the baits a few times. And if I have to say myself, "My Cigar minnows looked as if they were gonna come off the hook and join the schools, they were swimming so life like."

So, no bites wasn't from my baits not "lookin' good". That's for sure!

We just made a three reef run, and covered acres and acres of ocean. The surface temp when we decided to leave and head in.......basically because of the kids. The water temp on the top was about 78 degrees.

But rumors of a summer "thermo-cline" is all I'm hearing about, lately. From the bait shop to the local Wally-world where I bumped into a friend.

So.......it's just a normal summer? No close Pogies, and cold water, again?  Yep, par for the course. I don't keep my thumb on the party ground reefs like I do the river or the inlet. And since I fish out there seasonally, because it's Kingfish time. I learn from doing, going, and alot of travelling.

We bagged up the Bonita in my Kingfish bag with some ice and headed in. Richard's wife wanted the Bonita, they eat sushi.

We got to the jetties and it was slack high tide, but tried a little bottom fishing then headed back to the boat ramp.

Don't know if it was the Full Moon, or cool water on the reefs, but compared to my last offshore day. It sure was the opposite. I was hoping for a load of Kingfish bites, like I had before on the 19th with Tim P.   

Saturday, June 26, 2010

6/26 - Capt. Dave's Fishing Day Camp

Starting mid summer I hardly do a single trip without someone under 10 on the boat. And we joked about that today as I had John Paul. S. his father in law Joe, and two boys Bryce 9 and Zach 7 years old aboard.
Since it was a Saturday, I figured it was time to get outa "Dodge city" and go north to Nassau Sound, and have the boys catch some Whiting and whatever else we could get into.

It was a perfect day. A leisurely ride up the ICW and we were there in no time. First spot, and we started catching medium sized Whiting, right away.

No photo's as I had to send my underwater "dive" camera back to the manufacture for the 2nd time, to get a replacement once again. So reports without photos in my book just plain aren't good reports anyhow. But to make it short and sweet, "we had a really good time." 

The boys reeled in alot of Whiting, even though things got a little slow when we had to sit through the tide change. J.P. reeled in the couple Bonnethead sharks that were way too big, fast and strong for kids this young, while the boys stuck to catching a few baby Blacktips less than 20" long.

GOT KIDS TO UNDER 10 TO TAKE FISHING THIS SUMMER? Have them join Capt Dave's fishing day camp. And we'll head up to the "sound" and just plain catch fish.

We got back to the dock and I cleaned about 30 Whiting, and the crew went straight over to Singleton's Seafood Shack for a fish fry lunch with what the boys caught. A perfect end to a perfect day. 

Next up: Monday I have my regulars the Hostetters from Japan. And we'll probably head off to catch some Kings on the "hardware" and dead cigar minnows while trolling.  ( I guess I'll have to use that camera on my phone and take a few photos....)

Friday, June 25, 2010

6/24 - Big week....way more to come.

Since my last report, I've had a few trips. I had Mike and Phil aboard the Jettywolf for an offshore King Mackerel trip. And when we got offshore about 10 miles, and I was idling along readying the lines that dreaded sound we all hate to hear went off within the workings of my big bad Honda 225.......
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Yep, an alarm. An over heat alarm. So, I shut her down and then tried again.
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Okay, that's it, we're done! I called Sea-Tow and we sat anchored up and caught two small sharks while waiting for our tow boat to take us back to the dock.

This was last Thursday, and I had another charter booked for Saturday morning. So I worked fast. All new water pump, that looked perfect. Checked brand new 2 week old T-stats. Checked and cleaned temp sensors. While there, changed the oil, even. Took boat back to the water and she ran just fine.

I GUESS I FIXED THE PROBLEM? Or was it one of those freak alarms going off for the hell of it?

Saturday came. 8am, I had John B. and his 8 year old daughter aboard. (not all trips this time of year are hard core manly adults) We were supposed to do a short day, a cruise mixed with a "tad" of fishing. So we left the dock and I headed for the shrimp boats to show her the packs of Dolphins behind each one. She thought that was pretty cool, and it is. Dad was amazed too. Then we hit the jetties. I anchored up and tossed out a few baited rods. And then we hear, "I don't feel good, I wanna go."

Our short day just got alot shorter. I headed back to the dock. Total trip, one hour 20 minutes.

Then came Thursday evening and I had Ray R. and his son for a evening/night Trout fishing trip, 6/24-25.
We left the dock at 6pm. The wind was HOWLING and a full blown Southeast sea breeze was in effect.
Wanted to start at the jetties, hunt up a Redbass then move in and up river before dark thirty. But of course plans changed after looking at the water crashing over the rocks.

Headed up river, tried a good acclimation spot. A few bait stealer bites. Moved on. Went to one of my favorite go-to trout spots......at least it has been other years. Nothing going on, but after the sun fell, I hit 3 small trout with a hook in the mouth while Ray and his son were working on their first good bite. Hours went by, I moved around the spot that was lit up from massive lights on a dock. My crew finally connected with a few small sand trout.

