Friday, July 30, 2010

Bait House Closes

I spoke with Knute and Rose Douglas this morning and it looks like I may have bought my last shrimp from them as they were shutting down their business, the Bait House. The Douglas's have been long time owners of the bait shop and have been a great asset to the fishing community. They'll be sorely missed. I wish them all the best as and hope they get some needed rest from the rigors of operating a bait shop.

Left 'em Biting

I fished with Jeff Haskins and his sons Lucas and Jacob again today and the guys picked up where we left off Monday...catching fish! Knowing that temperatures were predicted to hit 100 today, we got an early start from the Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp on the north end of the island, and headed up to Jolley River to fish the very first of the incoming tide. The anglers were making pin-point casts to the base of the oyster lined banks and immediately began to get bites and fish! Jeff got it started off with a feisty Redfish then the young men began to hookup as well, catching Reds and Trout and then Jacob thought he was hung up but no, it was a keeper sized Flounder! We made two passes of the same bank, catching fish on both passes, then we headed upriver to "Snook Creek" where they caught a few more Redfish then Jacob hooked up and expertly fought what we think was a Shark. He had him on for about 5 minutes then the beast pulled loose and went on his way. We moved around to the MOA spot, caught a Red and a Trout, then headed in to get some live shrimp. We fished the mouth of "Manatee Creek" and sure enough, we were treated to a visit from a "herd" of Manatee. The guys caught more Redfish and Croaker then we moved around to the front of Tiger Island where they completed the Inshore Slam when Jeff fought to the net a keeper sized Redfish. Lucas made sure of it by putting in the boat another keeper sized Flounder and a keeper sized Trout.

All three were catching fish - Reds, Trout, Croaker, and "baitstealers" when we ran out of shrimp and called it day, another great one to be out on the water!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fast and Furious

Jeff Haskins was in town with his family, visiting from Tennessee, and scheduled to take in an Amelia Island backountry fishing trip for him and his two sons, Lucas and Jacob. We met at and left from the south end boat ramp at 7am this morning and ran up the Amelia River to the mouth of Jackstaff. I had been kicking around where to fish this morning with the tide coming in and expected to peak at around 10:30am. The oysters were still showing so we anchored up at the mouth of Jackstaff and began to fish the 1/4oz Sure Catch jigs with a live shrimp attached. After only a few casts the guys were hooking up. Jeff caught a feisty Redfish then Lucas had a major battle on his hands with something big that he fought expertly for 10 minutes. The fish went from bow to stern and back again then under the anchor rope.
Lucas passed the rod to me and I threaded the rod under the rope and then back to Lucas...and then I slipped and almost went overboard with one leg in the water and one around the trolling motor! Luckily, Lucas was there to lend one hand, with the rod in his other, and we got me back on board! The fish eventually broke itself off, but it was good practice because it wasn't long before Lucas had on a hard fighting Jack Crevalle. He fought this one to the boat and the waiting net.
While all this was going on, Jacob hooked up with another Redfish and battled it to the boat, then Jeff had a Bonnethead Shark take his bait and the fight was on! After playing the fish like a pro, we soon boated the 4' Shark for pictures and release. This went on for about two hours with Sharks, Jack Crevalle, Redfish, Trout and Flounder being caught, photographed, and released. It was a beautiful morning and the fish were biting! We eventually moved around to the Nassau River, fished Bubblegum Reef briefly, then headed down the Nassau to troll the marsh grass. They guys continued their catching ways, pulling in more Redfish, Trout and another Flounder. We left them biting, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Quality over Quantity

