The right tide. Who knows, day to day what the best tide will be in the St. Johns River. But here's a story that may make you believe me when I say, not all tides are created equal.
I went to do some R&D (research and development) I was float-rig fishing for Trout. I was in the water and heading for the jetties before the sun was up. And so was a buddie (also a float-rigging/Trout catching mentor of mine.) We were in our own boats, and fished different spots, looking to see if there was any substantial Trout along the rocks.
The tide was pushing in as the sun rose.
It was slick calm, and beautiful. The water was clear and green (what Trout love). I worked a stretch of rocks up and down that was about 100 yards long. Not a single bite other than a bait stealer or two. My buddy, he tried the last spot where he caught a couple a week or two ago. After a few hours, he came driving up to me. "I haven't lost a single shrimp, how bout you??" He was also on the hunt for Trout. I yelled over to him, "Me either, just some little rock blennies. I can't believe this. The conditions are perfection. Low light, clean clear water......."
The writing was on the wall. He said he was gonna go into the ICW. And I went back up into the river.
For the next three hours, I worked a float-rig on some stereo typical Trout haunts. Places I have caught not only Trout on a rising tide, but places I have caught Gators to 7 pounds in October, years past.
With nothing but a Bluefish and Croaker's to show for my efforts. I was heading back towards Mayport when the phone rang. It was him, "Dave I went all the way down towards the Atlantic blvd bridge and caught a couple Trout and one Flounder, on the float-rig. This is terrible...I'm going home. Are ya still at the jetties?" I told him, I was up in the river and had no trout, still. But maybe I should head back to the jetties again.
So that's what I did. The tide was maximum high, now! I mean, the rocks were almost under water in some spots. So I tried to find a Trout again. No luck. And then the tide started the slow turn-around. I made a move to the inside of the north jetty. And gave up on the Trout search and my float-rig rods.
I anchored up on a safe spot, seeing I was alone. Didn't want any trials and tribulations, like wakes or current pushing me into the rocks, as I bottom fished.
The current on the bottom was just starting to ease eastward. I took my lightest rod, pinned on a 1/2 ounce bank sinker to my rig, horn hooked a nice live shrimp and pitched it out to the base of the jetty rocks.
It hit the bottom, and I felt.....BUMP, BUMP. I reeled in the slack and that's all she wrote....Fish on!
A big fish. As it turned out, it was a great fight on my light rod. I was wanting some fillets for dinner, but this wasn't it, as I netted a big Redbass.
A 29 inch "Super Spotter"! And it's opposite side looked the same. After such a long fight I didn't bother to take time to try and count all the spots it had, but it was alot. Released to fight again another day. I thought to myself........5 hrs of fishing the rising tide, and as soon as the tide started to fall (on the bottom) here comes a decent bite??
N.E. Florida tides, strike again!
As the boat started to swing on the anchor, but the current wasn't really moving all that good the bites came one after another. I thought to myself, "this is always that perfect time." The time of the day right between tides. Actually fishable current. A 1/2 oz. sinker and no wild ride in the river's current. This must be the way it is in the Gulf of Mexico? No wonder they can catch fish all day long over there.....
Knowing the blasting tide was on it's way, with the earlier super high water. I had to fish fast. I caught 6 - Redbass, 3- Black Drum, and had about half dozen large Seabass and lost 3 big fish to the rocks. I was having a ball on my light rod. Bowing over the rod and getting my butt handed to me, was great fun. But of course it didn't last forever. The tide line came. I could see it. And then came the blasting current that ruined all "super light tackle and sinker fishing". Afterwards, 4 ounces was needed. And the bites slowed down because of it.
Oh, how I'd love to experience less tide! I'd like to be a Gulf Coast fisherman some day!
But the moral of this entire story is, "THEY BIT LIKE NUTS ON THE FALLING TIDE!"
Right as the current wasn't all that strong.
So my nice little R&D day that was to see how the Trout bite really was, turned out to be a 9 hour day to catch fish for the table. I guess I'll reinterate. I'm hanging up the float-rig rods for awhile longer, I guess.
No Trout, but Drum, Croakers, and Reds will be the targeted species. Even for me.
Picking the right tide is what I try to do when someone calls for a charter day. I try my best to instill in them the importance of planning around the tides.
P-L-A-N your trip in advance.