Sunday, January 31, 2021

Beating the Front


I had Virginia and Paul meet me at the Dee Dee Bartels Park boat ramp just a bit earlier than we had planned - the weather forecast called for winds going from 7mph to 17mph while we fished! Our first run was over to Lanceford Creek to try and catch the lower of an incoming tide but alas, we must have been too late because we didn't hardly get a nibble on our jigs and shrimp combo tossed to the dock pilings.

But after we moved around Soap Creek Paul found a "honey hole" and was able to toss a float rig up above it, let it drift, and hookup with some hungry Seatrout. We motored back around and further up Lanceford, fished two spots but sure enough, the south wind was beginning to pick up so we moved on.

After easing thru the back cut along Pirates Woods we came backinto the Bell and set up outside some more docks, still pitching the jigs. Virginia got on the board with a nice Trout catch, then Paul had a hookkup. We moved up a dock and caught another one (all of these were in the 13-14 1/2" range).

Some dolphin were feeding in the next slot so we bypassed them, fished a bit, and when the dolphin left, we dropped back. I was somewhat surprised that the dolphin hadn't run the fish out of there but from the first cast we were catching fish, one after the other. At one time we had a "double" hookup with both Paul and Virginia landing fish. It was steady catching for as long as we wanted, but I knew the wind was going to be bad when we got out into open water so we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Run Away Train: Fernandina Beach Marina Waterfront Plans

 The City of Fernandina Beach has been pushing a redevelopment of the Marina waterfront. Evidently  some committee years ago got the train rolling when they did a "study" as to what Fernandina residents wanted. That train has been heading down the tracks for years, although it gets sidetracked each election, it appears that it's now got the support of the City Manager and at least one Commissioner.

The Marina waterfront has been studied, surveyed, and planned for years. Why hasn't it ever been implemented?  My theory is the City Managers, past and present, along with a Commissioner or two, listen to just a few sources - they take input from people that think like them and that's what they go with. Then they put together a committee who thinks like them and they order a study, and those folks talk to the same people. Then they come up with a "plan" and try to push it through - they even order more surveys designed to get the answers they want and then use them to try and prove the worth of the "plan". Then the general public rebels, voice their criticisms and and the development never gets done. Why?

Because they were all  BAD plans to begin with!

Here's an image of the current "train" with estimated costs,  that is a rolling down the tracks:

There is so much wrong with this plan with the first being that it should have never been contracted to be drawn. I could get down in the mud and hit on the dirty details like, why in the world would you put Pentanque Courts at a.....wait for it.....wait for it....MARINA!?!?   I know, what does Pentanque have to do with boating or fishing? Well the answer is, those that are pushing this plan know that there are some voting Pentanque folks out there that will support this just to get the courts. Not only do Federal and State politicians try to divide us, here's an example of Local bureaucrats doing the same.

An "Event Lawn?  There's already a lawn located there now and it shouldn't take much to beautify that. Heck, I'd bet local garden and service clubs would help out, if asked. But why "Events" anyway?  It's a Marina for god's sake!  There's a huge Central Park right down Atlantic with plenty of lawn space and....Do we really need a Bandshell at $1.1 Million?  If we don't need the bandshell, we really don't need the Restrooms - there's public restrooms right across the RR tracks behind the Visitor Center (train depot). But again, what's the push to have "Events" at the Marina?  The downtown area is already packed with people during the "season" it's almost like St. Augustine (yuk). Are the powers that be going to plan "Events" every weekend at the Marina?  Imagine the traffic and congestion when, in the past, they have the Chili Cookoff downtown, or the Shrimp Festival. Is that going to be every weekend?  Do you really want to deal with that?  And if not, how do you justify it just sitting there, empty and unused?

Scroll back up and look at the "Observation Deck". Guestimated to be built for $540,000 of your tax dollars.  Is it for you or the tourist and yacht owners? Will you get your money's worth from this Observation deck?  We all could just take advantage of WHAT'S ALREADY THERE! The next time you're downtown, take a ride south of Atlantic Seafood, park and walk over to the EXISTING boardwalk. There's some nice benches and gazebo's. They're already there. They're paid for. And they are rarely used. 