But as usual this year, NOT ONE SINGLE TATTLE-TALE FISH. Jacks, Ladyfish....if you are catching them, you know you are at least in the right area for TROUT. The lack of these two species has been the topic of my discussions lately. I'm not out to catch alot of them. But I know for a fact that if I am catching those two species....Trout are usually also around. I remember years when I fished the heat of the day down river, and caught Trout after Trout, in between the Jacks and Ladyfish and the ever present Mangrove Snapper bait stealing monsters. This year, I have not caught a single Mangrove Snapper. Like the Trout, I believe they took a swift kick in the shorts, from this winters frigid temps. That's my theory. And have not had a single person prove me wrong, yet.

So, it's now 11:45pm and I'm sort of heading back to the Mayport boat ramp dock. When I pass a spot I have not fished in a few years. I anchor up and my crew starts getting bit. We have a few short Trout, then 2 or 3 fall off the hook at the side of the boat. Then, land 5 keepers from 15 to 18 inches. The area is really small. We're backed up to some big structure, space is limited and the guys are drifting the float-rigs with live shrimp under a dock.

Trout are busting the water, but under the dock and way over in a corner. The current is about as goofy as it can get, and I'm hanging by a finger nail on my anchor. We get a gust of wind, a ship wake and the anchor slips back. Ray is using the last shrimp out of 10 dozen, with a die off of probably a dozen, so the last one of 9 dozen shrimp. I start the engine, Ray checks his shrimp it's about d-e-a-d, barely kickin. As I pull away from the dock and go slack on the anchor, his float goes down and he brings the 6th Trout to the back of the boat. These fish REALLY don't care about outboard noise, that's for sure!

We soft peddle back to the boat ramp and I get a photo of them.

My piece of crap water proof digital camera takes this blurry photo, because it's supposed to be "shock proof, water proof ", and now isn't working right. Dammit! The screen is so small on the camera, it was hard to tell last night (at now) 2am that the photos was all blurry.  But I guess you can tell they're holding 6 Speckled Trout. (getting new camera, T-O-D-A-Y!)

So this was the official first evening/night trout fishing trip of the summer. Catching, loosing and releasing about 12 trout . And I'm not super impressed with the Trout action. I haven't been since December, and only hope it will eventually get back to it's old self.

Next up: Saturday with one adult and two small boys. Heading to Nassua Sound at high tide. And then more "pre-4 of July" in the heat trips. Heading out for Kingfish again, too.

P.S. - I have come up with the easiest way to pull dead cigar minnows that I have ever seen. I love a box 'O cigars....always have. And this year put some real effort into EZ rigging of them. I may do a post here later of the why's & how's of my Cigar Minnow EZ King Mac rig. So stay tuned!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

6/18 - 6/19 - the turn-around.

Had Gunner M. aboard for a late notice river trip on Friday the 18th. We left out at 10am to catch the incoming tide. Right off the "get-go" I could tell something was wrong as we sent Float-Rigs down the big Jetty rocks. NOT ONE SNIFF.....

So we made a move. Not a sniff, again.

We ran up into the river, and still could not give a shrimp away. I did run down the beach to the south a little bit and looked for the EVER absent Pogie. To use as bait for a big Redbass on LT-light tackle. But like the other people I saw looking. I didn't catch any, or see any. From what I hear now, they're all the way up on the north-side of Nassua Sound. Probably in the same ole hole they end up in every year, off American beach.

So we tried pitching live shrimp around the little Jetties........NADA!

And I had a 2-3 passenger trip on Saturday morning too, along with a Sunday charter. The river was so dead, I guess it's time to "turn-around" the tackle. Time to head offshore to the reefs and troll up some "slimey's".....Kingfish!

So on Saturday morning with a Kingfish tournament going on since Friday, the Mayport boat ramp was a zoo. But I awoke at 4:45am and was at B&M to get ice and a box orf cigar ninnows by 5:35am and almost didn't get in there either. Remember......."weekends are twice the work for me, and there's twice the people around. I really don't like them. That's for sure." 

So Sam and Tim found me, since I was at the ramp for an hour and a half, just so I could get a parking spot!
I was really ready to leave.

We went to MR reef first. I drug the "hardware", planers and spoons with the HD - heavy duty tackle. No bites. So we moved on to BB reef, and that's where we picked up a Cuda on the spoon. Finally a strike.
My goal was what I refer to as the half way mark on the party grounds, East Fourteen reef. And when we got there, it was time to bust out the lighter rods and dead cigar minnows to troll with.

It didn't take long. We got plenty of strikes like the fish switch was thrown. Kingfish, kingfish, kingfish....we had a total of  "three" double headers, (two kings on at once.) I was getting flash backs from years ago when I was a Cigar Minnow troller from hell. And it all came back to me.

Since this originally was supposed to be a inshore trip with Tim and Sam, I was sooooo happy to get some serious action, now. The guys also reeled in a Bonita, foul hooked of course and it kicked Tim's butt. Most of the 10-12 Kingfish we caught were all in what is refered to as "snake" class. But I didn't care, it was Kings. The targeted species. It's been a long while since I've done a whole day of cigar minnow trolling. So it felt good. And Tim and Sam were having loads of "reel" time.

We actually had a breeze, and the water wasn't "window pane" slick, but had some ripples and a tiny swell, which is much better than glassy. We'd mark the kings on my sounder, and then the drags on t6he reels would buzzzzz, Fish-On!

Here's some photos of the day along with one of me gaffing a King, through Tim's polarized sunglasses so you can see the fish in the water...."good idea Tim!"

All Kings were released except for two.
I'll be at it again on Sunday. Heading to look at the shrimp boats for sharks....100 pounders. Then off to a reef, with more Cigar Minnows ready to troll. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

6/15 - R&D...Shark fishing?

