Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Recipe of The Month: Jazz Fest Crawfish (Shrimp) Monica

A friend of ours, Hugh John McDonald, visits New Orleans each year to attend the Jazz Festival and has always enjoyed a hearty plate of Crawfish Monica. He mentioned that he was going to be missing it this year with the COVID pandemic going on. It interested me, I googled it, and found a recipe at Crawfish.com that looked pretty good. I happened to have a pound or so of nice Mayport Shrimp so I used them instead....

1)  Pint of half-and-half   
3/4  Cup of parmesan cheese
1)   Cup of whipping cream
5)   Chopped green onions
1/2  Cup butter
4     Chopped garlic cloves
1/2  Bunch of parsley
1)   Pound of crawfish tails with fast (I used 2lbs of Mayport Shrimp)
       Salt and pepper to taste
       Cayenne pepper to taste
       Tony Chachere's to taste (I used Konriko)
1)   Pound Rotini (you can substitute Fettucine)

1)  Cook pasta according to the directions on the package
2)  Drain, rinse under cool water and drain again thoroughly.
3)  Melt butter in a large pot on medium high heat.
4)  Sauté onions, garlic, and parsley for about 3 minutes
5)  Add the crawfish and sauté for another 2 minutes
     (Here, if using shrimp, I would saute them for 2-3 minutes then remove them from the pot with
      plans to add them back in when all is mixed with the pasta. If we left them in, they'd cook for
     17 minutes using this recipe, which is too long to be cooking shrimp, in my opinion.)
6)  Combine half-and-half and cream into pot and reduce to medium heat for about 10 minutes.
7)  Add seasonings - Cayenned, Konriko, Salt and Pepper) and reduce heat to low and stir until the
     sauce thickens and becomes a little creamy.
8)  In a large bowl (or the pot), toss the cooked pasta, sauce (and shrimp of your using it instead of
9)  Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
10) Add the parmesan cheese and stir

Serve immediately with French bread or garlic bread.  Pairs nicely with a dry white wine.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Beautiful Day On The Water

After a couple of weeks of downtime I was able to get out on the water yesterday with Tandy
Morton, our friend Chris Yarborough, and his son Conner. We met early out at the Goffinsville Park boat ramp, launched and made a quick run over to Broward Island - the tide had been coming in for a few hours but I thought we'd give it a try while we were in the area. We were tossing jigs an live shrimp but the first spot produced no fish, not even a real bite, so we moved down the way, passing a pair of Bald Eagles, to set up on the outside of some logs. Things were looking pretty good but we still weren't getting any bites until, BOOM! Fish on.
Conner was on the rod and he patiently worked it to the boat and  net, a nice 18"+ Slot Redfish. Just a short while later Tandy put a hungry Seatrout in the boat.

We then ran back to the Spanish Drop area and set up along a marsh line. The tide was already up here, covering the oysters, so we switched to a fixed float rig baited with live shrimp. Tandy was on the bow casting forward while Conner took up the stern.  As we approached a "corner" we began to catch some fish. First, we had a nice 6-spot Slot Redfish, then we landed a couple of undersized Reds, one of which Conner hooked and landed.  Then Conner tangled with a Bonnethead Shark which he valiantly battled to the boat.  Then It was Tandy's turn for a big fish. He and I both were watching his float drift just a foot away from the grass when we saw his float ease under. Tandy took up the slack, lifted, and, Fish On! He battled the fish away from the oysters then handed off to Conner to do the heavy lifting! Conner worked it to the boat and landed a nice 24.25" Redfish. Boy what teamwork!

Our last stop was back at Pumpkin Hill. We were tossing the floats up into a shallow "bay" and letting them drift back and across a shell bed. There wasn't much action going on until Tandy had another strong bite. It was a big fish and we were all guessing what it was - it didn't look like a Red. Again, Tandy fought the fish out then handed it off to his team mate Conner who brought it to the net - a big 20" Seatrout -the biggest of the year on the Angler's Mark, and big enough to grab first place in the 2020 Bragging Rights Tournament(scroll down the right side of this report for standings).  We finished out that stretched, hit a small grass patch, but the tide had reached its peak and there were  no bites going on. So we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


I reached out to the new owners of the Amelia Island Bait and Tackle shop - the Bremer family and
we did a "virtual" interview. I've stopped in a couple of times and they've been hard at it, doing some Spring cleaning, re-organization and with the Virus issue, slowly easing in to life as bait shop owners!

