Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shrimp Fest Puppy Drum

My daughter Ashley, her husband Nathan, and granddaughter Burgandy were in town today and through the weekend for Shrimp Fest. Nathan and I were able to get out on the water today, launching late after I took care of things on my to-do list. We picked up live shrimp at the Bait House, launched at the North end and headed to Tiger Island just as the tide peaked at high. We fished a half a dozen spots, using live shrimp under a float, live shrimp on a jig, and shrimp on the bottom, only to have a few nibbles. Eventually we headed out to the north jettie, anchored, and it wasn't long before Nathan felt a bump on his rod, had a hookup and a fight on his hands. The fish went up and down the length of the boat, showing itself once, and we thought we either had a sheepshead or drum. Nathan expertly worked the fish to the boat and we netted a nice 20"+ 4 lb Black Drum. We moved out from the jetties, dropped anchor, and fished on the bottom for whiting for a while, then headed in to take in the Shrimp Festival Parade. The weather was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, cool but not cold, with a slight breeze, a great day to be out on the water!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free Wooden Sailboat to a Good Home

Nan Kavanaugh wants a good home for this delightful wooden sailboat that is on a custom trailer. The boat and trailer are free to someone who wants a project and is good with woodworking. I've seen this boat up close and she has a lot of character. Here is a little history on her...The boat is named Little M. It was built as a sister boat to a large boat called the Margaret for a wealthy family who lived in New York. The builders, The Albury Brothers have been building boats for over 200 years on Man-o-War Cay in the Bahamas. They built the boat in 1951 by eye on the beach. Ms. Kavanaugh actually spoke to one of the Albury family who remembers their uncle working on it. She is a 23 ft sloop, gaff rig. Please contact Nan at for more information.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Winners Journal Finished

I finally finished the "Name the Boat" contest winner's journal. Bud Hill of Kings Ferry won the contest and selected a journal as his prize. This is the first journal that I've used a double loop lacing around the edges. The lace was a natural leather so I antiqued it. See more pieces at the GALLERY

Friday, April 23, 2010

How About some Local Oysters?

A recent article in our Fernandina Beach News Leader touched on a subject that I'm often asked about when guests are on my boat: Can you harvest the oysters for consumption? I've heard about the studies that have been done that point to "contamination" as the reason why we can't harvest our local oysters, but I've also talked to some folks in the commercial fishing industry and they've pointed to "politics" as the reason why our beds are closed. I bought oysters this year, ranging between $32 and $35 a bushell, well up from the $22/bushell a few years ago. My vote is to open up the oyster beds around Amelia Island to recreational oyster pickers! Read the News Leader article by Angela Daughtry HERE

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beautiful Weather and a "Slam"

Patton Kline was visiting the Island for a business trip and decided to squeeze in some fishing before his meetings started. We left the South end boat ramp at 7:30 this morning with very little wind and a nice cloud cover. Our first stop was the bridges at Sawpit Creek and even though Patton had a few hits at his red head jig and sparkle grub there were no real takers so we headed up to Jackstaff to take advantage of the incoming tide. We had trolled the bank for less than 50 yards with Patton pitching a jig/shrimp offering to the bank, bumping it back, and UMPH, FISH ON! Patton commented that the fish hit aggressively, then it hunkered down and put up a strong fight. The 10lb FINNS Windtamer braid held up as usual and Patton worked the 20" 3lb Redfish to the boat and the waiting net. We snapped a few pictures and then released it to the river. We eventually moved on to Broward Island and although the tide, wind, and time of day were almost perfect, we had no real bites. Coming back to Bubblegum Reef, we were soon anchored and it wasn't long before we were getting hits on the jig/shrimp combo and then Patton hooked up with a Seatrout. He found a "honey hole" at the bow of the boat and caught a few more Trout, a few Bluefish, and even had a Sheepshead chase the bait to the boat. We moved down the river, anchored and Patton completed his "Slam" with a stealthy Flounder that took a live shrimp under a float. We headed in around noon, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two Guys Fish'n and a Redfish Battle

