Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hard Fought Fishin

I know folks who think of fishing in the winter time can only imagine bitter cold winds and nasty weather, but when Al Emerick, his son RC, his brother-in-law Joe, and friends Patrick and Kirby met me at the Goffinsville dock this morning it was just perfect weather. The sun was coming up and causing the marsh grass to glow gold, and as we turned the corner heading towards Horse Head a dolphin rolled in the water; the gulls and pelicans and cranes were out and all I heard was oohs and aahs- what a great way to spend time with friends during the holidays! First stop, after the customary round of hot cider, the guys all grabbed rods, some with topwater plugs and some with Cajun Thunder float rigs. We fished the oyster flats during the last of the incoming tide and then moved on to some creek run-outs. We fished "Poteat" cut, then the first stretch of Jackstaff. The guys were "game" and continued to cast and crack jokes and have a good time....but no real bites! I couldn't believe it! So we cranked the engine and ran through Jackstaff, around Seymour's Pt. and out to Broward Island. By this time the wind had picked up and fishing the downed trees and roots was made more difficult, but these anglers, as a buddy of mine says, "endeavored to persevere". RC lead the way and soon hooked up with a hard fighting Trout, then followed it with a frisky Redfish. Then Patrick got in on the action with a large Trout and Kirby followed it up with a Redfish. RC continued with the hot rod and wrapped up the day picking up another Redfish. Then the guys planned to head in to Fernandina for lunch and count it as another great day out on the water!

Have Oyster Roaster Will Travel

Carol and I "put on" an oyster roast the other day for a birthday party and everything went off without a hitch. This roaster is an outdoor firepit with a custom stainless steel grill that has an external ring with a inlaid "faux oak" wooden shelf. We dump the washed oysters on the grill and put the cover over it to roast them 'till they sizzle and are ready for opening. The shelf is handy to place the hot sauces, oyster knives, crackers and gloves. I also made my world famous "Gumbolaya", 20qt version, and the pot was scraped clean, good when it's hot!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cold day, Hot fishing

I fished today with Mark Laurint and his son Brent from the San Marco area of Jacksonville, Fl. When we launched the boat at Goffinsville boat ramp just before sunup, the temperature was still in the mid 30's, but it was clear and we had no wind. We "puttered" down Nassau River until we could see the crab traps then cruised through Jackstaff to troll the mouth with our live shrimp/jig combo (after a round of hot cider). We were using the Shimano Stradic 1000FH's on a light rod with FINS Windtamer 12lb Slate Green braided line. The line is tied to a 17lb test fluorocarbon leader using a Uni-to-Uni knot. The tide was low and had just started coming in; we had only made about 50 yards when we had a nice hookup and boated a undersized Redfish. We fished the stretch up then back and boated a slot sized Redfish and Brent reeled in a hard fighting Blue. After the second run we picked the trolling motor and headed to Seymour's Pointe, anchoring along the rocks. Mark hooked up with a couple of Redfish then we were off down the river. With the sun beginning to warm things up, we trolled the docks at Goffinsville, picking up a couple of small trout on jigs, then headed for Broward Island...and a bonanza. Our first cast of live shrimp under a Cajun Thunder float produced a Trout and then we picked up a couple of more Reds, one in the slot, then BOOM! Brent with a Redfish. Mark with a Redfish, Brent with a Redfish (and maybe another - we lost track). Most were just undersized but very aggresive and fun to catch. We ended up catching a few more trout to wrap up with (11) total Redfish, (6 1/2) total Trout, and (1) Bluefish, another beautiful day to be out on the water!

Newest Angler Arrives

My daughter Ashley and her husband Nathan Taylor of Holley Pointe, NC are the proud parents of Burgandy Elizabeth, born Saturday December 18th at 5:28pm. She was a "keeper" weighing in at 8lbs, 10oz. She's so beautiful and I'm really excited to meet her.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tough Conditions...but Fish On!