I have been talking sharks. I like runnin' & gunnin' behind the shrimp boats.

Myself and my buddy Nick hit the shrimp boats yesterday morning.

Armed with just HD tackle only we did some run & gun behind the shrimp boats in the Chum Hole.

ZEROOO....100 pound Blacktips. 10 Shrimp boats workin the area and we hit at least 4 and never saw a shark, let alone got bit.

So, being that I had the need to do alot of "R&D", to see how this summer really is so far, we headed to MR - Montgomery's Reef. 7.5 miles N.E. off our Chum Hole location.

Not for sharks, but rather to drag some Drone spoons around for a Kingfish or Cuda. Any kinda of action would be okay action, I guess.

Had no other tackle aboard, just serious meat moving rods, that also double as spoon trollers, with 10 & 12oz. trolling leads. I need to get me some planers instead. No cigar minnows (I'm an ole cigar troller, actually.) Catching Live bait takes up a ton of t-i-m-e, on charters, especially if they pick a day there is no pogies around.

So a 1/2 mile from my destination we dropped over the spoon rigs, it was 0930 hrs. Within 5 minutes the drag slips and the clicker sounds...BITE. We were using my giant 8" Drones. They're huge and flash like a large distressed fish, but attacks are not always hook-ups. Alot of "teeth clacking" goes on with these spoons.

But two minutes later, Nicks hooked up! Man handling the not so "sporte" tackle, and reeling the fish in was a sweaty ordeal.

But Nick catches a 10 pound Cuda. I'm hand-lining it in as the boat's moving forward, and some dude in another boat wants to play chicken, and drives accross my bow.....yeah, there's some real jokers out there too.

We filmed the whole operation, with Nicks super cool Mini camera. From the shrimp boats to the now trolling....a video will follow in near future of our exlpoits.

We approach a wreck, and now it's my turn. Reel squeels and now I have something. A small snake King. Probably 6-7 pounds. I call that an "eater". No one needs a lot of Kingfish, and neither do Nick and I. It doesn't keep well, and is only "okay" when really fresh.

So since we were flying by the seat of our pants, today. We have to take all the drinks out the larger cooler in my bow, and switch the usual fish box cooler to drink cooler and drop my little King into the larger cooler.
I didn't have my fish bag, no lighter tackle, no other bait just 4 meat moving HD rods and reels, and my spoon gear and shark gear.

By 11am it was REALLY hot! We kept trolling, changing the spoons from shallow to really deep, and with VERY limited "waypoints" in my GPS, kept hunting for a few wrecks. (I had 1000's of LORAN #'s from years of offshore fishing in the past that I never switched over.....hell I go offshore maybe twice a year, these days.Remember....I'm an inshore Guide at heart.)

We arrived and the surface water was 76 degrees, by now it's 80 degrees. All bites on the spoons STOPPED. Which we had lots of, but limited hook-ups. Cuda's like the spoons about as much as eating King Mackerel from under your boat, but I don't care I would have taken more.....heck it was just R&D. I'm not choosey.

It was DEAD calm out there. I ran into some friends and they had some Pogies and were leaving, so they gave us their pogs and we bottom fished a bit over the MR culverts.

SHARKS...Oh we finally found them! But 2 foot Sharks is not what we had in mind. It's all we could catch. So time to move on.

We also saw a big Manta Ray skimming for plankton on the surface...SERIOUSLY cool! It was follow-able as it just swam past my boat a few times. So we followed it. And it had 2 remora's and ONE Cobia with it. The Cob was MAYBE legal, so I pitched a bait to it over and over again on my heavy leader bottom rig and it wouldn't give it but two looks and then run back to the Manta. (We have some great pics that Nick too, that I'll post when he sends them, to me)

If the Cob would have bit, it would have been a "netter". The fish was so close to the boat a few times I could have "free-gaffed" it. But, that's not cool....If it was a 50 pounder...that dude would have met a Gaff Hook, if it didn't want to e-a-t.

After the bottom frenzy of sharks, we went back to the spoons and recieved a few more bites and one more hook-up and Nick had the fish come off the spoon.

Spoon trolling on the inshore reefs like this isn't the what the pro's call the very best way to trolling success, but like Float-rig fishing in the river...it's EZ, and you can cover some serious water. We had no other bait, and keeps a bit of a breeze going thru your ears, at least versus that slow trolling live baits, or trying to drift with no wind.

We came back to the river and took some dead Pogies and dropped them down outside the navy base, and guess what?????

More 2' long, sharks! Add about 5 feet and about 95 pounds and they would have been what we originally went to catch.

So, don't tell me...a summer with no sharks to catch behind the shrimpers? I don't like that too much. Well I guess I'll just continue with my standard river/inlet light tackle and large Redbass fishing.

Remember; the tide the day you choose to go is what I have to work with. And first and foremost, I really like less hunting around, and more.....just plain keeping bait on our hooks. Today was like I said a "fly by the seat of our pants R & D trip with a buddy", and it made us certainly not want to give up our light tackle jetty fishing any time soon, by no means.

More info on spooning it, for Kings and other reef inhabitants:

Monday, June 14, 2010

6/14 - WANTED: 2 Nocturnal anglers?