All of these features are meant to get you to support this train wreck.  Music Lover? Here's a Bandshell. Photographer/Nature Lover?  Here's an Observation Deck?  And the big one: Don't you just love kids? We'll throw in an "Informal Play Area".   Have you happened to visit some of our City Parks? Eagans Creek? Great place for kids. The playgrounds behind the Recreation Center? Great place for kids. So why a playground at ....wait for it....wait for it....the MARINA? Because they want the support of those of you that have kids. 

Given all of this, and if you are a City resident, here's why you should be pissed, I mean really PISSED about this plan:  We're a City of approximately 12,000 people. The Marina is home to the ONLY actual City boat ramp, a City that happens to be on an island and islands are typically surrounded by water and people tend to use boats when surrounded by water. You'll note on the far left (south) of the plan is the boat trailer parking. It looks like there are about 8-9 spaces, again, for a City of  12,000 people.  The plan calls for boaters to park their trailers as far away from the boat ramp as possible.  Take a look at the plan again.  How in the heck are you going to pull your vehicle in at a 90 degree angle?  I launch and load my boat over 200 times a year - I'm a pretty good trailer backer, but I wouldn't relish the challenge of parking here. Even if you can get in at 90 degrees, how are you going to get out?  For the recreational boater, it's going to be a nightmare.

Why did they draw it this way?  The City really doesn't want it's residents to use the Marina ramp! A few years ago I was paying $70.00/year to launch my boat at the Marina and pick up customers for a Charter trip. Then we had a couple of hurricanes, docks were damaged and there was a shortage of dock space. Fishing Guides that trailer were launching their boats and jamming up the dock by the boat ramp, and pulling over to Marina docks that were available to wait on customers. There was some animosity from boaters and Charter Captains who were paying slip rent. So the City raised the fee to launch and pick up customers to $1200/year.  Now it's $1500/year.  I would wonder where in the heck they came up with that pricing? Who knows.  I've got my thoughts on it. But I bet a search of Email records between the City Manager and previous Marina Manager might tell the story. At any rate, what they were really saying was,  "we don't want you".  So most of us left and use other County and State ramps now.  But what are they saying to you, the general public, the Fernandina Beach residents that have boats?  They give you 8-9 unusable parking spaces a good hike from the ramp. What they're saying is, "we don't want you".  You better believe that the parking situation will curtail use of the ramp, so you heard it here first: The existing boat ramp is going to need repairs sooner or later. They're already limiting usage to smaller boats due to its condition. There will be a survey sent out: Do We Want to Spend Money On a Boat Ramp That is Not Used?  

What's happened is the City invited some group to come in and survey residents about what they wanted at the Marina. They tried to touch all the bases to make everyone happy. And now that that train is on the track, they're pushing it as hard as they can.   But what they forgot is that it is a MARINA.  What you have as drawn is Disney World. The City will be asking us to stomach a tax increase to pay for such a travesty. Yes, it will be pretty. Yes, listening to a good band while your kids run around within eye sight will be such a pleasant outing.

But here's what they're not telling you:

As mentioned above, boat trailer parking for the everyday boater will be severely limited. Are "Events" going to be every weekend (yuk)?  Where are THOSE folks going to park? IF you launch and park, are you going to want to navigate the Event folks? Notice how the Pentanque Courts are adjacent to the trailer parking? Who's going to enforce the "no parking but trailers" if the Pentanque folks park there?  They don't enforce  it now. They won't do it once this park is built. 

Did you know there are over 50 Charter Fishing Captains working in this area? The next time you're down a the Marina, take a count of how many are docked.  Why aren't there more? Why aren't there more of us that trailer our boats launching? The City has made it more and more difficult to justify using the Marina. We have been in effect, "run off".  You could probably ask the same of the Shrimpers of years ago. Why did they leave? Gas prices? Ice prices? Insurance and labor costs? I wonder if docking issues played a part in it? I betcha.

So the Marina will become Disney World on the water, a pretty place to visit once in a while and take your family, and a Marina for yacht owners and boat owners who have the money to afford docking there. A high priced RV park on the water. The Shrimpers are gone and the Charter Captains are right behind them.  And we Fernandina tax payers will be asked to foot the bill.

