Monday, February 7, 2011

2/6 - Cooper's Birthday

Had the McGee family aboard today....well, come to find out only part of this huge family. To include just the youngest members still at home. Dad Mark, Mom  Tammy. Cooper  turning nine today. Along with sister Tara.

I knew that just because it was Super Bowl Sunday didn't mean that the river would be empty. Which Tammy reminded me of on the phone the day before. I hadn't a clue. If it's a "ball" related sport I couldn't care less. Except for Golf. I enjoy that. Because it's Man versus Nature.

We got a early start. Because it was a "weekend". I was a bit hyped-up after yesterday's solo Black Drum catch. And the weather today, couldn't be any worse. Actually it was allot better. No 20 kt winds, fog, or rain. But it was overcast 99% of the day.

Don't know what the deal was. But there wasn't any current. And that was a problem, all day long.  When I have Jr. anglers aboard. I want to keep things as absolutely simple as possible. I want flowing current preferably behind the boat. Rods in the rod holders, and bait sitting out behind the boat. Get a bite? Pick up rod and feel, then set hook.

Didn't get much of that! Out of a 6 hours, I had about an hour and a half of it all day. And to prove my point. That was the ONLY time we caught a fish.  I don't care what other people do, or how well the kids can sling a bobber in the local pond. But current, behind the boat,  rods in the rod holders is how I like it when little busy hands, are on board.

With the lack of current, having to cast allot, a majorly bird-nested reel, and no bites. In the exact area where I caught 6 Black Drum yesterday, had me pulling my hair out.

And if I pick up the "man-maker" 22 pound anchor with the 25 pounds of chain more than let's say 5 times in one day. Right there, it's a "HERE'S YER SIGN", kind of day.

No sooner did I move and get into some steady current when 1/2 of Jacksonville arrived on the 1/8th mile strip of the river I call the "hub".  While small jigs, and a fiddler pitched up along the submerged rocks was catching some Sheepshead. It's nothing my two kids onboard could do.  So once in some  current, the first bait down caught the first Sheeps, for our Birthday boy.

But the "master plan?" To get a large Drum. Hopefully in the 10 pound category. And hopefully more than just one. Cooper had a time reeling in the 3-4 pound Sheepshead. And I wanted him to really get some angling experience, with a good large fish.

I could see, our planned 1/2 day charter just wasn't going to make that happen. We sat on a decent spot till the little current we had stopped with only the one Sheepshead in the box. Yeah, we had a few dinky Seabass and even a Toadfish. And again, "what are toadfish?" They're your tattle-tale fish that says, "I'm on the bottom of the food chain...go fish somewhere else!" So after a restroom break, I tried more clam baits on a spot or two hoping for just one more Sheepshead, as we eat a few sandwiches.

Clams. My experience has told me that clams, although a messy and delicate bait, that they are great Sheepshead baits, for the kids. The fish just suck them up! No feeling a bite. When the rod tip bobs, pick up the rod, feel the Sheeps move off, and set the hook. Usually, the fish will swallow the hook, they suck the Clam in so fast.  But you need a spot where the current is steady, and the fish are willing. We obviously had neither!

I was fed up. Our 1/2 day was here and gone and had just one Sheepshead in the box. Many guides I'm sure would have said, "Oh well....guess that's it?" and head to the dock. Collected the days pay check and went home to watch the Superbowl.

But, look at Cooper's face. How can ya say, "that's it,  to a kid like that?" We were all nine years old at one time. So, I made a run away from the 40 boats that were stacked up at the HUB since our arrival. Which is just too much pressure, too much noise, and too many fiddler crabs in the water.

We headed to the Jetties. 

It was SLICK DEAD CALM out at the inlet. I anchored up and instantly had good flowing current behind the boat. There was another boat a good distance away catching Drum atop the rocks. So, this was our redemption spot, I hoped.

The anchor line came tight, I baited up with my usual Drum bait of just dead shrimp and lobbed out to lines off the stern. We had CURRENT!! Running behind the boat!!

Oh my goodness, we may have a good chance at catching "targeted species".

One of the rods bobbed. I picked it up and felt the sand-bagging bite of a Black Drum. Set the hook and headed the rod to Cooper. It was a good battle for him. 

Most people not in the "know" think Drum are like a Redbass. They hit and run, bending the rod over and pulling the drag from the reel spool. Not usually. The bite is light. And they'll just hang on the hook. It's the difference between being a "grazer" type fish and a all out "predator" type fish. Drum, and especially Sheepshead are "grazers".

Cooper lead the fish to the net and we finally had a targeted species in the boat!

But not long after the current completely died, and the boat swung right out of the zone. The fish were biting. And now they weren't. So I tried to reposition, but that didn't work. I was willing to do whatever, except for loosing a $150 worth of anchor, chain and rode. I could easily see, that if we wanted current again where we sat, we'd have to sit out here till at least 5 or 6pm....but it was only 2:30.

Everyone was getting tired, especially Tara. Who was snug as a bug in a rug, up on the bow in her blanket.

All the last ditch efforts were made, while Dad Mark got a bite and it was a StingRay. Holy Moses, I haven't seen one of them since late October. Oh, the voodoo of the river is chasing us. So with our hard earned fish, we headed back to the dock.

A tough day is nothing but amplified for me, when I have Jr. Anglers aboard. I know they need constant action, and like adults want big fish. And I work as hard as I can trying to put together a  plan with the limited angling skills.

I was hoping for a nice 1/2 day like last Sunday with the "two Hubers". But it surely was different. And we even had a 4.0' tide both ways today.

Another four passenger trip coming up again, on Friday.
(crossed fingers)

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