Boy, it's really becoming that time of the year to NOT deal with the HEAT. And can you believe I get calls from people wanting to take little kids out in that heat all day? Six, eight, or even 10 year olds don't need to be out in that all day. Refer to my 2 hr. "Kids Trip": http://www.fish-jacksonville-fishing.com/

What I'd like to do is some evening/night trips.....especially on these crazy summer weekends.

No boat ramp crowds, and no one really around anywhere.  But of course, it takes a bit of planning on your part. I can't be up to 2am, and have a charter the next day. So give me some heads-up. I know that's tough this time of year. Because I get calls day after day for "RIGHT NOW" charters. The closer to my bedtime someone calls, the larger the deposit becomes. Most are just "spur of the moment" fishing ideas, folks have. And hardly ever pan-out. Because if they were serious, they'd be ready to chunk down the deposit I ask for, on the charter.

With "feel like" temps in the high nineties, to one hundred, even on the coast. By July, I usually try to start as early as possible and be done by 1:00pm for a inshore 6 hr. day trip.

I haven't had anyone requesting any Kingfish trips so far. I guess I'll have to grab a few buddies and go hit the S.E. Hole and a few inshore reefs and see what's going on. Reports from the S.E. hole lately have been KINGFISH.....and even SAILFISH! Yeah, close-in SAILS. This time of year the by-product of slow trolling for Kings can be a Sail behind the boat. Been there done that, in the past myself. It's pretty exciting.
But, the hotter it gets, it seems like the harder it gets every year to easily cast-net some quick and close Pogies, behind the surf. I think I've seen thicker Pogie schools back in March. As they tightly hugged the Jetty rocks, while I was out there hoping to catch some Speckled Trout that never came. (Just Yellowmouths)

 In the past I've mixed a little trolling, with a morning of Shark fishing behind the shrimp boats. A little run & gun looking to see if there's Blacktip action behind the shrimpers.

Than, skip off to a close reef for a bit of trolling for some kings and of course the "snaggle toothed ledge Trout", also known as CUDA'S.

No, this trip isn't the cheaper charter. Boxes of Cigar Minnows/ Boston Mackerel, and the extra gas, is my major expenditure.

So, as the summer progress', these are your opportunities.
Call to inquire: 904-642-9546

Sunday, June 13, 2010

6/12 - Saturday morning avoided....

Had Dave B. and his buddy out for what I'd assume to be a great idea. Leave late, catch the incoming tide, and avoid the Saturday morning mayhem at the boat ramp, along with any extra traffic because of a Kingfish tournament going on.

So, we agreed to not depart till 2:30pm, at low tide. And fish the clean-green-cooler flooding tide at the big Jetties.

We got into position, and after a brief "how-to" lesson about the float-rig. The guys picked it up right away.
Waiting for the flooding tide to make it's way down the jetty rocks, and before the real current even started, Dave gets a FLOAT down!  The Red makes a few good runs, and into the boat is our "targeted fish".

Okay things are looking up and the tide isn't really even moving yet. But eventually the clean-green water heads our way. And I even start making a few drifts. Bait stealers are about the only thing I'm getting bit by.

Then comes something I have never seen before, this bad. Literal herds of Stingrays, like flocks of swimming birds start coming by, splitting around the boat. I'm talking 30, 40 at a time, wave after wave of them. They swim right into our lines and of course because I'm the only one with Polorized sun glasses on, I'm the only one seeing them. They snag into the lines on almost every single drift of the float. It became had to actually fish.

Plague like porportions of them are pour down the rocks with the flood tide. Every time the guys sent thier floats down the jetty rocks, the rays would come by and they'd have to straight line the rods and bust off the stingers. They aren't eating the shrimp, just getting snagged. And on the light float-rig rods and reels, they'd smoke off with a line dumping run.

But in between, no Redbass bites at all.....and believe me when I tell ya we stayed on the spot and feverishly worked the rocks.  But I could just feel it. There was no mojo here. If I can't even hook-up, how was my guys supposed to. That's my measurement of a spot. After a few hours, nothing but the one Red and one Ring-tailed Porgie and a few rock blennies were caught.

The SE sea breeze was up, the water was flowing. It was cooler and actually quite nice. No boats hounding us. No boat traffic and  no bites. So we headed over to the North Jetty. Set up on two different spots, and the micro-bluefish were eating every single live shrimp we put out.

Wow, I tried my best to pick the best part of the day. And we can't catch a break, only 8" Bluefish. Something is terribly wrong with this picture. Was it that the 5'8" incoming tide New Moon tide the problem? I guess so, because it had the water alive with creatures. Mullet schools swam by the boat too. So we headed back to the south jetty, and the water was so high that we didn't get any drifts down the rocks, but rather into the rocks, because the tide was so high the water was pouring through the rocks rather then along them.        

We quickly went through 10 dozen live shrimp, and as the sun started to go down, we ran out of bait. My best educated guess, and best attempt at fishing the jetties for Reds with light tackle for maximum fun. Ended up being just that, an attempt. 

But I'm not going to let it stop me. This week I'll fish the incoming morning tide, if I'm going. Because I still believe that the clean-green-cooler rising tide is our best bet. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

6/13-18 - My Top Pick

This week coming up will have the best TIDES, in my opinion of the whole month. "IF", I was wanting to book a summer fishing charter for LT - "light tackle fishing". This is when I'd do it.