I had the pleasure of meeting and fishing with Cy Gray this morning, and a beautiful one it was. We left the Fernandina Beach City Marina at 7:30am with only a few clouds in the sky, very little wind, and the temperature already over 60. We made a couple of stops, anchoring to fish the oyster beds and marsh grass with live shrimp under a float rig but had no real bites. We eventually ended up behind Tiger Island and with the land mass blocking the breeze that had picked up we had a great setting for our first fish, a nice Sea Trout. Cy had cast his float rig up near the bank and as soon as it hit it was taken under; he set the hook and reeled the fish to the boat and net. We moved on to Lanceford creek and tried some docks, picking up more Trout, fished the Rayonier warehouse, then moved on south of Rayonier, trolling the marsh grass, pitching the float rig to the shore line. We hooked up with something big that took the bait like it was out for Sunday brunch, slow and easy, but when it realized that it was hooked the fight was on! Cy played the fish beautifully, allowing it to run, ripping drag, enough that I thought I may need to chase it down, then up to the boat, and then it bulled away for another run. On about its third visit to the boat the big Red decided another tact and went under the boat, but Cy was ready and dipped the rod into the water deep until the fish came back out and kept the pressure on. We eventually netted the nice 26" 7lb Redfish, snapped some pictures, and watched it swim back to the deep when we released it. Cy commented that the fish may be out of the "slot" next year and may get to live a long and happy life! We headed to the dock, counting it as a great morning to be out on the water!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Superstition Doesn't Pay Off

I don't consider myself a superstitious person but from time to time I think to myself, "it can't hurt"! If I see a penny laying on the sidewalk I pick it up and put it in my pocket. If I'm wearing a hat that's "catching fish", I continue to wear it until it let's me down. So Friday when one of my guests had the "hot rod" and could do no wrong, catching fish when her parents vacated a spot, I knew that I'd be using that rod in Saturday's Redfish Spot Tourny! On my trip to pick the boat up, 4:30 in the morning, I saw the first shooting star that I've seen in years! All things good were lining up! I met my buddy Don Hughes, we checked out, launched the boat and made a run up the inter coastal to Amelia Island to fish our "spots". At our first stop we had bites, Bluefish, then I hooked up with something heavy and hugging the bottom. I sure hoped it was a Redfish, but it just wasn't running, staying on the bottom as much as it could, and when we got it to the boat, a Stingray! OUCH. We hit spot after spot, picking up a nice Flounder at one, Trout and Bluefish at others, but no Redfish! We fished right on up to 1:30pm, the latest that we figured we could get back to the weigh-in, then called it a day, a great one to be on the water, even though we had no fish to weigh in. Congratulations to the winners, good job!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Trout Explosion

It was still raining when I came over the bridge at 6:30am
this morning and the wind was blowing the forecasted 13 knots, if not more, so you can imagine my trepidation as I made my way to the bait shop. But as the sun came up you could see the clouds being pushed offshore by the west winds. I met my guests, the Arnetts, David and Kim, with their two girls, Abbey and Bethany, at the City Marina boat ramp at 7:30am, live shrimp in the bait well and a "plan" to beat the wind. With other captain's launching their boats, we headed for Lanceford Creek and the shelter of the adjacent land mass, making our first stop at one of the docks, with the first of an outgoing tide. I anchored up, baited float rigs and the whole family was fishing. Abbey had a few bites then hooked up with a nice keeper sized Trout. Kim joined in with another Trout and then Abbey pulled in another. They had more hookups and even let Bethany reel in a few. We eventually moved to another dock and caught more Trout, with Kim pulling in a 19" one and Abbey fighting to the boat a 20" Trout. David joined in with a Black Drum then Abbey caught a Flounder. A few Blues were picked up in between. It was becoming more and more evident that Abbey had the "hot rod" - she could cast to spots that the others had vacated and soon would have a hookup! We moved to another spot - another Trout. As we moved on, my intentions were to go in behind Tiger Island, but the wind was kicking up white caps in the river so we turned in to Eagans Creek, idled in a short ways and anchored on the last of the outgoing tide. Before long, all were catching Trout with David adding to the "keeper" list, and Abbey, Bethany and Kim catching a few more.
Then Kim had her float disappear and knew right off that this fish was different - it pulled stronger and held to the bottom. She fought the fish like a pro and eventually got it to the net, a Redfish, just shy of the 18" mark. It had 11 spots, a possible prize winning fish in next years Spot Tournament! After catching a few more trout, we headed in with approximately 25-30 hookups for the day, another great one to be out on the water!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Smorgasboard of Fish