Although today's weather report called for highs in the 60's, sunshine and 7mph winds, Lowell Berry, his future wife Paula (tomorrow's wedding) and myself eventually figured out that weathermen aren't always right! It probably did get in the 60's but we only saw the sun peek through the low clouds once or twice and the wind was more like 10-15mph. Never the less, we gave it a good go, with Lowell and Paula working the shore line of Jackstaff with the jig/shrimp combo on a low and incoming tide. They only had a few nibbles so we moved around to Seymour's Pointe, anchored, and fished the rock line. It took awhile to get our float rigs positioned up near the rocks, but eventually we did and it wasn't long before Paula was battling a Slot-sized Redfish. She worked the fish to the boat and the waiting net for pictures and release. Shortly we had another Red on, this time taking the bait up near a grassy bank. In between stops we sipped on hot Apple Cider! Although we were leaving the windbreak of Seymour's Pointe, I wanted to give Broward Island a try so we pulled anchor and ran to the south end of Broward and began our troll back up river. With Lowell making good casts up between the downed trees it wasn't long before he had a hookup and worked to the boat a nice 11 spot Redfish. We had a few more bites as we trolled the shoreline, working in an out of the roots and trees. Paula had a nice, hard pulling hookup that quickly headed for a log, wrapped up, and broke off! That was a nice fish! (The big one that got away). As we passed the north end of the island and began to work the grass bank, Paula hooked up again, played the fish to the boat and Lowell netted it for a team effort. We called it a morning and headed back to the ramp, counting it as another great day out on the water!

The tide had gotten so high that I couldn't get my truck down to the ramp without dunkin it in water so with a livewell with a couple of dozen shrimp in it, what do you do? Go Fishing! I ran south down the intercoastal, into Gunnison Creek and anchored at the mouth of a runout. With three rods out, I eventually picked up 5 small Trout and 3 hard running Bluefish. If you want to take the kids out and catch some small trout, go on the first of an outgoing tide - they're out there.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winter Discount November through February

Once again I'm offering the "Winter Discount", November through February. This is $50 off the normal $350 half-day trip. Even if our North Florida temperatures start out in the high 30's or low 40's the day will usually warm up for a nice outing. It's actually a better time to be out on the water than those hot July and August trips. Just plan to wear a few layers and as the sun warms things up you can shed a layer. I usually have a hot cup of tea, coffee, or cider on board to help tide us over! If it's too windy we'll just cancel and try another day. Get away from it all and....let's go fishing!

Recipe of the Month: Roasted Corn Guacamole Dip

Hey, I know it's not seafood, but I've made this twice and it's gone over well. It's nice and fresh, healthy and quick. It came out of a Betty Crocker Apptetizer booklet...

1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and diced

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup pickled jalapeno slices, drained and diced

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 Teaspoons salt

Tortilla Chips

In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, cook corn over medium-high heat 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients (except chips) with fork, mashing avocados. Stir in corn. Serve with chips.

Project Boat coming along

I finished patching and sanding nicks and holes in the hull of the boat and have just started the first coat of paint. I've already purchase some stainless steel seat mounts and pin striping. The Starboard material is also in to make the bow mount and live well cover. There has been reports of shallow water fish fleeing our waterways in fear for their lives.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trout Mania

Bruce Hansen, his son Brent and Ken Graham were in town for the holiday and took in a fishing trip. We left the dock at Atlantic Seafood just as the sun had come up and ran up to Jolley River. It wasn't quite as windy as yesterday, but it was still cool to start the day off. We fished the shoreline with the tide still high, but going out, and picked up a few Trout with shrimp under a float. Later, we moved up the river to a big creek and picked up more Trout, then trolled the bank, catching Trout fairly regularly. As the water began to drop and the oysters began to show, a couple of the anglers switched to the jig/shrimp combo and caught Trout on those, too. The air was still cool and when I broke out some hot Apple Cider, all of us enjoyed the warm drink! The anglers really began to pick up the jig fishing and all caught fish. Although most of the Trout were small, we did boat a few keepers. Bruce eventually switched to a sinking lure and caught Trout on that, too. I never did keep count but I estimated we caught at least 20+ Trout and about 5 Blues during the day, another great day out on the water!

Holiday Fishing

I had Chip Watt, his son Hansell, and son-in-law Adrian fishing with me the day after Thanksgiving; they were visiting Amelia Island for the holidays. Although we had a very brisk wind and temperatures in the low 40's we looked forward to a day of fishing with a forecast sunny day. We left the south end boat ramp at 7:30am and ran up to the Horsehead area to begin our trip. After warming back up with a round of hot tea, we began to toss our trout floats to the bank, offering up live shrimp. The sun came up and we began to get some bites, boating a few Trout at our first stop. We moved over to Jackstaff creek, fishing an outgoing tide and picked up some more trout and a few Blues. We lost a nice flounder at boat side along the way. Moving around to Spanish Drop we picked up a few more Trout and then Hansell hooked up with a hard fighting fish and eventually boated a nice keeper sized Flounder. We wrapped it up with that and headed back to the house for some Thanksgiving leftovers, counting it as another, great day out on the water!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stood up... but I made the best of it!

