Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pick'n Up One Here and There

We fished an afternoon trip yesterday, meeting down at the south end ramp at 1pm with a tide that was about to hit bottom. I met George Youmans and his buddy William and we made the long run around to Broward Island on the Nassau. When we got there the SW wind was still pushing the water out but it was really low so we began to toss jigs and live shrimp and minnows up to the bank.  I don't think we got a real bite until the tide changed, but when it did, these two anglers picked up some fish. We didn't count the Toad fish as "skunk off the boat" but George's Seatrout sure counted! We worked up
and down the bank and caught a small Red or two, a small Sheepshead,  then William put a nice sized Seatrout in the boat -keeper size - but all fish caught today were released.

Our next stop was back at some docks at Seymore's Pointe, pitching up to the dock pilings with jigs. The two anglers landed a couple of Croaker, a couple of Black "puppy" Drum and another small Redfish. We worked some oyster beds in the Nassau then came back to fish some rocks at Seymore's Pointe, here fishing a float rig.  George was working the float good and soon hooked up with what I thought was going to be our first big Mangrove Snapper of the year. When his drag began to rip, I thought surely it was just loose, but it turned out that this was a bigger fish! George worked it patiently to the boat and landed a Slot sized 22" Redfish!

We ran thru Horse head, fished the "bank" with float rigs to wrap things up. William tangles with a high flying Ladyfish and George put a couple of more Trout in the boat. Even though it was in the middle of Summer and in the middle of the day, we caught fish, and we weren't working! So we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Plethora of Fish

We had a pretty day that greeted us this morning when I met Drenner Tinsley and his adult sons Miles and Blake down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. There was a slight breeze blowing as we headed up the intercoastal with plans to dip into Jackstaff and then further up a creek. The three anglers started out tossing float rigs and live shrimp and mud minnows to some large marsh outflows on a tide that had been going out for a couple of hours already. I don't think we had a nibble at that first spot so we moved across the creek and fished a marsh line. Drenner stayed with the float off the stern
while Blake and Miles began to fish jigs off the stern and we may have had a nibble or two then Blake hooked up and "knocked the skunk off" when he landed a fat Seatrout.

We crossed over to a submerged sandbar with all three anglers tossing jigs and it wasn't long before both Blake and Miles had hookups - we had a double!  Blake reeled in a feisty Redfish while Miles landed another Seatrout.

After running thru Horshead we made a stop at a likely dock and
here the action picked up.  Drenner got on the board when he landed a couple of Black "puppy" Drum then he put some rather large Croaker in the boat. Miles added a Drum then Drenner put a wayward Seabass in the boat.

We made a brief jaunt down to Broward Island. Miles hooked up with another Seatrout on his first cast - it hit just as his bait hit the bottom, but he wind was picking up, the current was still strong, and the fishing was really difficult. So we ran back to Seymore's Pointe and out of the wind and finished up when Miles caught a Flounder. We had a good variety of fish caught so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

First Fish Oversized!

We squeezed in a late afternoon trip yesterday, Mike DuBartell and I, meeting down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. At the time, we had partly cloudy skies and still some serious heat, but, it was time to fish! We headed up the intercoastal and dipped into Jackstaff, first checking to see if the tide was going to get up for tailing Redfish (no) so we eased into a smaller creek and set up fishing with float rigs and live shrimp. The tide high and still coming in and even though Mike was getting excellent drifts, we had no real bites.

After running thru Horsehead we made a stop at some rocks at Seymore's Pointe, drifted the float, and again, no bites. Knowing that we had high water for a while, I thought it'd be a good idea to try Christopher Creek. After the short run we were tossing jigs and shrimp to the dock pilings and rocks. Mike noted that he had a bite or two, then he had strong bite and BAP! Leader broke!  But Mike kept at it and finally, BOOM! Big Fish On!  I thought it was odd that the fish boiled to the surface in 10" of water so quickly and even as quickly as Mike worked it to the boat. But when we saw that it was a huge Redfish I knew that the battle had just begun! Sure enough, the big fish began to make some surges to the bottom, but Mike kept the pressure on, working the fish left to right to left and he soon wore him out and landed an oversized 27.25" Redfish, boy what a fish! After pictures the fish was gently released to swim back to the depths. (All fish caught were released).

We worked the banks for a while, had some bites, landed another Slot Redfish, then moved on out of there before the tide dropped too much. We made another pit stop at the rock of Seymore's, had a few nibbles, and caught one "baitstealer" then we moved on down the Nassau River to fish some banks that were now beginning to expose oysters.

Mike was still tossing the jig rod, up current, and after one particular cast,  hooked up and landed a fat Seatrout.  He later tangled with a high flying Ladyfish. We had been keeping our eyes on the dark thunderstorms to the north of us and had having sprinkling rain for the last hour, but we never did get really wet, so as we headed in, we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Islands, Florida.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

BooKoodles

I met the Owensby's, Tom and Kevin, down at the south end early this morning - their first time fishing "south" from the many times that they have fished here at Amelia Island. It was a beautiful morning as we ran up the Nassau River with a couple of hours of the tide still going out. We stopped at a large marsh drainage and both anglers began to pitch jigs and live shrimp to the bank. It took a while but when the "bite" began" they were catching bookoodles of fish. Many of the fish were juvenile Redfish but every once in a while they would get one that had some size. Then they'd tie into a hard fighting Jack Crevalle and have fun fighting that battle. A couple of Ladyfish were landed in the mix.

We moved on up to some docks at Seymore's Pointe and again, we had some good action. The duo landed a good handful of small but feisty Black "puppy" Drum, a couple of Croker and, a Catfish. We hit Bubblegum Reef briefly, picked another Catfish or two, another Croaker, and a golden colored Seatrout,  then bounced over to the rocks at Seymore's to try our luck with float rig. The tide was still going out and although these anglers were making excellent casts, we had no luck.