Starting Saturday: New Moon
The flood tide will be 5.8 feet from 3pm till 9pm. That's a whopper for this time of year!

This past week I've been busier than a one armed angler. And of course, it's vacationer time. So, no one really pays attention to what is expected to to have a good day.


These photo's were taken on days when we had exactly what I'm talking about. And I'm not talking a kids trip, I'm talking ADULTS who want to fish:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

6/8 - River Caverns, and what lives in them?

Had a crew on board from Idaho. Standard Operating procedure for summer river fishing. Go get some live wigglers in the way of Pogies, then head back into the river and fish them. Well the Pogies were just behind the bar on the beach......in four feet of water. Thank goodness the swell was small. They were bigger than the other day, and I got about 20, and dropped them into my little 14 gallon bait tank. Had shrimp in my 2nd tank, or I should have split them up.

Loren, Paul, and Jeremy were ready. This was the crew that makes ya glad to be in the charter biz. The wives were at some kind of class or conference down-town, so it was a boys day out in sunny FLA.

We fished the last of the falling tide in the river, right where I have been lately, and doing well on the Redbass.
Some days it's big fish well over 20 pounds, and someday it's fish in their teens. We had bite after bite after bite. And Paul catches one.

The problem was, that a 7/0  circle hook and a live Pogie was getting slam dunked. But the fish wouldn't stay hooked up. They were getting off, almost every time.

Then as the tide finally turned......I'm really not liking the falling tide either, both with consistent easterly flow winds. It bucks the tide, and makes for a difficult day. But heck, I get what I'm dealt. So since we started late at 9am, it gave us the tide change to fish too.

When the tide slowed, it was time to break out the new Shakespeare Ugly stik "Catfish" Rods....yep, they call 'em the kittycat rods. I call'em light tackle Brutus T. Redbass rods! They handle up to 3-4 oz leads. That's just what I was looking for. So I pitch behind the boat, two of the light tackle (LT-for short) just as the tide has us swinging on the anchor. My big Pogies all died on my by now. They were too crowded in the tank.
So I cut small chunks and pin them on the light hooks. A rod doubles over.....Loren grabs it. Drags smoking....fish is dumping line off the Shimano Cruxis low pro reel. Fish gone!

This now has set the precedence for the rest of the day, as the tide floods in. Let me just say, "I believe there could be alot more Jewfish in the river than we think."      

We ended up fishing a place that just a small area. But if you take away all the water, as local fisherman we'd be astonished of what the structure looks like on this spot. I've fished on it before. And the same thing happened, many moons ago. Lime rock ledges, that would look like a mini Grand Canyon under water.
And people pass this spot all weekend long, and never give a seconds thought to what lives down there.
Previously, I've caught huge Seabass, small Groupers, Moray Eel looking creatures. And a handful of Redbass.....only because then I went to 150 pound leader, and a 11/0 circle hook.

We sat anchored up, and no less than 10-15 viscous  rod bending, twin drag Accurate reel smoking  fish hooked up. The rods, 80# class Shakespeare Ugly Stik charter boat series 6'6" meat rods. So it's not like we were under gunned. But still for some reason it seemed as if we came to a gun fight with a pocket knife!

The fish would bust the 50 pound Mason Hard Type Nylon leaders off at the hook in a nano-second after the rod bowed over. Yes, a few were Stingrays. I could tell that, we even caught one and got it to the boat.
The runs of these fish were epic, hit then shut the door behind them. Like Grouper fishing offshore on top of a ledge. And yes that's what this was like, one exception. The tide was so strong we were using 12 ounces of lead to hit the bottom in 36 feet of water.

And that was 1/2 the problem. It gave whatever we were hooking an extra burst of speed. The reason I even mentioned Jewfish....or the new politically correct name, Goliath Grouper. Is that the Jetties does hold them. Dave Merry a local Mayport fisherman caught one a week or so ago. Mike Morris, a friend of mine caught a 48 pounder at the North jetty a few years ago. I caught two small ones back to back one fall along the Navy base rocks. A 7.5 pounder, and a 1-1/2 pounder mini Jew.

So these fish do exist. And I believe that we could have hooked one or as many as a few fishing the river caverns that we were dropping Pogies down into. It's not like, it's unheard of.

But after fish after fish busting off the hook, and many just plain pulling off the hook, this wasn't your average day of catching good sized Redbass in the St. Johns River. But Paul, did bag one more Redbass, before it was all over.

These that were caught were the small fish. The ones able to be caught. And the best action was on the flood tide....not the falling. In the summer time, there's no arguing the effects of clean green cooler water pouring in from the jetties, into the river to fire off a feeding frenzy.

We ended the day, with two Reds and a Stinger. Pounds of lost lead, lots of broken leaders, and many a lost hook, along with lots of lost fish......whatever they were.

The guys and I had a ball, and their attitudes never wavered. They were ready for battle from start to finish.
And I liked that.

Today it was all about the T-I-D-E, as in 99.9% of the fishing I do.

6/9 - In the river kids trip.

Had Jason L. and his 6 year old son out. Went along the beach looking for a few Pogies. The East swell was big and we saw no Pogies at all. Which after yesterday I figured as much. Went back in the river and caught a bunch of "Spots", one pup Black Drum..

I never knew or ever caught them where we were today. The water was rough, the wind was again, bucking the tide all day long.

Tried to catch a small Red for a 6 year old. But never got one.