I met Chad Hood and his son Alex at the southend ramp Tuesday afternoon with the tide a couple of hours short of high. We ran straight back to Broward Island where we had some good fishing earlier in the day and with the island blocking the SE wind that had picked up, we began fishing the bank, tossing live shrimp under a float up near the logs. Chad hooked up with a hard fighting Blue right off then as we got to the middle of the island I anchored up. Will got really accomplished at casting the bottom rig and in a short while had hooked up with a sneaky and hard to catch Sheepshead. We also had visitor, a Pilated Woodpecker that was pecking away at a dead pine tree searching for food. Chad continued to toss the shrimp/float combo and picked up a nice, fat, keeper sized Seatrout. With the tide peaking, we pulled and ran to Poteat Cut, anchoring at a creek run out, and fished it with the float rigs. Alex continued to toss the bottom rig and was rewarded with a large whiting. After another stop or two, we called it a day, another great one to be out on the water!

Big Red and Bigger Red

I fished with the Holloway family Tuesday morning, Sam and Keri, with their son Jack and daughter Caroline. Along on the trip was their friend Robert and his son Will. We left the South end ramp at 7:30am with not a cloud in the sky and only a slight breeze, just enough to keep the gnats off, and headed up Nassau River, stopping at "Bubblegum Reef", and anchoring. It wasn't long before Robert had hooked up with a hard fighting Blue, then Sam caught the bait-stealing thief, a Sheepshead. Jack joined in with a Stingray. We fished the docks at Seymore's Pointe where Keri picked up a nice Blue, then headed up river to Broward Island, hitting it just when the tide hit it's bottom. I started trolling the bank from the Southend and then anchored at a likely spot. Robert was casting Will's bottom rig up near the bank with a live shrimp as bait and as the tide started coming back in, Will hollered, "FISH" and he and Robert had a battle on their hands! They played the fish expertly and fought the fish to the boat, a 24" 5 1/2lb Redfish! Pictures were taken and the Red was released to be caught another day. We anchored at another likely spot and in a short while Sam hooked up on something big with a live shrimp under a float. The whole crew came alive as everyone realized that this fish was BIG. All eyes were peeled to catch a glimpse of the fish and Sam worked it patiently, bringing the fish to the waiting net that Robert manned, a 28", 7 3/4lb Redfish! We called it a day after that, noting that it was another great day to be out on the water!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Space Shuttles and Big Trout

As I was heading towards Amelia Island with the boat this morning I heard on the radio that a space shuttle would launch at 6:21am. The flag at Ron Anderson GMC was hanging limp with not even a breeze producing a ripple and when I approached the inter coastal bridge I had my eyes peeled to the south. Sure enough, right when I hit the foot of the bridge I picked up a large orange glow rising from the horizon, an awesome sight. If you heard a horn blowing and someone yelling, "Fly, Baby, Fly", that was me!

I met Mike Stanhope and his son, Bryce, at Atlantic Seafood later that morning and we headed over to Lanceford Creek on the last of an outgoing tide. Water temperatures have risen to 67-68 where we were fishing. Our first stop at a long and beautiful oyster bed produced no bites so we moved on to some of the docks in Lanceford. We anchored up just as the tide went slack and as it began to come back in, we started getting gentle bites. All of sudden one of those bites turned ferocious and we had a big trout on. Bryce played the fish expertly and eventually we netted a 20" Seatrout. We fished the dock for an hour with both anglers joining in on the action. Bryce hooked up and landed another 20" trout and Mike landed an 18" one, then they brought another keeper sized trout to the boat and a few undersized one. Mike was patient and allowed his float to drift up under the dock and soon hooked up with a hard fighting Redfish that we landed, photographed, and released. We hit a few more spots, had some "baitstealers", and then called it a morning..another great time out on the water!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Moons over Georgia

