Had Don B. on aboard again along with his brother Tim from Tennessee. Just had Don and his parents aboard a few weeks ago on a crisp cool fish filled day. Well, it was another day that couldn't have been any finer.
I'll reiterate again....Now, is the best time to fish N.E. Florida. Not, when it's 100 degrees in the shade.
We left out just as the high tide started to turn and fall. Near perfection. We went straight to the Jetties, anchored up on the inside. And there we sat. No need to run around. The longer you can keep baits in the water the better chance you have at catching good fish.
As the tide really started to move, the bite got better and better. I knew it would. But my impatience always gets the best of me. We three fished plain ole dead shrimp on the bottom.
My plan was, to get fish in the box first. And afterwards go get Tim a big fish later. And man, do I love it when a plan comes together!
The first fish were just a bunch of small Seabass, which was typical. Then, Tim and Don caught some a few decent fall inlet species; Spadefish, Bluefish, and Black Drum.
A few of the Black Drum were just under-sized so they went back. But we now needed some Redbass. And each time I thought about making a move, the fish would bite again. So I went with the ole saying, "Don't leave fish to go find fish."
Don was the first one to nail a small "pup" Redbass. I believe they were just under 18 inches. So back they went. Then Don nailed a perfect "keeper" (18-27 inches is the slot size that can be kept.)
Any decent size Black Drum, or Rebass is allot of fun on the light tackle. Seeing you have to get them up off the bottom, keep them aways from the massive Jetty rocks, and at the same time fight them in the current.
I believe I have the best all around rods for this, now. My tackle is so perfect. Each rod and reel combination is perfectly suited for the application I use it for. Not always an easy thing to put together. But I'm super happy with what I'm using these days.
At one point, these guys were doing all the catching even though I was dropping a line over with them. Being they are experienced fisherman, it gave me the opportunity to do so. Many times we'll fair better if I can fish and feel what's going on also. But it's a rarity, that I get to do that. Most of the time, I do not fish. I'm there to help you, every minute.
But, I dropped down a bait, and finally hooked up a Drum or Redbass. I was fighting it on the jetty side of the anchored boat. When all of a sudden, the fish ran out towards the river channel. Well, I didn't just start fishing out there at those rocks last week. I knew exactly what was going on. My Redbass or Drum, had just got bit by a Blacktip Shark. I didn't even have to see it. There's no way a 20" Drum or Redbass is gonna take off at a high rate of speed straight for the channel. Line was peeling off the reel so fast, and there was no stopping it. So I handed my rod to Tim and said, "Just in case ya don't get a monster today, here's what one feels like..."
Tim stood there watching the 200 yards of 30 pound Suffix super braid evaporate off the spool. When 3/4 of the spool was empty, I said, "well ya better straight line it and break that big bastard off....." So that's what he did. There's no way we're gonna catch a 100 pound Blacktip with a Redfish in it's mouth on these rods and reels out here.
That's about the extent of my fish catching. I never really caught anything worth a damn all day. But Don and Tim sure did.
Look at this "photo-op", it couldn't have been timed any better, just goes to show you, I fish the big water. Tim with a nice Redbass, just as a Navy ship passed through the channel heading, offshore.
We quickly had our allowed three Redbass in the fish box, turned a few smaller ones loose, and had a few small Black Drum, loads of pesky Seabass. A Bluefish, Spades, a few "swing -n-misses", had a Shark eat my only decent fish. So it was time to go get Tim a big Red.
But, the F-U-N had to stop some time. And as I went to pull the anchor it was seriously stuck in the rocks below. And as I tried to get it up, quickly figured out it wasn't the anchor, but instead it was the chain that was stuck. The current was still pushing hard. And each time I pulled forward on the anchor line, it was evident I wasn't seeing my beloved "light weight" grapnel anchor ever again. But I don't quit that easy. So I continued trying to retrieve it.
No dice, when I didn't even feel the chain weight as I pulled on it, I had but one option. I had to cut it and suck up my losses. Each time this happens, and it happens frequently enough, believe me. I loose anywhere from $60 to $150 in ground tackle. So being in the charter business isn't a very profitable occupation in reality. Not with what I can charge here in J-ville.....
So I cut the anchor line and figured that's probably the 150th anchor I've lost out there over the years. If it wasn't for the constant traffic of ship's, and enormous wakes we were hit by from the Navy tug boats, I wouldn't have drug on the anchor so much. Each time the anchor drags, it means possible trouble.
Afterwards, we went over to the south Jetty. I saw a friend over there and he said, "Look at all those Mullet schools, over there. We've been sitting here watching the Tarpon busting them."
So we went over to investigate. There was literally millions of big Mullet on the surface just milling around in the green, slick calm water. I figured that if I could get some with my cast net, we'd have either possible Tarpon bait, or some fresh big Redbass, cut baits. But all I had on board the boat was my small 1/4" mesh shrimp and minnow type cast net. So I tried it. We pulled up near the schools of Mullet that went 12 to 20 inches, I turned off the engine and we'd glide right up to them. They were skittish, for sure. But in three tosses, I got at least 10 of the monster Mullet.
We opted to go back up in the river and catch a big Redbass, instead of wishing to hook a Tarpon out there. So we took off and went not far down river from the Mayport boat ramp. We didn't have allot of time left on the falling tide, but just enough current to get the job done.
I took one of those big Mullet and cut a few fat 2 inch wide steaks out of it, pinned them 7/0 circle hooks on the heavier rods. Matched up with my Accurate twin drag reels on 6' Ugly Stik charter rods, pitched them out with 6 oz. sinkers and there we were, BIG Redbass fishing.
And it didn't take long at all when the port rod bumped, then bounced and then, doubled over. Tim was on it, and he now had a big fish dumping line off the Accurate reel with at least 10 pounds of strike drag pressure, like it was nothing, at all.
At 27 pounds and full of fight, Tim got himself a "whopper". Kinda worth the travelling from Tennessee for. He had to show the rest of his family, that it's no fun messing with the "Tim-Man". Because while we were out there this morning, his Mom who was just on my boat two weeks ago, called from NY and said to Don, "let me speak to Capt Dave." She said to me, "now you make sure to give them only light sinkers, don't help them beat my fish, I caught...."
This is a competitive fishing family! To say the least.
It was Don's turn next. But the tide speed started to slow down really quick and we were loosing current. So we packed it in and headed back to the dock. The guys had a Jags game and some tail-gating to do tonight. It was Monday Night Football, but I can tell ya', it was also one hell of a great Monday Fishing Day.
(ole saying of mine...."ya can't beat a Monday at 7am, versus every other day of the week.")
The wind was light to non-existent. The water was slick calm, the air temp was cool, and the sun was shining. It just doesn't get any better.
NOW, is the best time to go fishing in my book. If you want to see more proof of that, go to the upper right hand corner of my blog/reports pages where it says "Lights, Camera, Action" an open up what will be hundreds of photos in an Album. Take notice, that most of the really good catches are where the customers are either in sweatshirts, jackets or long sleeves...to include me. That's your hint, right there to when inshore fishing in Florida is the best.
It's always nice to have Don and his fishing family aboard the Jettywolf.....we always have a great time!