With all the intentions of providing the best possible service to another welcome guest, I crawled out of bed at 4:45am, loaded the boat with the tackle, rods/reels, drinks and made my way to the Bait House, arriving shortly after 6am. I purchased 8 dozen frisky shrimp, some baitpump batteries and a bag of ice and was on my way, launching by quarter to 7. I got everything in order on the boat, traded stories with other anglers who were launching and waited, and waited, and waited. A NO SHOW. What kind of person sets up a fishing trip and doesn't have the courtesy to make a phone call to cancel? All I can say is they must not have been raised right! With 8 dozen shrimp in the live well and a beautiful sunny morning and time on your hands, what would you do? Go Fishing! As I was walking down to the parking lot (one last check for the "Guest") I saw some Redfish tails out in the flooded marsh so I hurried down to the boat, changed out a lure for a weedless jig, tipped it with shrimp and ran back up the board walk to cast at the feeding fish. I had no takers but my bad spirits were dissolved. I cranked the boat and ran up to the Horsehead area and started tossing a mullet colored Zara Spook. It wasn't long before the lure blew up and the fight was on and eventually a nice 21" Trout was in the boat. I worked my way around the flooded marsh grass, getting a few hits and eventually settled in near a point when the tide started out. I caught a few more Trout, a nice Blue and a hard fighting Bonnethead Shark. Moving to another shore line that I have never fished I picked up a few more Trout and then anchored up at a large run-out. The Trout were thick and a number of times I had 2 Trout on at the same time so I had to reel one in and then grab the other rod to get it in. Most of the fish were small but I did have a few "keeper" sized ones. The bite slowed so I headed to Jackstaff, rounding the corner to find my buddy Charlie Jones and his cousin Tommy Phiester (visiting from Oregon) I tied up with them for about an hour, watching them catch some really nice Blues on finger mullet, then I finished the day by trolling the bank, almost at low tide, tossing a jig/shimp. I picked up a small Redfish...and headed to the dock. I ended up with 27 Trout, a Blue, a Shark, and a small Redfish. What a great day of fishing!

From Boules to Fishing

Ron Richie and his son-in-law Alejandro Legandro were in town from Arizona participating in a Boules Tournament hosted by Amelia Island. They decided to stick around for an extra day and get in some great Amelia Island backcountry fishing. We had a beautiful clear morning with no wind as we set off from Atlantic Seafood with the high tide peaking at 8:11 am. Our first stop outside of Tiger Island didn't produce any bites on topwater lures so we moved on up to Jolley River, tossing live shrimp under floats. We trolled the marsh grass as the tide started out then stopped at a run out: the trout started biting and we boated about (8). We eventually moved on up the river trying a couple of spots, picking up a Blue, but nothing else. The tide was still very high, no oyster beds were showing yet; we headed back to the interior side of Tiger Island, trolled the loggy bank with Alejandro tossing a jig/shrimp rig. He had a good bite, paused, then set the hook on our first Flounder of the day. They picked up a couple of more Flounder then we noticed fish crashing the finger mullet along the bank so we moved along and got into some more Trout, this time larger. At one time we had a "double" with both anglers playing a fish. In addition to the great fishing, we were treated with a Bald Eagle sighting feeding on his fish catch. We ended the day with (14) Trout, (3) Flounder, and (3) Blues...another great day out on the water!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Anglers Mark Art

I've just completed some new pieces, just in time for Christmas shopping. Contact me to purchase or visit The Salty Feather at 2683 St. Johns Bluff Road, Jacksonville. Also see The Anglers Mark Art.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Amelia Island a favorite among travelers.

The 2009 Conde Nast Travelers' Readers Choice Awards named Amelia Island the No. 4 North American island to visit. In addition to great beaches, hotels, B&B's, shopping, restaurants and golf, you've got some great fishing!. Get away from it all and let's go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trout Tourney Results