Our final stop was down at Broward Island and boy was the tide down....and STILL going out!  The water was a clear Coca-Cola color and almost all of the stobs were exposed. We worked almost the entire island, bait was everywhere, but we didn't have much luck. Although the bite slowed as the day warmed, we had some really good action early so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Redfish Boil

We had a beautiful day today, with almost no wind, clear skies, and sunshine! I met Jeff and Jess Kamenski up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park midmorning with plans to target tailing Redfish when the tide got a bit higher around noon. We made an initial run up to Jolley Bank and began working back against the current. Jess was on the bow tossing float rigs with live shrimp while Jeff unlimbered his fly casting arm. We worked the banks slowly while both anglers were making excellent casts, but we had no real bites. As we ended our run, Jeff switched to a float and shrimp, made a cast into shallow water, and we
all so a boil, his float disappeared, and Fish On! The fish came deep, Jeff's drag ripped, and we had a battle on our hands!  Jeff played the fish patiently and soon landed a nice 22" Slot sized Redfish!

We moved down the river and fished either side of Snook Creek. We had nibbles here and there then Jeff reeled in a large Gar Fish, then he battled a high flying Ladyfish. The tide was getting up and we had one more stop to make before we began to check the marsh for flooding so we made our way back to the outside of Tiger. Jess made a cast forward to some submerged oysters, her float disappeared and...no fish! But she was not to be denied and went back to the same spot and BOOM! She had a hookup! Jess played the fish perfectly and soon landed a keeper sized Seatrout (All fish caught today were released). Then Jeff had a strong hookup and his drag began to sing. And Sing. And Sing. Big Fish on!  But Jeff was up to the task and after a long battle, landed a big 4' Bonnethead Shark.

We then began to check the marsh and even though the forecast called for a 7.0' high tide, there just was not enough water up in the grass. We checked 3-4 areas but it wasn't to be. We finished up fishing Bell River and here Jess hooked up with another nice Seatrout. Although we didn't have a chance to target tailing Reds, it was still another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day Fun

The Owensby's were back in town - Tom and his son Kevin and grandson Jake - and we fished the early morning here at Amelia Island. I met them up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park and with the tide just starting in, I thought it'd be best to start fishing the logs at Tiger, a perfect tide to fish. Although we did pick up some small fish - Trout, Drum, Flounder, and Reds (a Grande Slam!) the anglers spent most of their time feeding "baitstealers", getting a nibble on almost every cast. After fishing the bank up and down, we moved on.

Our next stop was up at Jolley Bank and after easing along, tossing up current with jigs and live shrimp and working a float rig out the back, we hit a "hot spot". Kevin put a big Seatrout in the boat, Jake added Redfish, then Tom had a strong bite, and Fish On!  He played the big fish patiently and when it ripped drag a few times we know he had a nice fish on. And when rolled we know it was a big Redfish!  After a good battle, Kevin netted the 23" Slot Fish.  We tangled with a couple of Ladyfish, added another Seatrout then moved on up the River.

Fishing Snook Creek, we didn't get a whole lot of bites but when Jake's float slowly went under, he lifted the rod to set the circle hook and caught a nice keeper sized Flounder. We went back to the outside of Tiger and fished the edge of a flooding oyster bed and BAM! Multiple hookups quick. Jake and Kevin landed Seatrout, once of which was of keeper size, Tom battled a Ladyfish, then he had a real battle with a Bonnethead Shark, then, like someone turned a light switch off, the bite was gone.

We made one final stop back at the mouth of Tiger and even though there was a lot of bait movement there wasn't much action, until Tom caught one last fish, a keeper sized Flounder. It took all trip but we slowly put together a "mess" of fish so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Trout Action

I wrapped my week up fishing with David Foster and his friend Tim and Tim's son Mathew, meeting them down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early this morning. The tide had been coming in for an hour or so but the oysters were still fully exposed and I though for sure some dock pilings would be holding fish. We ran up the Nassau River and set up current from a dock and began to pitch jigs and live shrimp to the pilings. Guess what - the Croaker are here! We picked up a few, a bait stealing Spot, a slimy Catfish, and had one feisty Redfish to the boat for a "quick release" - but no big fish.

The tide was still somewhat low so we ran down to Broward Island, fished the north end with jigs, then moved down to the south end and fished the logs. Tim had a hookup - dang it - just a Toad Fish - but we kept working the bank, tossing up current, and it paid off. Tim had a strong bite and we knew it was big when the drag began to rip. He played it perfectly and we soon landed a big Seatrout that was just shy of 20" -now that's a nice fish!  And shortly after that David hooked up and he too put a keeper sized Seatrout in the boat. We did land a small Redfish along the bank.

Our next stop was up at Pumpkin Hill, drifting float rigs and shrimp along the marsh grass. David got hot, landing a Bonnethead Shark and a big Ladyfish - the "poor man's Tarpon". We had another couple of small Reds and a small Seatrout.  We fished Christopher Creek for a bit with jigs -and again, a small Red, then called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jigs Got the Bigger Fish

We've been fishing the high and incoming tides this week and it was the same today when I met Justin and Jacqueline Bogle down at the south end ramp early this morning. We headed up the intercoastal and into Jackstaff with the plan to pitch float rigs up current  to the marsh grass. We had a good bite but the fish thru the  hook then later Jacqueline hooked up and landed a hard fighting Ladyfish - her first fish! We worked that bank thoroughly then ran thru Horsehead, over to the Nassau River and down to Pumpkin Hill where we set up along a flooding grass line.

