Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trout-rageous Fish'n

Can you think of any better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to plan a Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip to start the holiday week off?  Probably not, so that's what Fred Fishel and his wife have done the last couple of years.  Fred had arranged a fishing trip with me, scheduled for today, so we met at the south end boat ramp (Talbot Island) at 1pm and headed up the Nassau River.  Fred couldn't have picked a better day with clear, sunny skies and the highs expected to reach 75 and only light winds expected.  The tide was still going out, slated to hit bottom around 2:45p, but the oyster beds were exposed so we started out pitching our 1/4oz jigs tipped with live shrimp.  It didn't take long for Fred to get warmed up and he soon began to boat Seatrout and a few Redfish to go along with them.  It was amazing to see how these fish were biting - the trout would peck, peck, peck - almost like the aggravating "bait stealer" pinfish, but then they'd take a good gulp and on!  Although there wasn't a whole lot of size to them, they were fun to catch, and there was plenty of catch'n!  The Redfish were totally different:  they would attack the bait ferociously and put up a fight that made you think that this was a slot fish for sure, only to find out that it was a Rat just feeling it's oats!  We hit a few spots in Nassau then headed around to the mouth of Jackstaff  for more of the same, plenty of Trout with a few Redfish.  At one point we were catching small Trout with almost every cast and decided to move on to see if we could find more of the same, but larger.  With daylight running out, we headed over to Broward Island to fish the shoreline cluttered with tree limbs and stumps.  Between sightings of Osprey, we had a few bites and then had a 16" Sheepshead chase a jig/shrimp to the boat before finally taking the bite and the fight was on!  We netted the fish, admired it's chompers, then released him to be caught another day.  The sun was setting and a full moon was rising so we headed in, counting it as another great day to be out on the water!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Anniversary Fish'in

15 years ago I had the pleasure of attending Michael and Abby Stalvey's wedding and today I was honored to be present on their anniversay for an Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip!  Mike and Abby couldn't have asked for a more picture-perfect day to celebrate their anniversary - it was cool, but not cold, very sunny and only a slight breeze.  We left the Fernandina Beach city marina promptly at 7:30am and headed up to Tiger Island to fish the first of an outgoing tide with live shrimp under Cajun Thunder floats.  We had a couple of bites then Mike hooked up with a feisty, hard fighting Redfish.  We eased along the shoreline, pitching the float rigs up near the grass and had a few bites, but no real takers.  After about 30 minutes we cranked the big engine and ran up to Jolley River, anchoring at a nice runout.  Abby's first cast produced a nice Seatrout, which she expertly fought to the boat and waiting net.  Then Mike got in on the action, catching Trout and Redfish.  Eventually we moved on up the river and found some good Trout action at another nice runout - both anglers were pulling in fish.  After a few hours of fishing we made a pit stop at Dee Dee Bartels to stretch our legs, then headed up into Eagans Creek where Abby really turned it on, catching Trout after Trout and putting a couple of nice keepers "in the box".  Mike joined in with a keeper Trout, too.  We fished the rockpile north of Jefferson Smurfit and the docks in Lanceford Creek and although the fish bite had slowed we all agreed that it was another great day to be out on the water - total fish count -(27) Trout, (5) Redfish, (6) Blue's!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jacksonville Oyster Beds, to Reopen?

 The Jacksonville City Waterways Commission is looking at whether to reopen local oyster beds. See:  Jacksonville Oyster Beds to Reopen?  1st published in the Jacksonville Times Union.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Red Drum Assessment

From the Florida Guides Association:
FWC seeks input on possible changes to red drum rules.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is continuing a series of public workshops to review its analysis of the latest red drum (redfish) stock assessment and discuss possible red drum rule changes. In September, the FWC held red drum workshops in Panama City, Tallahassee and Cocoa.

The FWC wants to hear what people think about its proposals to create regional management areas for red drum and raise the daily bag limit from one fish to two per person in northern Florida. The Commission also wants to receive comment on possible red drum rule changes in southeastern Florida.