    Can you give us a brief "Bio" of your family and how you decided to take the plunge and purchase the shop?
Chris and Lisa Bremer met and raised their family in Chicago.  Chris is from St. Louis MO, Lisa grew up in Keystone Heights, outside Gainesville.  They have been residents of the Island since 2009, Lisa introduced Chris to the Island on one of their trips to Florida to visit her family, he fell in love with it immediately.  They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.  Their youngest, Nik and his wife Tyler live in LA.   
In early March, Chris logged onto Captain Lawrence Piper’s website to book a charter, who he had fished with prior during the holidays with Nik a few years ago.  He saw the posting that the Bait and Tackle shop was for sale.  Chris called Jim Johnson immediately to find the details, as Chris and Nik have both enjoyed fishing their entire lives.  They were taught by Chris’ uncle, “Uncle Johnny”, who lived in Hollywood, FL.  After speaking with Jim, Chris called Nik to ask if he was interested in pursing the opportunity.  Nik was excited but hesitant and needed to discuss with his wife Tyler.  Literally 2 days later, Nik and Tyler were both laid off from their jobs due to the COVID, the next day they flew to Jacksonville to check out the shop and speak to Jim. 
The rest is history, Jim and Sally turned the store over to the Bremer family on Saturday, March 28, the sale was completed on Thursday, April 9th.  They are very excited to be part of the community and meeting all the locals who love fishing as much as they do.  
  Any immediate changes/improvements that you've done since taking over? 
When you stop by, you will notice they have reorganized the store a bit, moving the rods to the back and displaying the wide variety of reels they have in stock.  In addition, they will be giving the store a “face lift” with a fresh coat of paint.  They intend to continue carrying the products and bait Jim and Sally have carried and would like to expand their product line based on your needs.
Any additions/subtractions to the shop?
Not at this time, they have spent their time getting acquainted with the store, the inventory and their customers.  They intent on continuing and expanding the great service Jim and Sally have provided to the fishing community..
 Any future plans that you're contemplating?
In addition to expanding their product line to meet your needs, they would like to offer a “pre-order/pay” for bait on-line and have it ready for the Charter Captains in the morning, you won’t have to get out of your truck.  The thought is to set up a “drive through” bait pick up in the back of the shop where the bait can be put directly into your live well, there is more room to navigate a boat in the back than in the front parking lot.
They would like to offer on-line purchases for the Contender Lures, rigs and leaders made in house and use technology, to strengthen the store’s brand as well as offer value to their customers. 
Anything else that you'd like to get out to the public?
They will be holding a grand opening as soon as the “house lock down is released”.  Although business has been quieter than normal, it has offered the Bremers a chance to get to know their store and their customers.

Suspended Shrimp Fly part 2

Over the last couple of years I've been trying to tie a "shrimp fly" that looks somewhat natural AND will slowly sink thru the  water column. I've noticed when bait fishing that we catch many Seatrout and Redfish over oyster beds in shallow water by drifting a live shrimp under a float so if I can get a fly that will sink slowly then we should have a shot at the same fish on the fly rod. Here's the latest version.....
Clamp 1/0 hook on vise with hook up.
Tie on grey thread at eye and wrap back to bend.
Tie on 30# mono "eyes", blackened with Sharpie, melted
Tie on rubber "skirt" material as antennae, one on each side
Tie on Swedish Raccoon fur as "horn", splitting hook
Cut a piece of foam the length of hook, tie on at bend, then wrap forward to eye, and back to bend
   (this will supposedly add buoyancy).
Tie on plastic rattle on top of hook, up towards the eye. (this will hopefully add even more buoyancy,
    and a rattle).  Wrap thread back to bend of hook.
Tie on 1st set of barred Wiggle Legs. Wrap to middle, tie on another set, wrap to eye, tie on another
    set. Wrap back to bend of hook. Trim legs.
Tie on 1/2" Streamer Brush, natural color. Wrap thread forward to eye. Wrap Brush forward, over
   and around Wiggle Legs so that they still protrude, and tie off at eye.
Cut a small piece of foam with a triangular head and tie on as the "taiL' Hoping this will add more
    buoyancy. Whip finish and glue.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Trying My Hand

I think I'll call these "Piper's Pandemic Plugs"!  I've always admired and collected antique fishing lures and also new ones that are handmade. I decided to try my hand at it. These are made out of Cedar, Cypress, and Heart Pine lumber that I had laying around. The first few were hand painted, using masking tape and spray cans. #LP008 was the first one painted with an airbrush. #LP007 was a complete screw up - mixing incompatible paints - so I sanded it and left it weathered, but it actually looks pretty good)  I've found out that the forming, carving and sanding is actually easier than I thought (thank goodness for power tools), but the painting and finishing is proving to be the most difficult. I learn something on each lure so hopefully by the time I get to #50 they'll look perfect!




