Friday, September 30, 2011

Football, Fishin and Friends

You just can't beat a great weekend of getting together with friends to do some fishing and attend a college football game.   Paul Damron and his friend Bill were looking forward to attending the football game tomorrow down in Gainesville pitting the Florida Gators against the Alabama Crimson Tide, but they starting off the weekend this morning fishing the beautiful backcountry waters of Amelia Island on The Anglers Mark.!  We left the Sawpit Creek boat ramp on Big Talbot Island a little after 7am and headed up the intercoastal to fish the oyster lined banks of Jackstaff Creek on an incoming tide.  When Paul hooked up on a nice fish after about his third cast I thought, "here we go!".  He landed the fat Seatrout expertly, but even though the guys were making excellent casts, the rest of the stretch only produced high jumping Ladyfish - fun to catch - but not exactly great table fare.  We made a short stop at Seymore's Pointe then headed over to Broward Island, fishing the south end with the tide already up in the logs.  Paul had a strong hookup but the fish got up in the logs and broke off.  Later he hooked up and brought to the boat a nice Flounder.  Later, Bill had a good hookup and again, the fish tried to get up into the branches, but Bill kept the pressure on and pulled out a feisty slot Redfish, fighting all the way to the boat and net.  The tide was up and the grass was flooding so we headed back to Nassau River and on our second stop, just off the bow, was a tailing fish!  Bill tossed a "Fiddler in the Grass" fly at what turned out to be a Sheepshead but it wouldn't bite.  50 yards away we could see more tailing fish - a couple more Sheepshead and a huge Redfish wallowing around in the grass gorging itself.  We all piled out of the boat and waded over, Bill tossing flies and Paul using a weedless jig on spinner.  Both were making excellent casts and Bill reported that one of the Sheepshead followed the fly for a short while checking it out, but we had no takers.  We had a great time stalking fish as it was a beautiful flat with clear water, a great way to wrap up a day on Amelia Island waters!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sundown Redfish

Capt. Dave Morrison was in Fernandina Beach operating the Army Corps of Engineers survey boat and after wrapping up a work day on the water, hooked up with me to end the day fishing the backwaters of Amelia Island! We left the Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina on The Anglers Mark around 4pm and headed up to Jolley River to fish the first of an incoming tide. Dave had a number of hookups with high flying "Poor Man's Tarpon" Ladyfish, I had a few nibbles, but we didn't get any good bites like I had thought we would. I had fished earlier that morning with a young couple from Charlotte, NC and after dropping them off I went out on my own and fished a few hours and picked up 5-6 small Redfish on jig and shrimp combo's an the last of an outgoing tide. Now, the tide was excellent but we found no Redfish! We moved on up in to Jolley, fished a large creek and had no real bites, but we did find some finger mullet and we cast netted a dozen or so. The sun was working it's way down so we cranked the big Johnson and made a run to the backside of Tiger Island and after working the bank with our jig and artificial grubs, dropped an anchor at the south end of the island. Both Dave and I had some good bites on a finger mullet jigged to the bottom, but no hookup. Then, as Dave slowly worked his jig and mullet up the steep bottom, his rod tip began to bend. Dave patiently let the fish take the bait, then set the hook, FISH ON! And Wow what a fish! Dave worked the fish expertly, letting it take the drag, then working him back in, back and forth, back and forth. Finally, as the sun fell over the horizon, Dave got the fish boatside and we netted a 7lb 26 1/2" Redfish! What a way to wrap up a long day of fishing! With that, we headed in, counting it as another great day of fishing on Amelia Island waters!

Shark or Redfish?

