Monday, September 26, 2011

9/23-9/25 THREE DAYS:

After three days in a row, as the New Moon Tides build. That St. Johns River, never ceases to amaze me. Between the tidal current, the commercial traffic, and all the BS rules. There couldn't be anywhere in the state of Florida more challenging, then fishing here. At least that's my perspective after 28 years, of which half is, guiding.

Probably the most interesting, or frustrating thing depending on who you are is how hard it was to get a livewell full of small finger mullet for bait on Friday and Saturday. Wanting to have them, under the assumption that this is the best way to stay away from all the bait stealing little fish, and/ or hungry Croakers. It took hours to get enough finger mullet Friday and Saturday morning.

Had James C. out solo with me on Friday. Which out of the last three days, was the most normal tide wise. I guess the theme of the day could have been labeled........"Yes, practice makes perfect."  James had one heck of a day. And after a while of finding our Mojo, both he and I worked hard under dark skies, with bands of  black with water spout funnels poking toward the ground. Who knows what the barometer was reading, as the clouds threatened rain all day, but held out till I got home.

James had some big fish on. And James had some big fish come off.

To make a long story short........James had the largest Flounder hooked up, and on the surface from 32 feet of water, that has been hooked on my boat in the last ten years.

It was "CONSERVATIVELY" 8 pounds! If not more. Larger than my net, and as big around as my livewells in my boat. It was a true DOORMAT! And near the net three times, before it broke the line and took off back to the depths.  At least we got to see it. Or maybe it would have been better if neither of us got to see it.

A few big Reds handed James his butt, as we were into "double-headers", as the tide finally slacked off.

Here's what made it to the boat......all the Reds ate those live Mullet, and all were too big to keep.
James did get this nice Flounder, which yielded some nice fillets, along with some other fish.
The last time James fished, was almost 5 years ago.  On his first Capt Dave charter. Back when the Jettywolf was still "shiney". I hope James doesn't wait 5 more years. We had fun together, even though it was frustrating at times.

Then came Saturday........the most frustrating day I have had in a L-O-N-G time. I had Bill and his daughter Margaret on board. Again, we spent the morning hunting finger Mullet. Finally getting enough as the tide fell from various locales. I started south of the Dames Point on a small obscure rock pile. With plans of using just the small mullet, for Reds and Flounder fishing. No BS'in around with Croakers. Jus' dabbing around with the live mullet.........."How could ya go wrong, doing that?"

Well, it can go REALLY WRONG!

When, fishing the hard earned Mullet, produces NO BITES!

The first spot, Bill catches a small Gag Grouper on his mullet. Margaret sits bite-less. Bill get's a few more bites, but no connections with anything worth a damn. This spot, in the past has produced some nice trout for me. But today, I was thinking possible Flounder and Redbass. I give it all the time I can stand...and we move on. Three places later, we're still "dabbing" Mullet around structure, and no Reds, or Flounder.  

The last spot of the day. The same exact spot that we had double-headers of Redbass on yesterday, and lost a "door-mat" Flounder.  
Hardly a bite. But Bill does pull out two decent Flounder for dinner.
Frustated, but not totally surprised.......we pack it in and head back to the dock.

Sunday, I have a group of four aboard the Jettywolf.  Oh, that falling tide was a screamer!!!!!!  We didn't even depart till 9am. Because the last thing I wanted to do is head out with 4 guys and have to wait on falling tide for hours. After the water started to move, we tried along the river channel for the big Redbass in 40 something foot of water. In no time at all I was up to an 8 ounce sinker and it would barely hold bottom, with a small finger mullet as bait.

But of course we were instantly hooked up! Everyone was excited, BUT ME!  Hoping for a giant Redbass, but I knew it was a giant "polish Flounder". A alien hover-craft. A Steve Erwin, killer fish. A STINGRAY! 

More than once I thought the rod was going to explode in someones face. And there's only one thing I hate more than replacing a lost anchor........and that's replacing a broke rod!!

So, after everyone aboard taking my word for it, we finally got the Stingray to the boat and broke it off. Remember, 8 ounces of lead wouldn't stay on the bottom. And 8 ounces is my "give" point. I will not fish current any stronger......and yes, it was gonna get stronger even.

So I pulled anchor and we went and jus' plain fished. Tossing mullet out the back of the boat as everyone baited up with some shrimp and caught one Croaker after another. In a some what calmer current. The mullet got chomped by one Bluefish after another, and the guys caught Croakers that were so thick, that all ya practically had to do is drop your bait down hit the bottom and set the hook.

We had to do something......and let this screaming falling tide do it's thing and as the tide got lower, it would eventually slow down enough so we could fish for the big reds. Which is what the guys wanted to do.

I kept some Croakers, Yellowmouth Trout, and Whiting. I'LL EAT 'EM! I like small thin frying pan fillets.

The tide soon gave out on where we were, and so did the Croaker bites and 4 pounds of shrimp. So we headed back towards Mayport. Stopped on a spot, where NO one was anchored up.

Boats attract boats. It's a simple rule of river fishing. I'd just as soon fish far away from the crowds, and get on my own spot.
And that's just what we did.

The current allowed us to fish 8 held. With big steaks of fresh cut Mullet on a 7/0 circle hook. The first bait out got hit in about 5 minutes!

The current, against a rookie fisherman, up against a giant fish. And a 7' Ugly Stik "catfish series" Medium heavy rod. HOLY CRAP. Will it all stay together????    

Chris works what we think is a good sized Brutus T. Redbass to the boat. His arms are wearing out, he's being coached by 3 guys and one 8 eight year old. It was mayhem!
NOTICE, the bow in the rod?  It got worse than that!!
Ties, Erica Jenning's 46 pounder back in June. Being the (2) largest Redbass of 2011.

(yes, weighed on a calibrated 100 pound scale)

Okay, they're here!
Next fish, a "teen-ager".......about 16 pounds, comes off at boatside.
(touched leader. So it was a caught fish, just not a photographed fish.....)

Next bite....
A 33 pounder.... 

Then, it was our Jr. Anglers turn. The tide is slowing finally, we catch another stingray, but it was a micro-version.
Then, another teen-ager. A Redbass in the teen weight size.
Dad's assisting...but the 40 pound mono leader pops at the knot!! So we don't get to see the fish.
(and you can bet I ain't using 40# mono any more.)

The tide falls off completely. We just fished the entire tide, today. So we headed back to the dock.
I bid the guys farewell and then I clean 10 Croakers a yellowmouth trout, and a Whiting. Feed my bird buddies, and head home totally wore out from these three days. With each day TOTALLY different from the next.

I only wish to someday fish an area where I can count on at least one day being similar to the day before.

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