This did the trick! Jacqueline began to get some fish - a couple of hungry Seatrout, a small but feisty Redfish, and even a persistent Blue Crab! Justin added a nice Whiting to the catch.   After moving around the point and switching Justin to a Jig and shrimp combo, he had a strong hookup and, Fish On!  He played it patiently and soon landed a nice 2' Bonnethead Shark.

The tide was up so we ran over to Christopher Creek and both anglers were now tossing the jigs. Again, we had a strong bite, and the drag began to rip. Justin kept the pressure on, worked it in slowly, and put a Slot sized 21" Red in the boat.

Our final stop was at Seymore's Pointe to check for Mangrove Snapper, but they just haven't arrived. What a crazy Spring we had. But we caught some fish earlier so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Nibbl'n Puppy Drum

I had the pleasure of fishing again with Tim Carson -  his birthday trip - and he brought along his step-son Cody and grandson BeBo to enjoy a great day out on the water here at Amelia Island. And a pretty morning it was! We met down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp and headed up the Nassau River with the tide still coming in. Our first couple of stops were at some marsh runouts (running in now!) and even though the trio were making excellent casts, we had no real bites.

We buzzed further up the Nassau and to Pumpkin Hill and this did the trick. Tim "knocked the skunk off" when he landed a hungry Seatrout. Then Cody's rod got hot and he caught a couple of Black "puppy" Drum, a feisty Redfish, and a Ladyfish that wasn't so "high flying". Tim fished long and picked up a good keeper sized Seatrout before we moved on.

After dipping into Christopher Creek we went to jigs and shrimp
and now all three anglers got in to the action. BeBo and Cody teamed up to reel in  the biggest Redfish of the day - a six spotter - then BeBo, after making an excellent cast to the marsh line, hooked up and, Fish On! He worked the fish patiently to the boat and landed a nice Black Drum. 

We fished some docks at Seymore's Pointe, then ran thru Horsehead and fished the mouth of Jackstaff, but the sun was up, it was getting "warm", so we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Good Times Fishing

It's always great to get to fish with old high school friends and today I had the pleasure of fishing with Chuck Lynch, his father Buddy, and his son-in-law Matt. We met early up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park boat ramp and made a quick run over to Bell River to fish the last of an incoming tide with live shrimp under floats. It didn't take long and we were getting hookups - Seatrout that were just a tad bit undersized, but fun to catch. Although we saw Reds tailing up by the grass, we had no takers from them.

After running thru Tiger we pulled in on the outside of the Island
and boy were things hopping! There was a Sheepshead tailing by some sparse grass and on down the line a big 'ole Redfish tail was flopping around. The trio "got to it" and started catching fish! Chuck had a strong hookup - one that was ripping drag - but this fish didn't get big by being dumb! It pulled right under the boat and down into the oysters and BAP! Fish off! But Chuck went back to the grass and pulled out a nice feisty Redfish. Matt stayed on fire the entire trip. He put the first 3-4 "keepers" in the boat. First a big
bull Whiting, then a 17" Flounder. We worked the bank thoroughly and caught a couple of small Reds and Trout.

We made a pit stop at a large marsh run out and pitched some jigs and mud minnows on the now outgoing tide. but had no luck. Our next stop was way up the Jolley River and again Matt came thru when he hooked up and landed a big 22" Slot Redfish. After battling a 4' Shark on light tackle we made our way along the bank. Somewhere along there we caught a Black "puppy" Drum  and another Red or two.

Jolley Bank was looking good so we eased along it. The oysters still were not showing so we stayed with float rigs. Matt put another Slot Red in the boat and Chuck added a keeper sized Seatrout. We had some good bites along the way and landed another couple of feisty Reds.

Our final stop was back at Tiger, fishing the logs, and here Buddy got on the board with a Redfish catch of his own. It was a great day to get out on the water and do some fishing with friends and family here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Monday, June 11, 2018

No Mangrove's Yet

After a good day off I was back to "work" today, meeting Jim Kotopka and his buddy Mike down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. We buzzed up the river and made our first stop off a feeder creek of the intercoastal and fished with float rigs and live shrimp. Although we had a small shark irritate our bait, he wouldn't take it. We ran thru the marsh and made a stop over at Seymore's Pointe where Jim "knocked the skunk off" by quickly landing a feisty Redfish.

After fishing that spot a while we moved down
the Nassau River to fish some marsh runouts on the outgoing tide. We had stayed with float rigs but the minute Mike switched to a jig, he picked up a hungry Seatrout!  We had some strong bites that broke the leader at the 2nd runout but it was the 3rd that heated things up. Jim picked up a couple of fish quick - a feisty Redfish then a hard fighting Jack Crevalle then Mike had good bite, his drag began to sing and, Fish On! Mike played it perfectly and after a good battle landed a 22" Slot sized Redfish. Only seconds later they both had hookups - we had a double - and they both reeled in some nice Reds.

The tide had gotten down so we went back to Seymore's to fish some dock pilings and here Jim found a "honey hole" loaded with Black "puppy" Drum.  The fish were only 12-13.5" in size, but were fun to catch. Mike was able to inch over and pick up a few Drum of his own. We moved over one dock and found a keeper sized Flounder out deep, which was a bit unusual.

Our last stop was at my traditional Mangrove Snapper hole but they still haven't made it in yet, so we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Grande Slam Keepers

We could tell that it was a tad bit cooler this morning (nowhere near cold, just cooler) and with some cloud cover it made for a very pleasant fishing morning. I met Jeff and Penny Parks down at the south end ramp and we ran up the intercoastal to dip into Jackstaff and then even further up into a creek. Both anglers were tossing float rigs on a high and outgoing tide and even though all three of us spotted a tailing Redfish up near the marsh grass, we had not takers.