Kevin and Katie Kriener were visiting Amelia Island, staying at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island and scheduled a 1/2 day backcountry fishing trip on The Anglers Mark yesterday morning. We eased out of the Fernandina Harbor Marina at 7am and headed up river under overcast skies to stop just outside of Tiger Island to fish the flooding grass on an incoming tide with topwater lures.  The couple had only began casting few minutes when Kevin's lure was smashed and FISH ON!  He worked the big Trout to the boat expertly and we soon had our first fish of the day!  Katie joined in on the action by reeling in a feisty Redfish.  The tide was expected to flood the grass so we moved around behind Tiger and checked out a couple of areas, but we didn't see any Redfish tails the first couple of flats.  On our last stop we found what we were looking for, but they were Sheepshead tails!  Kevin and I eased over the side and waded to within casting distance but the Sheepshead were having nothing to do with our artificial baits!  Luckily, off in the distance, was a big 'ole Redfish tailing!  We waded carefully over and made our offering of bait, but this Redfish was on a mission and moved on.  Although we didn't have any hookups, it was a great day to experience this kind of fishing!  We saw Roseate Spoonbills, Storks, and Osprey behind the islands.  We then made a run up to Jolley River and as the tide turned and started out, the two anglers began to pick up Seatrout on live shrimp under floats.  Then Katie's rod bent and her float disappeared - she had a battle on her hands with the fish burrowing up in the grass to shake the hook, but Katie worked the feisty Redfish out and into the net for pictures and release.  A two foot Bonnethead Shark had been making passes at the boat and shortly after another float went under and the drag began to rip!  Shark ON?  Kevin fought the fish like a pro and worked him in.  The big fish fought back and pulled drag out but eventually Kevin subdued the fish and we netted a  24" Redfish!  What a catch!  We hit a few more spots, fishing with jig/shrimp combos, then headed in, counting it as another great day to be fishing Amelia Island waters!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big as a Watermelon

Fall is knocking on the door and the great weather we're having makes it the best time of year to be fishing Amelia Island backwaters!  Brett and Suzanne Nichols wanted to treat their son Andrew to a birthday fishing trip so they lined one up on The Anglers Mark yesterday morning.  Although weather forecasts called for possible rain in the afternoon, we couldn't have asked for a prettier morning.  We left the Fernandina Harbor Marina at 7am and headed up to Tiger Island to fish the first of an outgoing tide.  I had 4 rods rigged with Bomber Saltwater Grade float rigs with live shrimp "hangling" underneath and it wasn't long before the anglers were getting bites.  The Ladyfish were slashing baitfish and we had a number of them hookup, some of them throwing the hook, but some were caught and released.  Brett's father in law Logan picked up a feisty Redfish, Brett hauled in a Seatrout, and 10 year old Andrew warmed up with a larger Ladyfish.  It's amazing how with just 4 hours on the water a young angler like Andrew can gain so much experience and confidence!  He started out struggling with the spinning gear, but he persevered and by the end of the day he was "calling his shots" and making pinpoint casts to the oyster banks, impressing all of the adults.  I was watching him towards the end of the trip and I could tell he was intently working his jig waiting for the thump of a Redfish bite!  Our second stop was Jolley Bank and after working the entire stretch with no real bites we reached the large run out and started getting hookups.  Both Logan and Andrew had Redfish and Brett hooked up with a keeper sized Trout.  We fished Snook Creek and found that the Trout were hanging on the outside of a large oyster banks and all three anglers began to to pull in Trout after Trout after Trout.  The water level dropped to where we were having to pull Trout across the oysters, so we lowered the trolling motor and began to ease along their banks, this time switching to weighted swim baits fished on the bottom.  The anglers soon warmed to this method of fishing as there's not much better than bumping a jig on the bottom and feeling that tap-tap-tap BAM and Fish ON!  More Reds and Trout were caught, then we moved back to Jolley Bank to fish the now exposed oysters.  Logan hooked up with a nice Redfish and while he was fighting it Andrew yelled, FISH ON! and we had a double hookup with Grandad and Grandson fighting fish side by side!  Later, Andrew had a another hookup and his rod bent and drag ripped.  He played the fish perfectly, working it up off the bottom and as it came to the surface we saw a larger Flounder,  and as Grandad Logan proclaimed, "Big as a Watermelon"!  I made one attempt with the dip net, missed and the flounder got back around the swim ladder and broke itself off!  OUCH!  Boy what a fish!  But what a great way to spend the day, Father and Son and Grandad, fishing the great backcountry waters of Amelia Island!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Soaking It All In