Saved the "spots" for cut bait for tomorrow, in case a Pogie can't be found.

One more day in a row, and I get a rest before getting out there with the crowds on Saturday.
After being out all week, I don't look forward to a Saturday.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Them wacky Aussies

Saw this on my "second home" AAB.com where my "botheren" of Alloy Boat owners gather. This was a post made by one of our Austrailian members. They have some really unbelieveable fishing down yonder. And do whatever to catch them.....of course. Check this out. If these Gizmo's aren't ingenious, they are at least upside down, from the way we think around here, thats for sure.

Handline Springers  - c/o: "Jocool" Sydney, AUS.
Do you guys use anything like theses?

I have just fitted some handline springers to the boat. Following is a series of pictures of how they are used.

They consist of a grommet type fitting with a threaded body and a nut much like a skin fitting. They have a machined groove in the rod, and 'R' clip retainer below deck to lock it in the fixed or hidden position.

They tuck into the deck when not in use, and only have a little disk showing that shouldn't snag on anything.

This is the springer raised, and ready for use.

I place the line through the v-notch.....

...and then wrap the line around the springer, above the notch where the line is fitted.

With a strike, the springer will load up, and bend toward the water....

The line will then pop of the rod, and I go to battle stations.

I haven't yet used it. I just fitted them over the last few days with the crap weather we have been having.
I guess you could say, low tech fishing at it's finest, huh?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

6/5 - "I.G." - Instantaneous Gratification (via; BrutusT. Redbass)

Had the Wolf crew aboard the Jettywolf today. Any wolf's are good wolf's in my book. Jim and his 3 sons, with one celebrating his 16th Birthday. So....plan was to spend the falling tide catching BIG Reds. But first we needed some live wigglers. So we left the dock and headed out the Jetties, it was the last of the falling tide and I was hoping to see some Pog's where I found them on Thursday, right at the end of the south out deep.

But that would have been too easy. Well, not on a Saturday. Yes, the boat ramp was a zoo and boats were everywhere. But there was a pack along the beach near the Navy base and Hannah Park. So I soft peddled my way over there.

I saw alot of people cruising around, and that also included a shrimper running straight down the beach in shallow water. Joking, I pulled up to a few boats and said, "Is this where all the bait is?"   Because I saw lots of net tossing, and not a lot of Pogie catching.

It was after 9am by now and I can just imagine how many boats ran through the bait. Which will include the Jettywolf, also. The bait was in there, but obviously really scattered. And I wasn't about to make a longer run to find any, so I joined the search party.

All we needed was a bakers dozen, and I'd be outa here. But catching even that many proved to be pretty hard. But as in all fishing, be it cast-netting or hook and line, persistence pays off. I threw my net and got TEN Pogies. Looks like that'll have to do. So we packed up and headed back to the river.

That 10 knot SW wind sure seemed much stronger back up in the river, as the last of the falling river tide was pushed hard. And anchoring where I wanted to be wasn't working....I was dragging. But again, persistence eventually paid off, and we stuck by the hair's of my chin. One good wake, or that FWC guy wanting to tie-off to me would kick us off our anchor. Yeah, he came over to shoot the bull because he wanted to see my boat. He must have been a newbie to the area. Because if you haven't seen me on the river by now. You're not a regular. I told him, "we're hanging by a thread here.....ya can't tie off to us or that'll be it....."  

But that was just after I tossed two Pogies out on the "meat-mover" rods and reels, and we had a DOUBLE-HEADER of Redbass! So being in the meat, right here was very important to me. Yep, live wigglers like Pogies right now are like Fun Size Snickers Bar's, laying on the bottom of the river. The kids are gonna pick them up and scarf them! And we were in a Rally of Reds!

For some reason, I feel as if I'm missing a set of photos I took...I knew I took more than this.....Hmmm?

But you get the drift...Brutus T. Redbass was chewing. Right up till the tide backed off. So we pulled anchor and headed to the jetties, looking to Float-rig a little for some possible "keeper" sized Reds. But that didn't work out so well. I had the guys sending the float's with live shrimp down the rocks in the very limited area I could grab, the tide wasn't exactly right just yet, but was getting there. And from out of no where came a huge wind, probably 25 knots from the southwest. The water chopped up, and we had to sit it out. If the anchor slipped, we'd be blown into the jetty rocks. And that eventually happened.

The wind whipped, and as I pulled the anchor we were the only ones left at the Jetties. Everyone vacated.
The river went from slick to white water. So we headed back to the dock.

Weather....."it's like that sometimes, in the summer."  And keeper sized Reds in the river can be hard to come by, too. I say, "we can't look gift horses in the mouth."  That's why I wish there was some Trout around.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

6/3 - Small river.....big Redbass!

Had Viktor S. his brother in law, Dennis, and sister in law Toni, aboard today. Dennis and Toni lived in Germany, but spoken Russian. And Viktor was the official interpreter. And it was an interesting day.

I had plans to go get some Pogies for big Redbass bait. So I took a cruise over to where they found some yesterday, kinda outside Huguenot Park near Ft. George inlet. One sweep of the area proved that there was no Pogies over there. So I crossed the bar and headed towards the south, and ran over all the Pogies you'd ever want or need in 45 foot of water, near the south rocks. It was the last of the falling tide, so I guess they're getting pushed out there. The rip was really dark on one side, and green on the other. So that says very low tide, to me.

