The St. Johns River looks like a mud hole, with water in it.
-Two Tropical Storms
-Incessant East winds every day
-Enough Rain to choke every tributary
With that said. We departed at 7am and I headed straight to the jetties. Off the south tip, there was every Pogie in the county. Guess they got washed outa the river. They were from the bottom to the top of the water. Why I cast-netted some, is beyond me. Hopeful thinking I guess and a habit. I dropped the net over the side and instantly it swam away with 500 Pogies in the net. I only wanted a dozen!
I anchored up just off tthe south tip. The ground swell was still rolling in and the river current was extreme. The nasty brown water was ripping out the inlet. But we baited up with just dead shrimp at first, and on the initial drop to the bottom was a 13" Yellowmouth Trout. Pat and Brett dropped over the side and came up with yellowmouth and Whiting.
I thought........"we're in the meat!"
But that's where it ended.
Every bite after that was Sail Cats, Saltwater Catfish! Yep, when the water's nasty, and after every storm. The Catfish show up in droves. Carpeting the bottom. Reminded me of fishing in St. Augustine. Because that's one area that has too many Sail Cats.
BUT any day now it could change. Here's a story from years ago:
You'd have to be around for quite awhile to remember this from years ago. But I remember a mid summer storm, where the week afterwards had the Black Drum and monster Croakers, piled up at the end of the jetties. Boats would be anchored so close that if a fish ran and popped to the surface, someone in another boat could net your fish for ya!
It was EPIC. Limits of nice Drum in minutes. I know 1/2 of the Jax fisherman, didn't attend thier own JOBS, that week. Cause it was crazy out there. Here's a pic of myself and Capt. Roger Walker (Past President of the Jax Offshore fishing club) With our Drum limit and also 65 big Croakers he took to the Fire station where he worked.
But....that was a long time ago. Maybe, just maybe in a few weeks something like this will happen.
Back to Brett, Pat and myself. I moved around the south tip area trying to get on somekind of decent fish bite besides the "kittycats". But that never happened. The guys didn't understand the magnitude of what kind of effect all this has on a fragile river and wanted to go catch Speckled Trout.
I told them a week ago we had one 4 pounder. But we'll go try. So after a few more futile bottom fishing attempts we found soft enough current to actually drift a float out. We fished small Pogies and Live shrimp on the float-rigs, and the only fish caught was a JACK.
Can ya believe that? A Jack Cravelle! Haven't seen these in at least 2 maybe 3 years. Sure we've caught 6" ones up in the river. But it's been years since we've caught a decent sized one.
(Remember my article? "Jacks, your lost but not forgottten" I did a few months ago. )
Well, Brett caught this one. Yes, O-N-E!
Compared to a 6" mini Jack. This one was big.
We had a few more bites. But it wasn't like we were catching targeted species (Trout) so we moved on and hit aother spot.
The next spot we never lost a bait and by now it was REALLY HOT. The guys could see this was gonna be a genuine struggle. And they decided to go back to thier hotel downtown cool off and call it a day, at 1:00pm.
So I blasted back to the dock and bid them farewell. And decided to head out solo.
I went back to the jetties. The tide was struggling to flood in. The current on top was eastbound. The current on the bottom was westbound. I anchored on the inside of the North rocks and pitched out a shrimp. Never had a sniff.
But, now it was mullet running into my line. Millions of big mullet were rounding the north tip. From top to bottom, it's been along time since I've seen the mullet so thick. And no worries....no predators to eat them, except maybe Dolphins.
We always seem to have more baitfish in the summer than actual fish. I never understood that.
So it was a waste of time out along the rocks so I came in and run to Whiteshell. Tossed a float-rig in between a gap in the submerged rocks and caught 5 Jacks. Wow, Jacks again. But as fast as I caught them they were gone.
By now it felt like 100 degrees. No breeze, and hot sun. Just in time for 4th of July week. After all this I conceded and headed home.