BJ Craig and his wife Jeannie were camping at Little Talbot Island State Park and scheduled a light tackle fishing trip on The Anglers Mark today.  BJ and Jeannie are old friends from Lake City, Florida and it was great to get re-acquainted and catch up things.  We had originally scheduled a trip for Monday but when we reached the boat ramp the wind was howling, blowing a lot harder than the forcasted 10-12, more like 15-20!  So we rescheduled for today, hoping to squeeze in some fishing before the afternoon rains and it turned out to be a good plan.  We left the Sawpit Creek boat ramp at 7am and headed up to the Horsehead area and Jackstaff Creek to troll the bank on an outgoing tide, tossing live shrimp under a float rig.  It wasn't long before BJ had a hookup and he reeled in a nice Seatrout.  We worked the bank twice, first with the float rigs and then with a jig/shrimp combo and picked up a few more Trout and a couple of high jumping Ladyfish.  Our next stop was at Bubblegum Reef but we had no real bites so we moved on to some oyster outcrops at Spanish Drop using the jig/shrimp combo on the very last of the outgoing tide.  This proved to be the trick because we had a "double hookup" almost immediately - a feisty Redfish on one rod, but Jeannie had something big, FISH ON!  The fish ripped off drag and Jeannie battled the fish from stern to bow and back to stern, but the fish was having nothing to do with being "caught" and eventually broke itself off. OUCH!  After BJ picked up a Redfish,  we headed over to Broward Island to fish the first of the incoming tide where the anglers picked up a few more Trout and a couple of Flounder.  The weather had been perfect with only a slight breeze and very little cloud cover but a rainstorm came up and soaked us good!  We headed for the boat ramp and in so doing, found the clear skies again, so we anchored up at a creek mouth where BJ pulled in the biggest Trout of the day!  With that, we called it a day, another great one to be on the water!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Team W

Friends Tim and Wes Parker were in town for the Amelia Island Blues Festival this weekend and we had set up to do some Amelia Island backcountry fishing.  Thursday afternoon we met at the Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina and made a run up to the Lanceford Creek docks to fish the outgoing tide.  I thought the timing was almost perfect with the oysters showing.  Tim used one of his Temptation Baits, an artificial with a unique scenting process,  and caught a fiesty Redfish and Wes was tossing a live shrimp under float, catching a couple of Trout.  Although everything was "right", the fish just seemed slow to bite, so we headed up to the Jolley River for some real backwater fishing!  The oyster beds were almost fully exposed and the bite seemed to pick up - we caught a 3-4 Redfish at the first stop and another Trout, then crossed the river to pick up another Red or two.  Tim's Temptation Baits were catching as many fish, if not more and the neat thing about it was that he wasn't having to "re-bait" after every nibble like Wes and I!  When the tide changed and started back in, we fished Jolley Bank, catching more hard biting Redfish.   Then Wes's float went under with a vengeance and his rod bent, drag ripped and FISH ON!  I thought for sure it was slot Red.  But after Wes worked the fish expertly to the boat, letting it take drag as needed, the fish came to the surface and we all saw that it was a large Seatrout!  Tim netted the fish for his son, "Team W"!  Wow, what a fish!  We eventually moved around to Tiger Island and wrapped up the evening with two Flounder, one of which would provide some exceptional fillets!  The next morning I picked up Wes and his buddy James and we headed to the south end early, launching and motoring up to Broward Island to fish the first of an incoming tide.  Again, the tide and conditions were almost perfect and the two anglers were making excellent casts to the bank, working their jig and artificial Temptation Bait back slowly.  On one cast, "Team W" Wes felt a strong "bump" just after his chartreuse Juicy Lucey hit the water and the fish followed it and bit strong, FISH ON!  Wes worked the fish up off the bottom and into the net, a nice 19" Flounder!   We had  few bites along the bank but it just didn't seem to be a fish bite'n day so we move on to the Horsehead area where we picked up a few Trout on some artificial shrimp under float rigs.  With that, we called it a day, another great one to be on the water! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Redfish Magic