I had the pleasure of meeting and fishing with the O'Connell family yesterday afternoon: Pat and Robin, kids Ryan, Quintin, Courtney and Katherine visiting from Connecticut and taking in all the sights and experiences of Amelia Island. We ran to the mouth of Tiger Basin, anchored at a creek mouth and with four lines out it wasn't long before we had bites. Quintin was the first to hook up and had a good fight on his hands with an aggressive Blue fish. Mom grabbed the landing net and with superb teamwork, they landed the fish for a picture. Ryan was on the bow and soon proved to be the expert caster of the family as he dropped his float and bait near the shoreline. Just as I announced that we ought to move, Courtney yelled, "FISH ON" and it was pandemonium for a short while. With coaching coming from all corners of the boat, Courtney fought the fish and brought it to the net, a nice 18" Redfish! We snapped a few pictures and released "Mouthy" to be caught another day. We moved to a few more spots and eventually anchored in what I call "Snook Creek" (I caught a small snook there a few years ago). With the tide going out I expected some trout and we were rewarded when Katherine hooked up and reeled in a beautiful Seatrout, and promptly named it "Fishy". A break was in order so we did a short tour of Cumberland Island's Beach Creek in search of wild horses. Seeing none, a cruise down the coast produced the desired results and we broke out the binoculars to get a better view of a small herd. As the sun began to set and sightings of moons over Georgia, we called it day and headed in, counting it as a great day to be out on the water!

Their First Redfish(s)

I fished with Dan McPartland and his son, Conner Saturday morning. They were in town from Pennyslvania visiting Dans daughter whose husband just deployed on the submarine that we saw leave the area yesterday - what a coincidence! We fished a few exposed oyster beds on the first of an incoming tide, then tried a few docks in Lanceford Creek. At our third dock Dan hooked up with a hard fighting and feisty Redfish; he battled the fish for a few minutes and then handed the rod over to Conner so that he could get the feel of it. We landed the 18" Red, snapped a few pictures and then released it to be caught another day. After another stop or two we headed for Tiger Island and trolled the backside shore line, strewn with logs. The guys had a few nibbles then a aggresive hit on Connor's jig/shrimp combo and FISH ON! Conner played the fish perfectly to the boat and into the waiting net, a nice 17" Redfish! What a day of great fishing with some great guys!

Submarine and a Quick Start

I had the pleasure of fishing Friday with Barry Deming and his son, Brian, who were visiting from Ohio. We left the dock that afternoon with some nice sunshine and a brisk breeze, running to Tiger Island. We had the treat of seeing the procession of a submarine deploying along with it's tenders, gunboats and helicopters! We made our first stop at a creek mouth and while demonstrating how we hook up the live shrimp as bait I felt like I had a nibble on the 1st cast! We began a troll of the shoreline and in just a few minutes Brian had a nice trout on and into the boat! I thought to myself, "what a way to start a trip"! Both Brian and Barry were excellent anglers and their casting was dead on as we continued to hit spots around Tiger and up into the Jolley River. We had bites here and there and boated another Trout while enjoying the late afternoon sunshine, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Drumming in Nassau Sound

I had a day "off" so I got to go fishing with buddy Charlie Jones in his boat, the Tommyknocker. We had a bucket full of live blue crab and a pound of big fresh shrimp when we left the Holly Point boat ramp heading for the south end of Amelia Island. We ran through the sound, around the south end and up to the American Beach area to make our first drop in about 15' of water in the lake-like ocean. After about 45 minutes, no bites and the tide about to peak, we pulled anchor and ran back into Nassau Sound, up to the Middle Marsh area, again dropping anchor in about 15-20' of water. The tide had just started out and it wasn't long before we hooked up with a hard fighting 30lb Black Drum built with enough bull and stamina to make his Red cousin proud! But we had some serious tackle - a Penn 6500 on a stout rod with 25lb test line and a 40lb fluorocarbon test leader and after about a 10 minute battle, landed the fish and snapped this picture. We headed in with the sun headed down and only a slight breeze to our back, another great day to be out on the water!