Trevor Ruble has been visiting Amelia Island for years - has done some offshore fishing here - but wanted to do some backcountry stuff. Trevor is Founder and Executive Director of Hooked for Life Ministries and is an accomplished angler, teaching classes on fishing at his local Community College. We left the south end boat ramp at 7am with an incoming tide that would peak at 9:30am. With the water already up to the marsh grass, we started a slow troll along the banks of the Nassau River, tossing live shrimp under a Cajun Thunder float. It wasn't long before Trevor hooked up with and fought to the boat a hard fighting Jack Crevalle. While we paused at a runout, Trevor made an excellent cast to the mouth of run out; the 10lb braided line drifted over a stalk of marsh grass and while Trevor eased the line over it, he hooked up with something that started its pull slowly then increased to a strong tug! We soon netted an 18"+ Flounder! We did see a small Redfish tailing up near the marsh grass but it wouldn't take our bait, so we headed up to Bubblegum Reef, anchored, and pitched the float rig up to the marsh grass. Something was chasing bait fish near a point of grass and Trevor got his bait in position; soon he was hooked up and in a major battle! The fish pulled and ripped drag then ran to the stern of the boat and back to the bow. When it rolled 30 yards from the boat we knew we had a big Redfish on and it was confirmed when Trevor worked 'em to the boat and net. Wow what a fish, measuring 26+"! We tried our luck at Broward Island just as the tide turned, picking up a small Redfish, then headed back to Jackstaff to fish the banks as the tide started out. Trevor caught a few more Redfish then hooked up to a BIG fish. Line ripped out, drag hummed, and the rod bent double. After what seemed like forever, we boated a 4' Bonnethead Shark for pictures and release. We had a few more of those, but they broke off and with that, we called it a day, another great one to be out on the water!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Red and Jack

Greg Barbaree and his family squeezed in a quick vacation to Amelia Island and he set up an Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip with his son Brooks and friends Brett and Trey. We left the South end boat ramp at 7am with the tide expected to peak at it's highest at 8:30am. Our first stop was the mouth of Jackstaff where we anchored up and unlimbered the spinning rods. Greg hadn't cast but once or twice when he hooked up to a hard fighting fish, one that bent Greg's rod for sure, and we had a slot-sized 21" Redfish in the boat right off the bat! The rest of the guys joined in with Brooks pulling in a nice Jack and then Brett and Trey hooking up with Redfish. Brooks had a fat Trout take his jig and put up a good fight; it looked bigger in the water, but when measured was just under the size limit. Then Trey hooked up with something big that didn't run like a Shark so we thought it must be a Redfish. After a long battle he brought to the boat and Greg's waiting net a huge Jack Crevalle. We moved into Nassau River where Brooks hooked up and fought a 4' Bonnethead Shark on 10lb test; they went around the boat for probably 15 minutes until Brooks won out, bringing to the surface the worn out Shark. We broke it off then headed back to Jackstaff where the guys all caught more small Redfish and a few more Jack and with the sun getting high, we headed in, counting it as another great day on the water.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Redfish and Manatee Thick as Fleas

If you've kept up with this months fishing reports you've seen that almost every trip has seen anglers having huge success's with fish catching and the Redfish have been so abundant that I proclaimed them today "thick as fleas". I've never seen anything like it! With the exception of a few trips, most of these Reds have been small "Rat Reds", but they're fun to catch and if their numbers are any indication, it won't be but a year or two and we'll be wallowing in Big Reds! Madelaine Cosgrove of Jacksonville set up an Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip for her grandchildren so we met at the Atlantic Seafood dock this morning at 7am. Son-in-law Sam Cutting came along to support his two sons, Henry and Charlie, and his niece Megan for a day of "catching".
There was very little wind and the temperatures were expected to reach the mid-90's so we headed up to Jolley River to fish a run-out. It wasn't long before Charlie hooked up with a feisty Redfish, then Megan did too. The tide was high and just starting out so all the anglers were using live shrimp under a Cajun Thunder float. We picked up a few more then headed back to a large creek mouth near Tiger Island and as we were easing up to the grass line with the trolling motor we was the Manatee rolling and lolling in the shallows. This had to have been the biggest herd of Manatee that I've seen; there were big ones and little ones and they were having a grand time cavorting in the water. We fished out the other side of the boat and soon everyone was catching fish with most of them being Redfish with a few Croaker thrown in to make it interesting. Henry hooked up with a nice Red and played it expertly to the boat and Sam picked up a few, too. With so many bites we eventually ran out of shrimp so we headed in to the Bait House for a few more dozen and took in a nice break to stretch our legs. We made a brief stop in Eagans Creek, picking up a few more Reds, then headed to the mouth of Lanceford Creek.
The tide had dropped considerably and the oysters were showing so we switched to the jig/shrimp combo and sure enough, started picking up Redfish again, with a few Croakers to add to the catch. We had a bump of excitement when Henry had a Bonnethead Shark chase down his bait, hookup and put up a brief battle before he broke off. The sun was now getting hot so we headed in; the anglers had kept track of their "catch" and we totaled it up: 31 fish caught, another great day out on the water!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Law could Tax Fishing Guides