After dropping back to fish the mouth of Jackstaff, we worked the bank thoroughly, we
Penny manning the stern and fishing a float rig while Jeff took the bow and tossed a jig and shrimp. Again, no takers. But after we had crossed the creek and fished a submerged sandbar, and after Penny had switched to a jig herself, she had a hookup. She worked the fish patiently to the boat and landed a nice keeper sized Seatrout.

We ran thru Horsehead and around to some docks and set up-current from the pilings. Penny and Jeff were both dropping their jigs up near the pilings and it paid off. First, Jeff had a strong bite and, Fish On!  It was a ripping drag and digging deep but Jeff kept the pressure on and slowly worked it to the net, a nice 22" Black "puppy" Drum. Then the duo landed a couple of Redfish, one of them being in the Slot, then Penny reeled in a fat keeper sized Flounder, giving them an Amelia Island Grande Slam of Seatrout, Redfish, Black Drum and Flounder.

Our next stop was some rocks over at Seymore's Pointe but we had not luck so we ran down to Broward Island and fished the logs on the last of an outgoing tide. We wrapped the trip up catching three small Redfish, another Black Drum and a Seatrout. It was a great way to finish up a good day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Great Fishing Sandwiched In

You just can't beat this "Chamber of Commerce" type morning weather we've been having! Today I met Jeff and Penny Parks up at the north end. The tide had been going out for a few hours so we made a quick run up and around to the outside of Tiger Island with plans to fish a nice marsh run out with jigs and live shrimp. Both anglers started off making excellent casts, fished them slow, but we had not takers.

We bounced around and into the Jolley River, fished some just-exposed oysters with float rigs and live shrimp and boy did things heat
up! Penny got things going when she hooked up and landed a feisty Redfish then both anglers were catching fish, and nice ones at that!  Jeff was fishing the stern and letting his bail stay open, he was able to get a good, long drift along the shoreline and, BOOM! Fish On! A Slot Redfish. Penny was fishing the bow and tossing up current to get her drift and, BOOM! Fish On!  A Slot Redfish. We ended up culling a couple of the smaller ones after we reached our limit.

Then Jeff had another strong bite, a hookup, and he commented that the fish was shaking it's head, a tad bit different feel than the Redfish. Sure
enough, Jeff landed a big 19.5" Seatrout. We caught and released couple of undersized Reds, an undersized Black "puppy" Drum then when the bite fell off, we moved on up into the Jolley. There was plenty of bait action at the MOA, but we had not takers.

The tide had hit bottom back nearer Fernandina so we ran back and fished the logs of Tiger. It was perfect conditions, the right tide, but the sun was up and the heat was on! Penny did hookup with the only Flounder of the day, but true to its nature, it thru the hook right at boatside.

Although the fishing was slow early and late, we had some really good action in between, so we counted as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Slam Time

I had the Thomas boys fishing with me today - Clay and his three sons Carter, Grady and Logan. We met down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp and headed up the Nassau River under clear skies, just a slight breeze and with an outgoing tide. The oyster shells were just beginning to show when we made our first stop at Twin Creeks and all four anglers began to toss float rigs baited with live shrimp up current and across the mouths of the outflow, getting good, natural drifts. But it was to no avail. We had no real bites.

We dropped back and fished a stretch of shells and here young
Logan "knocked the skunk off" when he hooked up and tangled with a "poor man's Tarpon" - a Ladyfish. I normally say it was "high flying" but I don't think it jumped once!  We moved up 75 yards, fished another outflow, then decided to continue west and fish some docks at Seymore's Pointe, and this did the trick.

Everybody was catching fish! I think they all landed at least one Black "puppy" Drum, with Grady leading the way, then Carter had
a strong hookup, his drag ripped, and Fish ON!  He played the big fish patiently and soon landed a big Jack Crevalle. Clay followed that up with another big Jack of his own. All totaled, we had a good handful of the Puppy Drum, but all were just a tad bit undersized.

Our final stop was down at Broward Island and we fished almost the entire stretch. Clay and Carter landed some small Redfish, then Clay and Grady had a double hookup. Each played their fish perfectly and landed them. Clay had a hungry Seatrout and Grady had a Redfish that was just smidgen undersized so both were tossed back.  With the Black Drum, Seatrout, and Redfish, they had an Amelia Island Back Country Slam. Finally, Clay had a good hookup and we could tell this was a bigger fish. He worked it to the boat and Grady netted the nice 18" keeper sized Seatrout.

We had a lot of action and it was such a beautiful day, we counted it as another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Saving The Best For Last

The winds died down to almost nothing this morning which made for a great day to get two young anglers out on the Amelia Island back waters. I met Jody Miller and his two young sons Wyatt and William up at the Dee Dee Bartels park boat ramp. After a brief safety orientation, we ran up and around to the backside of Tiger with plans to fish the logs on a first of an incoming tide. It was ideal conditions and these anglers were fishing their jigs and live shrimp expertly, but we had no takers, other than a puny pinfish! Crazy! I would have thought we would have had some nice fish, but that's fishing!

We ran up to the Jolley River, all the way up to Snook Creek, and fished some exposed oyster beds with float rigs and live shrimp and again, no real bites. We dropped back to the mouth of the Jolley, fished a large marsh run out, and I think it was Jody's first cast - his float slowly disappeared and he had a hookup. With the help of his crew, they successfully reeled in a nice 18.5" Flounder, big enough to land them in first place in the Anglers Mark 2018 Bragging Rights Tournament - Flounder Category (scroll down the right side of this report for standings).  We fished on up the bank, had  few nibbles, but no takers.

Our next stop was back around at Tiger, thru Tiger basin, and around to Bell River, again fishing with float rigs. Wyatt picked up a feisty Bonnethead Shark here, but other than that, no real bites.

