Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Topwater Aficionados

Brothers Andy and Terry Dillard love to fish and their favorite style is the use of topwater lures.  We arranged a backcountry trip and planned to meet at the Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp on the north end at 6:15am this morning.  It was a beautiful morning with no wind and the bright stars shining as we eased away from the ramp with our navigation lights on.  We crossed over to Tiger Island and fished a oyster bed/marsh grass outcrop, with the anglers tossing their lures in the dark.  Although the sun wasn't quite up we could see the outline of the marsh grass and here the topwaters "burp" through the water.  Every once in awhile we would hear something roll on the plug, but we had no takers.  The sun came up and the sand gnats came out for a while so we were rubbing on insect repellent for awhile.  At one point Terry pointed out a massive raccoon ambling along the marshy shore.  We fished around Tiger Island then moved up to Jolley River with the tide finally starting out.  Again, the guys had "spits" at the lures as they made pinpoint casts to fishy spots in the grass, but no takers!   However, these anglers were intent on fishing the topwaters and they "endeavored to persevere"!  We move up to Snook Creek, fished the mouth, then trolled up into the creek.  Terry broke the ice by making a perfect cast to the mouth of a runout.  He said the Trout struck just as the all-white Zara Spook hit the water, and Fish On!  We moved further up the creek and this time I was watching as Terry's lure landed at the mouth of another runout.  He let it pause for a couple of seconds and when he twitched it, BOOM!  Another Trout strike and the fish thrashed aggressively to free itself, but Terry played the keeper sized fish to the net.  We had a couple more fish up in the creek then we cranked up, came out, and ran around to the "Mother-of-All".  The tide was still up, making the spot less than desirable, so we trolled further up Jolley.  Andy got in on the action by expertly casting his all white Zara Spook to a runout that Terry had just vacated, and BOOM, fish on!  We caught a couple of more but as the sun got high the "spits" slowed, so we called it a day, another great one to be out on the water!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rockytop Catch'n Fish

Adam Alfrey was visiting Amelia Island with his wife, Olivia and their beautiful daughter Rose Marie, along with Adam's parents Randy and Denise and Olivia's parents Bill and Kathy - all hailing from the Knoxville, Tennessee area.  Although they were a little disappointed about the outcome of the Volunteer/Gator game on Saturday, they didn't let it hinder them having a good time doing some backcountry fishing!  Adam, Randy and Bill met me at the Atlantic Seafood dock at 7am and with live shrimp already in the livewell, we headed out and were on our first spot shortly after we left the marina.  It wasn't long after the guys tossed out their shrimp under a float that they began to hookup on fish - Redfish and Trout.  The tide had just started out so we had plenty of time to spend at this shallow area with oysters and marsh grass as structure to target.  The anglers were making great casts and caught fish after fish after fish.  When the pinfish (baitstealers!) moved in we hoisted the anchor and moved around to "Manatee Creek", anchoring, and continued to catch fish.  I switched Adam to a jig/gulp combo and he immediately began to pickup Redfish, then Bill switch too and he caught a few, too.  When the bite slowed we pulled anchor, trolled in closer, and I tossed the cast net for a few dozen perfect sized finger mullet.  We ran up to Jolley River, fishing the east side, with the oysters still covered, but it didn't hinder these anglers!  The finger mullet were the trick with the feisty Redfish gobbling them up and all anglers boated fish,  then Randy hooked up with something that had "shoulders" and he patiently fought the fish to the net - a 18" slot Redfish!  We moved up the river, trying the "Mother-of-All", only to have a few bites but no takers, then we stopped back by  "Snook Creek" where the action heated up again!  The guys boated Redfish after Redfish with a few Trout thrown in.  Most of these fish were caught on Gulp Mullet, Baitfish and Shrimp patterns.  With the sun now up and the action slowing, we headed in to change "crews" - dropping off the satisfied Grandpa's and picking up Olivia, the baby and mothers Kathy and Denise. We toured Fort Clinch, cut across the channel to the southern tip of Cumberland Island, and were treated to the sighting of a small herd of wild horses!  After checking them out with binoculars we cruised up the coast and entered Beach Creek and as we rounded a bend we had another herd of horses come galloping through the palmetto's  to find grazing near the shoreline.  Majestic Osprey's were flying from perch to perch in their wild and untarnished habitat - and as we headed back we all agreed it was a great way to spend time with family out on the water! What a beautiful day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nassau Sportfishing Association 24th Annual Trout Tournament

Make plans to fish in the 24th Annual Nassau Sportsfishing Association's Trout Tournament!  Captain's meeting will be at Tiger Point Marina on Friday, November 5, 2010 at 6:30pm.  The Tournament will be held on Saturday, November 6th with check out at Fernandina Harbor Marina  beginning at 6:30AM.  Weigh in will be at Tiger Point Marina with the line opening at 3pm and closing at 4:30pm.  The awards dinner will be at Tiger Point Marina on Saturday at 7pm.
Entry fee is $120 per boat with checks made payable to N.S.F.A

There will be three prize categories with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each category:  Largest Trout, Aggregate (3 trout), and Slam (Redfish, Trout & Flounder).