PLEASE call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to oppose H.R. 3619, Sec. 301. If enacted, this law would allow State and Local governments to tax the services of Fishing Guides. That means my 1/2 day trip fare of $350 could have an added cost of $45! Wow, when will these yahoo's every learn? Read more about H.R. 3619 here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Family Day of Fishing

The John Fagan family was in town, visiting from Mississippi, and took in an Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip. We met up at the south end boat ramp this morning and headed up the Intercoastal, making a brief stop at the Longpointe docks to pitch some mudminnows to the pilings on the last of an outgoing tide. We had no bites so we cruised up to the mouth of Jackstaff and anchored just eastof a runout. John's wife, Nancy and youngest daughter Baileigh had the hot rods early, boating Redfish, Drum, Trout and hard fighting, hard pulling Jack. Ashleigh joined in on the action, catching a Redfish and then Bonnethead shark. We moved across the creek to fish a sandbar point where John hooked up and brought to the net a nice, fat, keeper sized Trout. We ran around to Nassau River, anchoring at a runout on the first of the incomiing tide and everyone joined in to catch Redfish. Baileigh added to the "species caught" list by catching the "poor man's Tarpon" - a Ladyfish. She also pulled in a Bluecrab which we promptly cut up for bait. It wasn't long before drag was being ripped off the reel of the crab baited rig! John fought the fish expertly and eventually brought the 4' Bonnethead to the boat for veiwing, then we broke it off to be caught another day. One more stop produced a few more Reds with John pulling in the biggest for the day, another great one to be out on the water!

Three Generations Fishing

John Orr fished with me Saturday, courtesy of his wife Lynn, cashing in a Father's Day gift certificate. He brought along his father, David Orr and his nephew John, meeting me at 7am, Atlantic Seafood dock. We left promptly, but headed south to fish the Horsehead area. We eased up in to Jackstaff creek anchored, and unlimbered the spinning rods. "Little" John had the hot rod early, catching Drum, Redfish and Trout. Grandad David joined in on the action, picking up a few Reds and Drum, too. Then "Little" John caught a Trout and a hard fighting Jack.
David hooked something BIG and it kept going, ripping drag, and kept going until it eventually spooled the entire line and SNAP, it was gone! We all speculated that it was a large Bonnethead Shark, but in subsequent days, I've seen Tarpon rolling in the same creek - so who knows? "Big" John finally got in on the action by hooking up with another BIG fish -he fought it expertly from bow to stern and around the transom and almost had it up to the surface when it threw the hook and was gone! OUCH! We moved on up the creek, stopping to cast net for some finger mullet and young John tried his hand with the cast net to pick up a few shrimp. We stopped at a runout further up and Big John picked up a Redfish and a Trout. After a brief stop at Bubblegum Reef, we moved on down the Nassau River and with the tide just starting to come back in, found an oyster outcrop to wind the day up with number of small Redfish brought to the net. David topped it off with the biggest Red of the day then we headed in, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Girls Braggin Rights