Carol and I fished the Nassau Sportsfishing 23rd Annual Trout Tournament yesterday. It was a beautiful morning with the temperature around 56 degrees and a slight breeze. We picked up some live shrimp at the Bait House on north 14th street, launched at Dee Dee Bartels, and checked out around 6:30am. Being so close to Rayonier pulp mill we decided to fish the warehouse pilings while we were there...and had no bites. Our intent was to run south so we headed that way but when we rounded the pipeline we stopped to fish the shoreline and picked up (2) nice, but small trout. When Carol lost a hook on an oyster I then realized that I had forgotten to load the tackle! OUCH. We pulled up and ran back by the Bait House and picked up some hooks and jigs then crossed the river to fish Tiger Island. We were there for only a few minutes when Carol caught another small Trout and with another cast drifting across an oyster bed the battle was on. Eventually she worked the big fish to the boat and my net, boating a 23" Redfish. We have a legal Redfish in the boat and were catching Trout, albeit little ones and it's not even 9:00 yet so we've got a shot at the "Slam" entry in the Tournament, right? We moved around behind Tiger Island to get out of the wind that's picking up, fish the south end of the island and get no real bites. With Carol nodding off (I got her up at 4:30am), we pull anchor and run to the south end of the island, heading straight for Leon's Spanish Drop spot. The wind's whipping pretty good but we have sunny skies and we've shed most of our jackets and soon pick up another couple of small Trout then Carol hooks up with a hard running fish. We're hoping for a huge flounder but it makes some pretty strong runs, deep, then shallow and after a long fight we see the shark fin. It's a 3' Bonnethead. With the tide starting out around noon, we run to the mouth of Jackstaff, anchor up, and catch a couple more small Trout. Then I start a troll along the bank, heading up into the creek and we catch more small Trout and then UMPH, fish on! I play the fish on my light tackle, 10lb test rig and hope for a big flounder. I felt a number of head shakes initially and then change my guess to a BIG Trout. After what seemed like a 15 minute battle we get a glimpse of a large Redfish and eventually boat the 31" oversized fish. We quickly got a picture and released. We ended up catching more small Trout, ending up with a total of 14 for the day, 2 nice Redfish, a Blue, a Bonnethead Shark, and some pinfish, but no Trout to weigh in. We saw dolphin, Osprey's, Cranes, Pelicans, and other shore birds - a great day to be out on the water...and fishing!

Project Boat II

The "project" boat is coming along. I've filled and sanded any holes in the interior and shored up the motor mount area with 3/4" plywood fiberglassed to the the inside and 1/2" Starboard bolted through on the outside. The interior is painted and now I'm ready to flip the boat over and start on the outside. Creek fish are beginning to tremble.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Anglers Taking Advantage of Winter Discount

Once again I'm offering the "Winter Discount", November through February. This is $50 off the normal $350 half-day trip. Even if our North Florida temperatures start out in the high 30's or low 40's the days usually warm up for a nice outing. It's actually a better time to be out on the water than those hot July and August trips. Just plan to wear a few layers and as the sun warms things up you can shed a layer. I usually have a hot cup of tea, coffee, or cider on board to help tide us over! If it's too windy we'll just cancel and try another day. Get away from it all and....let's go fishing!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Florida - Georgia Slam

Hordes of Dawg fans decended on Amelia Island this week for tomorrows Florida/Georgia football game and those of us that live here get a "holiday" feeling and you know there's nothing better than a fishing trip with friends to kick off a holiday. I left the new Goffinsville boat ramp at daybreak with friends Don Hughes and Foy Maloy and ran to the Spanish Drop area of Nassau River. We had our rods rigged with topwater lures and also had a few rigged for shrimp under a float and with the sun just coming up we started a troll. There were a few clouds, a light breeze and the Marsh Hens were raising a ruckus as the sun came up. We didn't have any hits on the topwaters, but picked up a couple of nice Bonnethead Sharks so we cranked the Johnson and ran around to the mouth of Jackstaff. After trolling a short while we began to pick up Trout and Redfish, all on the shrimp under a float rig. I noticed that we had very little, if any Pinfish/Croaker nibblers that keep you busy; every now and then we'd have a hookup and it would be a Trout or Redfish. We worked the bank up and down with Don and Foy making pinpoint casts to the shoreline, catching about 6 Trout and 6 Reds with a couple of nice Blues thrown in. Finally, Foy rounded out the inshore "slam" by hooking up and netting a nice 19" Flounder. With the big game coming up tomorrow, this turned out to be another great day to be out on the water!