The final stop was back at the outside of Tiger and with 15 minutes to go in the trip, the fish "catching" heated up considerably! Jody  began to hookup with Seatrout, one after the other. His two young anglers jumped in and helped reel a few in, net a few, release a few and we caught fish until we ran out of bait. Although the first handful of Trout were "shorts", they seemed to get bigger as the catching went on with a few making it into the keeper sized range. It was a great way to wrap up a nice fishing trip here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Difference A Day Makes

Saturday I had some experienced anglers and we had a really good day of fish "catching". Yesterday I had the same two guys and we struggled to put a fish in the boat. Today I had a group -Grandad and his older grandkids - and we fished the same spots and had another really good day of fish catching! Crazy!

I had met Allen Richardson and his grandkids Anna Claire and Walker down at the south end ramp and we headed up the Nassau River to make a first quick stop at an oyster lined bank on the last
of an outgoing tide.  All three anglers were making excellent casts...but we had just nibbles.  We moved up a ways, fished a large marsh runout and again, just nibbles.

Our next stop was up at some docks at Seymore's Pointe and this made all the difference. Once this trio started hooking up we had non-stop action for about an hour. They all three put Black "puppy" Drum in the boat with one or two being right at keeper size (all fish caught today were released) and then Walker landed a couple of Slot sized Redfish.  When the bite finally slowed, we ran down to
Broward Island.

The tide was still going out up here and not much was biting until both Anna Claire and Walker went to the same spot. Walker pulled out a nice keeper sized Sheepshead and Anna Claire hooked up too...had a good fight...the drag ripped...and fish off! Ouch.   We dropped back to Seymore's Pointe, fished some rocks to no avail, then ran around to Jackstaff.

We were working the bank slowly on an incoming tide and it was Anna Claire who struck first. Her float had disappeared, she lifted the rod and set the hook and, FISH ON! Anna Claire worked the fish patiently to the boat and landed another nice Slot Redfish. Then Walker hooked up and he too landed a nice Red, the biggest of the day. Then Anna Claire was back at it. After an excellent cast to bank, again her float disappeared, and again, another Slot Redfish was landed.

We wrapped things up when Walker and Allen teamed up to subdue a huge Stingray, which we photographed and released.  After a slow day yesterday, today was a great one to be out fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Recipe of the Month: Coconut Glazed Shrimp Kabobs

On occasion I get professional chef's on the boat fishing with me and I always pick their brain for good recipe's. The first of May I had Trace Hayes a chef, past restaurant owner, and now, renown food photographer fish with me and when asked if he had any special way to cook seafood, he rattled off his special glaze that he coats his fish/shrimp in and broils them. Here it is!

 
1/2 cup Creme de Coconut (Available at liquor store and some grocery stores)
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
Juice from 2 1/2 limes 
Mix slowly into mayonnaise and creme de coconut

Add
1/3 cup chopped cilantro 
Glaze fish while it is cooking over broiler or grill
Save some for the table!

The taste should be
1/3 -1/3-1/3 and all flavors should complement each other. Adjust accordingly.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Stormed Out

I fished again with Daniel and Paul Tillotson this morning, this time meeting them down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. We had a tremendous storm cell that passed over NE Florida last night and it dropped a ton of rain and left cloudy skies today. We ran up the Nassau River and stopped at some docks at Seymore's to fish the pilings on a tide that was still going out. The two anglers were tossing jigs and live shrimp and making excellent casts, but all we got was nibbles.

We moved around to another dock, fished the bank with float rigs, had some bites, then Daniel hooked up and, Fish on! He played it patiently to the net and landed a nice Slot sized Redfish. After fishing for a while and only getting nibbles, we made the run down to Broward Island. With a 9mph West wind blowing it seemed to be keeping the tide from coming back in. We had switched back to jigs, fished them deep and slow, but again, just nibbles. After fishing Pumpkin Hill briefly with floats, we ran back to Seymore's Pointe and picked up a hard fighting Black "puppy" Drum. One more stop over in Jackstaff produced nothing but.. nibbles...so we called it a day, rather slow, but still, a great day to be out on the water here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Hot Then Cold Then Hot

I had the pleasure of fishing with Daniel Tillotson and his adult son Paul again, meeting them up at the north end boat ramp early this morning. We took advantage of the first of an incoming tide and ran around to fish the logs of Tiger. It was a good move! We were fishing jigs and live shrimp for the most part and Daniel got things started when he hooked up and landed a feisty Redfish, then Paul followed that up with two Slot Sized Reds. Daniel finished the spot with a nice 18" keeper sized Flounder - this one caught on a mud minnow - wouldn't you know it!

We left and headed up to the Jolley River, fished the "bank" and had.....zero bites! Ouch.
Continuing on, we made a stop at the edges of Snook Creek. This edge was really looking good, but again, no bites, until finally, Paul's float went under, he hooked up, and landed a keeper sized Seatrout.

We buzzed back towards the island, ran thru Tiger and over to Bell River and fished some flooding oysters beds. Daniel had a huge bite, a good battle, one that ripped his drag and I felt sure it was a BIG Redfish but it got all the way on the other side of the oysters and sure enough, the 15# braid was sliced. Fish Off!  But Daniel kept fishing the "hot spot" and he soon landed the biggest Slot Red of the day, and followed that up with another keeper sized Seatrout.

Our last spot was back near the boat ramp. Paul did battle with a big Bonnethead Shark then Daniel wrapped things up by putting the biggest Seatrout in the boat. We were also treated to a big Ray sighting!  It was a beautiful day for father and son to meet up at Amelia Island and get out on the water for some great fishing.