What Could Have Been:

I'd bet many of you don't remember being able to walk down to the City docks, walk up to a shrimp boat  and purchase fresh shrimp right off the boat. Some of them had fish, too!  Fernandina Beach has always billed itself as the "Birthplace of the Modern Shrimping Industry".  But now we treat that industry as something that is gone and should be forgotten.  But the shrimp are out there! There are a handful of "river shrimpers" operating in our rivers as  you read this. Big commercial shrimpers are coming in and docking north and south of the Marina. Shrimpers are using Mayport to unload their catch. What if some of those shrimpers were to bring there fresh catch in to the Marina for the public to buy? What if there was a viewing area where school children, families and visitors could watch that catch being offloaded?  What if the City had pushed their train down that track as a plan?

As mentioned, there are over 50 Charter boat Captains operating in the area. In addition to the handful that you see at the Marina, some of us have spread out to the Amelia Island Marina, to Tiger Pointe Marina and the rest of us trailer our boats to various boat ramps. More of us could be at the City Marina if the pricing and rules weren't so restrictive. If they would accommodate us rather than run us off. When I used to use the Marina I remember cleaning some fish one day and looking up and a crowd of about 12 people had gathered to watch. I did the same thing when I visited Maine and got to watch the lobster boats come in. It 's part of the culture that you want to see when you visit an new area. It's real, not fake, like Disney World.  What if the City and Marina encouraged Charter Boat Captains to rent slips with more attractive pricing? What if they had a more reasonable fee for launching a boat to pick up a customer? What if they had more dock space for those Charter boats with a viewing area for those that won't to see the catch cleaned. You know, a REAL experience. Not Disney World. What if the City had pushed their train down that track as a plan?

The City Manager likes to point out that his "Studies" and "Surveys" show that space at a waterfront Marina is too valuable to have parking there. I'd beg to differ with he and his professionals. To valuable to who?  So what if most of the property is parking! The downtown area needs the parking.  Embrace the parking! Adding more "Events" and taking out parking is only going to make it worse.  IF the City had set their train on the track to revitalize the Marina with some landscaping and then re-do the traffic flow and parking for boat trailers, and then embrace City residents who like the convenience of a centrally located boat ramp, then we wouldn't be looking at multi-million dollar price tag when this train reaches the station. A price tag that that they are now trying to sell to all of us. 

And now, someone please tell us just how much money these new assets are going to cost us to maintain each year?

Contact your City officials and tell them to STOP the train!

Mac sent Today at 5:47 PM

Commissioner Bradley
Commissioner David Sturges
Mayor Mike Lednovich
Commissioner Kreger
Commissioner Chip Ross
City Manager Dale Martin

Dave's Day Out


We had a high tide today when I met Roger Pickett and his fishing partner David. I  met them up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park boat ramp and we headed over to the outside of Tiger Island and set up to fish Cajun Thunder float rigs with live shrimp, up by the marsh grass. Both anglers were making excellent casts as we worked the bank, but we had no takers. We then ran around and fished some marsh in Soap Creek to no avail. The tide was still up when we worked our way over into Lanceford Creek and again, no fish! I was beginning to wonder. 

After making a short run back to Eagans Creek, the tide had fallen a bit so we switched to jigs and shrimp and with the lower tide, this did the trick. David had a strong hookup and worked to the boat a nice feisty Redfish. He picked up another or two, then we had a Black Drum bite and Roger brought it to the boat - a keeper. We continued to fish that dock as the tide drop and did pretty good, catching feisty Reds, a couple of the "puppy" Drum, and Roger added a Seatrout to the mix. When things slowed we moved around to the other side and the move paid off. The duo landed a couple of the smaller Redfish, then David reeled in a keeper. Then he had a strong hookup and, Fish On! We could tell this fish was big - the drag was ripping and it was hanging on the bottom. But David was up to the challenge and subdued the fish and landed a big 23"  6lb+ Drum, boy what a fish!