Monday, October 26, 2009

23rd Annual Trout Tournament

The Nassau Sport Fishing Association has set the date for their Annual Trout Tournament benefiting the Big Brother and Big Sisters organization. A Captains meeting will be held at Tiger Point Marina on November 6, 2009 at 6:30pm. Check out at Fernandina Harbour Marina will start Saturday November 7th at 6:00am. Weigh in will be at Tiger Point Marina. Weigh in line opens at 3:00pm and closes at 4:30pm. Entry fee is $120 per boat with checks made payable to N.S.F.A. There will be an awards dinner at 7:00pm Saturday November 7th at Tiger Point Marina. There are first prizes for Largest Trout, Aggregate (3 trout) and Slam (Redfish, Trout, and Flounder). Prizes will also be awarded for 2nd and 3rd place in each category. Register at Atlantic Seafood, The Bait House, Amelia Bait and Tackle, Leaders and Sinkers, and at the Captain's Meeting.

Recipe of The Month: Roasted Seatrout with Bruschetta

This recipe comes from the Florida Times Union, who got it from "The Best of Relish Cookbook".

16 oz of Seatrout 6 Tbsp Olive oil

1/4 tsp Sea Salt Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1 Lb Grape Tomatoes, halved 1/2 Cup red onion finely diced

1 Tsp sugar 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

4 thick Italian ( or one long roll) 1/2 Cup shredded basil leaves

3 large cloves garlic crushed, divided

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a sided baking sheet with nonstick spray and place fish on sheet. In a small bowl, stir together 3 Tbsp of the olive oil, 1 crushed garlic clove, the salt and pepper. Using half this mixture, brush over the fish.

Place the fish in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes or until tender and opaque.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, remaining garlic cloves and sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in parsley. Keep the mixture warm.

Remove the fish from the oven. Brush some olive oil on bread and bake in oven for 3 minutes or until slightly toasted. Place bread slices on each plate and top with some tomato mixture. Place fish on top of mixture and then add some more tomato mixture and shredded basil leaves.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Project Boat

This 15" Waterbug boat was built by B & W plastics in Brooklet, Georgia - probably in the 80's. It was my dad's boat, who sold it to my buddy, Charlie, who eventually gave it back to us. I told him I'd fix it up and we'd all use it for some shallow water and creek fishing. This is the boat that I borrowed from my dad when I first started fly fishing in Lofton Creek, Boggy Creek and the little St. Mary's River. One day while fishing for bream in Lofton Creek with a fly rod and popping bug I made a cast a little too long and hung the bug up in a overhanging brier. I eased the boat's bow up to the creek bank and reached out to retrieve the popping bug. At the last minute I saw a big 'ol fat Water Moccasin start moving and slither down the bank, alongside the bow of the boat, and into the water. As the snake went by the boat all I could envision was it coming right into the bow where I was I started dancing trying to get my feet up off the floor of the boat...and in a split second the serpent slipped into the water and disappeared! I'm glad nobody was watching! Anyway, I've replaced the wheel bearings, wheels, and springs on the trailer and have removed any "loose" stuff. The stern has a crack or two so I'm in the process of repairing those and attaching a new motor mount. Then my plan is to patch some holes on the interior of the boat, sand and paint. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Family Affair.....

....with a little bit of sibling rivalry thrown in! Brothers Mike Craig, Steve Leary and sister Loretta Hayes, along with Mike's son David met me at the boat ramp bright and early Sunday morning for Mike's birthday fishing trip. Although we launched from Atlantic Seafood, we decided to run south to the Horsehead area and I'm glad we did. Pulling into the mouth of Jackstaff, it wasn't long before we began to hook up with Mike catching a Bonnethead then David boating a Seatrout. Then all heck broke lose with everyone joining in catching Red after Red after Red. They were all in the 15"-17" range but they were very aggressive and put up some good battles on the light tackle gear. David did hook up with a drag-ripping fish that first headed down river, then up...and kept going, snapping the line and gone for good! We tried a couple of more spots in Jackstaff with Loretta catching a Flounder, David another Trout and then Mike had another Red. We ran to Broward Island where the anglers picked up a Puppy Drum and Snapper. This was a beautiful day with a light breeze that made the unusual October heat tolerable.

