T-I-D-E-S....."are the most important factor in all saltwater fishing." Especially, in N.E. Florida and in the St. Johns River.
With that said, I had Sean S. with his young cousins Sara and Jake out on Wednesday. The kids caught some fish, mostly small Croakers, Spots, and Whiting. The incoming tide was RIPPING! The tide height from low to high tide was 6.1 feet, with a nasty S.E. sea breeze kickin' all day long. Pushing even more water into the river.
I worked hard in the river, trying multiple spots while keeping baits in the water as much as possible. We did try for a big Red, had one hooked up. But it got off my 11/0 circle hook somehow.
We went to the jetties and looked over the rocks to where I really wanted to go. But there was no way, I was heading there with the kids. It was a soup sandwich, with plenty of white water.
I knew if I could get where I wanted we'd get some action. Because I also had a charter with some kids on Thursday also. Watching the forecast, it changed about 4 times. South 10-15....SE 10-15.....West 10-15, it's funny how the marine forecast is always radically different than the Walmart on the westside forecast.
So on Thursday morning when I departed with Dad, Ed. And sons Conner & Seth. I was sooooo wanting to see what my side of the jetty rocks would look like. The tide was rising at 7am, and the ends of the rocks were a soup sandwich. But fish'able on the Jettywolf, no problem. Actually, it was just as I like it. Nasty enough that most folks won't toss an anchor next to me. Shin-knocker boats, no need to apply! So we headed to the beach and made a look for some Pogies. They were there....somewhere. Pelicans were diving. But the Pog's were scattered. It was okay, I had a livewell full of shrimp, and a bucket of fresh dead from yesterday.
Back to the rocks we went. It was S-W-E-L-L, I thought. But Ed was not feeling the love. But Conner and Seth didn't care. We pitched dead shrimp on the bottom and caught Croakers and Whiting. Like I. G. - Instantaneous Gratification. The boys reeled in fish, after fish. While Ed cleared his stomach of it's contents, and layed on the cooler in the bow of the boat. After boating some Whiting, that were just fillet'able, we headed into the river and that's where all bites stopped. Ed had some color back in his face as I pulled the anchor and I told him, "'ya know the JETTYWOLF is telling me, she wants to go back to her namesake....The Jetties."
So I made a bee-line back to the same area we left. It was much calmer as the tide rose and it was time to bust out the ole Float-rig rods, and live shrimp Ed, never fished, and was there just because he was the Dad. Because me and the boys took up the cock-pit, playing combat fishing. I'd cast their floats out hand them the rods and they'd make the drifts.
Not long after Conner's float went down with a good fish.
A 22 inch Redbass....the first "keeper" in a week of fishing. So into the box it went and not long afterwards Conner was hooked up again with a serious drag burner. But it got off.
Then he was on again, and the fish broke off his hook. I know there's so much to look at, and amaze at. But I had to tell these guys each time their float went down. "What would ya'll do without me?", I asked.
Things slowed, Ed was some what attentive. But obviously still not feeling the love of my Jetty spot. So we moved 100 feet.
Seth finally connected with a Ladyfish, after Conner caught a Jack.
It was getting really nice out there by now. And that's when we started to see lots of Tarpon rolling behind us. I told the guys my jetty Tarpon stories. And that's when they started day dreaming. Talking up how they'd love to catch a 140 pounder. So big that we'd chase it and need a fuel tanker to come out and re-fuel the Jettywolf back up. How they'd love to hook on right before we were to head in. And end up being out there till dark fighting it. It was trash talking Michigan style, obviously.
I told them the truth though. I told them, "ya may need a 'Depends' undergarment." And most Tarpon hooked spend most of the first few minutes in the air. And most Tarpon on the float-rig break the light leader, or bend the small kahle hook we're using. But the day dreaming stories still rolled......
Then, Seth had his float go down, and in a nano-second a Tarpon was flying across the back of the boat. It somersaulted, did a double twist, and was OFF, that quick. It all happened so fast that Seth just didn't know what hit him. Cause if ya blinked you missed it. But the poon's were all over the place.
Things were winding down. And I made another cast for one of the boys. My rod slipped out of my hand and hit the drink! It sat there just under the water for a second so I made a mad grab for it. It was a super stretch for this fat boy. But what I lack in stealth, I have in, tenacity. My arm stretch out like it was made out of rubber. But the problem is, my large girth followed.......and over the side I went!
( I said this part of the story was, Wacky.)
I caught the rod & reel before sinking. And handed it back to the boys in the boat, as I hung over the side yelling......."I GOT IT......I CAUGHT MY ROD!!"
Then, I swung around and climbed my girth back into the boat. Loosing my "Jus Grab It glove", and my new line cutters. But, that didn't matter. My 7'6" Float-rig rod and my Shimano (old style) Citica 200 DSV bait casting reel, were saved.
"Man, that water is salty", is all I had to say as I toweled off and tried to shake the water out of my shoes and shorts. A perfect ending to a wacky day to say the least.
Ed, was never really with us, he was down for the count even when I was in the water, I think. It didn't matter. I was happy to actually fish where I wanted to be on the smoking incoming tide, finally. We had fish in the box, Seth hooked his Tarpon, and I saved my tackle after throwing it over the side........somehow???
Back at the dock, I actually cleaned some fish for take home. These hard to fish tides won't be over with till about Monday. So if ya want to fish.......CALL NOW, book ahead, plan ahead. Think Sept & October, cuz that's when I start really howling from the big rocks.
Whewwww, I need a day off, after today.