Rookie In The Grass - by Chan Ritchie


Rookie in the Grass
 
By Chan Ritchie
The bright reflection caught the corner of my eye. I scanned the slick, quiet water far to the north. There she is, near the tree line, two hundred yards away.  Her tail went down long before I got close, but occasional surface ripples allowed me to track her. At fifty feet I could see her, like a bronze snake slithering slowly over grass barely taller than my ankles. Now the hunter was truly the hunted. My steps became stealthy as I chose the best angle from which to approach. Fishing near the trees where the grass is short and the water is gin -clear is First Coast sight-fishing at its best. Even better if they are over the open sand. Cruising fish in these conditions are al-most impossible not to catch. I circled around to my right and laid the fly down a perfect six feet in front of her. As the fly touched down I gave it a fast, aggressive strip. SWOOSH!! Water shot skyward as the powerful tail instinctually catapulted the predator toward her prey, a rooster-tail of foam in her wake. I quickly stripped again and she found a higher gear. Here it comes! Here it comes!! BAM!! The violent collision caused me to release the line so the leader would not snap. She headed for the far away creek, spinning my reel as she left. Ten years ago I may have spooked this fish.
 
Some of you are now thinking-Six feet? Isn’t that too far away to place the fly? Were you taught to put the fly three feet in front of her nose and move it slowly? I tried it that way myself when I was a rookie. I lost count of how many fish I spooked. Face it, when new to the sport we are not great casters. Combine the wind with an overdose of adrenalin and casting accuracy becomes a liability. Even when I made a perfect cast the fish often would not strike. Other times the slightest movement of the fly would send the fish fleeing for the creek. There had to be a better way.
 
Redfish are in the grass for one reason, to eat. For her to ignore your fly would be like a hungry man deliberately walking into McDonalds just to marvel at the ambiance. Why then do so many fly fisher-men fail to draw strikes in the grass and then cast repeatedly until the fish spooks? Simple, the fish does not see the fly. Or if she does see it, then she may be on guard because your fly plopped down too close and invaded her comfort zone. She has frozen while she assesses what it is that just rattled her.  All creatures have comfort zones. If I sneak up behind you and slowly reach around and put my hand in your face, then you with be startled. However, a fast movement of my hand from 10 feet away will have no effect other than to catch your attention.  Get a grass-redfish’s attention without putting her on guard and she will strike almost without exception. It’s in her DNA. Predators have large egos. They hate for anything to get away from them…especially if they are in feeding mode. Therefore, your fly need be only close enough for her to see it as it tries to rapidly escape. I call it the sight-zone.
 

Change your approach to reds in the grass and you can draw a strike from nearly every redfish at which you have a decent casting scenario….and it does not have to be perfect like the scenario you read above.

First, upon seeing a redfish, slow down. She is likely not going anywhere. If she is in tall grass, then wait her out. She will eventually move to better water.

Second, a fish with her head stuck in the mud will not see your fly. Reds will tail on a crab, and then start moving again. Cast when she is up and moving. The closer she is to the surface the better the chance that she will see your fly.

How far out in front of her you should cast will be determined by the thickness of the grass and water clarity. If she can see it, then she will hit it. I try to stay outside of three feet where the chances of spooking her are minimal. (Experienced grassmen catch reds every day by setting a fly down inside of three feet, but you ain’t that guy..not yet.)

If the grass is sparse and the water is not too dirty, then I like 4-6 feet. Remember; strip the fly when it is at her eye-level and keep it at her eye-level. Make it move! Get her attention! She will not spook at that range. If she sees it and starts charging, then keep taking it away. Her predator instinct will take over…..and she will hit the fly like a flaming red lightning bolt.  Again, be patient. Wait for the right casting scenario. Better to wait three minutes for her to get up and cruising than to succumb to red-fever and cast into a poor situation.

A small foam strike-indicator placed eighteen inches above your fly can be magic. Often you will cast, but the fish will stick her head back in the mud or she may turn. She may disappear. Rather than disrupt things by picking up the fly, leave it lying there. Keep your eyes open and be patient. Very often she will end up back on a collision course with your fly. The strike-indicator will allow you to easily locate your fly and judge when it’s time to strip aggressively.

 Fewer casts in the air means less chances to scare. Remember, DO NOT let her get right on top of the fly before you strip. You risk spooking her. Imagine that your crab saw her coming and he is getting out of Dodge before she gets there. Let her get just close enough to witness the attempted escape.

The fly does not much matter. These fish will hit just about anything that can be mistaken for food so tie up something that is your own…and put an excellent weed-guard on it.

Remember, no one ever caught a red when the fly landed too close. However, you can catch a bunch by landing it far and stripping it fast. Fish the sight-zone, put some live-action into your strips and hang on. It works almost every time.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Practice for Fly Fishing Redfish In The Grass

Capt. Lawrence Piper is an Amelia Island, Florida back country fishing guide and is a Certified Fly Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International. He can be reached at www.TheAnglersMark.com 904-557-1027 or lwpiper@comcast.net

I get a number of anglers who visit Amelia Island who want to try their hand at casting for tailing Redfish in the grass. Most of the time you don’t need a really long cast, maybe 30’-40’ is all you need. But it can be really frustrating when you see that tail at the 35’ mark and not be able to make the cast!  And if you’re not accurate, your chances of success go way down.  Here’s some tips and things you should practice before you get to Amelia Island.