Paul and Janet Schmidt were visiting Amelia Island, Florida from Pittsburgh, PA and staying at the Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. We met at the Atlantic Seafood boat ramp at 7am this morning and Oh what a morning it was! The temperature was about 68, one of our first cool mornings and it was great to be out on the water! We pointed The Anglers Mark up Lanceford Creek, made our first stop at the docks, anchored, and began to toss live shrimp under a float rig up to the dock pilings on an outgoing tide. It wasn't long before both Paul and Janet were catching fish - Seatrout, Redfish, and even a small Grouper and Rock Bass. We had a strong hookup and Paul knew he had a larger fish - he played it perfectly (and casually) and then he teamed up with Janet who netted the fish while I videoed the catch! The bite slowed so we made a run up to Jolley River to a large creek runout and the Redfish bite resumed, along with another nice Trout that Janet caught. Our last stop was along the now oyster lined banks of the Jolley and when we approached an outflow, BOOM! Fish on! We caught one Redfish after another, twice having "Double" hookups, and had a great finale of caching fish. What a great day to be out on the Amelia Island waters!

Monday, September 5, 2011

High Jump'n and Hard Run'n

Josh Weinberg and his aunt Karen were visiting the Amelia Island area and took in an Amelia Island backcountry fishing trip on The Anglers Mark yesterday.  We met at the Goffinsville Park boat ramp at 7am with the tide having another hour or so of running out and headed over to the mouth of Jackstaff to fish the exposed oyster banks.  We began a slow troll against the current and the anglers immediately began to get some bites.  It wasn't long before both Josh and Karen were hooking up, first with high flying Ladyfish and then with hard fighting Jack's.  The Ladyfish will do everything they can do to throw the hook and a lot of them succeeded, but the anglers were able to boat a few of them.  It was a beautiful morning with some cloud cover and a slight breeze.  We made a couple of passes of the bank, then headed over to Nassau River to fish some exposed oyster beds on the very last of the outgoing tide.  Again, both anglers had some good bites, then Josh's rod bent and his drag ripped out, FISH ON!  He played the fish perfectly and with Karen handling the landing net, they pulled in a nice 20" Slot Redfish!  The tide had turned so we headed to Broward Island to fish the exposed logs and even though Josh and Karen were making excellent casts, the fish just didn't seem to be hungry.  However, the scenery was beautiful, we had a few good bites, and we picked up a nice Flounder, then we called it a day, another great one to be on Amelia Island waters!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Honeymoon Heats Up Quick!

Mike and Katie Olsen  were visiting Amelia Island this week for their honeymoon and scheduled a backwater fishing trip on The Anglers Mark.  We met at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp at Big Talbot Island Park at 7am and headed up the Nassau River, running directly to Broward Island to catch the incoming tide.  When we got there it was still going out so I trolled the south end while the anglers cast their 1/4 jig with shrimp to the bank amidst the downed logs.  I think it was Katie's third cast when she had a strong bite and her rod bent, FISH ON!  She played the feisty fish expertly and we soon netted a nice Redfish. Mike joined in and caught one too,  then the couple matched each other fish for fish, catching more Redfish with a Seatrout thrown in.  We later fished the Seymore's Point docks, having some small bites, but no real good ones, then we made a run through Jackstaff to it's mouth and began a troll along the marsh grass, tossing live shrimp under float rigs.  Both Katie and Mike had a few bites and then they got the hang of it and both landed fat Seatrout.  The tide had gotten up into the grass and as I scanned a flat for tailing Reds, Mike enticed a Bonnethead Shark to take a jig/shrimp combo and the fight was on!  The boat was grounded on a shell bed and as I worked to get it off, Mike fought the fish off the stern. We got the boat out into the creek then Mike went back and forth from starboard to port, line ripping out, and Mike working it back in, and eventually he subdued the beast!  We netted the 2'+ shark for honeymoon pictures and release.  After trying our luck at the Longpoint docks, and with none to be found, we called it a day, another great one to be on Amelia Island water's!