The FWC encourages interested people to attend the workshops, which will take place from 6-8 p.m. as follows:

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Joseph P. D'Alessandro Office Complex
2295 Victoria Ave.
Fort Myers

Tuesday, Nov. 23
Jacksonville Public Library
Southeast Branch
10599 Deerwood Park Blvd.

Monday, Dec. 13
FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
100 Eighth Ave., S.E.
Karen A. Steidinger Auditorium
St. Petersburg

Tuesday, Dec. 14
City Hall Council Chambers
123 N.W. Hwy. 19
Crystal River
In addition, the Commission has scheduled a special red drum video workshop from 6-8 p.m. EST on Dec. 15, where people can attend at FWC offices in Tallahassee, Lakeland, Panama City (5-7 p.m. CST), West Palm Beach, Lake City, St. Petersburg, Ocala and Marathon, or participate by telephone. More information regarding the video workshop will be announced later this month.

Anyone requiring special accommodations to participate in the workshops should advise the FWC at least five days prior to the workshop by calling 850-488-6411. If you are hearing- or speech-impaired, please contact the FWC using the Florida Relay Service at 1-800-955-8771 (TDD) or 1-800-955-8770 (voice).

For more information regarding the FWC's management of red drum, including an upcoming online survey, go to and click on "fishing - saltwater."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Smoke on The Water

I fished the Nassau Sportsfishing Trout Tournament Saturday with two friends, Leon Freeman and Don Hughes.  We arrived at the Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp early, launching at 6:30 in order to make the check out at the City marina by 7:00am.  Even though the temperature was hovering around 39 degrees with the 17mph wind causing white caps and making it feel more like 30, we had good omens  having drawn the number one (actually number 201) boat, being the first at the boat ramp, and checking out first.  The tide was still coming in, expected to peek at around 9:00am, so we headed back up to Tiger Island to fish over some oyster beds with live shrimp under a float.  The frigid air blowing over the warmer water created a "Sea Smoke", prompting me to break out into the Deep Purple tune, "Smoke on the Water", to my angling companions chagrin!  Our first stop didn't produce any bites, but we made a quick run and another stop where we began to pick up some fish - first a small Redfish, then another, but then we had a good battle with a slot-sized Redfish and had "one in the box".  Leon was picking up some Trout at the front of the boat, then Don got in on the action with a Trout or two, and then he brought a keeper Trout to the boat and into the box; we were one Flounder away from a "Slam Entry"!  Then Don hooked up with something big and we were all pumped!  The fish ripped drag and was soon 50 yards from the boat. Don fought the fish from the bow to the stern, around the stern and back to the bow, and around again.  He eventually worked the fish to the boat before it dived and went under the boat, around the engine and then he began to submit.  As I saw the float and leader come out of the water I leaned over an put the net down in the water to get our trophy and...AAW MAN, a Bonnethead Shark!  I grabbed the leader, held it tight, and the shark broke off with the last laugh.  Leon suggested a move to a nearby spot that he had fished in the past and it paid off quickly.  Fishing over oysters near a grass bed we soon found Trout and had hookup after hookup.  Unfortunately, the fish were all 14 3/4", almost so that we commented that we were catching the same fish over and over!  We moved to behind Tiger Island and fished deep with jigs, then headed around through Bells River to the mouth of Lanceford, again fishing deep with jigs, but no real bites.  Finally, the tide had changed so we headed south, cutting through Horsehead and on to Spanish Drop to fish the runouts.  Here, we picked up another Redfish or two and a couple of Trout, but nothing of any size.  We fished jigs deep along the rocks of Nassauville then headed to Jackstaff to fish the now exposed oyster beds.  Knowing that we were one fish away from a "Slam" entry, I hit a spot or two where we had caught Flounder before and sure enough, Leon picked one up, but it was just shy of 12", and then I had an even littler one.  We did have one more hookup with a Redfish, but he was small and wouldn't have helped our cause.  Luckily, the weather had warmed somewhat so we ended the day enjoying fishing with friends and counted it as another great day to be out on the water!