Hot Fall Fishing

I fished Saturday with Josh and Molly Frederickson, along with Emily Buck, all in from New England visiting Amelia Islanders. We left Atlantic Seafood early with a full baitwell, headed up to Jolley River and unlimbered our spinning gear with the shrimp and jig combo. We immediately began to pick up bites with Molly boating a couple of Seatrout and Emily joining in with some Croaker. We moved on up the river where Josh hooked up with a 3'+ Bonnethead shark that gave him a battle - one that Josh eventually won when we netted the fish for pictures. We caught a couple of "Rat Reds" then ran back to the front side of Tiger Island. Emily had bite after bite from "nibblers" while Molly hooked up twice with something big - the last looked like a flounder before we lost it at boat side. We toured Cumberland Island and saw a couple of wild horses and then ended the trip by cruising historic Fort Clinch.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Redfish Feeding Frenzy

I fished with Cpt. David Black of Maryland and John Angus of Fernandina Beach this morning. We left the Talbot Island boat ramp at 7:30 am with a livewell of live shrimp and a handful of finger mullet and ran up the intercoastal to the mouth of Jackstaff in the Horsehead area. I began the troll just out from the mouth and by the time we reached the pointe David had a strong hookup and run; the fight was on! David played the fish expertly - we all guessed a shark by the way it was hunkered down on the bottom - but eventually it broke off. However it wasn't long before he was hooked up with a hungry Redfish and worked it in to the boat. John had been tossing a topwater, but switched to the same jig/shrimp Combo that David was using and he too began to get hookups. At one time he had a hookup, lost it, David hooked up, then John hooked up again! These reds were hungry! We worked the same bank for an hour and a half with John tying in to a hungry, hard fighting Redfish that kept us busy for a while. Eventually the fish was netted, measured, weighed and released - a 31", 11lb Big Red! All told, they boated about 7-8 Reds along that bank. We ran to Broward Island, fought the current, ran to "Bubblegum Reef", had a few nibblers with David catching a Snapper, then called it a morning...a great one, at that!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Flounder Pounder

If you can imagine an early morning, sun just coming up over Fort Clinch and the Atlantic Ocean, air temperature cool, just below 70 and just the slightest of breeze - the marsh water is almost "lake like", and two anglers quietly tossing topwater lures to the flooded grass line and Seatrout striking, striking, striking, FISH ON....then you'd know how the morning started today. Brothers Dennis and John Mahar hit the backcountry with me this morning and brought an arsenal of fishing gear to compliment what I had on board. We threw everything at them: topwater plugs, sinking flies on 7w rods, jigs and shrimp and shrimp under floats. Dennis, President of Gainesville's North Florida Fly Fishing Club, was persistent with the flyrod and eventually hooked up with a hard fighting Ladyfish; both guys switched to different tackle as the conditions changed. They ended up boating 6-7 Trout, the Ladyfish, and a Snapper. We ended the day behind Tiger Island where John hooked up and reeled in a nice 17" Flounder. We thought that was a fairly good catch until he then felt a strong, rod bending pull and the fight was on! Playing the fish like an expert, John worked the fish to the surface and into the waiting net...a 8lb, 27" Flounder! Boy what a fish! As always, another great day out on the water!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Tailing Redfish

There are good "Tailing Redfish" tides early morning October 17 (Saturday), October 18 (Sunday), October 19 (Monday) and October 20 (Tuesday). We had a great time in September chasing the tails around the grass flats - give me a call and we'll set a trip up.

Topwater Duo

Andy Dillard of Fernandina Beach, Florida and his brother Terry Dillard of Waycross, Georgia wanted to get in some topwater plug fishing so we left the dock early this morning with the express intent of hitting a grass line quick! The high tide peaked at 7:15am and when we reached our first spot the tide was already going out. Andy, throwing a white w/red head plug and Terry throwing an all-white plug were making pinpoint casts to the grass line and began to pick up "hits". They caught a couple of trout and Andy hooked up with a hard fighting Blue that had some "umph" to him. We ran around to Jolley River, again throwing the topwaters and had more hits and then another nice sized, fighting mad, Blue. Terry switched to a live shrimp under a float and his first two casts produced bites and eventually trout. We tried a couple of more spots and ended up anchored at the MOA where Terry had a line ripping bite that took him for a tour around the boat - a few times -and after expertly working the fish to the boat - we netted a 3'+ Bonnethead Shark - that gnawed another hole in my net (this net has made it through the summer shark bite having been patched about 4-5 times). We fished the docks at Bell River, the mouth of Lanceford Creek, and then trolled Lanceford oyster beds where Terry picked up a nice Redfish. The wind was blowing 10-15mph but the sun was out on our first cool day of the year so we counted it as....another great day out on the water!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Little Critters