Practice 1: Learn to get your fly line up in the air! You’re on the bow of the boat or you’ve waded out into the spartina grass and you see a tailing fish and you’ve got to get the line up in the air and make the cast. Learn how to make a “Quick Cast”. I like Joan Wulff’s method:  Strip enough line out to reach the fish. Most of it is piled at your feet but leave about 15’-20’ hanging from the tip of the rod. Grasp the bend of the hook in your left (line) hand.  With your rod hand also pinning the line against the rod, make a roll cast towards the fish and let the cast pull the hook from your hand. As it is rolling out, move your now empty line hand to the line, grasp the line, and make a good back cast. Now you’re ready to make the forward cast and shoot the line and fly to the tailing fish. You want to practice this so that you can make the cast with no additional false casting. Roll it out, make the back cast,  make the forward cast and shoot the line to the fish.
Practice 2: Pick up and Lay Down. This is easy!  It’s just a basic cast, but practice it anyway. When you see a tailing Redfish and make an excellent cast, the fish may not see the fly and move on, or it may turn and feed an opposite direction. Just “pick up and lay down” out in front of the tailing fish. Try not to make a loud pick up – make it nice and smooth and try to minimize any false casting. Pick it up. Lay it down.

Practice 3: Improve your accuracy. The Redfish may only be 30’ from the boat but if you can’t get the fly in front of it you have almost zero chance of catching it. Obviously if you land the fly behind the fish you’re not going to catch it. If you lay the line over the back of the fish there’s a good chance it’s going to spook. You need to be able to make your cast and put the fly out in front of the fish, ideally 3’-6’ ahead of it WITHOUT much false casting – ideally none. The fish can feel/see that fly line being cast overhead and it will just go under, disappear and be gone. You would think that making a 30’ cast out in front of fish would be simple, right? I’ve seen all kinds of great casters fall apart when that big Red is out there tailing. Practice you’re accuracy.
Practice 4:  Get more distance with Double Haul I hesitate to mention this but I’m assuming that you’ve got a good cast already and you’re getting good loops. If not, practice you cast until you’re getting good loops BEFORE you move on to the Double Haul. I get a lot of Trout anglers who have some pretty good casts but try as they might, they can only hit 30’-35”.  I always check to see if they are double hauling, and most are not. Get an instructor in your area to give you a lesson on the Double Haul. Practice it. Read articles on it. Watch some videos.  For those that do use a haul, one of the most common mistakes I see is that the caster hauls down….but leaves their haul (line) hand down by their side and doesn’t let the unrolling line pull that line hand up to the reel. Slack is then induced during the ensuing stroke…there is less load in the rod…the cast is not as efficient…and good distance is not achieved.  Again, you don’t always have to make a long cast, but it sure is frustrating for you when the fish is at 40’ and we can only cast 35’!

Some other Tips:

Be patient, let the fish come to you! If you see a fish way off, be patient. Sometimes you can watch the fish and see that it is heading your way…or you can tell which way it’s heading and you can head it off without going right at it.
Wade Slowly! If you do wade towards a fish, wade slowly!  They have an uncanny way of knowing that something is up and if they feel you coming, many times they will sink and disappear.

Minimize False Casting Hey, it looks good on TV!  But as mentioned before, that fly line casts a shadow and if you false cast two, three, four times over the fish it may sense something is up and again, sink, and disappear.
Cast in front of the fish We can’t always have the perfect scenario but ideally your fly would mimic a fleeing bait. If you are out in front of the fish and your fly is stripped towards the fish – it may spook. Try to be in position to cast your fly in front of the fish and strip away from the fish, as if it were fleeing.
Where proper shoes they can be high-end wading boots or cheap canvas tennis shoes but they’re going to get wet and muddy. They need to be snug on your feet without being sucked off in mud.
6.7 to 7.3 High tides are what I look for when expecting tailing Reds. It’s a “rule of thumb” and not always right, but check your tide charts and plan on being on the water and beginning to look 2 hours before the predicted high tide.

Carry some spare leader and flies when you set out to wade from your boat. You may be 100 yards away from your tackle box and break off a fly and don’t want to have to trudge all the way back to the boat. I always throw a couple of flies and spool of leader material in my pocket and I have my pliers/cutters on my hip.
Use a strip set  when the fish takes the fly, use a “strip set” rather than lifting the rod tip to set the hook. Strip set, get the hookup, then lift the fly rod.

Strip slow After you’ve made that excellent cast, the fish is nose down feeding, just slightly “bump” the fly. You don’t want to strip it out of range. They’ll usually take it with a vengeance!

Fly Casting 101

Capt. Lawrence Piper is a back country fishing guide at Amelia Island, Florida and a FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor.  Capt. Piper can be reached at www.TheAnglersMark.com  904-557-1027  lwpiper@comcast.net
When I mention to visitors that I offer fly fishing on my Amelia Island fishing charters they often reply, “where in the world would you fly fish in north Florida?”  A lot of people equate fly fishing with the trout streams up north or out west but here in the North Florida area we have excellent fishing and taking those fish on a fly is a challenging option.  Flood tide fishing for tailing Redfish, low tide fishing for backing Redfish, Seatrout fishing at night under the docks, and bream and bass fishing in our creeks, ponds and lakes are just a few of the great fly fishing opportunities that we have.

But before you step out into the marsh with the long rod you will need to learn to cast!  Casting a fly with a fly rod is unlike any other fishing you’ve ever done.  For one, you will need to incorporate a back cast along with the forward cast, which takes some getting used to.  With spin or bait casting there is usually a heavy enough weight in your tackle that when you make your cast it drags the light fishing line with it. But with fly fishing, the fly is usually so light you will need to use your rod to form loops in a heavier fly line to carry the fly and leader along with it, thus making the cast.
The Fly Fishers International is organization dedicated to the sport of fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying and conservation. Years ago, dedicated fly casters with the FFI set forth 5 principles for a good fly cast.  They determined that many casters would have different styles of casting but in order to make a good cast they all would incorporate the same 5 principles. Just like any other sport, practice will make you a better fly caster. There are many fields and parks on Amelia Island where you can practice your casting. Use a piece of yarn as your fly and practice you casting on grass so that when you get out on the water you’ll be ready to catch some fish!