One toss of the 8' Pogie net and it swam away full of the nasty little bait fish. I had to let 90% of them go (some got lucky) and took maybe 2 dozen and dropped them into my 14 gallon well I circulate. The bait shop had no live shrimp for some reason, so I was really glad I had a back-up plan.

Since we were in the immediate area, I ran over to the inside of the North Jetty, anchored up and sent two Pogies out on the bottom. Normally a great spot to nail a few big Reds at low tide. But as the rods bounced back and forth I knew what the deal was........BLUEFISH. And the proof was the cookie cutter shaped  bites out of the Pogie. Okay. Time to vacate this spot! Not what I was looking for, by any means.

We arrived on the next spot and of course the current was fading fast. So while I pitched lines baited with the lil' nasty's, out as deep as I could. I had Victor and Dennis drop a few light lines over the side with 2 oz. sinkers and dead shrimp......"ya never know, sometimes ya pop a Red by doing just that."

And as they tight-lined the light rods, one of the Pogie rods goes off.  No real current to speak of meant what ever this was, could and would do what ever it wanted. And that was to tangle into every other line hung over the side of the boat. And it turns out to be a 3 foot shark. But Dennis got a handful. It was not like any Pond, Lake or River fish, he may have been used too. And it sure had it's way with him.

But, now through lots of interpretation. He knew what he was in for. He was the rod man for the day. The trip was really for him, I was told.

The current finally swung us around and I re-anchored and were on a perfect lay on the anchor. Minding our own bee's wax, conversing and waiting on a big brutus Redbass. I busted out the serious big fish tackle, by now. My big Accurate twin-drags matched up to 50-80 pound class Ugly Stik Charter boat series "meat mover" rods. Dennis requested we go back to the heavy stuff. After tangling with the shark on a lighter bottom fishing rod, and mini B-197 Accurate.  

We get bit like clock work, just as the tide picked up......I can almost set my watch by it. It's all in the feel against the boat. The big rod bows over, the drag peels and we have on a stud. Dennis is all out struggling. 

I look up and what do I see coming at us?
St. Johns River heavy metal!!!!!!!!!

And what's right next to it, as it's coming? A shrimp boat! And for some reason this shrimper thinks he can out run this ship in his boat. It's us...(not in the channel) a shrimper, and a ship staying in the channel barrelling down on us.

I'm sure the Pilot up in the wheel house of the ship was wondering what the hell this shrimper was doing.
We have Dennis hooked up and getting drug all around, his fish out on the channel side of my boat, and the shrimp boat comes with in 20 feet of the side of us, and 20 feet on the other side of the shrimp boat was the ship! I looked up into the shrimpers wheel house, gesturing to him what the hell are ya doing??? And saw him doing the international signal for "Oppppp's", which was hands up in the air and a "I guess I messed up", look on his face.

Good gawd, the river just got mighty small all of a sudden.

But I had Dennis to help, and his Redbass came popping to the surface. And I'm not sure if Viktor, Dennis or Toni realized how "iffy" a situation this was, do to the shrimp boat, turned race boat.

Dennis travelled far to catch a whopper, and it sure was exciting. His 27 pound Redbass went back in the water and swam away, for a next time. And it was time to get him on another.


And one more, before he said he had enough.

In between these three Red's we lost 3 more to the under water caverns we were fishing. As Dennis tired from going toe to toe with the rods bending one after another.  The action was fast and furious. And those big Reds sure love a live wiggler on the end of a hook. Good current, frisky live baits, and the "meat mover" rods and reels. I LIKE IT!

Viktor mentioned "eating size" fish. We'll that meant only one thing. Float-rigging the rocks. But I had no live shrimp, so I headed back out to the jetties. And instead of float-rig fishing I had Dennis and Viktor "tight-line" cut Pogies on the bottom in the fast incoming tide current with the light rods and light lead. As soon as some of the stink permeated the area, Viktor was hooked up.......Fish On! But the problem was, I cannot pick fish out of a barrel for folks. Fishing charters are not seafood markets. And Viktor was hooked up to a big drag burning fish. Obviously not a keeper sized Redbass. And it eventually got him into the jetty rocks and busted off his entire leader.

I take ya fishing......I don't take ya catching. That's your deal. Unless you want me to reel them in.

Toni said she was ready to go. So Viktor said, I think it's time we head back. Toni's ready.
It was an exciting day. Hot as all get-out, but nice, and slick calm.

Next up: Saturday with another 4 person.

See ya out there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

6/2 - Slick at the rocks.

Had Paul D. and his wife Sheri aboard today, from Utah. They said ......"can ya believe this"....that when they left it was snowing! So I guess this HEAT was either a welcome or a shock. Wow, that's hard to imagine as I sit here with my A/C running incessantly.

We had a beautiful day. As ole Capt George on the Mayport Princess says, it was slick, slick, slick & hot, hot, hot. I needed it this way after Monday's blowin wind that was nothing but trouble. Started off on a really slow slack part of the tide, unfortunately. With not all that much range in the incoming tide, anyhow. So we had to play the waiting game. And while doing so caught a few Jack Cravalles, after having plenty of time to learn the in's & out's of the float rigging game.