I had the opportunity to fish this morning with Mike Presley, his two daughters Meg and Sara Cate, and Mike's niece Becky. We left the South End dock promptly at 7am and headed straight for Jackstaff to fish the very last of an outgoing tide. There was only a slight breeze when we anchored at a runout and it wasn't long before the girls began to catch fish. Meg started it off by catching a Croaker then things started getting wild with Meg picking up a feisty Redfish then Sara caught a Trout. We all thought Becky might be getting left out of the "catching" but then she hooked up with something BIG and it wasn't running out drag like a shark. She fought the fish from stern to bow to stern, around the engine and then settle in for a tug-of-war, one that she eventually won by bringing to the boat an over sized, out of the slot
28" 7lb Redfish. Wow what a fish! The girls caught fish after fish after fish, bringing in more Reds and more Trout. Both Meg and Sara joined in by catching slot-sized Redfish; Sara and Becky both boated Black Drum while Becky picked up a ferocious Jack. Sara and Meg caught some small Bonnetheads, and they all hooked up with Croaker. With Redfish, Trout, and Black Drum in the boat you could pretty much argue the case for an "Amelia Island Slam", but the girls meant to make sure of it when Becky hooked up and caught a keeper sized Flounder! They returned to the dock with fish count of (14-15) Reds, (2) Trout, (4) Drum, (2) Jack, (1) Flounder,(4) Croaker, and (2) Shark and "2010 Braggin Rights"! What a great day to be out on the water!

Late Afternoon Fishing and lots of Fish Bites

Brian Deem was in town on business but took the time to get his older sons Jordan and Hunter out on the water for some Amelia Island backcountry fishing. We met at the South End boat ramp and headed up to Jackstaff to fish the last couple of hours of an outgoing tide. The oysters were already showing so we anchored up at a runout and it wasn't long before everyone was catching fish! In addition to some feisty Redfish action, they also hooked up to some Trout. Jordan had the opportunity to experience some BIG fish action by hooking up to not one, but two large Bonnethead Shark. He fought the fish like a pro for what seemed like an hour, but they eventually got their teeth across the leader and cut themselves off. We moved up the river and picked up another fat Trout, caught some nice finger mullet with the cast net, and then Hunter caught a very large Ladyfish and then we caught another Redfish. So far we had (7-8)Reds, (2) Trout, a Drum, a Ladyfish and (2) Shark hookups. We ended the trip fishing the last of the outgoing tide at Broward Island. Although it was a beautiful evening, the fish wanted no part of taking our bait, so we headed in as the sun set, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Whole lot of Catch'n Go'n On

Jay Mathews was in town, visiting from the Rome, Georgia area with his family and took in an Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip yesterday with his two sons, Jim and Will. We left the Atlantic Seafood dock and ran straight to Jolley River to fish the east side oyster banks during the first of an incoming tide. The oysters were exposed, the tide was creeping in and it was prime time fishing! The guys had plenty of bites with Jim starting off by catching a Redfish, then they all joined in, catching more Reds, their share of Croaker and a few Trout. Then Jay hooked up with something big that ripped line off of his spool. He fought the fish expertly and eventually brought to the boat a 3'+ Bonnethead shark! Then Will hooked up with something with some "Umph" and the fight was on! He fought the boat around the transom and brought to the net a slot sized Redfish. We moved up the river and picked up a few more Redfish and Trout then ran back to Tiger Island and anchored in a couple of spots; Jay caught a nice Drum then we ran over to the jetties at Fort Clinch, had no bites, then moved around to the shoreline of Old Town to pickup a nice fat Trout and then a Bass to wrap up the day of "catching": (4-5) Redfish, (6-7) Trout, a Drum, a Jack, a Bass, (7-8) Croaker, and (2) Shark! What a great day to be out on the water!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Horseflies, Spoonbills, Manatee and FISH!