      Take a lesson then... practice, read, watch a video. Practice, read, watch a video. Practice, read, watch a video….

Principle Number 1:   Keep slack out of your fly line.  As you accelerate your rod the weight of the fly line is going to put a bend in the rod causing it to load with energy. When you stop your cast that rod is going to unbend or unload and propel the line forward on a forward cast and backward on a back cast. If slack is introduced then the rod will not get its maximum load and the cast will be poor. One of the most common errors is starting the back cast when the rod is held too high off of the water – slack is between the rod tip and the water.  Always get any slack out between the rod tip and the water before making your back cast. You can do this by holding your rod tip down at the water and stripping in any excess slack. Or you can perform a roll cast to get the line straightened out. Then begin your back cast with the rod tip down at the water and you will see that the rod immediately begins to bend or load as you accelerate back. Another area when slack is induced is between the line hand and the rod hand. Some casters will hold the line down by their side during the cast, rather than letting the line pull their line hand up towards the reel. When they begin their forward cast, the line hand is down by their side, and slack is induced.  Another common error that introduces slack is called Creep.  After making the stop on the back cast, some casters will “creep” forward before the fly line has a chance to fully unroll, then they will begin their actual forward cast. This introduces slack line in the cast and again, the rod will not get its maximum load and the cast will be poor. If you feel like you are creeping forward you may want to consciously insert a technique called Drift.   Watch your back cast and after you have made your stop, “drift” the rod hand back even further until the fly line unrolls.  You should begin to feel the rod getting heavier which indicates a good load. Now you’re ready to Accelerate on your forward cast… which we’ll cover in the next principle!
Principle Number 2:  Smooth Acceleration.  Your casting hand should accelerate smoothly during the back cast or forward cast, increasing in speed as your hand travels through the casting stroke to a crisp STOP. You can imagine if you just casually waved your rod back and forth – the fly line would never load or put a bend in the rod and no energy would be built up. The line would just fall to the water. However if you accelerate the rod through the stroke the weight of the fly line causes the rod to load and when you STOP the stroke the rod unbends or unloads and the fly line propels forward in a loop. The energy of the unloading rod is transferred to the fly line and the loop which carries your leader and fly along with it. Some of the fly casting guru’s call this a Speed up and Stop. Others call it a Loading Move and Power Snap. Just remember, if you use too little acceleration the fly line will not load the rod and you will not be able to form a decent loop, if any at all. On the other hand, if you accelerate too fast your cast will be all jerky and again, you’ll form poor loops and possibly a crossing loop because the rod tip dipped.  The proper amount of acceleration will also help you keep the rod tip following in a Straight Line Path which is covered in the next principle.


Principle Number 3:  Straight Line Path.   The fly line is always going to follow the rod tip. The next time you’re out in the yard practicing,  get 10-15’ of line out of the rod tip and then just wave it around, making figure eights and such. You’ll see the fly line goes everywhere the rod tip goes.  The best way to get nice narrow loops with your fly line is to make your cast with your rod hand traveling in a straight line path to the target,  and from the target. If the rod tip follows a domed or convex path the fly line will travel in a large arc and you will have wide loops. Wide loops are not ideal if you’re looking for accuracy or distance. On the other hand, if the rod tip dips or follows a concave path there is a good chance the end of the fly line will fall down and cross itself, creating what we call a tailing loop. A crossing or tailing loop will cause the cast to fail and may also tie an overhand knot in your leader! In addition to the paths of the rod tip, good loops are formed by keeping the rod tip traveling in the same plane and not swinging out and in when traveling away from the target and back.  Depending on how much line you have out and how far you want to cast will help determine the length of your Casting Stroke, which is covered in the next principle. 


Principle Number 4:  Length of Casting Stroke.  When a fly caster is making a short cast there will be a short amount of line out of the rod tip. Imagine standing in a small trout stream and your cast only has to be 15’ away.  Your stroke will be nice and short, back and forth, almost like throwing a dart. On the other hand, if you’re standing in our North Florida spartina grass and have spotted a tailing Redfish 55’ feet away, you’ll have more line out and will need to open that stroke up to get that fly line moving.  A good way to remember this is “short line, short stroke and long line, long stroke”.  A more technical explanation for this is that with a short amount of line out, the rod bends or loads less and the stroke length will need to be shorter. With a longer amount of line out, the line weighs more and there is a greater bend or load in the rod. The casting stroke has be longer with the amount of line out in order to keep the rod tip traveling in a straight line path. You’ll now see that with the different lengths of line out there will be a need to time the Pause between the forward cast and back cast, which is the final principle to a good fly cast!   

Principle Number 5:  Timing.   After making a cast the angler will need to allow the fly line to unroll to properly load the rod. This amount of time could be very short if you’re making a very short cast and only have a small amount of line out of the rod tip.  When making a long cast there will be more line out of the rod tip, the stroke length will be longer and the caster will need to have a longer pause between casts to allow the fly line to unroll and get a good load or bend in the rod. Not allowing the fly line to unroll completely will induce some slack in the line and decrease the amount of load in the rod. Waiting too long between casts will cause the fly line to fall to the water or grass  Remember this:  “short line, short pause and long line, long pause”.  

These five principles to a good fly cast are intended to help the fly caster get nice narrow loops, gain distance, be accurate, and present the fly to a hungry fish. Do your practice in the yard or in one of our fine parks and get your casting down so that when you get out on the water you can enjoy catching some fish!

and...

 Take a lesson then... practice, read, watch a video. Practice, read, watch a video. Practice, read, watch a video….