We tried another dock for just a bit, then made the long run over to Bell River and up to some docks.
  We stayed with the jigs and shrimp and had a good flurry of Seatrout catches, all in the 14" range. When we ran low on bait we tried some artificial jigs and they caught fish too. Although we didn't get any Trout keepers, Roger and Dave each had an Amelia Island Back Country Slam of Redfish, Seatrout and Black Drum so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

1.5 per Stop

 Although it was a tad bit gloomy today when I met Philip and Al down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp, thewind was holding steady at 10mph and it was forecast to get up into the high 60's today.  The tide had been falling for about an hour as we headed up the Nassau River to make our first stop at a large outflow. Both anglers began tossing jigs and live shrimp up current and working it slowly back along the river bottom. Philip "knocked the skunk off" fairly quickly when he hooked up and landed a couple of hungry Seatrout.

We moved up the way a couple of times, fishing outflows, and picking up a Trout or two at each spot. Al had got in on the action and put a couple in the net, fishing off the stern.

Our next stop was up at some docks at Seymore's Pointe, fishing the pilings where I sure we'd get some Black Drum, but we fished to no avail. We moved down and fished a 2nd dock and this paid off with 2 nice feisty Redfish that Philip put in the boat. 

After looping around Seymore's we rand down a ways and got in between two docks that had a drop off from 15' to 27'. This move paid off and "upped our average". Philip began hooking up with Trout up on the bow and Al found a couple of Weadfish out deep, both of them of keeper size. He also picked up a couple of Trout back there.

We finished up the day down at Broward Island, still fishing an outgoing tide, but had no real luck. But the sun had come out a couple of times, we were out on the water, so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Making of a Fly Rod Case

 With Winter down time I thought I'd try and make Fly Rod Case #2.  A few years ago I put together Fly Rod Case #1 and it came out pretty good, but as usual, there were a couple of areas for improvement. 

The first step was to cut out some leather. I took a sample piece of leather and wrapped it around my fly rod tube to get the proper width of the leather that I would cut, then cut it out: TIME = 4 hours

The next step was to mark out lines around the edges and then to trace the design on the leather that I wanted. I chose a floral design with a couple of Redfish. The rectangles will be where the strap and buckle hardware are attached.

I went ahead and cut out and made a bunch of buckle and D ring holders...

Then I used a swivel knife to cut out the pattern on the leather. By the way, the leather has been "cased" with water to allow the swivel knife to cut the leather like butter. TIME =2.5 hours
TOTAL TIME = 6.5 hours

Then I used a couple of different beveling tools to knock down all the edges and give the pattern some depth..

Multiple stamps were used to complete the design, then everything else was stamped with a background tool..

And finally, the finished tooled piece of leather. Stay tuned for dyeing and finishing of the leather!
TIME = 7.75 hours
TOTAL TIME = 14.25 hours

Punching holes for later stitching

Beginning the back ground dying - I'm using Forest Green

All finished with the back ground dying!

Dying the fish! After I dyed them, let them dry, I "blocked" them with a finish.

After the "block" was dry, I wiped an antique stain over the entire project.

All the staining is done. I'll put a finish over the entire thing, let it dry, then move on to putting the hardware on.
TIME = 4 hours
TOTAL TIME = 18.25 hours

Straps were stained and finished then riveted to the case. I also reinforced them with some stitching.

I glued the leather to the fly rod tube and tried lacing with the holes that I had punched earlier. It didn't work. So I had to take a rotary hole punch and make each hole bigger.
TIME = 4.5 hours
TOTAL TIME = 22.75 hours

The tube is about 32" long. I begin the lacing using a bent needle!. And more lacing! This is 1/8" wide lace.
TIME = 3.75 hours
TOTAL TIME = 26.5 hours

Sewing on the end cap

Made some straps and finished up the top cap and attached them both.
TIME: = 6.5 hours
TOTAL TIME:  33.0  hours

And here's the finished Rod case! Now I need to make the Reel case to finish up the project.

Cutting and punching the reel case pieces, then carving a design

Sewing a lining into the reel case

Lacing the reel case together

The finished Rod and Reel Case!