I fished with Leon Freeman yesterday afternoon and evening. The tide was high at around 3:15pm when we left the new Goffinsville boat ramp. We ran to the mouth of Jackstaff and fished the grass edge with our live shrimp under a float and picked up a few bites of small Trout, Jacks, and Ladyfish. Although we were getting a few "nibbles" now and then we decided to try our luck at another spot so we pulled up and ran to "Spanish Drop" and anchored just off of two creek run-outs. Leon's first two casts produced fish, an undersized Redfish and a keeper sized Trout. We fished the creek mouths the remainder of the afternoon, catching about 12 of the "rat" Reds and 6-8 more Trout, all undersized, with a few Ladyfish mixed in. Most were caught on live shrimp but a few were caught on Gulps, rootbeer paddle tails, on a jig. I tried some topwater lures and sinking lures but had no takers. Although the fish were small, the action was constant and we counted it as another great day out on the water!

Friday, September 18, 2009

High Tides and Tailing Reds

Mark Laurint from Jacksonville and I planned to do some "Tailin Red" stalking this morning so we got the day started bright and early - OK, maybe not so bright, but early! We launched from the North end as the sun was coming up and ran around to the Tiger Island entrance, threw some topwater plugs and picked up a couple of small trout. Then we eased the boat up to the flooded grass and fairly quickly saw a cruising Redfish, and boy he was booking it across a grass flat, with no time to stop and feed! We moved around behind Tiger Island and nosed the bow of the boat on to a grass flat and began to see tails pop up. Mark and I both eased over the side of the boat and waded out to make our casts; Mark made some good casts, putting his weedless jig right in front of a large feeding Red: it rolled and boiled on the bait but didn't bite. I chased a couple but never really had a shot at one. We returned to the boat, moved up the river and tried a few more spots, eventually trolling up a small creek through the marsh and to a lake-like flat with visible Redfish wakes cruising through it. I switched to a topwater plug to get some distance and seeing a wake, cast the plug and another "roll and boil" - but no bite. We made one more stop as the tide was going out and found another Red and some Sheepshead tailing, but no bites. We had brought a few dozen live shrimp with us and with a run up to Jolley River and a few casts with a float rig, Mark picked up a nice fat Trout. He then had something take his live shrimp and rip line off his reel heading up-river. Mark fought the fish beautifully but the fish must have got over in in the hidden oyster beds and cut himself off. We caught a few more trout before heading in for the day, another great day out on the water!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recipe of the Month: Shrimp Au Gratin

This recipe is by Billie Hart, published in Fernandina's Centre St.Cookery Cookbook:

3/4lb fresh shrimp 1/2 tsp salt

3 Tblsps chopped onion 1/4 tsp dried mustard

1/3 cup choppped celery 1/8 tsp black pepper

3 Tbsps butter 1 can chopped water chestnuts

1/4 cup flour (1) and 1/2 Cup milk

1 Cup grated cheese 1 Tbsps butter

1/4 cup dry bread crumbes 1 tsp Konriko seasoning

Toss the shrimp in Konriko and cook in (1) Tbsps butter, drain and cut shrimp in half. Cook onion and celery in butter until tender. Blend in flour and seasonings. Add milk, gradually and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add 3/4 cup of grated or shredded cheese and heat until melted. Stir in shrimp and water chestnuts. (We were out of water chestnuts so we used pine nuts). Pour into a 9x10 greased casserole dish. Combine a Tbsps of melted butter with remaining cheese and bread crumbs and sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake at 400 degree for 10 minutes or until brown.

Doormat Flounder Caught

Amelia Island angler Patrick Devlin reported catching this massive Flounder on Labor Day. He was fishing near Eagans Creek on a high, outgoing tide when this "doormat" took his live shrimp under a float rig and the fight was on! Once boated, the fish was weighed in at 10.3lbs and was measured to be 28". Nice fish Patrick!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Topwater Action

My daughter Ashley and Son-in-Law Nathan Taylor (USMC) were in town for a week and with only a day left in their visit, we finally got Nathan out on the water. We left the north end boat ramp early with a live well full of shrimp but with the overcast skies I had planned ahead with a couple of rods rigged for topwater Spook Jr's. We ran to Tiger Island where the fishing was hot on Sunday evening, dropped the trolling motor and began to ease along the grass line. The tide had just started out and after a few casts we began to have strikes on the lures and boated 8-10 Seatrout, Jacks and Ladyfish. It seemed the All-Pearl colored version was getting most of the strikes. As the bite slowed down, I turned the boat operation over to Nathan and he ran us up to the Jolley River where we eventually anchored at a small creek and picked up some more Trout and Ladyfish. We again ran further up the river and anchored in the mouth of larger creek with more action on our float rigs. Our last stop was back at Tiger Island with the island blocking the brisk wind, but we switched to the jig and shrimp combo to pitch up near the logs and stumps. This turned out to be productive as we boated a slot sized Redfish and a keeper sized Flounder along with Croaker and more Croaker. The storm clouds were rolling in so we pulled up the trollling motor and ran to the ramp..another great day of fishing!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tailing Redfish