You gotta know that when the "dead horsefly count" is leading the "fish caught count", things are getting dire! Chuck Petrakis was in town with his wife, visiting from Orlando, so Chuck booked a backcountry fishing trip with me this morning. We left the Atlantic Seafood dock promptly at 7am and headed up to Jolley River to fish the oyster banks before they were completely covered up by the incoming tide. We soon found that Chuck would get bite after bite on the jig/shrimp combo, but we were also keeping count of the horseflies that we slapped dead - and the dead fly count was winning! We made two passes along a stretch of bank then headed further up river to anchor in a large creek. More bites on the jig and a long awaited hookup finally produced the culprit - Croaker! We ran back to Fernandina, trolled Eagans Creek, pitching to the bank and stopped in at the Bait House for some more shrimp, then headed over to Tiger Island and with Rosette Spoonbills overhead, Chuck caught a nice keeper sized Flounder and then hooked up to a hard fighting, jumping and thrashing Ladyfish. We moved on to a creek mouth, anchored along the flooded marsh grass and soon began to catch fish. We were joined early by a pair of juvenile Manatee that hung with us the entire time we were there. Both Chuck and I were somewhat surprised as the sun was now overhead and in full force, but the Trout were biting and Chuck ended up pulling in 7-8 with a few being keeper sized. He was using live shrimp under a float and also added to the "Slam" by picking up a nice Redfish, and even had a few Blues to the mix.
Chuck's perseverance and determination paid off by making what started out as a rather frustrating morning in to a great fishing day and a great one to be out on the water!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bottom Rigs Rule

Tim Schieffelin was in town with his family from Loganville, Georgia and he had scheduled a backwater fishing trip with me and his two sons, Eli and Ian. We left the Atlantic Seafood dock promptly at 7am and headed up to Jolley River, anchoring at the mouth with the tide still creeping in, not to top out until around 9:15am. With only a few casts under our belts, Eli soon hooked up with a feisty Redfish, bringing it to the net, then his father Tim hooked up with a fat Seatrout.
We moved up river to a run out and the guys caught another Redfish and Trout. Going further up the river to "Snook Creek", we anchored as the tide changed and started out. It wasn't long before everyone was catching fish: Tim caught another Trout or two and Redfish on a float rig while the boys enjoyed manning the bottom rigs. Tim hooked up with something big and played the fish like a pro, fighting him up one side of the boat, around the bow, then back down the other side of the boat to the stern - and then back around again! We eventually netted a 3'+ Bonnethead Shark for pictures then released the beast to be caught another day.
Both Ian and Eli hooked up with Shark and Eli soon was crowned the "Croaker King" as he pulled in a few of the species. As the sun got up high, the temperatures got hot and we called it a day, another great one to be out on the water!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shark Blood

Dennis Shill of Baton Rouge was in town with his family for a conference and scheduled some time to get out and fish with his young sons, Davis and DC. We met at the south end boat ramp this morning at 7am and headed up Nassau River with the tide just starting out. Our first stop showed plenty of bait with fish feeding but we had no bites on our live shrimp floated under Cajun Thunder floats. We move on to a run out up river, anchored and it wasn't long before Davis hooked up with something that took his line downriver then back up, zinging across the water then finally hunkering down for a long battle. Davis did great for a young angler, eventually figuring out that he could relax and let the rod do the work, and after a long 10 minute fight, brought to the net a 3' Bonnethead Shark! We moved on to Bubblegum Reef where Dennis switched to a jig/shrimp combo and picked up a nice keeper sized Trout. After a while we moved on to Jackstaff, anchored and the young men caught their fill of sharks on bottom rigs. Everyone had hookups with Redfish, with DC and Dennis having a "double" hookup at one time and both bringing their Red to the boat and net for pictures. While the boys manned the bottom rigs, Dennis persevered with jig/shrimp and caught another Trout, a Drum and a tough fighting Jack. Total for the day: 10 Shark, 6 Reds, 2 Trout, 1 Drum, and 1 Jack. Another great day to be out on the water!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Smorgusboard of Fish Catch'n