There is also a youth tournament for kids 16yrs and under with  1st thru 4th place prizes.  Register at Atlantic Seafood, Amelia Bait and Tackle, Leaders and Sinkers, and at the Captain Meeting.  If you have any questions, contact Tournament Director Allen Mills 904-261-9481

Fish Catch'n Train Rolled In

I had the pleasure to fish with CSX train engineers Mark Warwin, Eric Bailey, and Michael Harvey this past Saturday morning.  We left the Atlantic Seafood dock, eased out of the no-wake zone and headed up river to Tiger Island.  We made our first stop within 15 minutes of leaving the dock and after anchoring near some oysters and marsh grass, we soon had a "double" hookup with Redfish!  The guys were tossing live shrimp under floats with the tide having started out about an hour earlier.  They picked up a few more Reds and a keeper sized Flounder.  We move on around the island and with me dropping the trolling motor and the anglers all began to catch fish.  I looped around to our starting point and lowered the anchor again.  Eric had the "hot" spot at the front of the boat, making pin-point casts to an oyster outcrop and caught Redfish after Redfish, with Mark and Michael picking up the slack further along the shoreline.  We eventually pulled up and ran to Jolley River, again trolling the shoreline, but this time the guys had switched to a jig/shrimp or jig/Gulp, tossing their bait to the now exposed oysters.  They were all catching fish, but Mark seemed to have it down, catching plenty of Redfish and Trout - yep, they got a "slam"- on Chartreuse Gulp Swimming Mullets and Lime Tiger 3" Shrimp.  We made two passes of the same bank with the fishing hot, then headed up river to pick up a few more.  As the tide began to hit bottom we headed back around to Lanceford Creek, anchoring at a dock system.  This time Michael had the hot spot and pulled in a few more Redfish.  We ended the day with plenty of fish catch'n, actually too many to keep track of, and headed in , counting it as another great day to be out on the water.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Art Stuff Ready for Riverside Arts Market

All of these 8oz flasks are fresh out from under the stamping tools!  In addition to most of them being new designs, I used some "gold flake" on the Salmon Flies and the Compass Rose.  Each flask is $95 and comes with a SS funnel - just in case you decide to use it!  I'll be at the Riverside Arts Market under the Fuller Warren Bridge, booth 602, on Saturday September 11th.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Backcountry Grouper Fish'n

We couldn't have picked a more perfect day to get out and do some fishing; only a slight breeze, very few clouds, and an early start.  Art Benton was visiting Amelia Island with his wife after coming down from Atlanta for the long Labor Day weekend and staying at the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge.  Art and I left the City boat ramp at 7am sharp, idled through the no-wake zone, then headed up the Amelia River.  We anchored at a few patches of marsh grass around Tiger Island with the tide just starting out and Art cast a fly rod, trying a smorgasbord of fly's - chartreuse Clousers, Shrimp Fly's, and a Fiddler imitation but we didn't have any takers. We ran up to the Jolley River, fished one more spot with the fly rod, then we switched to spinning gear to get down on bottom with a jig and Gulp mullet.  We almost immediately began to get bites and then Art started the action off by hooking up and bringing to the net....a small Grouper!   Although I've seen them before in the backcountry, it's been a while since we had one on the boat.  Catching the Grouper was like turning the "fish catching switch" on because Art had non-stop catching for the next hour or two.  We eased along the oyster banks with Art pitching the jig and Gulps with the chartreuse Swimming Mullet being his favorite.  He hooked up with Redfish after Redfish, almost all of them up near the now exposed oyster beds.  Later, we moved around to the "Mother of All" spots with the tide being about perfect, and Art caught more Redfish, then he had a hookup and a fight and  expertly fought a 18" Flounder to the net. With that, we called it a day, another great one to be out on the water!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lost Count (of fish caught) by 8:20am!

Luckily the hurricanes passed us by and headed north so we had beautiful weather for fishing this morning. Tim Parker and his son Wes met me at the south end boat ramp at 7am and we headed up the Nassau River for some backcountry fishing. The tide had been going out for a few hours so the oyster beds were already beginning to show as we dropped the trolling motor and eased along the banks. Tim and Wes started off pitching Rootbeer w/chartreuse tailed DOA plastics on a 1/8oz jig while I was tossing a 1/4oz jig/shrimp combo. It wasn't long before we were all reeling in fish and had numerous "double" hookups of Redfish. Shortly after 8am we realized that we had lost track of how many fish we'd caught and the bite continued for another couple of hours! Tim boated a fat keeper sized Trout while Wes brought in Redfish after Redfish. Then the anglers added a larger Flounder and then another keeper sized Flounder. Wes hooked up with something bigger and fought the fish expertly around the stern of the boat only to have the fish find a way to break itself off! Ouch!  We eventually moved around to the mouth of Jackstaff and the catching continued with more Reds, Trout, Stingray, Croaker, and Bluefish. Our last stop was at Broward Island and although the tide was perfect in my book (dead low, just starting in), the bite and had slowed. Wes persevered and did bring in a Ladyfish and added one more Redfish. With tons of "catching", we called it another great day to be out on the water!