Amazingly Beautiful Day Here at Amelia Island

 You know you've got the best daughter when she gifts you with a back country fishing trip on the Anglers

Mark!  Paul and Elaine Wozny received a Christmas gift certificate and they cashed it in today and boy what a pretty morning it was! As the sun came up we headed over to Seymore's Pointe to fish some dock pilings with  jigs and live shrimp. Although the bite was slow on the last of an outgoing tide, Elaine was hot with her fish catching! She picked up a couple of hungry Seatrout, then a nice 18" keeper one, then she found a feisty Redfish to rip some drag on her reel. 

We ran down to Broward Island just as the tide was supposed to hit dead low and  here Paul got in on the action, landing a few Sheepshead and another Trout. We  hit a couple of spots there but never found our big Redfish, but again, it was a beautiful morning. 

Our next stop was back at some docks in Nassauville, now fishing the incoming

tide. We were pitching up between two docks, letting the jig go to the bottom and slowly letting it fall down the river bottom and BOOM! Seatrout on. Paul was working it thoroughly and caught a good handful, one of which was of keeper size. Right at "last call" Elaine had a hookup and put a keeper Weakfish in the boat to wrap up another great day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Rare Afternoon Trip Garner's Big Payoff

 I fished this afternoon with friends Tim Parker and Brian Knicely, meeting them out at the Goffinsville Park boat ramp at 1pm for planned afternoon trip.  The skies were overcast but the wind was down and it was only in the 40"s and the tide was falling...what better could you ask for?

Our first stop was down the way, along some rocks at Nassauville.  Tim and I were tossing shrimp and live shrimp while Brian  had tied on a suspending jerk bait.  We were tossing the jigs and shrimp up current and it was Tim who "knocked the skunk off" with a couple of Seatrout catches, deep on the bottom. We fished that spot, moved down a spot or two, then moved on. 

After running down to Broward Island, set up and fished the jigs. The first area didn't produce but when we drifted back to some logs, Tim found pay dirt - hooking up and battling to the boat an nice Slot Redfish. He added another Slot Red to the box and a couple of smaller Reds, while Brian hooked up with a couple of hungry Seatrout off the stern. Tim had a strange bump, hooked up, and landed a keeper sized
16" Flounder.

The next stop was back at some docks at Semore's Pointe. We had eased up to where we could get some good casts up between some pilings and BOOM! Fish On!  Tim pulled a couple of Slot Reds out before he relinquished the spot to Brian and he had some hookups, too. A couple of the fish were Slot sized Reds.

We dropped back and fished another dock as the tide changed and started back in. This is where we got our biggest Reds- all on jigs and shrimp on the incoming tide. A couple of them we had to work out between the pilings but today luck was on our side and we landed most of them - a couple in the 22-23" range. A couple of times we had "double" hookups - Brian landed a nice keeper sized Black "puippy" Drum and we added another one of those to the box. 

As the sun was going down we worked our way out of there - Brian had switched back to the twitch bait and had a nice Trout hookup which made for a great way to wrap up another good day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Nibble, Nibble, Nibble, BAM

 Happy New Year! We're back! My first trip of the year was with Eddie Byrd when I met him down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. We had a beautiful sunny morning, just a tad bit cool, and no real wind (yet).  The tide had just hit bottom and started back in when we began to fish some dock pilings at Seymore's Pointe with jigs and live shrimp and it was the perfect time to be fishing! Eddie had multiple hookups and landings of keeper sized Black "puppy" Drum and he also did battle with a 23" Slot sized Redfish, which he won handily. Once he had his limit in Drum, we moved on.

Our next stop was down at Broward Island, still pitching jigs. Our first try was unsuccessful but we moved down the island a bit and this paid off. Eddie said he had a "nibble, nibble, nibble, then when he set the hook, BAM! Big fish on!  Eddie fought it a good while before I remembered to turn the video camera on. He played it patiently, deep run after deep run, and eventually wore the big Redfish out - he landed it, measured at 30.75" - a new standard for the 2021 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament!

We continued to fish, picked up a small Seatrout, then headed back to Nassauville. The tide was up and the wind was coming with it! But we did find a nice fat Weakfish to add to the box. Our final stop was around at Seymore's again and here Eddie wrapped things up with a feisty Redfish catch - a great way to end a good day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.