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 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 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.