Had Jim, Chris and his son Ryan with me today. We departed promptly at 7am. Yep, now that it's "light" at seven, seemed like a great time to start the day.
Cool...I wouldn't have called it cold. But that crisp fall air felt refreshing as we slow peddled our way east, to fish the inlet jetty rocks. I love it out there this time of year. There's always something going on.
The real reason for the early departure, was to catch the rising tide. I had Speckled Trout plans. But did Mother Nature have them in the cards for us? Well, I'm not a dreamer. I'm a realist. And I know my Trout friends!
We just got over a week of seriously strong tides, coupled with intense winds since this past Friday. So, all I could hope for is getting into some Trout. Not like I did on November first, I wasn't expecting a slaughter. Remember....realist! And if you recall reading my report, it was all out perfection Nov. 1st.
We arrived on the first spot and the NW breeze was kicking my butt. Making for difficult precision anchoring with my light anchor. Which is the preferred one, for this situation. When float-rig fishing with people who may not have done that kind of fishing before. I believe it's absolutely imperative to have the boat exactly where we need it. No fudging, exactly where we need it! And after quite a bit of trial and error, we got set up right where I wanted to be.
I showed the guys the in's and out's of float-rig fishing. And it wasn't 5 minutes afterwards when Ryan says, "I got something!" And too the boat came the mornings first "keeper" Speckled Trout. Into the fish box it went, and we were lured into thinking, "here comes the waylay...??." As hard as the guys fished, no one was getting any Trout let alone any bites. "Huh? was this Trout some kind of lone wolf out there?"
So I pulled anchor and made an adjustment. Moving to another spot just a few yards away. Working hard, all that we got was one "pup" Redfish.
Obviously, the weekend weather DID have an effect on the Trout. Which I knew going in. So I wasn't totally broken hearted. No fishing guide worth his or her salt comes out for a day without "back-up plans". So we quickly changed up our rods and rigs and went bottom fishing.
We moved and anchored up in deep water, around 40 feet. The tide was real high. The flood tide was a 5.5' on the tide chart. The water was ocean green, but the current was almost nothing. I told the guys, we're gonna try for my next favorite fish, the Black Drum. I love a "pup" Drum, around 15-20 inches are perfect eaters. So the guys fished the bottom with live and dead.
Well, at our last spot there wasn't a single one. But here on this spot the Bluefish were rampid. For the next hour or more, I ran back and forth, re-baiting and taking one Blue after another off the hooks. The guys had fun, especially after no Trout. But, I could just tell, other fish would come.
Chris set his rod in the holder and walked to the bow to the food cooler. So while he did that I grabbed his rod, pinned on a live shrimp, pitched it out, and no sooner it hit the bottom, I felt Bump, Bump!
I set the hook and called for Ryan. I gave him the rod and he fought what??? A Black Drum. The perfect eating size. "I told ya Black Drum were down there..." I said.
Here he is with his Trout and Drum.
It wasn't long after the Drum, that things became interesting. We picked up some small Speckled Trout, more Bluefish, Grunts, Seabass, and Jim hooked exactly what I was hoping for. A drag screamer! He set the hook as both of us were watching his rod tip. I could see it, he could feel it. The bump, bump, and then a sand bagging. He laid the wood to the fish and it took off. Dumping his reel spool, all he could do is hang on.
ELEPHANTS EAT PEANUTS, is the motto for when a big Redbass eats a small shrimp. If it's there, they'll eat it. Jim fights the fish and it is some where out there over the rocks and through the woods...and then his leader goes POP!
I had to work with the guys and teach them the bite of what a decent size fish will feel like. Because the Bluefish, Seabass, Grunts, are not big fish. And they don't bite the same as a larger "Game" fish.
The tide would come and go, the boat would swing in the breeze. And we all stayed at it. About 20 Bluefish later, comes another small Speckled Trout, more "pup" Redfish. And a few lost fish.
Last week, or even two weeks ago. When I was bottom fishing with live shrimp. There was no Sheepshead on live shrimp, and none on the Float-rig either. But today was one of those "here's your sign" kinda days.
The water temp on my bottom machine was a cool 66-68 degrees. And over the course of this past weekend I guess we passed right through the low 70's. So what was caught next...SHEEPSHEAD.
Then some more Blues, a Yellowmouth Trout, Whiting, another small Speckled Trout, then another Sheepshead.
More Blues, a small pup Redfish, and then another Sheepshead.....
The guys had a blast. And as a matter of fact the "boat limit" of three Sheepshead were easily caught, on live shrimp. Or what I really mean by that is; I will clean three Sheepshead. They are a pain to clean, especially compared to Trout. So right there, you can see my "master plan". That's why I'm a Trout fisherman. Good eating, EZ to clean.
Jim had a long drive back to the Tampa area. So we packed it in and headed back to the dock. I had plenty of fish to clean, after pulling up to the dock. Jim took off, and while I was cleaning the fish and feeding the Pelicans. Ryan told me, "Thanks, I had a really good time. I want to do this again!"
Well, Chris and Ryan have lived in J-ville for 8 years and this was their first time inshore fishing the St. Johns in Jacksonville. And now the family's moving to Chicago. So, they may not be able to do exactly this again anytime soon. It maybe Great Lakes fishing instead.
DON'T be a 8 year Jacksonville resident and not fish the river that runs straight through the middle your city. I know many people forget J-ville's motto....
"The river city, by the sea."
It's all here. And now is the time to experience it! Be it one of my River Cruises on the Jettywolf, or a day of great fishing. Experience it!
Thanks, Jim, Chris and Ryan.