Let me just say.....I don't know if it's just me, or what. But so many guides are scared of the bait casting reels with customers. I cringe when I see people float-rig fishing with spinning tackle, myself. I guess it's because I've always been a bait caster. But let me tell ya' Paul and Sheri were quick studies. Paul was casting and Sheri was pitchin', my low profile Shimano Citica's no problem by the time we got into the spot where I wanted to fish. Guess it's because they had the right coach.

The bite started out slow, it took forever for the clean green water to come filtering into the area. But as we sat there, things got right. But not super gang-busters. I think weakness of the tide, had alot to do with it.
As a float-rigger, you learn quick what tides work best, and how to make it work during slow tides. I don't have the pick of the days, I have the days customers, pick. So I'm always "pushing" a tide to squeak the most I can out of it.  But I had confidence they'd pull a few out of the rocks.

Ocean-run Reds, that lost their color. Check this one out, kinda looked like a really big Whiting. Not a monster, but the first one to the boat. So I was happy, and so was Paul. As they worked the spot back and forth there was a few "swing and a miss" fish, a couple "hook jumpers", and as Paul and Sheri ate thier sub sandwiches, I gave it a try and didn't connect at all......"what.....that's impossible. I'm your ringer!"  

So after a break, a few more made it to the boat. Sheri had the most, as many woman do. And right before we were out of live shrimp (because alot were dead by the time I hit the ramp in the morning) She scored the largest too.

Don't think she needed a 32 incher up against the rocks. This one gave her all she could handle! But it's just what we needed, so they could have a late lunch/early dinner at Singletons Seafood Shack in Mayport. There isn't a fresher fish than the ones you can carry into Singletons and have blackened up, for you. And no dishes to clean. A perfect ending to a beautiful day along the jetty rocks.  

Heading out again, tomarrow and Saturday. So the adventures of the JETTYWOLF boat will continue as always. See ya out there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

5/31 - WIND...that just wouldn't back off.

Had Bill W. and his wife out on Memorial Day. Which there was twice the boats out there then on Sunday, Wonder why? At least on Sunday the S.E. blowing winds backed off a bit around 10am. Today at 10:00am the wind was at maxi-strength, and continued all day long. Not just gusts, but full bore sustained 20 knots.
(and remember if it has "east" in the name, it's "not" good, in any way.)

We departed around 8:00am. And of course, I knew my big plan was definitely OUT. So before departing the dock, I was already on to plan "W". But we headed to the jetties any how. On the way out towards the tip, we ran into a pack of Dolphins taking advantage of a school of Mullet in the middle of the river. We drifted around, watching them pick off the 10" Mullet like they were fun size Snickers bars off the surface of the water. I always tell people, Sharks get so much press of being such "bad boys" of the Ocean. When in my opinion, if I was fish swimming around, I think I'd be more worried about Dolphins, instead. They can eat, and do just about anything they want. But, I guess the big thing is....they don't eat people. So that doesn't make for good TV. 

There was no way in all hell, that we could have fished anywhere near the tips of the jetties. And heading out to go look for some Pogies just didn't seem to make sense when I had a livewell full of sprightly river crickets.
So, I did my best to try and find a fishable spot out along the rocks. But the wakes, ships, other boats and the wind and current, had my anchor slipping constantly. As I tried to back into close to the jetty rocks.

We got a little float-rig fishing accomplished. With only a few bait-stealer bites. So I decided to head on into the river, and down the ICW. It wasn't a better attempt to get away from the wind. Add in the traffic that was out in their boats, and the lack of any bites. It was time to go look back at the big rocks, again. Looked to me, like droves of people heading to Ft. George for the Memorial day party up there.

Back at the jetties....about the only place that I'd have any confidence in when it comes to getting a big fish. So as the tide got really high, we mixed float-rig fishing with some plain ole "bait-n-wait", but the wait didn't take long.

I made a pitch over to the rocks and before I could had Bill the rod I felt bump, bump. I handed Bill the rod and went for the net. And up pops a really nice Flounder.

Not bad, at all. A good eater size. On a live shrimp, on the bottom. With two lines out the back, I made another pitch to the rocks. And again it no sooner hit the bottom and the rod was about snatched out my hand. Bill grabbed the rod, and was into a serious fight.


It was a over-sized Redbass, that measured out to 30 inches. After the release, we got a few more bites, and lots of sinkers caught in the rocks and lost rigs. Oh, how I love float-rig fishing! When popping off one rig after another. But between the anchor slipping and us heading for the granite every few minutes, the wind, and the wakes. It made it hard to keep a float drifting down the rocks. But we caught a few, Jack Cravalle, and those ravenous Seabass. Fishing both the float and on the bottom.

Overall, the jetties saved the day once again. It was one tough day, for sure. After bidding farewell to Bill and his wife. The Sherriffs Marine division guys came walking down the dock. They came straight to me of course. Had to check out my boat. I joked with them about their little 18' Boston Whaler's, comparing it to having big plate alloy. They said, "so...could ya catch anything  in this wind today?"  I replied, "not a whole lot, but thanks to the jetties we caught a few and one big one, at least."

Now.....everyone is going back to work! And the river will be calm again this week. I'll be back out on Wednesday and Thursday. I hear Thursday mybe really interesting, as I'll have two Russians aboard out of three, that don't speak any English. What's the odds of that happening twice? Obviously, pretty good. Because, I had three Russians out many moons ago, and one out of three barely spoke, English. I told Viktor, who booked the trip. "I hope you can interpret, really good!"