Bill Freeman of Warner Robbins, GA was in town with his family to celebrate the 4th of July holiday and wanted a change of pace so he set up a fishing trip with me and his two sons, Will and Timothy. We met at the south end ramp at 7am with the tide still going out and not to hit bottom until around 9am. We headed up Amelia River, cut in to Jackstaff and started trolling the oyster lined banks. About 50 yards up Will hooked up with what turned out to be a very aggressive Redfish and he boated it shortly.
Will must have had the hot rod early because it wasn't too long before he had a real battle on his hands! The fish went from stern to bow and back to stern, ripping drag and heading down river then back to the boat and hunkering down on the bottom. Will used the rod to lift the fish then began to work him in - a 3 1/2 foot long Bonnethead shark! Bill got in on the action by hooking up to hard fighting Jack Crevalle; we all thought it was going to be a slot sized Redfish by the way it fought, but it was a fun battle, anyway. Timothy, not to be outdone, caught a Blacktip Shark and then added a Redfish that just missed the slot by 1/4". Will topped it off with Puppy Drum. When the bite slowed we pulled up and ran to "Bubblegum Reef" where Bill boated another Bonnethead. We tried our luck at Broward Island, but the day had progressed and the bites had come to a halt so we headed in, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Honeymooners and Redfish Catching

I don't know if it's because they were newly wed, or if there was a "Georgia Mystique" going on, but what a morning of Redfish Catching we had today! I met honeymooners Jimmy and Sara Underwood at the south end boat ramp at 7am this morning. We had cloudy skies, but very little wind and thankfully, no rain. We headed back up to Jackstaff and warmed up the rods with some casting then eased up to the spot where we had had such good fishing last night. Sure enough, Jimmy hooked up with a feisty Redfish and brought 'em to the boat; Sara hooked up but lost one, then both were catching Redfish. Boom! Boom! Boom! Redfish on! They boated a number of slot sized Reds with the largest being just over 26" and 7lb's. At one time we had a double hookup with both anglers playing fish and the Captain (me) turning back and forth with the catch net to see who would need it first! They ended up pulling another 13 Redfish out of this hot spot. Jimmy also hooked up with a hard pulling 3' Bonnethead shark and he expertly fought it to the boat for viewing and then we turned it loose. The bite slowed when the tide turned so we hit a few more spots before calling it a day, another great one to be out on the water!

Banner (rainy) Day of Big Redfish

The hurricane that passed through the Gulf heading to Texas must have thrown the foul weather our way; thunderstorms and rain showers forced us to cancel a Wednesday morning trip and when the forecast called for thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon, we called off Derek and Amy Baileys afternoon trip, too. The couple were in town from Cordele, Georgia and were really looking forward to a fishing trip so we agreed to meet at the south end boat ramp on Thursday afternoon, 4pm, to give it another try. We were met with severe thunderstorms so we waited them out in the parking lot and as they passed at 6pm decided to try to get in a couple of hours of fishing in the light drizzle. Donning ponchos, we headed up river to Jackstaff Creek and began a troll of the oyster beds, exposed almost completely with only about an hour of an outgoing tide left. 50 yards into fishing Derek hooked up with a feisty 16" Redfish and fought it to the boat and net. I thought to myself, "well that's nice, at least we caught a fish in this rain!" Boy was that an understatement (or thought)! Derek and Amy proceeded to catch Redfish almost non-stop for 2 hours, most of them in the slot or even larger, measuring 27", 28" and even 30'er that reached 10lbs!
Amy had one on that probably exceeded even that, fought it for 5-10 minutes, but then it gave a sharp tug and broke itself off. They ended up catching 12 Redfish in the one spot then we moved on to Nassau River to pick up one more slot Redfish. We eased up to the boat ramp just as the sun went down, and counted it as another great (but wet) day to be out on the water!