Lipstick On A Pig

With the extended downtime from fishing trips I've taken the opportunity to do just about every chore around the house that I've been putting off for years.  But I've also had time to have some major work done on the Anglers Mark so that when all this virus stuff blows over I'll be ready to go with a boat that's in top condition.  The boat is an Angler 2200 Grande Bay and was purchased originally by Mr. Jim Williams. I had been fishing out of a 15' Mitzi Skiff flats boat which allowed me to get extremely shallow, but I could only take one and at the most two people fishing.  I sure miss those days, but I don't know if I could even stay balanced on a poling platform now!

So I purchased the Anglers Mark as a used boat in 2007 and if you remember, it had a 150 Johnson 2-stroke engine that had about 50 hours on it.  Angler didn't make it thru the recession of 2008 but they re-opened as Angler Pro. They're calling the 2200 Grande Bay an Angler Pro 22 Hybrid, but you can tell by the pictures it's the same boat.

As the Virus came on strong and as my trips trickled down to none, I still ran a few chartes with some "local" anglers - those that didn't have to travel from out of state. I had been having issues with my tilt motor working and deducted that the fluid was leaking. I added fluid over a two week span, but eventually left  it at Amelia Island Boat Repair who quickly replaced the seals and had it ready to go in less than a day. These are the same guys that replaced my gas tank in December. That entailed removing the console completely, removing a huge deck plate, then a second deck, removing the old gas tank and replacing with a new one (80 gal), then putting it all back together. I thought the cost to do this was very reasonable.

The last three trips I ran in March, each one of them had the engine just shut down as we were running. I could tell that the engine wasn't getting any gas.   So on a trip to Jacksonville, I dropped the boat off at Atlantic Coast Marine where I had originally purchased the Yamaha 200 engine about 4 years ago. They did a complete "100 hour" service, replacing the engine oil, filters, spark plugs, etc - and serviced a valve that they felt was causing the shut down issue.

West Marine had a sale on GPS/Fish Finders so I purchased and installed a new Garmin EchoMap Plus 94sv that has the traditional sonar, but also a SideVu feature and DownVu feature.  In addition to installing the GPS, I had to install a new transducer and pull a cable to the console.  I had installed a new VHF marine radio a year ago, but it was never linked to the GPS so after joining Boat US, I was able to get a MMSI number, program it into the VHF radio, and link the radio to the GPS. Now, if all else fails, we should be able to hit the "distress" button!


The installation of the transducer turned out to be trickier than I expected. I originally installed it where the old one was. On the first run, the sonar picked the bottom up at all speeds, BUT, there was a huge rooster tail being thrown up at high speed and water was being thrown into my engine cowling. After some research, come to find out, you can purchase and install a "spray shield" that eliminates the problem of the rooster tail.

I've always thought that the little storage boxes under the steering wheel were a waste of space.  After the gas tank installation I had thought I'd clean up the wiring in the console, but I wanted to also replace the storage area under the steering wheel and some of the wiring terminals were attached to the back of the storage. So I built a new storage cabinet out of Starboard material that incorporates the fire extinguisher, first aid kit (getting them out of the console area)  and shelves for bug spray and sunscreen, wallets and keys. After it was installed, I was able to remount the wiring terminals on the backside and clean up the wiring.

The gas gauge has never worked properly since I purchased the Anglers Mark. The "sending unit" tends to go bad quickly and it's difficult to get to. So after talking to a neighbor, I purchased and installed a Garmin GFS-10 Fuel Flow Meter  This links via a (who knew?) a NMEA 2000 network that needed to be installed, too. This is in the works - I'm waiting on one more power cable, but when all said and done, once I've entered the gas tank capacity, the Fuel Flow Meter will communicate with the Garmin Echo Map 94sv and I will be able to tell what is the best speed for fuel consumption AND how much fuel I have left in the tank! That Fuel Flow Meter came with its on Fuel Filter, installed, and note the new Water Separator housing and filter.

The 110v plug that I use to recharge my trolling motor batteries had a broken housing which prevented me from tightening the screws - the plug would want to come out when I removed the cord. So it got replaced, an easy fix.
There's no picture, but the automatic Bilge Float Switch had gone bad. When too much water gets in the bilge this switch will "float up" and turn the bilge on automatically.  This was replaced.

Two of the trailer tires were bald! Both were replaced with new, and all four hubs were greased.

So, the Anglers Mark is ready to go! When they open things up, please plan to book your trip and let's go fishing!