Don't forget...September 18, 19, 20, and 21st have some great high tides in the morning, a perfect time to hunt those tailing Redfish. The air temperature should be just right! I've got some openings so give me a call and we'll set it up. Plan to wear some old shoes 'cause we may be out stalking them in the grass!

Fishing with the manatees

With the idea to squeeze in one more fishing trip during the weekend, Carol, myself and Hugh John McDonald launched the boat Sunday afternoon at the north end ramp with a few hours of sunlight left. As we boarded the boat, friends Don and Sue Hughes pulled up in their boat and let us know that a "herd" of manatee were at the mouth of Tiger Island. We cruised over, dropped the trolling motor and eased up into a creek and Carol immediately spotted manatee boils and snouts. We drifted out of the creek with the meandering manatee and as Carol snapped pictures, Hugh John and I noticed that fish were feeding on bait as the high water left the grass. We baited our hooks with live shrimp dangling under a float and began casting. The Sea Trout bite was on with trout after trout boated and released with a few Jacks, Lady Fish and "baitstealers" mixed in. I eventually hooked up with a fish that I immediately knew wasn't a feeding trout and the fight was on. My braided line and fluorocarbon leader held and the fish was reeled to the boat and to Carols waiting net - a 29" Redfish! We snapped a couple of pictures then got our bait back into the water and caught trout after trout after trout. With most of them undersized and the sun get closer to the horizon we decided to pull anchor and run to Jolley River. It wasn't but one cast after anchoring when Hugh John's float went under and Trout ON!
He expertly worked the fish in and we knew we were in to some bigger fish. His next two casts produced fish and soon Carol and I joined him, jockying for position to get our casts in. In addition to trout we picked up a few rat Reds and had non-stop bites and action until the sun went down, catching approximately 30 fish for the few hours we were out. With lightning crackling on the horizon we pulled anchor and left 'em biting, another great day on the water!

Fishing Trip for Football Tickets

With the college football season about to kick off I thought that I'd mention that I'd be willing to trade a 1/2 day fishing trip for 1-3 anglers for TWO Florida/Georgia tickets. I'll provide all the bait, tackle, rods, reels and fishing licenses for the anglers....all you need is a hat and sunglasses. Let me know and we'll set it up. You can plan to fish while you're here for the game or I'll produce a gift certificate for use at a later time.

BIG Trout, BIG Redfish, BIG Sheepshead

Friday Carol I fished with Denise and Bill Sweeney (from Waldorf, Maryland) along with Hugh John McDonald (from Hermosa Beach,CA). After launching from Sawpit Creek early AM we were chased south by a rain storm; it passed and we immediatley ran to the mouth of Jackstaff and in no time had a double hook up with Hugh John reeling in a small Bonnethead then Denise fighting to the boat a nice, fat 23" 4lb Sea Trout. The way it was bending the rod I first guessed a Redfish, but it soon rolled at the boat and we saw all of the spots. My "first mate" Carol did a superb job of netting the fish and from then on the fishing got better. Denise had the hot rod early and boated shark after shark, then Hugh John joined in with a feisty Jack Crevalle and Denise countered with a hard pulling Sailcat then Hugh John hooked up and valiantly fought an epic battle to boat a large, 5' Bonnethead. When Denise hooked up again and I heard the drag ripping I guessed wrong again, thinking Shark, but when it rolled up at the bank and we all saw the reddish tinge we knew she had on a huge Redfish. She fought the fish expertly to Carol's waiting net and when measured, turned out to be a 30", 10lb Redfish! Pictures were taken and the beautiful fish was released to swim away. A little later Bill joined in on the action to have something big take his jig/shrimp combo and head to the ocean, outrunning the trolling motor, spooling the reel and snapping the leader. We pulled up and ran to Broward island on an incoming tide where Bill continued with the hot rod by snagging the Bait Stealing Bandit - a fat Sheepshead. We ended the day with a few more fish being caught all (small Reds and Trout) then headed in as the sun got hot, another great day of fishing!